Hike: Mount Douglas

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Katherine suggested we try to find and hike Mount Douglas as a way to shake things up a bit. It’s been so cold here that we’ve both got a bit of cabin fever going! This morning we packed our respective cameras and left our little bit of town and began our hike!

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Mount Douglas is a very popular hiking spot in Victoria, and has several trails. We hiked the Irvine trail, which was beautiful and steep in several spaces. Lots of ferns, beautiful patches of moss all over the rocks. It was cold enough that frost on some of the rocks made the trail quite slick, but luckily it wasn’t warm enough out for lots of mud to be present.

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We had a beautiful morning exploring this new corner of the city! There were lots of dogs and fellow hikers, and if you like having trails to yourself I would go early in the morning when people aren’t up and about yet. The trail was pretty moderate but I wouldn’t wear casual shoes or shoes you wouldn’t mind getting muddy. The rocks require some grip and there are definitely patches that have potential to be quite muddy.

Thank you for reading! I’ve been making a serious effort to re-boot this blog back into action. Stay tuned for more and take care!

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Bucket hats and flowers

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Hiking right on the edge of town and then rewarding yourself with a beer cannot be beat. Mount Helena lays on the edge of town with 70+ miles of Forest Service and city trails, and you can get great views.

My bucket hat adorned, long legged companion and I climbed higher and higher, seeing the Capitol building dome, the campus of Carroll College, and my old, swastika shaped high school (Oh, Capital). Going down, our knees quietly screamed at us, and we immediately went to the Blackfoot to celebrate our exercise attempt.

 

Restless Creatures Take to the Woods Part II

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I’m sitting sequestered on the 3rd floor of the library. My Timbuk2 bag is full to the max with about 10 books. My computer is working overtime. I’m embarking on a wicked research project and trying to get a handle on my workload, but my mind is somewhere sitting on a moss bed overlooking the ocean.

We had a blue bird day- a rare thing this time of gloomy year on the island. I remember panicking with Morgan over whether we had gotten sun (I prefer to look as close to dead as possible when it comes to skin tone) and being relieved that the pink on my cheeks was merely from hiking and the wonders of moving my body forward through the trees.

We eventually found a nice overlook where Morgan and I rested for a bit while Myles photographed tiny flowers with Morgan’s camera. I felt the sun warm my scalp and I could hear the ocean gently rise and fall in that hypnotic way. I have a visitor in 2 weeks and am truly hopeful I can bring this soul here- I myself was enraptured, and any excuse to drag another body with me will be taken.

Alright, back to the stacks. I’m roaming about looking for books and my pedometer is telling me I’ve walked almost 2 miles just in the library alone today. Endlessly searching for the perfect book to complete your research apparently entails thousands of steps. (That counts as exercise right? Especially when weighed down by a passive bookbag?)

Happy Saturday everybody!

Restless creatures take to the woods pt. 1

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Images from our hike on Tuesday. Morgan drove us deep into the rain forest near the coast and we hiked, smelling sea air, hearing creeks trickle, birds chirp, and soaking up the magnificent visuals.

I needed to be outside. I had cabin fever of the “stuck in the city” sort. I can be outside- it’s temperate- but everywhere in Victoria are yards, yards, yards. Manicured, controlled “natural” spaces that make me feel claustrophobic. When Morgan suggested we head to Sooke, I said YES YES YES.

I’ll talk about the hike more on the Part 2 post- I’m off to pick up some 35mm film that went through my repaired Olympus OM-20! Hopefully no light leaks this time, I got all the foam that keeps light out replaced. Can’t wait to get the scanner going and see what I’ve got in store!

 

You shall not pass!

Went on a lovely hike with Kristin this morning, but it ended at an odd point because apparently we were on private land (or so a sign said…) and turned around so as not to raise a ruckus/be shot at (yeah that’s a thing in the Wild West of Montana).

Life has been…choatic, to say the last. It’s been a whirlwind of me staying out far too late, loathing my horrendous job more than ever, getting excited to move to Victoria in August, and other little things that seem to always add up.

I’m so sorry I haven’t been posting regularly, I swear this is something I am going to improve upon! I’ve been still getting used to my DSLR and I’m trying to get it to do what I want…we’re working on it.

Anyway, I need to shower and get my life together this Sunday, which most likely involves me really just taking a nap. OOPS. Have a great rest of your weekends everybody!

 

 

Hiking and meandering and enjoying the world

Yesterday Meghan and I drove high up into the hills to find the Gipsy Lake trail on the Helena National Forest and never found that trail.

But we did find another trail! It was very steep for the first mile at least. We managed to get up the hills without too much difficulty, but it was definitely a stretch to call the first part relaxing in any way.

We walked for a long time, down and up and more down and more up. We eventually found the end of the trail we were supposed to originally  hike, and continued down the way for a while.

We have no idea how long we  hiked for but from about 10:00 am to 4:30 we hiked, with a few breaks in between for eating and drinking water. It was an awesome day to spend outside.

Montana, I love you, but this is ridiculous (I want greenery)!

02480002 018515-R1-04-21 - Copy 018512-R1-19-6 - Copy 018512-R1-03-22 - Copy 02500016 02500009 06950002 06950014 02500004While ice lingers on the INSIDE of my windows, creating a chill that resonates in my bones, I think about things that make me happy: Being outside.

I may wear SPF 70 and fall a lot, but I love being outdoors. I’ve been camping since I was a week old (one of the first questions my parents asked the doctor was how young was okay) and even though I don’t camp as avidly and often as I did in my youth (my youth being like 14 and younger, I’m not ancient at 21), I still love hiking and getting outside.

Montana is a gorgeous place, even when there is a foot of snow on the ground with 5 degrees F outside, but this is how I like to remember it. Enjoy.

 

A quiet source of inspiration.

I forget that there’s a mountain in the middle of my home town. It sits in a corner of the city, rather rotund, not ominous in the least- just there. Mount Helena is an omnipresent part of the landscape, a token rise in elevation, a constant in my view of the city. Apparently, it has so much presence I take it for granted and forget to reconnect.

While I spent a good deal of the summer running on the lower trails, many of them unmarked social trails, I had not actually made it to the top of Mount Helena in years. Literally. I can count the number of times I’ve made it to the top on one of my hands. Feel free to send me mental waves of shame.

Well, it just increased by one more. After a casual suggestion that I didn’t take seriously enough, AK and I set off walking towards the mountain, through downtown, past locked doors and dark stores. While he was wearing entirely appropriate clothing- Goretex shoes with treads, waterproof gloves, two layers of practical jackets, and pants- I wore leather boots with no treads, a red wool pea coat (another possible post- why is it called a pea coat?!), cashmere/wool gloves with a few holes and no waterproofing capabilities, and a leather bag to hold my camera. I looked, quite frankly, like a moron. Or somebody from out of town. (To be fair, I hadn’t packed boots, actual pants, gloves, or any sort of practical coat for the weekend.)

I went first. It was probably best- I didn’t have to match a pace, but was rather able to set it. A hobbled pace, to be sure- the boots were very good at keeping away water, but terrible at making me feel like I could stand up and stay on the trail. I slipped, slid, and had to engage in all manner of balancing moves that made me feel more like an amateur trapeze artist than a walker of mountain trails. (Note to self: Toss hiking boots in the car, you may need them in the future). I led us down a trail that was entirely erroneous (my apologies!) for a bit, too, to add to the utter ridiculousness.

The top was rocky and icy. A 360 degree vista of trees, valleys, faraway hills and mountains made my breath catch in my throat for a few moments. I have resented this landscape, felt violated by the isolation, and have loathed Helena as a backwater town of little to offer. Little by little I forgive this town, realizing that these feelings of hate are ill-placed. When I can see for miles on the top of a long-neglected mountain with a worthwhile human being and breath the crisp air and feel more vital than I have in a long time, things are clarified, life is simplified, and my caustic feelings turn less acidic.

As we descended, AK led us through drifts where the wind erased the trail for some yards, led us back down the mountain, and occasionally turned around to wait for me when my shrieks and curses for fear of falling grew too common. In the end, we hopped a fence and got hot food, a good afternoon spent outside in my own little-traveled backyard.

Here’s the path we walked, courtesy of AK’s smart phone:  https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msa=0&msid=208866538666354606641.0004ce418d59a12300060

I hate gin! Or, Hanging Valley, the hike that ended up being ridiculously hard.

First, let me preface this by saying that I’m in decent shape. Not GREAT shape, but I hike and walk and run and all that healthy stuff.

Ahem. Anyway, Kristin and I had been wanting to hike Hanging Valley for awhile- since about June, in fact. We got up there at about 9:30 this morning after getting bagels, and we promptly found a trail that wasn’t really a trail. Eventually finding the RIGHT trail, we marched. Uphill. A lot.

Hanging Valley is a round trip of 12 miles through dry timber. There is not a lot of gorgeous scenery, and the trail is mostly steeply uphill for the first two miles. For us, it was also really hot- we were literally dripping sweat after about 15 minutes because of the temperature.

Basically, the combination of steep grade, temperature, and our lack of enthusiasm for the less-than-spectacular scenery led to us only making 6 of those 12 miles. The end of Hanging Valley supposedly leads to a 300 foot drop off with views that are breathtaking, but we didn’t hold our breath to find out.

So, if you are in the mood for some serious 12 miles of hiking, go for it!  If you’re like us, you might just reconsider…after all, 200 meters down the road is the Trout Creek Trail. Our code phrase for turning around was, “I HATE GIN!”, which we both exclaimed after reaching a point that was dry and depressing.

Refrigerator Canyon hike

Kristin and I decided that a hike was much needed in our blood, and decided upon one of the most interesting hikes in our area. After an 85 minute drive, some hairy switchback turns, and getting sunscreen on, we began the hike.

The canyon funnels all the wind into it, so it actually is about 5 to 10 degrees cooler for the first 1/2 mile or so of the hike- the canyon reaches up to 200 feet tall in some places. Kristin and I scrambled over rocks, around trees, jumped over the meandering stream running through the canyon, and made our way through the breezy nature-made wind tunnel.

Montana hikes are often not the greenest. We’ve got fierce heat, not a lot of moisture that hangs out, and wind that takes off top soil like nobody’s business. Refrigerator Canyon’s hike is almost the exact opposite- the humidity is high, every surface is lush and fertile, and greenery takes over. We hiked for about 6 miles through the trail, and admired Western Tanagers, scouted elk prints, and found the leg of a deer. We ate a quick snack at the overlook, where you can see the surrounding hills, and continued on our way.

Overall, the hike was easy, and we went at a good pace. It was a perfect hike for a couple of hours of fun in a gorgeous setting. I need to  hike more around my area, seriously!

I hope you all had an awesome weekend! Now I’m making Cocoa Pebbles marshmallow treats and cleaning my house. Tschüß!