Thursday, July 24, 2008

Glacier National Park

Back to Glacier National Park in Montana for our second visit this trip. Sadly for us the weather didn't really play ball for us this time either. Smoke from the forest fires in California made the views hazy and we had rain each night. HOWEVER!! We did do a couple of FABULOUS hikes. And this is surely the place for it! So much good hiking and with our now tight-ish timetable we really only had time for a couple - it was a tough choice!

Monday we hiked the 11.5 mile Highline trail. This is my kind of hike. Due to the (free!) shuttle service running throughout the park we were able to start and finish at different spots and meant that we had a 200ft elevation gain on the first 7.5 miles, followed by a 2200ft downhill to the trail end! Apart from it being pretty easy going we saw billy goats and big-horn sheep up close, we were wrestling with the goats for trail rights!! Thankfully no grizzlies (check out Chris's hand compared to one of theirs!! - and kids the world over take bears to bed and cuddle?! - sheesh!). Whilst waiting at the bus stop for our shuttle to the start point we met Jeff the Geologist. He was from Helena, Montana and has spent oodles of time in Glacier - as a Park Ranger in his youth. We hiked with him the first 7.5m as far as Granite Park Chalet and had a great time chatting away about this, that and everything. So enjoyable to hike with someone new. Not that Chris isn't charming company, but...well you can imagine!! Thanks Jeff - we'll be looking you up for your guided hiking services next time we're in Montana!!

Today we hiked 9 miles to Iceberg Lake. With every other man and his dog (Actually I was kidding - no dogs - but they would make great bear bait...) Despite the grey, miserable start to the day the sun won over eventually. Again a pretty easy going hike, but the closer you got to the lake the chillier it got - all that snow and ice around?! And curiously enough the lake was full of icebergs - well I never...!! Very cool. Literally! A quick stop for lunch and the hike back again. We were surrounded by prime bear habitat, no sightings for us today. Mostly that's a good thing!

This evening we crossed the border into Canada. After an exciting moment when an 18-wheeler steamed past the control booths and was chased down the road by the border patrol we calmly pootled our way to the nearest town on the Alberta side - Cardston. Bonsoir!! (because this IS a bi-lingual country!)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Swarm of Mozzies devour hapless campers!!

That was us in Sawtooth Wilderness. A seemingly innocent enough camping spot right on the shores of Alice Lake - 6 miles from the trails end, 8500ft up in the Mountains and not a soul in sight. Gorgeous enough but that was us, in that tent before nightfall. Just to escape the incessant mozzies. Hideous creatures. Eating our freeze-dried curry wrapped in all the clothes we had, not so much because it was cold but to build up the layers which the pesky bugs could nibble us through. And yes we had repellant. These ones had obviously been working on their immune system against the stuff. But enough moaning, after all the itching has calmed down now!! After a major winter in these parts the area around the lake still had snow and the river crossings were way more entertaining than this time last year. Thank heavens for Tevas!! We just strapped them on and waded straight across. We had great camping weather too, and got back to the trailhead just in time as the first grey clouds we'd seen all week enveloped the mountains we'd just been trekking through!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sawtooth National Recration Area

We are hanging out in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area and Wilderness in central Idaho. After doing a wee 10 mile hike today to yet another gorgeous alpinesque lake, we have decided this is possible our favourite all round spot for great hiking - anywhere - a pretty lofty statement I agree but it really is splendid. Coincidentally we ended up here on the exact same week this year than last and this time of year the electric blue of the sky contrasts so starkly with the brilliant fresh greens and a rainbow full of wildflowers in the meadows. The weather is lovely too. A little chillier than I'd like to get on a bike first thing to ride out to a trailhead for an early start. But you can't have everything - by the time we finish a hike we're in vest and shorts and still too hot! We're camping at 6500-7000ft but most of the hiking is inevitably straight up - many of the lakes are 8500-9000 so it stays perfectly cool to hike and picnic.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

You what?!?!?!!?

Did they change the date of April Fool's and not tell me? Tell me this isn't for real. I mean, seriously I have seen it all now!! Much as I find it hard to beleive myself this is a bona fide chocolate wrapper from a bar I bought last week in Walmart. My skin feels more beautiful already and I can't tell you the change in Chris's complexion. Oh Puh-lease!!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Scuba diving in a Hot Spring!

Who'd have thought the slightly obscure 'Altitude Diving' certification would come in handy again?! We originally did our altitide scuba course in Lake Atitland in Guatemala 15 months ago at 5500ft. Here in Park City at 5000ft there's a hot spring crater thingamy that you can dive in. How could we resist. Besides after a 15 mohth gap since our last dive (in said Lake Atitlan) it was about time we reminded ourselves what it was all about. (Added to which I'm fairly sure that my Scuba Instructor Brother hasn't done a Hot Spring dive!!)

So the Homestead Crater is some sort of Calcite deposit thing. On the inside it's about 40ft in diameter and is 65ft deep. The water in it is a balmy 95 degrees (this is SO my kind of temperature!) and constantly circulates at a rate of 100 gallons a minute - circulating completely over the course of 3 days. There is an natural light opening but at 50ft it gets pretty dingy. To be fair there wasn't a lot to see or do but a good chance for us to practice drills. A sweet little dive to add to the logbook!

Another scrapbook album from CKU

Here's a little peek at another album I did at CKU. Finally I got around to creating a whole album from the photos taken by Tara last year. Beats a crusty old Wedding album - eh?!
You can see the whole album here.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Wasatch Mountains & Salt Lake City

The whole Wastach Mountains and National Forest has become our new 'fav'. Love this area, so much beautiful scenery and more hiking than you could shake a stick at. It's so green too, with the last straggling remains of the winter snow on the peaks. We ventured into Salt Lake City for the afternoon. Didn't stop too long - we really aren't city people. But timed it right for the daily organ recital at the Tabernacle in Temple Square which was incredible.

SLC is the Morman 'mecca' and temple square seems to be the symbolic heart of it all. We took a guided tour of some of the square buildings with a couple of women working as missionairies at the Temple who explained the history and basic teachings of the church. Interesting....I'll leave it at that shall I?!

One of the very good reasons for me not being a Morman is the Utah Beer. Not in any way a dry state (contrary to popular belief) It just has a few restrictions and unique laws surrounding it's sale and distribution. It generally is a little weaker than other brewpub beers (max 4% volume) but still as fabulously tasty - I am rather partial to the Wasatch Raspberry Wheat ale!! and as always brewpubs came up trumps with a good lunch too - I ordered TUNA!! (I am SO not a fish person!) but I had the most amazing Ahi Spring Roll Salad (check that - not only was it fish it was a salad!) that was at the Squatters Brewpub in SLC (we get around when it comes to beer!)

Friday, July 04, 2008

4th of July

Happy Fourth of July! We spent American Independance Day in Park City, UT. Lots of celebrations going on; on the evening of the 3rd we went to The Canyons ski resort for an open air concert and huge fireworks display. On the 4th there was a town parade in the morning and we spent the afternoon in one of the other Park City ski resorts (they have 3!) - Deer Valley where we took the scenic chairlift to the top of the mountain, took a wee hike back down to the midway point and lounged out in the sun having a lovely indulgent picnic - Simply lovely - hey it almost felt like a holiday!!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

What is this...???!

.....a tyre shop??? The new bike is now on it's third rear tyre in 2 months. Bike tyres don't do so well as the car versions, more's the pity!! But on the up side - it just goes to show how much we've been out and about on the bike. Saving gas and exploring!! 5500 miles in 10 weeks!

And once we worked out that the RV costs us a little over 50 cents per mile to drive (OUCH!) you can see why this has become the preference.

And here's the childish way that Chris sends the old tyres to Tyre-heaven - doing wheel spins in the Walmart carpark - tut, tut, tut...