The Beaten Path, Montana 2014

Life is breathtakingly beautiful…. 
(photo cred: Stephaine)
So, this past week, I went hiking in some of the most beautiful country I'd ever seen - & it was right in my "backyard" too, in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness! I hiked the Beaten Path - a rugged (but not that difficult) 26 mile hike in the heart of the Beartooth Mountain Range.

EDIT: If you want more photos & better details for "The Beaten Path" - here's my blog post from this year (2015) 

 I started my Monday morning at the Red Lodge Cafe, where I met up with the rest of the gang & ate a leisurely breakfast.  Bud, Ruth, Diane, Steph & myself were then drove over the Beartooth Pass & dropped off by a friend - arriving at trailhead at about 12:15pm, & hiked up hill 6 miles to Russell Lake - the camp site for the night.
Camp at Russel Lake.

Getting pounded with hail!
When we were on mile 3 en route to Russell Lake, we got caught in a storm. It poured rain & hail for a good while… We all had proper rain gear, & stayed dry for the most part. Eventually the storm let up, & turned into a light drizzle. (Which I honestly didn't mind; it kept the mosquitoes away.) The mosquitoes were REALLY bad, but they always are during the summer in the mountains… We set up camp in the rain, & ate a hot supper - thanks to freeze dried Mountain House food, & a mini gas camp stove! I bedded down for the night at around 8pm. It was a long wet & cold night. I stayed plenty warm, snug-as-a-bug inside my mummy bag, but didn't sleep much.

The next morning we were up by 6am - the skies were clear, it was 43 degrees, & the sun was shining! Perfect! We ate a hot breakfast, took down camp, & started hiking at about 8:45am. We hiked slowly, taking lots of breaks & photos of the snowy tundra, along the next 7 gradual uphill miles. The sun shone all day long, & the temperature was in the upper 50s - mid 60s. Along the path we stopped 5 different times to remove our pants legs & hiking boots - to put on water shoes to ford little rivers & streams that crossed the trail. We were able to find good crossing spots; where the water was never more then thigh deep.
Dewey Lake - view from camp, 2nd night. 

We all forded the little rivers/creeks without incident, & stayed pretty dry. The water was cold & fast, & all of us hikers were top-heavy with our backpacks & equipment, so each crossing was a little tedious. The last thing you wanted was a soaking wet backpack. My backpack weighed 36 pounds on the first day - but the 2nd day it weighed bit more, because my 2 person tent (that I shared with Steph) was all wet from the rainfall the night before. Ha! We camped the 2nd night at Dewey Lake -  arriving there at around 4pm.
Walking over one of many snow drifts. 

Dewey Lake was lovely - there were a couple other folks camping there, across the lake. It was nice to see more humans out in the middle of the trail. We broke camp at about 8am on the 3rd day - we hiked 9 miles (mostly downhill) to Elk Lake - making many stops for water, snacks, & photos of the amazing waterfalls, mountain views, roaring rivers, (& yes, there might have been more then a few selflies!) We stopped at Rainbow Lake for about 45 minutes & cooled our hot feet off in the water.
That's me! (photo cred: Steph)

The trail along Fossil Lake, elevation 10,000+ feet.

"Slow down & enjoy life. It's not only the scenery you miss when going by too fast — you also miss the sense of where you are going and why." -Eddie Cantor 
(Amazed by the beauty of God's creation along the trail!) 

Around 6:30pm, we arrived at Elk Lake. We found the perfect camp spot 200 feet from the lake's shore. That night we had a hot supper & a glass of wine! (Ruth, bless-her-heart had carried a small 500mL carton of Rex-Goliath Saunignon wine in her pack!) We toasted to an amazing hike, thankful we'd made it thus far without incident, & to newfound friends! (Did I mention all of us ((with the exception of Steph & I)) only met each-other the first day of the hike or a week before hand?!) By the end of the hike, we all knew each-other pretty well.

Standing on the edge of Impasse Falls. It's around 300ft tall. 
Elk Lake
After supper, I splashed around in the lake. It felt amazing. Between the layers of bug repellent & sunscreen on my skin & 3 days of hiking, I felt grubby. The water was cold & refreshing. This was our last night in the mountains - The temperature was warm, & the stars bright. I slept well that night. We broke camp after breakfast at about 9:45am, & hiked another 3ish miles, down to where our vehicle was awaiting us. We hiked on the mountain side, following the roaring river down to East Rosebud Lake - the end of the trail! It was like 11:30am - we made it! Civilization! All in all - it could not have been a better hiking experience. We didn't get eaten by grizzly bears or torn apart by wolves, (we did see some wolf poop near the trail) & no one got injured!
Bud, Ruth, Dianne & myself at the end of the trial. (Steph took the pic - thanks girl!)
Throughout the hike, I was constantly amazed by the views - the sheer size of the mountains, the roaring waterfalls, the crystal clear lakes & delicate wildflowers that carpeted the earth's floor.…Don't know how many times I stopped along the path to have "wow" moment, when standing on the edge of a cliff by a waterfall or looking at the mountains.… So much beauty is up there, that no one would normally ever see. But its beauty that God put there for his glory alone. No one has to see it, because He does. I felt very fortunate to be able to share the sights that not many eyes get to see. The old hymn "This Is My Father's World" kept coming to mind as I was hiking. What a beautiful world we have, I feel so blessed to live where I do. I'd do the hike again in a heartbeat (wanna go with me?!) - I truly loved every moment of it.

__Click here to see map of The Beaten Path __

photo cred: Steph


Walking Contest

…Just a random video I stumbled upon. Watch it; the narration is humorous, 
the style is cool, and its all rather relatable. Happy Wednesday night, folks.

        Walking Contest from vania heymann on Vimeo.


G A R D E N I N G • 4 0 6

My garden.
July has arrived! Montana is dry, hot & my garden is in full bloom. I've been spending a lot of time digging' in the dirt, pulling weeds, & picking beans. Its hard, but very enjoyable work. I think that gardening is therapeutic - I can spend a couple hours in the garden, with my earbuds in, listening to teachings or music, while battling the ever-present weeds. Work on my tan. ;)

Garden size: 30x50 feet.

Favorite tools: stirrup hoe, mantis rototiller, & the hori hori knife
Whats growing: green beans, carrots, onions, tomatoes, summer squash, winter squash, acorn squash, peas, tomatillos, brussels sprouts, purple cabbage, green peppers, crook neck squash, onions, basil, chives, sunflowers & cosmos.



Flying by - Skiing in July:

Summer is FLYING by! I cannot believe that its July. Wow. Where has time gone? There's still SO much I want to do - places to go, people to see, I'm afraid I'm gonna run out of summer before I'm able to do everything!

But I have been having a wonderfully fun summer so far (hence the lack of blogging). My summer has been busy. Work (teaching) has majorly slowed down, giving me lots of free time to do fun stuff. My summer has been filled with family, out of state friends, gardening, skiing, personal art projects, kayaking, hiking, backyard bbqs parties with family & friends. I've been on the road a lot, always seem to be going somewhere. Nowhere very far from home, but when you live in a state that is as big, open and spread out as Montana, hoping into the car to drive 2hrs one way is nothin'.

In-between all the fun & action, there have been some wonderful lazy dog days…. Stay up half the night, sleep till 11am. Clean house. Watch tv on Amazon Prime. Work in the garden. Go on long bike rides. Watch the sunset from the roof. Cook good food, drink good drinks. I think its those stay-at-home days that make the "go-go" days all the more better, & vise versa, dontchya think?

Eventually I'll get some more photos up (because I just know that you are dying to hear more about my summer) and actually write something better then this chatty small talk. - haha. In the meantime enjoy these pics from a trip a recent July ski trip at Beartooth Basin! I've gone skiing 4 times (so far) this summer. Here's another post from another ski trip, with more information.

Beartooths and the highway snaking its way up the mountains side.

I don't think you could ever get enough of nature. To be surrounded by it is to be stilled. The mountains, the trees, the endless plains, the big sky. It salves the heart. Soothes the soul. Makes me think of how mighty God is - Close your eyes & just stand still for a moment. Take a deep breath & fill your lungs with cool mountain air. Mmm.

Skis on my feet make me happy!

Snow is frozen hard & gnarly in the morning. Later in the day, its was heavy & wet.
(And yes, I know the tip of my skis don't match, it drives me crazy.)
Awkward thumbs-up for selfies & skiing in July! 
30 foot cornice. I didn't ski off this, came down beside it on the edge  - but there were some amazing skiers who would take the drop. It was awesome to watch!

Below are some photos I found from last years' Beartooth Summer Session

This is the view when standing down below, looking up at a skier dropping off.
Photo by: Gavin Gibson
View from standing near the top - Photo by: Gavin Gibson