Lunch Spot Extraordinaire

This write-up is about a BWAG walk I was along on last Tuesday…it was a full day and life intervened between then and now, but at least there’s time now to think back through another nice walk.

To start, you may say we cheated, but we think we were being smart. Instead of walking up 11 switchbacks to reach the path we’d chosen, we drove up from the another vantage point. So, our actual elevation gain over this 9.5 mile return walk was likely around 500′ – 700′ feet, although no one was keeping track. We were a breakaway group of only four BWAGs. We were the only ones who decided to head to the Bangtail Mountain Ridge, while others went elsewhere.

We drove up the Olson Creek Road several miles until the road intersected the Bangtail Ridge trail. To the North the path would take us back to Grassy Mountain, the destination of a previous BWAG walk, but we were opting for the trail to the South. Our plan was to walk until Noon and stop wherever we were at that point, for lunch.

With most of the climb done by our vehicle, our walk was unusually easy and leisurely, and amid an amazing variety of spring wildflowers, including this delightful “Sugar Bowl”…


The trail began with a few easy switchbacks with us gaining some elevation and opening into a lookoff (this view faces East) …


…before we entered an open forest…20160614_113438

As you can see, we were a happy bunch!

We continued on for some time and at about 11:50a began to look for a lunch place. Just then, purely serendipitously, a lone mountain biker – the only person we met on the trail all day – passed by and told us that we were less than five minutes away from the summit meadow. Perfect! Five minutes later we walked out of the woods and into an incredible mountain meadow which offered vistas in all directions. We could see all the way down and out to Wilsall to the East, into the Paradise Valley to the Southeast and Emigrant Peak, the Gallatin Range to the South, the Bridgers to the West, and the Little Belts to the North. A lunch spot, indeed!

The meadow was full of wildflowers, some we thought must be alpine wildflowers. Wild forget-me-nots carpeted areas…


…and, if you get down on your hands and knees and inhale, you’d be delighted in their full-blossom aroma. Been there, did that.

After lunch we walked to the opposite end of the meadow, mostly out of curiosity to see where the trail began again. We posed for a few pictures in “our” meadow and then began retracing our steps.20160614_125220

Back through the forest which was still bathed in sunlight…


and out again, for a last view of the Bridgers…


Unfortunately, and totally unplanned, this concludes my summer walking for quite some time. Responsibilities are taking over most of my upcoming days and weeks and it’ll be a while before I’m back in our mountains.

Enjoy your summer walking, wherever you may be!




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BWAG Walk: Return to Lava Lake

Should we ever feel guilty about taking so much time to walk and enjoy the challenges of the trails?

That thought crossed my mind as I was hastily packing up my gear this morning, planning to join the BWAGs for a Monday outing. I used to tidy up and clean our house every Monday…that was my routine. What happened to that?

The longer walk was scheduled to be up to Lava Lake, a walk that Jeff and I have done a number of times, but not yet this year and never at this time of year, and I wanted to see the lake in spring conditions. This rocky trail is 6.24 miles return, with 1,630′ of elevation gain.

The thing about this trail is that it starts out with a climb and just keeps climbing. I wrote about this ‘way back when…although with a few years of walking between then and now, its become a little easier. Still, today was humid and between that and the climb, I was soon down to my tank top. I’d forgotten to pack my Camelbak and had my Cytomax drink and my thermos of tea, but I was thankful that the driver of the car I was in didn’t mind stopping so I could pick up a bottle of water. I tucked that into the front of the waistband on my pack for easy access…a very handy spot and if I could have remembered that it was tucked in there, I wouldn’t have had to chase it down the trail every time I took off my pack. A good reason to remember my Camelbak.

Not many photos today as our usual leader, who likes to take photos and stops often, was away, so we were left with the mile-makers. I did manage to snap this…I have no idea of the name of this delicate flower, but I promise, right here, my friend who’s a botanist and reads this blog, that I’ll to try to figure this before I see you next month 🙂 BTW, the big leaf has nothing to do with the flower.


Through the humidity and finally some rain, we arrived at the beautiful Lava Lake…


…where we enjoyed our lunch.

This is a popular trail and we met lots of groups, including families with very young children, walking up. I was impressed with these young walkers and they sure have a lifetime of adventures ahead of them (if they can keep that guilt at bay).

The North end (I believe) of Lava Lake pours into Cascade Creek and runs down to the Gallatin River. The trail crosses Cascade Creek once. It was sure on the run today…


…and wild lupins were on display just about everywhere along the trail…


Sure beat vacuuming 🙂


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A Revisit to History Rock

Today dawned cloudy and cool…a very welcome change from our recent run of hot weather, meaning what could we do but hit the trail? My husband awoke with the sniffles, but surely it was allergies, and what better remedy for a stuffy nose than a walk in the woods…right?

So, off we went, for a revisit to History Rock. The actual rock is a bit of an attraction, with all of the dates that are carved into it. Plus, it’s a short walk (about one mile each way) with a little climb (listed as 692′, but that seems more than it actually was).

We took MD along. Her days of walking in the heat are over, but today was perfect. Of course, as dogs do, she did, and as I was tending to the bag for that, Jeff said he saw something big and black run up the hill beside the meadow we were crossing at the beginning of the trail. He thought it was either a bear or a moose, but whichever it was, it disappeared eerily silently.

Our walk to the rock went smoothly, albeit with me looking over my shoulder on occasion, wondering where that unidentified creature had gone. Not a sign nor sound of it, though.

Between the two of us, we spotted wildflowers that I hadn’t noticed on my earlier BWAG walk, including horsetail (is that a “flower?”)…such an ancient plant…


The wild clematis we’d spotted earlier was still in full-show…

…and here’s my attempt to photograph the nodding flowering head of the abundant glacier lily…


…just a little creepy, maybe.

MD was quite at home on the trail…


…and Jeff spent quite a bit of time birding, with great success, including calling in a western tanager (which I missed as I was already back at our car, happily munching down the trail mix I’d brought)…


…after having taken a few more wildflower snaps…

The yellow flower I have yet to id. Any ideas? It was common…it’s just not one I recognize. Lots of shooting stars on display…what an intricate flower head.

And, here’s a case of “home is where you plant your roots”…


I hope I think to come back in a few years and see how this ambitious and optimistic tree is making out.

Jeff’s sniffles turned out to be the beginnings of a cold and I was dreadfully tired later in the day. Not a good sign. However, we both enjoyed a supper of marinated and baked chicken thighs, steamed asparagus and a mixed salad, so our appetites are as healthy as ever.








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So, Tuesday Arrived…

…and I figured that I may as well hit the trail again. As I mentioned in the previous post, our Tuesday group is rather casual in choosing a destination. As it turned out, a huge group opted for Grassy Mountain…which I did not want to do again, at least not quite so soon. Another group chose one of the Cottonwood Trails…we have a North, Middle and South…I don’t remember which they chose, but I didn’t feel like that, either. I was about to bail on the whole idea when a small group mentioned that they were headed to History Rock…another place I hadn’t been.

Here’s how that conversation went: me: how long is that trail?; group: five miles return; me: what’s the time frame?; group: home by lunch. Sounded great and I was on board. A short walk, home by lunch…a nice outing for me on another hot day, after a long walk in the heat the previous day.

This trail is in the Hyalite Resevoir area, of the Gallatins, a short drive from town. The actual rock is only a mile along the trail  and is carved with names from lots of dates, some supposedly of early settlers. Our group made it there in fine style:20160607_095814

…yes, we know we’re colour coordinated! And then someone said: let’s carry on to Fox Meadow. Hmmm…me: how far is that?; someone in the group, but who will remained unnamed, but who happens to be standing at the right in the above photo, said: oh, about as far as we’ve come.

Not so. Fox Meadow is a 7.15 mile return walk with 1,555′ of elevation gain. Not a big deal, but not what I was feeling up to after yesterday’s walk.

Regardless, I was on board. This was a continual uphill walk, again with views of the Bridgers in the distance…


We ended up doing a bit of post-holing and when we finally reached the entrance to the meadow (after a fair bit of: me: how much farther is it and group: just around the next bend…ha!) were met with a 10′ snow drift…20160607_113711

Not to worry…the intrepid BWAGs soon found an alternate route by bushwacking through the woods (our second bushwacking of this walk) and indeed, our vista did open up to a grand meadow…20160607_114426

Fox Meadow is apparently used in promotional literature for the state ,and not much wonder. Our timing was pretty good for wildflowers…

but, in another week or so, the meadow will be carpeted.

We found a nice lunch spot and enjoyed a nice BWAG lunch…hardboiled eggs, cheese, flatbread and homemade sugar-free cookies for me, with which I’d have enjoyed some tea, but after yesterday’s walk, decided to forego tea in favour of an extra canister of water…


And, after an entire post with no photo of me, I have to insert myself here…the mountain rising on the left, but cut off is Mt. Blackmore…it’s on my list.


Following a lunch with spectacular views, we began our descent, stopping off the trail to enjoy a view of Hyalite Resevoir…


and to take photos of the multitude of yellow violets, the more reclusive calypso orchid and the shy shooting star…

At one point, during my more whiny phases, one of the BWAG-ers asked me how old I was and when I replied, she said that she was 20 years older than me…okay…hint taken…no more are we almost there, yet?

All in all, a day of a steady climb in the heat along a trail that seemed to stretch on forever, in good company, and lots of good fun 🙂



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BWAG-ing it to Grassy Mountain

I’ve been a Tuesday BWAG member forever, but the organization of the Monday group is very attractive.

Tuesdays, we meet, visit a bit, toss around walking ideas, eventually choose a destination, and off we go.

Monday’s group has the entire walking season planned. One can call up the schedule, peruse the walks for the day – differentiated into short, medium and long walks, along with the noted level of difficulty, and make one’s plans accordingly, including knowing how much water to pack.

So, with the long option’s destination for Monday past being Grassy Mountain in the Bangtail Mountains, a place I hadn’t yet been, my decision was easy…I was on board. This walk begins at the Brackett Creek parking lot in the Bangtails. It climbs 1,900′ to the peak of Grassy Mountain, with  just over 10 miles return. It’s a slow and steady climb through a number of switchbacks.

The panoramic views begin pretty quickly…


…with view of the Bridger Mountains (from the East side). Here, Ross Peak is the more jagged peak in the center. The Bridger Ridge is the scene of the ridge run, held in August. This is a portion of what the winners cover within  a single-digit number of hours….how is that possible?

Carrying on, one essentially pops up onto the Bangtail Ridge, in a meadow, which opens up a view of the Shields Valley to the East…a surprising sight after a few miles in a lodgepole pine forest…

We stood around for a bit, had a snack and some decided that was enough for the day and headed back. The rest of us, along with a few converts, carried on, admiring the slopes of balsam arrowroot.


Interestingly, the trail does not go to the peak of Grassy, so you have to cut off of the path at a certain point and walk through fields of wildflowers while aiming for the peak.

Once at the peak we each found a place to sit for lunch and, of all things, my cellphone rang. The reception was crystal clear, but it was a surprising sound to hear. Not everyone was impressed, rightly so.


The Bridgers are featured in the photo, but from the peak of Grassy Mountain, along with the Bridgers, the Little Belts, Crazies, Absarokas, Gallatins, and Spanish Peaks are all in plain view. And, lots of wildflowers…

After our lunch we all chose our own path to rejoin the trail…20160606_124221

…and headed back down with a final view of the Bridgers…20160606_134137

A nice outing, albeit a hot day. The woods offered cool shade along the trail and true to form, it was windy at the peak, so much so that I wrapped myself in my light down jacket for just a bit. And, surprisingly to me, once back at the parking lot I was just about out of water and was completely out of my Cytomax electrolyte concoction…lesson learned for hiking with the BWAGs in our 2016 summer Montana heat.





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Seaford and the Vanguard Way

My elder daughter and I enjoyed a day’s outing today to Seaford, a small resort town on the south coast of England. We took the Southern Line train out of London’s Victoria Station and changed trains at Lewes.

Our first mission was to locate caffeine and food and for that we stopped in at a tiny coffee shop on the way to the beach…no name as apparently I forgot to pick up a receipt. We had warm croissants, mine with ham and cheese and her’s vegetarian, a latte for her and black tea for me. I’ll mention that this was the first actual pot of tea that I’ve had since my arrival…since when has England begun serving tea with teabags in cups? My tea came with a timer and was perfect.

Fortified, we headed to the beach, which is a long stretch of smallish pebbles. We were attracted to the white cliffs to the East, so began walking that way and ended up climbing the cliffs along the Vanguard Way. The path soon led us to a beautiful view of the Seven Sisters white cliffs and we continued on for quite a way, eventually walking down steps to a cove. The beach there was full of beautiful shells…limpets, whelks, scallops, name just those I recognized. We sat for a nice while, enjoying the scenery and finally snacking on Cadbury’s Dairy Milk and Cadbury’s Shortcake Snack,  and whomever concocted the latter has a real winner of a candy bar.

We headed back and enjoyed watching black-faced lambs running and playing. Once back to Seaford, we watched the car ferry from France, presumably, cross in front of us and pull in to the harbor just down the coast, and then it was time to eat again…we chose The n chips for me and a veggie tart and salad for our daughter. We walked through the graveyard of St. Leonard’s Church en route to the town’s charity shops, where we did our part for the local economy. We picked up cups of tea for the return train and waited at the station, to head back to London.

All in all, a lovely day outside of the city, beautiful scenery, delicious food, wonderful company and a nice eight mile walk along the coast of southern England.

Photos to follow once home.

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Saying Goodbye

The closure of a chapter…

Mum passed away yesterday morning, after 94 years of  independent living and a brief hospitalization. My brother and I were able to be bedside and provide comfort during her last few days, and that is a time we treasure.

As a means of closure for myself, I’m picking up the last few days of the trip to England I had planned. My time will be spent in London, with perhaps a brief train trip to the south (mostly to enjoy the First Class service :), so not much countryside walking, but there’ll be another time for that.

It’ll feel wonderful to be out, stretching my legs and enjoying all life has to offer…what mum would wish for me, and, had she known you, for you,..and enjoying so many wonderful memories.

To living!






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