Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Summer brings all sorts of things:)

Our campsite near Salmon River became our home away from home. We set up camp there for nearly two weeks and hunkered down during the crazy days surrounding the Fourth of July celebrations:) It was a beautiful spot not to far off the road. Our backyard had the wide and rushing Salmon River running through it. Zach created a small pool with rocks to sit on and we enjoyed cooling off in the hot afternoons. I read two whole books sitting down there! Using our blow up camping mattresses, we did a bit of rafting through our own little rapids. It was great fun and we really enjoyed our spot!
Cooling off in our backyard:)

Near Hell Roaring Lake that was actually very calm. We saw a bald eagle there:)
From there, we backpacked in about seven miles to an unnamed lake beneath the "Finger of Fate" formation. It was a pretty mellow hike for the first six miles, but it amped up to a steep climb to reach the lake for the last mile. After setting up camp, we tried to go swimming in the snow melt lake and promptly realized it would simply be a dip before needing to run out and warm up. We were confined to our tent in the late evening because a swarm of mosquitoes realized our presence and chased us "inside." Our entertainment was card games and planning for the next day. 
On our way into the wilderness:)

Break by Hell Roaring Lake

Our beautiful campsite with the "Finger of Fate" in the back ground!
You can see why they named it the finger:)
In the morning, we headed up to the formation. It took us quite awhile to get through the loose rocks and boulders and reach the bottom of our climb. There was also twenty feet of snow we had to climb up before getting to the rock. It was a fun adventure up the route. Lots of cracks and boulders to tunnel through. The final pitch is up and through a hole underneath the top boulder. I was army crawling on lead! The rope drag was to difficult for me to keep going past the tunnel and I had to bring Zach up to try the final bit to the top. He did magnificent and we made it to the summit where we could sign the register and then repel back down. 
Great view!

Zach getting ready for the next pitch on "Open Book" 5.8
On our way back to camp, we found a great spot to jump in the clear, beautiful, water. Zach did a dive in and I settled for a cannon ball. It was frigid, but so fun and refreshing:) The fish we could see moved away, but came back to investigate after we got out of the water. We still had about four hours of daylight when we got back to camp, so we decided to hike out rather then spend another night surrounded by mosquitoes. It wasn't a hard trek back since it was down hill, but our legs were pretty worn out when we got back home.
We took the next few days to rest and run errands as well as play video games and watch movies and tv shows on the computer. Stanley Library has free wi-fi and really nice librarians! We spent a few afternoons relaxing there. A robin's nest was just outside the door of the library and we saw tiny, scrawny chicks turn into robins and get kicked out of the nest by their tired and skinny momma. It was fun to see that over the time we were there. 
 One of the Sawtooth adventures occurred on the El Capitain formation. It is not as big as its Yosimite cousin, but it was a fun adventure into the unknown. We brought gear and decided to head up a line that looked doable. We were successful and made it to the top with only a few scary moments of loose rock and figuring out which way to go. Zach named the route "Ping Ridge" because we were constantly calling out "Rock" when we knocked something loose to warn the person below. But they never hit us and simply pinged off the rock around us. It was a very adventurous day and we got to learn what it feels like to head up into unknown territory, which is what climbing started as!
Stanley also provided us with a parade and fireworks for the Forth of July. It was fun and we really enjoyed the kiddos on bikes in the parade. It wasn't very big, but they went around the town square twice to make it last a little longer:)
Hiking toward El Capitain

Great views from up here!

Topping out the route!

Amazing! I can see why they call them the Sawtooth Mountains. 

The El Capitain Formation

Hiking back out.
For my birthday, I picked to go to a play put on in the Sun Valley. "Vanya, Sonya, Masha, and Spike" was about three middle aged siblings and one of their younger boyfriends. It was a very interesting play and we both liked it, but our favorite part was meeting Aubrey and Manon. They photographed and wrote a beautiful book and gave us a copy. We passed one onto our nieces and they love it! They were just a wonderful couple who keep exploring and learning new things. We only spent a short time with them, but we really enjoyed it!!
While we have been on the road, a very special person to me is undergoing treatment for breast cancer. My amazing aunt Nancy is a beautiful, strong and wonderful person who I greatly admire and strive to be like!!! Therefore, it only made sense to style my hair after hers:) Zach was my barber and did a fantastic job. We surprised my aunt and it was fun to send support from afar. I must say though, I am thoroughly enjoying this hair cut and the benefits of being on the road without hair to worry about. 
My barber!

He did a great job!
We decided to make one more attempt at climbing up Elephant's Perch. We chose to do the "Sunrise Book" route, which was short, and attempt to hike in and back out in a day. Unfortunately, we were unable to finish the route in time because I took us up the wrong first pitch. It was fun to try and get it, but a bummer to run out of time and have to turn back. It remains on our list to come back and do!
After Idaho, we moved camp to Hamilton, MT. The Bitterroot Mountain Range was rugged and beautiful. The climbing information for there is not very well documented. We found camping and spent one day climbing. When we got back to camp, our stove had been swiped. It was our campsite place holder since we don't have a tent to leave. We ended up making food on our tiny backpacking stove that night, but decided to move to a bigger town and try and find a replacement stove. 
This hunt lead us to Missola, MT and we were able to run lots of errands. In the mall, there was a beautiful exhibit called the Hall of Hearts. It was portraits of children looking for forever homes and gave a little information about them. It was a very touching and beautiful display and I wanted to make an addition on the van for them. I hope they all find forever homes and receive the love and support they deserve!!
We eventually ended up outside of Butte, MT and climbed on formations known as the "King and Queen." These were fun routes with interesting movement. Our final day there, we were chased off the mountain by an encroaching thunderstorm. I was climbing and getting close to the top when we heard the thunder. In order to stay safe, but also get our gear back, I decided to reverse the moves and clean the gear as I went down. It was a fun challenge and we made it back to our van before the rain started. 
We decided it was time to move to Bozeman, MT. There was an area called Fairy Lake that had free camping with bathrooms and everything! It was luxurious to us:) The climbing was about a two mile hike from our campsite and we headed in through a beautiful meadow of flowers. My dad had bought me bear spray for my birthday and there were plenty of signs suggesting you have it. My only fear of having it, is that if I every use it, I have to be within 35 feet of the bear! That sounds alarmingly close and I'm not sure I'd be that good at using it effectively. I may just season myself for the bear! Anyway, I have it and have been practicing pulling it out of the holster quickly:) I have not needed it, but on this hike through the meadow, I thought "if I were a bear, I'd live here." It was a comfort to have. 
Fraizer Lake (more of a mud puddle in the summer)

The wildflowers were magnificent!
Waiting out the thunderstorm so we could cross the high point!
The climbing was in a unique and scenic location. We have been back there and climbed a second route, but it was not our favorite climbing. Our second attempt was yesterday and it ended with us running down the mountain meadow through pouring rain to escape lightening...I may also have pulled a muscle during said running because I was quite literally flying down the hillside, flailing my arms for balance. It was an exciting and heart pounding adventure, but when we were safe and in dry clothes, we started to enjoy what we had done. Factor 2 fun at its finest. 
We have been staying with Zach's aunt, Kath, and uncle, Dale, for the past week in Bozeman. They have been absolutely wonderful and I am so excited we came through here!! They have taken us to see dinosaur bones in the Museum of the Rockies, baby piglets and dirt bike racing at the Galatin County Fair, and across Ted Turner's buffalo ranch where we saw the herd coming over a hill. It has been awesome to do so much AND come back to a bed inside a house at night;) 
Watch out!

The triceratops were giant! I liked the little one though!

Enjoying the Galatin County Fair with Kath!
We have also eaten at some amazing restaurants where everyone knows and loves Kath. She is such a great person to be around! Some of my favorite meals have been her home cooking though! She is a great chef and I really enjoy eating her yummy dishes. Next week, we are heading up to Glacier National Park to spend time with Kath and Dale, plus other members of the Wahrer clan. It is going to be great!! 
For now, we are just relaxing. There is a 60% chance of thunderstorms today and we had our fun out yesterday when it was only supposed to be 20% chance. Gotta love trying to predict the future:)