Sunday, August 16, 2015

Montana is a big state:)

Our adventures in Montana continued as we welcomed more of the Wahrer family into Bozeman. We spent a day with Mary, Gary and Destiny and got to go check out the Grizzly Encounter. I had read a book by the man who started the grizzly bear rescue. His account was interesting, but he and I have different beliefs about interactions with wild animals. Anyway, I figured it would be interesting to go check it out. The enclosure was not very big. I've seen zoos with bigger ones, but the bear was very active and seemed to be interested in her surroundings. However, I did leave feeling like the people in charge wanted to have grizzly pets more then they wanted to admit they were wild animals.
On one of the signs there was a statistic saying grizzly bears can run 35 mph while humans can only reach 23mph. Looking around us at the group who had just come from the retirement home nearby made us think 23mph was being pretty generous! It was fun to see the bear up close and there was some good information about bears, but overall, it was not my favorite experience.
Zach and I then headed up to Glacier National Park to spend the weekend with my cousin, Peter. He is the driver of the famed Red Bus Tours through the park. Zach's family was heading up on Monday and we were all going to ride on the bus together with Peter as our driver. Before the arrived, we got to see how Pete lives and it was fantastic. We used our incognito Honda Odyssey and actually slept in the parking lot outside of Peter's dorm. It was a little nerve-wrecking, but the second night, the van next to us also had sleepers in it. They looked way more obvious, so we figured they'd get busted before us. We both made it through the night undetected!
Sydney, Peter's girlfriend, is a chef in the employee kitchen. She invited us to a yummy breakfast she had gotten up at 3:30am to prepare! We were grateful! Then Peter took us on a hike to Iceburg Lake. It was absolutely stunning! The hike was a mix of scrambling and hiking as well as being very loud in case a bear was around the next corner! We saw a moose down in one valley we passed by, but otherwise enjoyed a hike free of wild animal attacks:)
Peter was a great sport and let us take him climbing one day! A little crag near Kila, MT was our destination and it was a lot of fun. Peter did great and we all enjoyed a hamburger at Norm's News in Kalspell. It was time to head down to Loon Lake and greet the weary travelers from Bozeman.
Their van pulled up behind us and waved us to follow. We found a yummy Mexican restaurant to celebrate them getting to get out of the car:)
Fran and Mike had arrived in Bozeman after we had already left so it was fun to catch up with them over margaritas. The vacation home Kathy had found for us was amazing! It was on its own peninsula between Loon lake and another small lake. There were beavers, deer, bald eagles, loons and I'm sure many other wildlife we didn't see! Zach and I took out their canoe and did some laps around the lake. The loon had such a unique call. It was fun to be around it. We never saw a beaver, but they had lots of lodges built around the lake. Loon Lake's resident bald eagle was pretty active. We caught a glimpse of him flying overhead with a fish in his grasp. We really enjoyed loon lake. The house was also absolutely gorgeous. It was fun to all be together and enjoy margaritas in the evening and coffee in the morning.
On Tuesday, we got to see Peter again! He was our driver and we really enjoyed his tour of the park. Because there was a fire closing down the normal drive, we took a different route. We came across two bears during our day and one of them was really close! There was also an injured motorcyclist we stopped to check on. Fran is a Nurse Practitioner and there was another women who was an ER nurse. I offered to assist them, but since no baby seemed to be involved, I stayed back. It seemed he was going to be okay and the ambulance was arriving, so we headed on. By the end, we were all ready to stand up and move around, but it was a fun way to see the park and learn about the history of Native Americans and settlers who came into the area.
Zach, Dale and Gary taking a break during the tour!
Zach and I at Lake McDonald.
Peter and I standing near a lake in Glacier National Park that our dads went sailing on a few years ago. Its a great story:)
The little friend we saw during our red bus tour!
Mary taking a snooze on the bus.
Group photo of Zach, Peter, Sydney and Sarah.

Wednesday was horseback riding day for all of us except Zach and Gary. Zach headed up Gunsight Mountain with Peter. They saw mountain goats and marmots. It was a 20 mile round trip hike with a lot of elevation gain! They did awesome and made it home safely!
A photo from Zach's hike up Gunsight Mountain.
Another shot from the hike.
The rest of us loaded up in the touring van and headed to the stable. After a rocky start of them not really knowing we were coming, we all ended up on a horse and headed out into the national park. It was evident pretty quickly that Dale and I had the slowest horses. My horse's given name was Hickory, but we quickly changed that to Molasses. Dale was on Roonie and that seemed unfortunate enough of a name. We were constantly in the back with the group waiting on us. The girl leading our ride tried to teach us how to make them move faster, but our horses knew we had no control. Fran's horse tried to freak out once, but she kept him under control and we all had a fairly pleasant ride. Mike, Dale and I caught a glimpse of a coyote running through the woods. It was so fast and graceful. At the end of the trail ride, we were all safe, but tired and we headed back to the house.
Hanging out with my other cousin Peter in Jackson!
It was time for us to head on to Jackson, WY to meet our friend Mareshah for our ascent of the Grand Teton! We had been trying to get in shape for the long hike and climb, hopefully it would pay off! Another cousin Peter I have lives in Jackson. We met up with him and got the tour of Jackson with all the perks of knowing a local! It was great fun and we enjoyed seeing where Peter spends his days.
Mareshah made it into town and we had camp all set up for her! It was so good to have her join our group! Zach and I had gotten a camping permit for the Lower Saddle camping area. They only give out so many and we got the last one for Saturday night! We then had to get our stuff up there to camp:)
Our campsite below the Grand!

Looking at the shadows of the Teton range:)

Zach's Cave!
It was a seven mile hike with pretty heavy packs. But we headed out and made it through the switchbacks! We did have one bear sighting. It was way to close for my comfort, but he didn't seem to worried about us and we hurried past. I also figured the group of people gawking at him would be an easier target then us as we passed.
Our campsite was situated underneath the final summit and it was magnificent! Zach opted to sleep outside in a little cave next to us. Mareshah and I shared the tent and we all slept really well. I orignal plan had been to climb the full Exum Ridge. We had met 7-8 other groups all planning to do the same climb. It was then decided to hike up and just do the Upper Exum. The ended up being a great idea and we had no problem with other climbers! A few fast groups went past us, but they were very nice and it wasn't bad at all. We got to the summit at the same time as Joe, a 78 year old who had done another route to the top with a guide. He was so excited and inspiring! Way to go, Joe!! It was great to be at the top of the route! We had been planning and getting in shape for it all summer!
Broadway ridge!

The summit!

King of the world!
Getting down is never really the fun part, but we all pushed hard and made it back to the car before we had to break out our headlamps. We probably could have used our headlamps, but we were stubborn and didn't want to stop. It was an exhausting day, but it felt good to meet up with Peter at Thai Me Up for a victory burger and beer! He even let us crash on his couches that night.
In the morning, we were greeted with the smell of bacon. Peter made us omelets! It was a fantastic breakfast. We had to say goodbye to Mareshah after getting coffee together downtown. It was sad to see her go, but we will adventure again another day!! She has already been Parasailing and done a Ragnar Relay race since we last saw her. She is one busy lady! Thanks for making the trip out to see us, Mareshah!!!
Our last view of the Tetons!
It was time for me to renew my CPR training to keep all my ducks in a row for returning to work. As luck would have it, we found a course only a few hours away in Idaho. We headed there and Zach dropped me off. It was a great class with awesome instructors. I feel a little more prepared to help on the side of the road now, but still hope to not be needed!
With my new CPR card in hand, we pointed our van northward! We stopped near Butte for a multipitch climb that was a lot of fun then headed on to Koocanusa Lake for some single pitch climbing and swimming. They were both great spots to break up the drive into Canada! When we were finally ready to cross the border, we cleaned up the van and re-organized everything in case they needed to search us. With our Colorado plates, we figured there was a good chance. But when it was our turn to talk to the border patrol guy, he asked us the normal questions and sent us on our way. We did notice a van with Colorado tags was being searched. Thank you for taking one for the team guys!

Zach repelling off a route at Lake Koocanusa
(Its the Kootani River dammed up and it is in both Canada and the USA:)
We are now sitting in Banff up in Alberta, Canada! Its been rainy the last few days and we have been sitting a lot. It is a beautiful place to sit, but we are ready to climb all these beautiful rocks we can see! Hopefully, the weather turns soon and we can check out some of the views from the top:) Until, then we will continue to enjoy this lovely city of international tourism!

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