Much of the country is currently experiencing frigid weather, but Kelly and I have managed to essentially dodge the dangerously brutal cold. In fact, wandering around Joshua Tree National Park today, she and I momentarily forgot the Polar Vortex was even a thing.
Usually when out hiking, Kelly and I simply eat bars, gels, and sometimes fruit or trail mix.
However, in a change of routine, today I decided to pack a backcountry stove and #mountainhouse meal. Not sure why, but for some reason I thought a hot lunch might be a welcome treat – which it was.
A few hours into the hike, we enjoyed a warm lunch and hot tea in the shadow of a backcountry church (denominationn unknown).
Here in western North Carolina fall colors are in full swing, daytime temperatures are lovely, and the hiking has been wonderful during our first visit to Smokey Mountain National Park.
Initially, the trails were dry and free of snow as we ascended the mountain. As we continued onward, small patches of snow and ice were easily avoided, until they were not.
At higher elevations, only the few trails with virtually no tree cover were free from snow, mud, and spring melt water crossings.
While we had a GPS device aiding our navigation, the steep slopes and deep snow complicated things. When it was time to navigate a descent through the dense network of trees, we were wet, regularly postholing to our knees, and were forced to backtrack multiple times before a final glissade to dry land.
All of this slowed our travels, but absolutely increased the fun factor. And for a few hours, a group of us – all in our mid/upper 40’s, momentarily put our adult realities aside while childlessly reliving the joys of our youth.
Here at Glacier National Park, the infamous Going To The Sun Road remains closed.
Crews have recently finished plowing huge amounts of winter snow, but many road surface and guardrail repairs remain to be completed before opening the pass to automobile traffic.
During this road closure period, park visitors are allowed access to bike or walk the famous alpine highway. Yesterday afternoon Kelly and I laced our sneakers, grabbed the binoculars, and set off for a walk to Logan Pass in hopes of spotting Big Horn Sheep or Mountain Goats high on a ridge. If we were lucky, maybe we would see a few bears in one of many valley meadows far below.
We didn’t see any animal activity off in the distance, but you’ll understand our surprise to round a bend and effectively walk into a pack of sheep quietly grazing at the side of the road.
If you have never been to Glacier, it must be added to your list. This place is simply magnificent.