Sitting on my sisters deck in Missoula, Montana, enjoying another morning of not having to get on the road. Going to get out for a walk and some paddleboarding later, but for now just relaxing feels perfect.
Yesterday I met up with my friend Rob, who I've known since I was two years old, but now lives out here in Missoula too. Originally planning to check out one of the local summits that's been on his mind, the 60% chance of thunderstorms convinced us to find something a little less exposed instead. We drove about an hour out of town to the Canyon Creek area, where there was a lake he'd tried to find last year unsuccessfully.
Starting off in a cool, dense forest along the river, we made several brief stops to take advantage of the perfectly ripened huckleberries lining the trail, meanwhile hoping not to upset any bears that might have been counting on them for dinner. Things took an amusing turn a few minutes later, with bears on our mind and a sudden flash of black disappearing from the trail into the woods just ahead of us with an ominous crashing sound. After standing still for a moment to assess the situation, we realized that we could still see the black through the foliage. Rob chose the only obvious solution and immediately started barking loudly into the forest, while his dog simply looked on with a puzzled expression. Deciding it was safe and moving on, we looked off the trail several feet later to see a terrified looking man in a black shirt huddled against a tree.
As the trail began to break out of the forest, we suddenly had a view of an upper valley rimmed with granite, and cascading water in the distance marking our destination. I hadn't seen anything like it since Yosemite, and immediately found myself laughing as I ran across one of the sunny white slabs.
Continuing across slabs and through a talus field, we entered one more section of forest, filled with brilliant red paintbrush and an odd white flower called bear grass.
We eventually found ourselves above the level of the falls, and headed down to the most beautiful alpine lake I've seen outside of Colorado.
Despite the dark clouds growing overhead, Rob and Sadie couldn't resist the chance for a bit of July snow fun.
Not wanting to push our luck any further, we enjoyed more gorgeous views of the valley on the way back down.
We did have one small setback as we realized we were a couple hundred feet below where we needed to be, but managed to get back to the trail just as the thunder was starting and back into the cover of the forest as the rain arrived. The hike down felt a bit longer due to our underestimate of how much water to bring, but after hitting the car and making a refreshing Gatorade stop, we soon found ourselves back at the house for some perfect pizza from The Bridge, and some Big Sky IPA to wash it down.
Not sure how it's taken me so long to come out here, but there's so much more I want to see.