Saturday, August 20, 2016

Glacier National Park, Montana

On to Glacier National Park! I think this was Idaho somewhere... Speed limit was 80 mph, by the way!

Sunday morning we got up early and drove about 2+ hours to arrive at Apgar Campground at the West Glacier entrance by about 9:00.drivingAfter setting up our tent and making breakfast, we went to the visitors' center to get oriented. After buying a $50 can of bear insurance :) we figured out what hikes we should take. We started right away with Apgar Lookout.
running waterI thoroughly enjoyed the rivers and streams! I miss running water.lake mcdonaldLake MacDonald, looking east-ishcampsiteOur campsite at Apgar.lakeAfter dinner we went down to the lake.
lakecoldCOLDreflectionscatyshirtMonday we slept in a bit, took it easy getting breakfast and then drove around the lake to other end to hike to Mt. Brown lookout. Unlike the 6 mile hike 1/2 up hill the day before, this was 5 miles of gaining almost 1,000 elevation feet per mile.signtiredIt was tough. By far the most difficult hike we did. I was going SO slow! We were also a little apprehensive as we didn't see anyone for about 2 miles once we split off the main trail. We did lots of whistling, clapping, singing, and talking!viewIt was quite rewarding to come to this switch back and behold this view!flowerlookoutA little less rewarding to get to this switch back and see how far away the lookout tower still was!! But we did have fun chatting  with two gentlemen from the UK for a bit.mntLake McDonald
mcdonaldsnowusIt was probably 15 degree cooler at the lookout. Plus windy.lookoutviewviewNotice the waterfalls in this picture. This view was one of our favorites.

 We were DONE after that hike, or at least I was. Going down for 5 miles had its own challenges! We had an early dinner, then drove out to West Glacier KOA for showers and laundry. I squeezed every bit of pleasure I could out of that $7 shower! So nice to be clean again.going to the sun roadThe next morning we got up early, quietly packed up the tent, had a snack and drove "Going to the Sun Road" east. What a crazy road!
roadcarwashCarwash?passpassThis is looking up to Logan Pass from the east side. We drove up there and down the other side to Rising Sun campground. Set up camp, had breakfast, then drove back up to Logan Pass.roadSee how the road construction is? Yeah... And some places that rock wall on the right was missing and was a concrete block... Very reassuring.roadLooking back at the road we'd come up.tunnelcampsiteRising Sun campground is a little more exposed, not as many trees, windier. We were glad to find this campsite snug up against a steep hill/cliff with trees all around, and off the road a bit too.
passOn our way back up to Logan Pass to hike.passAs we looked out on this striking view, I noticed little black ants on the snow down from the peak on the right. I dug my binoculars out and sure enough, people were hiking across that snow field!flagStruck my patriotic chord! Had missed not doing anything for Canada Day a few days before.alpine meadowTo my surprise the hike we wanted to do to Hidden Lake lookout was the one across that snow field! The alpine meadows were beautiful. Tiny yellow flowers were blooming where the grass had turned green.snowFelt pretty epic with that towering rock peak stretching up next to us. Just kinda kept taking my break away.ridgeBasically the Continental Divide!
matthewMatthew the Explorer! Backpack, hydration pack, GoPro, and bear spray.hikingLike I said, with the snow, being right up in those rock crags - it felt exotic.
mntpicFirst glimpse of Hidden Lake
picI enjoyed observing things up here. I felt a bit more in my natural habitat with the snow and was noting which direction the wind makes it drift up on the peaks and things like that. In the picture below, those distant peaks in the middle are pretty rugged and had some dark clouds. There was a lot of snow on those.picpicsheepBaby Mountain Goat!traildivideI'm going to end this post here! It is kind of long. This way you can see more pictures and I can work on the next post next week! It will start with our waterfall hikes that we did that afternoon.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Morro Bay, Zion National Park & The Great Salt Lake

So, now that everyone has the travel bug... :) I think all our pictures are finally loaded so let's go on an adventure together!


Matthew took off work starting Monday. Tuesday morning we got up early and went kayaking in Morro Bay.towersrockpaddlingdunesWith the sun low in the eastern sky and the water calm, we could see into it really well. I was so excited to spot a bat ray! It was just so cool to see ocean wildlife in the wild. Like, not in an aquarium, not behind glass or in a pool. I was still over excited about that, when I saw something else and was so excited I couldn't even get my words out! "Matthew!!!! LOOOK! Is that...?!  Is it????! OH MY GOODNESS!" Yes, it was a shark, small shark, yes, but a SHARK in the wild! It was probably 3 feet long (possibly 4, but I want to err on the side of not exaggerating). And swam right by the front of the kayak. The rest of our ride was uneventful but fun and relaxing with a break on the dunes for a bit.

I worked Wednesday and Thursday mornings. Soon as I got off Thursday at 11:30, I beat it home. Matthew had cleaned the house and packed the car. We threw everything in the cooler and headed to Mr.Pickles to pick up sandwiches (gluten free wrap for me, Thanks Mr. Pickle!). And off we went, munching our lunch.


Through Arizona and Nevada and Utah we experienced some thunderstorms, flash flood warnings, rain, wind, flying tumbleweed, and lightning over the distance hills as well as an awesome rainbow just before the sunset.


We arrived at the Adventure Pad in Virgin, UT a little after 10 that night. After getting up at 5:00, we were a little tuckered out...

arrivedadventure padadventure padWe found the Adventure Pad on AirBNB. Would be a great spot to land while seeing Zion. The next morning we were up at 6 and out the door ASAP. Matthew begrudgingly let me take the time to eat eggs for breakfast because he knows what happens when I get hungry :) On to Zion! We arrived in Zion with a 35-40 minute drive. We found a parking spot and caught the shuttle once we realized we weren't allowed to drive to the trailhead. I didn't really know what to expect since I hadn't seen any pictures or really heard much about it. Matthew was the one that put it on the bucket list and boy, am I glad he did! The only thing to say is - the pictures say a lot, BUT don't do it justice! GO!

zIf you do go, don't be surprised to find yourself doing this, a lot! You kinda just can't help it!zztrailtrailrocktrailwwWalter's Wiggles - the switchbacks

trailUmm, yeah, That's the trail. To on top of that rocktrail^Once on top of that rock, looking back

peekingLooking down at this...feetThat's the road down there with the shuttle buses in that turn-around thing.valleyFrom the above picture, we turn 180 and take this picture...\/
zz^Give a bit better of an idea of what it is like on top of the rock.trailOne last look back in disbelief that we actually did this, that you can actually hike up there.

We hurried back down the trail, caught the shuttle bus, got off at the wrong stop and saw the 3 Patriarchs, caught the shuttle bus again, and got back to our car.3 PspraisePsalm 121 ~ A song of ascents.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.


"How can I help but PRAISE HIM?"

viewaround the cornerEven though it was only about 10:30, we ate some lunch and then hit the road. We arrived at Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake a little after 5:00. What an interesting place!lake

The water was disgusting with slime on top and flies so thick on the shore that you have to keep your mouth closed and there is a black cloud around you. None-the-less, we were at the Salt Lake and had go float! We walked directly back to the shower so it wasn't too bad. Matthew was able to float for the first time ever and I almost was airborne since I float like a true Clem anyway!floatingslslviewflowersunsetsunsetWe didn't just love the atmosphere at Great Salt Lake (hot, humid, flies, smelly), but it was a neat experience! And the sunset was amazing! We just sat in wonder, twisting our heads around in every direction to not miss a single color or cloud!

And that ends Friday! We headed out Saturday morning, driving to a lake a few hours outside of Glacier NP. But being 4th of July weekend, we couldn't find a campsite. We stayed in a Motel6 suite that night (it was raining anyway), and drove into Glacier early Sunday morning.