"Could I have this dance for the rest of my life?" - Anne Murray

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Catch-up Days

Today is a catch-up day. The weather here has been so gorgeous and we do so much adventuring that it's hard to find the time to stay inside, take care of chores and write the blog.  I have to say this is a very nice problem to have. I would prefer to write little entries more often, but this week I'll do a big one to cover some of what we've done recently.  Rick will probably wash the truck while I do this.

This week seemed to be all about water, so I'll start with a little orientation to the bodies of water around here. We are in the Flathead Valley, which was formed by a glacier in the distant past, and was once the massive prehistoric Lake Missoula.  North of the present day valley is Glacier National Park, which has a few glacier lakes of its own, including Lake McDonald.

Flathead Lake, which is fed by the snow and glaciers via the Flathead River, is at the center of this huge beautiful valley now.  It is also drained by the Flathead River out the south end. It is a natural lake, but is now regulated by the Kerr Dam. The next four photos are of the Kerr Dam and the Flathead River flowing out of it.

Pretty dramatic.  Notice the water color? That is typical glacial water. We've been told that the tiny rock and clay particles created by the glaciers are suspended in the water and create this color somehow. I don't quite get this, as the water seems crystal clear to me, like the water in the Caribbean.  But I trust the sources who know a lot more about this that I do.

We took a rafting trip down the Flathead, which we didn't get many pictures of. It's kind of hard to take pictures while you're paddling down class 3 and 4 rapids.  After the heavy paddling we floated sans boat, 
along a flat stretch in that heavenly clear turquoise water. Saw several bald eagles in dead trees on the shore line. I'd say this rafting trip was a high point.

Another day we drove through the Swan Valley, a smaller glacial valley running parallel to the Flathead Valley. Less developed, with more trees, so the views are closer, less expansive. We stopped at several lakes along the way. The above photo is from Salmon Lake State Park. The little yellow dash in the water is Kona.

Here might be a good time to relate that we spend a good portion of our time finding places for Kona to swim. Being a golden retriever, she lives to swim. As we travel this gives us great motivation to stop, get out of the car, dabble around, get us all some exercise and see some great sites we might otherwise miss. 

This was the same day we ate dinner at Latitude 48, which I wrote about earlier. Here's the sunset we caught on the way home.

A few days later we spent the day kayaking in Lake McDonald in Glacier Park. Sounds perfect, and it was, but let me tell you frankly, it was also a big friggin' deal.  Lake McDonald is about 2 hours away. We unloaded three bags of kayak parts, a bag of water gear, a bag of tarps and pads to kneel on, two coolers, a back pack with dry clothes, cameras and Kona. 

Then we had to assemble the kayaks, which is supposed to be a snap by now, but is not. After struggling for about an hour with mine, I was pretty darn cranky. But a little paddle out on this incredible lake in perfect conditions helped my mood a lot. The Folbot kayak I have paddles smooth as silk. 

Then we assembled Rick's and he got a paddle in. Because we had Kona with us we had to paddle one person at a time. (We're planning another paddle day with Kona in doggie day care.) There was no one around much of the time, with only a flurry of picnickers around mid-day. You'll see how different the light is between my paddle (early in the day) and Rick's (later). At the end of these long Montana days the sun shines on the mountains and makes them look almost bleached out and kind of surreal. But it's real. 

A thunder storm precluded much more paddling, so we packed up all our stuff (easy to say, but disassembling is as hard as assembling) and had dinner at Eddie's in Apgar, a tiny cluster of stores in the park at the tip of Lake McDonald. 

We have to find a way to do this kayak thing with less effort. Maybe we'll figure out how to transport the kayaks assembled - some kind of a rack on the truck? I sure hope so.

Anyway, after a nice drive "home" along the lake we caught another sunset back in Polson. 

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