Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Vacation (Pt. 5)

And so we come to the end.

After finishing our 15+ mile hike on Thursday we drove the rest of the Going-to-the-Sun road, stopping for the very short walk at Trail of the Cedars which is old growth. Erin and I were whiny about it because we wanted dinner, but wound up enjoying all 200 or so yards of the trail. I, brilliant person that I am, had never realized that Cedar was an evergreen. So now I know what they look like. The other sort of tree that the have a lot of is Black Cottonwood. I actually like them much better than the Cedars...interesting bark.

There was one Cottonwood that had a giant hole in the side and a hollow trunk large enough for my sister and I to crawl into together. The amazing thing about that one was that it was still alive.

We were driving around Lake McDonald as the sun set. It was setting into the 'v' of a mountain. And also, as a glowing orange ball, it's light streaking out over the small waves, into the lake, wavering reflective mountains stretching out behind it. I think that little stabbing knife of beauty is always sharpest when it's unexpected.

Talking about those surprising moments, two others come to mind. The first was when we were in Big Bend. The weather was miserably hot and we decided to get up early in the morning to begin our hike just as the sun rose. But, being from Northern climes, we forgot to factor in the fact that the sun would rise later so far south. So when we got up at 5 in the morning, it was still pitch black. Crawling out of the tent, we could see the stars unfurling and there seemed to be a depth and volume to the sky that we hadn't seen before, while the Chisos mountains were visible only in their unrelieved blackness.

The second was the morning after we drove into California. We'd left Las Vegas in early evening because driving through the desert in the middle of the day didn't seem like a fun proposition (and we'd done quite a bit of the driving through the desert thing by then) and when we got to the Sierra Nevadas we turned and drove north along their eastern edge. We stopped around midnight and pitched our tent using our headlights for light. The next day we found ourselves on the shore of a lake with the snow-capped peaks rising sharply behind us.

Of all the things we did on the trip, those two still, lovely mornings are among those that I remember best. This evening was very much like that.

Friday we spent wandering around, basically doing nothing. We rented a canoe and went boating on Lake McDonald. It was so windy once you left the shore that it made for some tough paddling.

And we were sure to go to the lake as the sun was setting. Nothing spectacular, but the clouds were certainly pretty all lit from below.

We were flying home Saturday, so all we really had to do was pack up the tent and drive to the airport in Kalispell. My father, morning person that he is, woke up early Saturday morning to photograph the morning mist coming off the lake (that's just some random guy in the picture).

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