Sunday, August 21, 2016

Where Ya Been, Lady?

Myself: Jodi, you started to blog about your fantastic summer road trip and then...

Jodi: I know, I know, I kinda gave up. <sigh>

Myself: Quitter! 

Jodi: Not really. I started to blog, then had surgery. Started again, then spent nine days cleaning M's classrooms. Six of those days were spent after I put in my own eight hours at my job. You see I was completely exhausted! Totally stressed! Sharing my memories seemed like a task to great for my tired hands to tackle. Being a supportive mom is always my priority!! 

Myself: How about you tease folks with a picture and short story? 

This is Iceberg Lake. A somewhat strenuous 10 mile round trip hike. The elevation gain is only 1275 feet, but the climate changes are apparent--hot and humid to cold. One can hardly complain about chilly air when the sun is shining and the view is beyond spectacular. We trekked across the snow boarded lake to get that great view and photograph.
 The view no matter where we stood was fantastic. 

I must be honest when I say no amount of photographs can truly show off the beauty of Glacier NP. It is a place that must be captured in your mind and stored in your heart. 

Can a picture really grab the beauty of the bear grass? Nope. Everywhere you hike in the park this beautiful wild flower greets you. 

If you take your time hiking the trail and soak in the surroundings your soul with absolutely be lifted. Peace fills you! 

Sunday, August 07, 2016

To The Top of the USA We Go!

It was time to say farewell to North Dakota and trail blaze to new territory. Montana here we come! 

I don't know about most people, but I actually have a bucket list. There's totally attainable things on my list (that are about making and finding the time), and some are awful big wishful dreams. Glacier National Park was totally one of those attainable bucket list items. Which finally we made the time for! 

We booked our St. Mary's campsite before we upgraded to the "wanderlust." The site fit our pop-up with room to spare. Glacier sites book early and fast, so getting a larger site was not going to happen. We sweat all the way to Montana, with fingers crossed that we could squeeze the "wanderlust" into the site . And we did! Sighs of relief and joy were breathed by the three of us! 

Here is the first travel log from our daily hikes. GNP is heaven on earth! Each hike marveled and WOWWED! When we thought one hike couldn't be topped, the park proved us wrong!! 

Our first hike: Cracker Lake, a relatively easy 12.5 round trip, that's view is the perfect prize. It was easy to forget the cold wind blowing when gazing out at the turquoise pool of water, surrounded glacier laced mountains. 

Cracker Lake is also a trail shared with horses, so we got pretty good at leaping and skipping around piles of dung. 

Walking across log bridges is always fun on a hike. Cracker Lake served a few up. 

 It was also our first Grizzly Bear sighting. As all good hiker's do we teamed up. Our team of three became a team of nine. All armed with bear spray.  We were told by a ranger no bear has ever attacked a group of three or larger. We did make sure to constantly talk as we hiked. We played "guess this movie." 

We enjoyed our backpack lunch on the west side of the lake, upon a cliff with a magnificent view of the turquoise water. We sat up there for 40 minutes. It was hard to decide to move on. 

On our way back we stopped at a road display to remember our first Grizzly sighting. 

To be continued....

Monday, August 01, 2016

North Vs South

Here are the journal notes I made about our 4-days at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. TRNP is toted as one of the best and least visited national parks in the system. Perhaps folks think North Dakota is just too far away? However far you think it's beauty and natural grandeur are worth the visit! 

The park rangers ask you to sign all trail logs before heading out on a hike. This helps the park with government funding...informs who's using their trails. Teddy Roosevelt was right in professing the therapeutic beauty of this place. Every trail proved it! 

Talk about rangers...TRNP has got to have the BEST rangers I've ever encountered. John, is the North Unit's sole back country ranger. He greets every park goer coming off or going on to the trails. Not just a hello and handshake, but in-depth conversations about the hike, what trails to hike, and what to look for on the trails. We bumped into John a third time, in the Visitors Center (M was getting her Jr. Ranger she has at every park since age 4) as we were leaving.
I believe we knew more about the history and geology of the park by the time we left. John talked to us about our lives and shared his life as well. He also absolutely loved that we raised our girls to love the national park system and hiking. Oh and John talks fast...spin your head fast! Loved it! 

North Unit - Central Time Zone, sunset 10:50pm, sunrise 5:30am
Camping: Juniper Campground, running water, flush toilets, electric in bathrooms, dump station, Little Missouri River runs through the campground, first come first serve (even on the 4th of July weekend there were a few sites available), no camp fire rings...must make your fire in the provided BBQ pit 

ND Badlands are beautiful! The 14-mile scenic drive is not a loop. 

Hiking: Caprock Coulee (loop) Trail, a must do, spectacular  views of the canyon and prairies from atop buetts, moderate 5 mile hike. If you can only hike one trail in the park, then this is the trail! 

Sperati Trail, easy 2.3 in and out trail, hike through tall grass fields peppered with wild flowers, view at the end of the trail is majestic 

Prairie Dog Town, easy 4.2 miles in and out, nice up close views of the badlands formations, fields of sage bush, nice easy grades to hike *never made it to see the prairie dogs because two buffalo grazing in the trail, unwilling to graze elsewhere, caused us no choice but to turn around. 

Little Mo River Trail: easy 2 mile in and out, dip in the river and cool off. River was low. This region of ND gets only 15.1 inches of rain a year (learned that tid but from Ranger John). We happened to be present for one inch of rain...ground so dry it was hardly evident that it had rained. 

Wild life: much more plentiful...buffalo roam freely through the park and campground, wild turkey (in the campground), Big Horn (spotted two on a ridge near the Mah De Hae Trail), deer, Boreal Chorus frogs (to small to see, but their unique sing song was unmistakable).

Let me take a moment to talk about the morning I walked out of the park bathroom and came face to face with a buffalo. It was cold outside, his warm breath expelling from his nostrils leaving puffs of white smoke; made him appear more angry than friendly. I froze in my step. He stared me down. I retreated back to the bathroom. He stayed put for a while. Then joined his herd in the field behind our camp site. 
The buffalo roamed freely and often through the campground. They are an awesome beast. 

Painted Canyon Visitor Center - offers an awesome view of the Painted Canyon.
It was also our opportunity to grab a picture with the TRNP sign. 

South Unit - Mountain Time Zone 
60 miles from the North Unit

Teddy Roosevelt's Maltese Cross cabin was moved to the South Unit, directly behind the visitors center. I loved standing in the cabin, knowing TR lived in there. A place steeped in history.

Camping: Cottonwood Campground same amenities as Juniper except you can make reservations and there is no dump station 

The campground is in the touristy Medora area. Outside the park there's plenty of restaurants, gift shops, outdoor musical theater, one gas station, private full hook-up campground in the downtown area 

Badlands scenic drive is a 36-mile loop

Hiking: Buck Hill, 0.2 mile uphill walk more than a hike, spectacular view

Original east park entrance sign, flat easy hike through a prairie dog field 

Petrified Forest - after a short distance into the hike you choose whether you want to visit the north or south side of the petrified forest. We chose the south side. Bring plenty of water. The area is open and hot on a July summer day. The 35 million year tree stumps are scattered about for a miles. 

After hiking we decided to visit Boots Bar & Grill for burgers and local brew. Seat yourself. No drink menu, but a detailed board as you enter lists the plentiful regional beer selections and the alcohol percent. We chose a 7.6% wheat beer.  Service was incredibly slow (employees are mostly foreign seasonal concessionaires, who speak little English). It's important to be patient. Food was good and hot. I recommend a visit! 

I so wish I could drive a mile down the road at home to be in TRNP. I am in love with the park! 

Oh ya, the North (wilderness) Unit wins my heart!!