Monday, March 29, 2010


We awakened the next morning ready to tackle a strenuous dayhike. We had our breakfast in the Dining Hall, grabbed our sack lunches of roast beef sandwiches, filled up our hydration packs and hit the trail.

This 8 mile round-trip day hike, took us up and over the mountain, through snowfields and gave us spectacular 360 degree views!

Charlie and I at Akaiyan Falls.

Continuing on the trail, we encounter the first snowfield. Uncle Perry and Charlie have an ultimate snow wrestling contest. Age won out over youth!

Looking back at Akaiyan Lake.

This is what we had to climb to get over the mountain. They had blasted out narrow stairs, set metal poles into the rock and put a chain cable for balance & support. Going up was not too bad, coming down was a tad scary.

Dave photographed me crossing another snowfield, approaching our destination-SPERRY GLACIER!

This where we ate our lunch, sitting on top of the world!


Dave and Charlie with some beautiful glacial lakes. On top of the world before coming back down!

Perry and I returning over Comeau Pass.

Off in the distance, the Sperry Chalet returns to our views again.

Another relaxing evening of a delicious dinner and cards in the Dining Hall await!.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Dave and his brother Perry had headed out on their short backcountry hike, over Gunsight Pass, overnighting it at Lake Ellen Wilson. The next day we were to rendez-vous at the SPERRY CHALET.
From the website:
Sperry Chalet was built in 1913 by James J. and son Louis Hill of the Great Northern Railway, the prime developer of Glacier National Park. Listed as an Historic Landmark, these rustic buildings, built of native rock, have survived their rugged environment relatively unchanged for over 90 years.

Charles and I left St Mary's Campground at 6AM, drove over the Going To The Sun Road and arrived at Lake McDonald at 7:15. We grabbed a quick bite of breakfast and checked in at the stable by 8AM. We were allowed to wear our Camelbaks but had to pack our clothes and other items into the saddlebags that would be slung over our horses. I grew up in the inner city and have had practically NO experience with horses. If reading all of those horse stories as a young girl would've enabled me to be knowledgable, I could be an expert! As the Trail Boss was explaining the directives and "driving instructions", his horse was stomping and throwing his head all over the place. I thought, "Wow, that horse is a handful, I hope mine is as docile as a carousel pony!" To my disbelief, he singles me out and motions me to come over and get on SON OF SATAN, I mean..."BLAZER", the VERY horse he's on! The whole 6.5 mile ride up to the chalet I fought that horse! Even on the really steep parts of the trail when he should have been "focused", all he did was eat! He grabbed not only grass and ferns but he was even eating seedling pine trees! Charlie, who was right behind me on his horse SHORTY (the biggest horse at the stable) asked me if I was "riding a horse or a pig?" The Wrangler In Charge later told me that BLAZER had been a free-range rescued mustang. That didn't change my opinion of the demon horse however!

Once I was free of the devil horse, we checked into the chalet. Our family was given a room that would sleep the 4 of us, within the actual chalet. Charles flops on Uncle Perry's bed!

The Sperry Chalet is only 1 of 2 remaining backcountry chalets built in the early days of Glacier National Park. The Great Northern Railroad funded the building of the chalets for early tourists, before the "Going To The Sun Road" was put in. There are 3 seperate buildings-a dormitory, kitchen and restroom facility. This is the dormitory.

This is a picture of Charles in the Dining Hall with his piece of home-made Apple Pie! The chalet is only open 10 weeks in the summer and has a staff of 9 people to work it. They do everything from cooking, including a baker, to housekeeping. The staff was wonderful to say the least, it was a very first class experience! Our cost included dinner that evening-turkey with all the trimmings, a made to order breakfast and a sack lunch! By the way, I had home-made peach pie!

Charles and I were at the chalet about an hour before Dave & Perry caught up with us. There are resident mountain goats all over this mountaintop. They are accustomed to people but are still wild and skiddish.

One of the locals hanging out on the deck of the chalet!

After Dave and Perry cleaned up and we had relaxed, we gathered in the Dining Room to await our Turkey Dinner complete with Pumpkin Pie for dessert! The chalet only operates on propane power and all supplies as well as garbage are packed in and out, on horseback. The staff cleans up after dinner and the dining room is opened back up, for a couple of hours to the guests. Coffee and tea are served and it is lit inside for reading, playing games, visiting or playing cards as we did.

After breakfast the next morning we will collect or sack lunches and head out to Sperry Glacier.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


When Norman Vaughan passed away just a few days past his 100th Birthday it made the news and not just beause of his Centurion milestone. Mr Vaughan was the last surviving member of Admiral Byrd's South Pole expedition of 1928-1930. Admiral Byrd named a mountain in his honor and in 1994, just 3 days shy of his 89th birthday this gentleman climbed it! He was planning another climb, to celebrate his 100th birthday when he was taken ill and passed away.

This book and his autobiography, "My Life Of Adventure", are 2 wonderful books!! "With Byrd At The Bottom Of The World" opens in 1927 with a meeting between a young Norman Vaughan and Admiral Byrd. Norman was knowledgeable in the handling of dogs and was hired on in that capacity for the 1928-1930 expedition. This book tells not only of their exploration of the South Pole but the relationship that exisits between dog and man. He writes in particular of one of the dogs growing lame and the lengths that someone will go to in order to save him.
This is from Mr. Vaughan's website:

Antarctica, the vast frozen continent, eerily lit by a sun that never sets in the summer, plunged into months of darkness in the winter ... for Richard E. Byrd, exploring the land that had already taken the lives of many great adventurers was a challenge he could not resist.

His 1928-1930 expedition was history in the making, and Norman Vaughan was there to see it happen. Brought on to handle the expedition's sled dogs, the young Vaughan was in for the adventure of a lifetime.

Admiral Byrd and his men attracted worldwide attention with their accomplishments: the building of Little America, the first settlement on Antarctica; the discovery of Marie Byrd Land; an important of Antarctic geography and geology; and the historic first flight over the South Pole.

For Vaughan, it all began one day in September 1927 with a newspaper headline that read, "Byrd to the South Pole." Vaughan persuaded Byrd to let him join the expedition by agreeing to work without pay to get Byrd's dogs ready for the trip to Antarctica. He spent a year training dogs, building cages and sleds, and assembling gear for a year on the ice.

The voyage to Antarctica was itself an adventure. Vaughan worked with the coal-shoveling gang in the hold of the ship, spent thirty-six straight hours in the crow's nest spotting icebergs, and had to solve a crisis with the dog food supply.

The expedition's arrival at the Ross Ice Barrier heralded a new set of challenges. Vaughan and the other drivers spent three full months carrying 650 tons of construction materials and supplies from the ships to Little America, nine miles inland.

Once settled in Little America, Vaughan and the others expected to peacefully wait out the months of the long night. It was not to be, however. Another dog driver, jealous of Vaughan's popularity, was plotting his murder! The tension brought on by the endless hours of darkness led to conflicts among the men, and it was all Byrd could do to keep order.

When the sun returned, Vaughan set out with the geological party to explore land on which no man had ever before set foot. The hundreds of miles of hard traveling took a toll on the dogs, and Vaughan was forced to make hard choices.

Bad weather threatened to keep the expedition in Antarctica another year, but their luck held, and as the freezing ice closed in behind them, their ship began the long voyage home.

Safely back in the United States, Vaughan had trouble adjusting to normal life. When Byrd offered him an opportunity to join the second Antarctic expedition, Vaughan jumped at the chance. But Byrd was continually changing the plans and focus of the expedition, largely because of his unwillingness to share the limelight. In growing disillusionment, Vaughan resigned from the expedition. Nevertheless, Vaughan and Byrd remained friends in the years that followed.

In With Byrd at the Bottom of the World, Vaughan vividly recounts this amazing series of adventures. From the sublime to the ridiculous, nothing is left out. The historic moments, the practical jokes, the jealousies and the affection among compatriots, the dangers of a frozen and inhospitable continent, plus Vaughan's insights into Byrd's personality and place in history - all are related with warmth and sincerity.

This gentleman lived more in his 100 years than anyone can even grasp or imagine. This book captivated me right from the start. Norman's motto for life:
Dream big and dare to fail!"

Good words to live by!

Friday, March 19, 2010


In June of 2006, we did a family vacation taking in the sights of ARCHES NP, BRYCE CANYON NP, GRAND CANYON NP & MESA VERDE NP celebrating our youngest daughter's high school graduation.

We were in Arches during a heat wave where the temperatures hovered near the century mark, unusual for early June. Having a camp fire in the evening was completely out of the question at our campsite in the Devil's Garden Campground.

We arrived at the trailhead as they were resurfacing the parking lot. Besides filling our Camelbak's, Laura, Charlie and I carried 2 20 oz. bottles of water each. By the end of the hike, we had drained every drop!

"From the trailhead the path goes for only 0.3 mile before another spur trail leaves on the right to Pine Tree Arch and Tunnel Arch. Both Pine Tree and Tunnel are very young arches with relatively small openings surrounded by large masses of rock. They are not as impressive as some of the other arches, but as a prelude to the next arch-one of oldest-you should take the time to see them. The side trip to these two arches will extend your hike by about 0.6 mile."

Tunnel Arch

Pine Tree Arch

Landscape Arch
"On September 1, 1991, a 73-foot slab of rock fell out from underneath the thinnest section of the span. This was captured on video by a Swiss tourist who happened to be behind the arch at the time. On the sound track of the video, another hiker can be heard saying "I don't think I want to walk back under there!" The rock that fell, however, was probably not structurally important to the arch. In fact, by reducing the weight of suspended rock, the arch was probably strengthened."
On June 5, 1995, a 47-foot mass of rock fell from the front of the thinnest section of the arch, followed by another 30-foot rock fall on June 21. Due to these events the Park Service has closed the loop trail that once led underneath the arch.

This resident along the trail blends right in!

The trail continues with the snow capped La Sal Mountains off in the distance!

"From Landscape Arch the trail continues northward, past Wall Arch, to another short spur trail leading to Navajo and Partition Arches. Navajo Arch, on the western edge of Devils Garden, is the larger of the two. Visiting these two arches will add about 0.7 mile onto your hike."
On the way to Navajo Arch, Charlie found this rock formation and waited for us to come along whereupon he he yelled "BOO!" and tried to grab us!

Hiking across Entrada Sandstone, eventually, after many years, these "fins" will dissolve and create arches as well!

Dave's youngest brother Perry and I with the La Sal Mountains behind us.

From atop the "fins", Dave photographs me heading over to the Black Arch Overlook.

Our final destination, Double "O" Arch.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


We awoke early Friday July 28th, 2006 as was our custom the entire trip, with a hike to Sentinl Dome on the agenda for the day. Dave has an ever increasing library of hiking books that give very precise and detailed information about hiking specific trails. These are valuable, if you don't misinterpret them! This particuliar hike, less than 2 1/2 miles roundtrip is listed as an easy one and connected with an old service road at one point.
On the trail before bushwacking! Sentinel Dome is in the background.

The instructions made it seem as though you veer off to the left around the dome, scaling the less sloping side. It did NOT say to hike on the old road at all. Being the good wife, I followed Dave to the left, hiking on our own (translation: no trail). After 15 minutes of steep rock, sliding around, being scratched up by bushes etc. I called it quits! I told him I was going back to where we turned off the trail and would meet him there. He informed me that I would be by myself for quite a while because once he got to the top, he'd be there photographing. I said "Okie-dokie!" I was tired of bushwacking and the thought of more of the same getting to the top of Sentinel Dome just didn't appeal to me!!

I left him, got back to the trail and decided to go up the road a little ways to see what kind of view lie ahead. As I began to hike, I saw that the road, as it went up the hill, would top out and hopefully give me some kind of a nice photo op. When I reached the top I realized that I was on the correct trail and not my trail-blazing, bush-whacking husband! Twenty minutes after leaving Dave I was standing on top of Sentinel Dome! Where he was was anyone's clue!

I hiked all over the top, looking down over the edges for him, yelling his name. Nothing! I went back to where I had left my camelbak and relaxed for 15 minutes with my water and granola bar. I repeated my earlier wandering, looking and yelling his name. Still nothing! After 30 minutes, I began to get concerned. I wondered if he had fallen and possibly hurt himself.

The views from the top of Sentinal Dome give a 360 degree view of Yosemite. It's absolutely amazing!
To the left is Half Dome and the waterfalls are Nevada Falls and below it, Vernal Falls.

From the top you can see Upper & Lower Yosemite Falls.

On top of the dome, there was a lone, twisted, dead Jeffrey Pine tree that was photographed famously for years, even Ansel Adams had made this hike to photograph the tree. The Jeffrey Pine Tree had died from drought in 1977 despite attempts by volunteers to save it by hauling buckets of water to the top of the dome. It finally fell in 2003 after a series of severe storms.

During my stay, numerous people came and went but still no sign of Dave. I wondered if he had called it quits and was waiting for me where we said we'd meet? As a group of Boy Scouts made their departure, I asked one of the Dad's if he, "saw a bald guy in a green Cabela's cap, black shorts and a green shirt named Dave, tell him his wife Connie is waiting for him at the top of the dome".

About 20 minutes later, my tired, scratched up warrior reached the top of the Dome! He had actually caught a glimpse of me during my 2nd attempt to try and find him. He realized that the road must have been the correct trail after all even though the book did NOT tell us to stay on the road. Although I had been there almost an hour, we stayed for another half hour so Dave could get his pictures.

Taking a break by the famous Jeffrey Pine.

Dave with Half Dome and Nevada Falls.

We hiked back to the trailhead, enjoying an opportunity to stick our feet in Sentinel Creek, talking about our adventure and all of the wondrous sights we had seen!

Monday, March 15, 2010


I first became aware of Timothy Treadwell by reading a short story on him in Reader's Digest, after his death. His death was horrific, one akin to being attacked by a shark only his was to be eaten by bears, along with his girlfriend. Apparently he had acquired some fame with his features on Animal Planet's, "Grizzly Man Diaries" as well as guest spots periodically on a National level. He had gained quite a following among Conservation extremists but he also received a lot of criticism from reputable Conservationsists for his unorthodoxed behaviors.

I purchased this book when we were in Glacier National Park on our 2005 Summer visit. It was a very good read, holding my interest the entire time. Subsequently, Werner Herzog made a movie about Treadwell titled, "Grizzly Man". For the first time, I saw the extraordinary film footage that Treadwell had recorded of the Brown Bears that he loved and adored and ultimately lost his life to. Regardless of how exquisite the footage is of rare and never before seen behaviors, the guy completely crossed the line in my opinion!

I believe from information that the author gives, Treadwell had some real mental issues. As a child he showed the classic symptoms of ADHD and Dyslexia. As an adult he delved into depression, alcohol and drugs. To his credit, discovering his passion for the Grizzlies was the way he overcame those dependencies. Sadly, the adreneline rush he got from his bear encounters replaced it. I wonder if as an adult, he would've been diagnosed as Bi-Polar? Undiagnosed and untreated (this Bi-Polar theory of mine) would've driven him to outrageous and unacceptable behavior that goes beyond common sense.

A very informative and well-done book!

From the back cover:
"On the afternoon of Sunday, October 5, 2003, in Alaska's Katmai National Park, one or more brown bears killed and ate Timothy Treadwell and his girlfriend, Amie Huguenard. The next day, park rangers investigating the site shot and killed two bears that threatened them; it was later determined that one of the bears had human flesh and clothing in its stomach.
This chilling story immediately captured worldwide media attention, not only because of the horrific manner of Timothy and Amie's deaths, but also because Timothy was a well-known wildlife celebrity. His films of close-up encounters with grizzly bears – he spent more than a dozen summers living with and videotaping giant bears in the Alaskan bush – were the subject of television talk shows, movies, and books.
But his work was not without controversy, and some bear experts felt that Treadwell's fatal encounter was a tragedy waiting to happen – the result of the unorthodox tactics he used in his life among the bears.
Death in the Grizzly Maze is the compelling account of Treadwell's intense life and dramatic death. Author Mike Lapinski chronicles Treadwell's rise from self-described alcoholic loser to popular grizzly-bear advocate. Lapinski explores how a waiter from Malibu, California, with no background in biology or wildlife science, came to be considered a bear expert. And he reveals the high cost of the current craze for wildlife celebrities – and what it means for the future of wildlife conservation."

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Glacier NP is my favorite park that we have been to so far. I love the mountain vistas, the "Going To The Sun" road, the history and well, it's in MONTANA! I have said before that I have been to a lot of different places but the feeling that swept over me the first time I went to Montana, was like no other. It's as if my spirit knew that this is my home!

The hike to DEADWOOD FALLS wasn't a long hike by any standards! Dave and his youngest brother Perry were going to do a short backcountry hike up Gunsight Pass, camp overnight at Lake Ellen Wilson and the next day they were to rendez-vous with Charlie and I (who were going up on horseback) at the SPERRY CHALET.

Perry, Charlie and Dave at the Trailhead.

The Great Northern Railroad built a chain of chalets in the earliest days of the Park as a means of attracting visitors. There was no "Going To The Sun" Road at that time, so riding horseback was the only means of seeing this "Crown Of the Continent". Out of all the chalets built, SPERRY & GRANITE PARK are the only 2 that remain. Charlie and I decided to hike in a short way with Dave and Perry to Deadwood Falls but after a half mile in, Charlie decided to go back to the van. The 3 of us hiked the remaining 3/4 mile of the trail, part of it running parallel to Reynold's Creek until we reached our destination.

Reynolds Creek as it prepares to enter the small gorge leading up to Deadwood Falls.

The creek runs through this gorge....
and collects in this deep pool before going over the 30 foot Falls.

After a short break and snapping off pictures, I kissed Dave goodbye and told him that I would see him the next day at SPERRY CHALET.

Upon leaving the guys, I had to hike back to the van, ALONE! I had been under the impression that I was going in with them, a short walk to the watherfall, not 1.3 miles. Thus, I had brought no daypack and no bear spray! Dave laughed that this would probably be a good time for me to sing, (the only time I wouldn't receive a hard time or groans when I bursted into an exuberant song!) The only problem was that it was all uphill going back and my breath was being used for other things, mainly breathing rather than singing! As I wound through the forest and berry bushes I thought of scenes from 2 different movies.

The first movie that came to my mind was "Jurassic Park"; that scene where the dinosaurs are sneaking through the vegetation and yank out the stragglers that are crossing through the meadow in single file formation! The other movie was "Return of the Mummy", where the voodoo, pygmy creatures with blow darts, are screaming through the jungle killing everyone in sight! I tried to quiet my over-active imagination but just when I thought I had gotten it under control, I heard a noise in the vegetation and stopped. It stopped as well. Peering out under the canopy of green, I strained my eyes for a glimpse of grizzly fur. I saw nothing and after what seemed like an eternity I resumed walking. After a few paces, I heard the noise again and felt something reach for my leg! I took off running, knowing full well that I could never outrun a griz with my short, fat legs! Waiting for something to tackle me as I ran, I replayed the events in my mind. Only after I had "ran" a short distance did I realize what had happened. As the morning had worn on, the temperatures had risen and I tied my rainjacket around my waist. The vegetation covered over parts of the trail and as I had walked through, the swishy nylon had brushed against the plants and then bounced back onto my leg! When the full realization hit me, I laughed so hard at my own foolishness that I am sure whatever creatures were lurking in the woods, had been chased off.

When hiking I have learned to never take yourself TOO seriously!