Well! If it's Tuesday, it must be Helena. This is my fourth trip in a row on trip #611, ie Helena & Spokane overnights. I was planning on exploring the mountains south of the hotel a little more today, but I apparently forgot to pack my hiking shorts yesterday. My only pants are a nice pair of khakis, and I'm not going to risk ruining them. There are so many better things to spend money on than clothes!
Dawn and I flew to Kalispell, MT, over the weekend. We were visiting our friends Jeremy & Crystal. Jeremy instructed with me at ADP, then came to Ameriflight shortly after me. He stuck around after I bailed, and he's already flying the SA227 (Metroliner). I'm sure he'll be a captain at SWA before I get my 1000 turbine PIC hours! Anyways, his Billings-based run is outstationed at Kalispell, and there aren't many more beautiful places you could live.
So the plan for this weekend was to go camping in Glacier National Park. I didn't get back from my trip until late on Friday, so we flew out early Saturday morning. We brought our backpacks and camping gear; my MSR Pocket Rocket propane stove aroused considerable interest at the security checkpoint, since the pot supports are somewhat sharp. This was the shake-out run for the gear we bought during last week's spending spree at REI. Besides the stove, we bought a REI Half-Dome backpacking tent and a lightweight cookset. All told, my pack felt about 10 lbs lighter than our last trip to the Cascades, and all the gear worked great. I really love the new tent.
Despite arriving at the park at 3pm on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, there were a ton of camping spots available. We picked a nice one, pitched our tents, and headed up the Going To The Sun Road. We drove as far as St. Mary's Lake and did a little hiking at Logan Pass, then headed back to camp for some Jambalaya & sitting around the campfire.
Sunday, we hiked back to Avalanche Lake. I should mention that Crystal is seven months pregnant with their first child, so I was pretty impressed when she set the pace for us. The lake was gorgeous, and despite what the above link says, we saw some rather large cutthroat trout in the clear waters. They were quite aggressive, and we were kicking ourselves for leaving the fishing poles behind.
I'm really looking forward to the 17th. My dad is coming out, and he and Dawn and I will be doing a backpacking trip into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for good weather.
It's Spokane tonight. Yay for BBQ ribs and peach cobbler at Chicken-N-More!