MMMmmmm.......SPAM. Said no one ever.
29.08.2014 - 29.11.2014
Day Seven: MMMmmmm.......SPAM. Said no one ever.
Without electricity, waking up in a room at the chalet can be a cold, dark experience. We got dressed inside our sleeping bags, groomed ourselves out of a Ziploc bag, and ran to the warmth of the common building where we could sip coffee by the fire inside and make breakfast.
It was another beautiful day.
I made us a breakfast of hashbrowns topped with cheddar cheese, sundried tomatoes.....and ......spam.
Yes. Spam. I am not ashamed. Spam travels well. Any food that has a shelf life of "indefinite" is a food you want in your backpack. Maybe not in your stomach, certainly not in your intestines, but definitely in your backpack.
The horse disagrees.
We managed to hang around long enough to see the mule train arrive with supplies. Since the chalet is inaccessible by roads, supplies must be brought up a steep, winding 4 mile trail called The Loop. I would hate to be the guy that got to carry the mattresses.
It was our final hike of the trip, so we wanted to make it a good one. The first part of the trail took us up and over Swiftcurrent Pass where you can see forever.
Our hike would take us past the farthest lake. Really. And I mean that one waaaaaaay in the back.
After the pass, there is a steep descent on a narrow ledge. This seemed to be the trip for ledges. You’re welcome, Matt.
As we dropped into the valley below, we found a plethora of juicy, ripe huckleberries just waiting to be picked.
Did you know that Montana has the largest grizzly population in the lower 48? It’s a well-known fact that they mostly eat roots and huckleberries. A lesser known fact is that they berries generally come from inside humans who at the berries earlier.
We stopped for lunch at the lake: Peanut butter and jelly bagels with dried bananas and Snickers.
The last time I did this hike, I was wearing flip-flops duct taped to my feet because of some serious blisters. I couldn’t believe how much easier it was in ACTUAL BOOTS.
The end of the hike took us through the valley, through forests, wildflowers, waterfalls, lakes, and streams.
And dangling chipmunks.
And a moose! All my years of trying to see a moose out here and I manage to see two in one trip.
Apparently, all they do is stand in the water and eat.
Our reward was a giant cup of huckleberry soft serve at the Swiftcurrent store.
As we made the drive back to the west side of the park, I was still in awe of the beauty of this place.
We checked in to the Belton Chalet, just outside the west entrance to the park. We had never stayed here before, and I was immediately enamored with the quaint, historic inn.
Until they left a note on my car.
My very dirty car.
Oh, the shame.
But it was time to celebrate! We had hiked about 60 miles, climbed sheer rock faces (okay, with cables, but still….it was scary), teetered on narrow ledges, and narrowly escaped death at the jaws of ferocious wildlife. What? Those ground squirrels can be aggressive with the Fig Newtons, I’ll have you know.
We started off with drinks at the chalet lounge.
Then it was onto dinner at their world class restaurant. We started off with more cocktails. Of course. Then it was on to steamed Mussels served in a lager beer broth with jalapeno, chorizo, roasted cherry tomatoes, farm fresh greens & grilled toast. Next up was their southern mac and cheese, locally made penne in a pimento cheese sauce topped with sliced chorizo and crumbled pork rinds. Who doesn’t love a good pork rind? That was followed by a hot bowl of their savory potato soup. Finally, we shared the Montana Wagyu Delmonico Steak with scallion bacon cheddar mashed potatoes topped with smoked paprika chili butter and the Montana buffalo meatloaf wrapped in hickory-smoked bacon and served with a port wine mushroom demi and roasted shallot mashed potatoes with savory creamed corn.
THAT, my friends, was worth hiking 60 miles for.