CA – The Eddys, Parks Creek Trailhead – Let’s Go Hiking! (May 2021)

It’s time for another chapter. Graduation doesn’t mean I’m ready for epic adventures but with increasing feelings of normalcy it’s time to HIKE! The challenge is finding easy trail and this is where time spent on the PCT comes in handy. I knew this stretch would be a perfect test. While most head south to the Deadfall Lakes or Mt Eddy summit, I hiked north toward Cement Bluff and Bull Lake.

Early spring blooms gave me reason to take it slow. Recently I watched a video about botany in the area (Serpentine Botanical Wonders) which taught me I’d been erroneously been calling these Pasqueflowers when instead they are Anemone drummondii.

With their very distinctive leaf shape, I learned these are Viola lobata.

These are very tiny lupine, most likely Lupinus lepidus var. sellulus.

I thought this might be a rare Mt Eddy Lupine, but my botany friends burst my bubble by indicating it is Astragalus whitneyi var. siskiyouensis.

Blue Flax

Hydrophyllum occidentale.

The paintbrush and phlox were the most common blooms.

Lewisia nevadensis.

Claytonia obovata, Spring Beauty.

As I walked toward Mt Eddy I couldn’t help but remember the day nearly 9 months ago when my knee said POP (link). I’ll be back, I have no doubt especially after this hike. I felt strong and ready to start rebuilding my strength and endurance.

My journal post, “I took my knee for a walk and what did I find? Yes miles of smiles! I’m learning to accept #WhatICanDo and making each of those moments meaningful. I hiked 5 miles! YES 5 miles without any complaints or setbacks.”

Previous jaunts in this area:

MT – Glacier NP, Snyder Lake . . . another J&J Adventure!

With the trailhead conveniently located near Lake McDonald Lodge, this is one of those trails I’d personally avoid during prime season. However getting to explore park favorites, minus the crowds, is one of many off-season hiking benefits. 

Spring travel means getting to see the early season bloomers, like Fairy Slipper orchid (Calypso bulbosa), Spring Beauty (Claytonia lanceolata) and Trillium (Trillium ovatum). 

Nature helps keep crowds at bay. How many want to do the trail obstacle limbo? Good thing my friend Joan is an experienced tree gymnast and dancer, she doesn’t mind the additional challenge. Also notice, the bear spray she’s wearing on her belt. This is not only grizzly country, but it’s spring which means bears are waking from their long winter slumber, they are hungry, they have babies to feed, and it’s our job to prevent bear encounters.

Spring travel means being prepared for all kinds of conditions, like hiking through trail that more closely resembles a creek. We wore tall gaiters plus plastic bags over our socks to keep our feet drier and warmer.

And trails more suitable for skis or snowshoes. We wore our microspikes on these slippery sections. 

Transitioning to and from bridges can be a little tricky. Hiking poles with snow baskets and microspikes improve success and safety.

Although the forecast called for 90% chance of rain, we also came prepared with hats and sunscreen. 

Snow travel means sketchy navigation. Although we both enjoy electronic tools, we also come prepared with map and compass. Is Joan lost? Nah, she’s either doing a little trail reconnaissance or more likely enjoying the views. 

But the rewards of these little inconveniences are views like this.

Date(s) Hiked: April 23, 2016

Road Trip Day(s) #65 out of 88

Tips:

  • The hike from Sperry Chalet Trailhead (aka Snyder Creek TH) to Snyder Lake is about 9 miles round trip with 2,000+ feet elevation gain/loss. 
  • The only campgrounds in the park open during the winter/early spring season are Apgar and St Mary
  • Come prepared with grizzly bear spray or buy at Visitor’s Center upon arrival
  • Microspikes or YakTrax are a good option for early season travel.

Resources:

Links:

MT – Glacier NP – Going to the Sun Road . . . where 2 are better than 4

Experiencing Glacier National Park has been tops on my list for the past few years. While I wasn’t planning an April visit, it seemed destined. When it became apparent Utah’s tourism season had arrived, I escaped to the north spending time in Wyoming visiting Flaming Gorge NRA, Wind River RangeGrand Tetons NP, and Yellowstone NP before continuing onward to Montana and eventually to Glacier NP. First stop was Lake McDonald.

Crews were working hard to open the Going-to-the-Sun Road, but with it still closed I had limited options for early season camping and hiking. Apgar is only open to tent camping and since I planned to sleep in my car, Saint Mary was my best option. It took me a couple hours to reach the northeast side of the park.

You won’t hear any complaints from me when you have near solitude and this great “dinner with a view” lakeside seat. 

This was a pretty great campsite. How about going to sleep and waking up to this scene?

While wondering around I came across this lily. According to my research, this lily is not native to Glacier and may have been planted as a joke. I took this photo with my phone and I believe it was a solo plant. Is this really a Fawn Lily aka White Beauty (Erythronium californicum)?

The next morning I hiked the Going-to-the-Sun Road. It was mostly clear of snow and obstacles. I was a little jealous of the cyclists cruising the pavement but in other ways it was nice to take my time and enjoy views along the shores of Saint Mary Lake. 

The flat light and gray skies may have reduced the drama of these spectacular mountains, but they didn’t dampen my spirits. I know I’ll be back to capture these images with a pack on my back and feet on real trail.

The 2003 Roberts Fire may have left a 135,000 acre scar; however, it opened up views once hidden by vegetation.

Are you St Mary or Virginia Falls?

Are you Gunsight Pass? Are you Jackson and Blackfoot Glaciers?

With all the snowmelt, water was plentiful. Who needs recorded music when you have nature’s soundtrack?

As much as I wanted to make it to Logan Pass, I decided it best to turn around after 7.5 miles at the Jackson Glacier Overlook. My decision was reaffirmed when I met a guy on his bike who said he was blocked by snow at Siyeh Bend, not far from my turnaround point.

The burned trees were a sad distraction.

I’m looking forward to returning another day when I can experience the beautiful colors of these mountains. 

Making my way back to the Saint Mary Lake campground. 

When I wasn’t tripping over my feet staring in awe at the big mountains, I found a few wildflowers, including Eastern Pasqueflower (Anemone patens) and Yellow Avalanche or Glacier Lily (Erythronium grandiflorum).

I just loved the pasqueflower. I’ve seen them frequently in the post-bloom stage when they look like they belong in a Dr. Seuss book, but never in this soft pastel lavender fuzzy stage. 

Glacier Lily (Erythronium grandiflorum) and Spring Beauty (Claytonia lanceolata)

Shooting Star (Dodecatheon pulchellum)

Darkwoods Violet (Viola orbiculata)

? Strawberry (Fragaria virginiana)

Rocky Mountain Clematis (Clematis occidentalis).

A good reminder to carry bear spray and be bear aware. ‘Tis NOT the season to surprise a hungry bear, especially a mom with cubs. 

Date(s) Hiked: April 22, 2016

Road Trip Day(s) #64 out of 88

Tips:

  • The hike from Mary Lake Campground to Jackson Glacier Viewpoint is about 15 miles round trip with 2,000+ feet elevation gain/loss.
  • The only campgrounds in the park open during the winter/early spring season are Apgar and St Mary
  • Come prepared with grizzly bear spray or buy at Visitor’s Center upon arrival
  • Microspikes or YakTrax are a good option for early season travel.

Resources:

Links: