Friday, August 1, 2014

Degrees of freedom.

Laura made here annual milk run to Atlanta this month and took the baby, leaving me with two weeks of wretched bachelor excessiveness: too much biking, too much skiing, too much hiking, too much red meat, too much red wine, etc., etc. But as usual, when things get tough, I roll up my sleeves and look at the tattoo on my bulging bicep, and that gives me the inspiration and strength to forge on:

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Sunrise ski run on Logan Pass. In the parking lot, in the half-dawn of morning, a Japanese tourist came up to me and said "Ski run closed. You make trouble for ranger." Must have been something going around, because later that day, by Ptarmigan Lake, an earnest hiker stopped me and said that the tunnel was closed. It was open.

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Thanks to the wonders of technology, I can now gather all sorts of data on meaningless activities. Here's the run-down from 14 days of riding solo:

city biking: 15 miles
skiing: 4 runs, 9 miles, 2,400 vertical feet
hiking: 67.1 miles, 9,900 vertical feet
mountain biking: 143.9 miles, 13,900 vertical feet

Back in Glacier, I hiked the famous Iceberg Lake Trail, realizing only too late I had left my skis in the car:

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More from Iceberg:

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I also did the Highline:

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High above the Highline Trail -- it rained and blew hard for about 90 minutes, all the while with the temperature in the high 40s. I got some shelter at the Granite Park Chalet, then emerged to this:

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Grinnell Peak and its glacier. It's hard to capture the wild and desolate starkness of hiking all day to peer into something ancient and empty like this:

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And looking down on the Salamander Glacier:

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Glacier is full of wildlife, like this creepy huge chipmunk:

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Here is some deer they have stuffed in front of a mural in the visitor center, where I spent most of my time watching interpretive movies and getting brochures:

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The view from Ptarmigan Pass, near where the tunnel was supposedly closed:

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An evening stroll around Swiftcurrent Lake:

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Early morning at St. Mary:

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Biking in Ninemile -- who knew?

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More from Ninemile:

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Driving the family car without family in it, I also went to Yellowstone and the Beartooth-Absaroka. Lady of the Lake, just north of Yellowstone.

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From near the summit of Wilse (11,800 feet) in the Beartooth.

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I actually pulled the plug on Wilse about 150 feet below the summit because this guy was hogging the trail. I went left, he went right: both faced with overhanging cornices, vertical rock, and glacier ice, we were soon back looking at each other.

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Humiliating loser's descent from Wilse:

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Random lake (actually, Gardner, I think) on the Beartooth Plateau. Any given 10 square miles of the Beartooth will easily have 100 lakes, ranging from backyard-sized plunge pools to something a mile long. So, yeah, basically: God's Mosquito Country.

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I camped at a trailhead the second night, and as it was getting dark a truck pulling a boat pulled up and set up camp near me. It was a ranching couple from Red Lodge, and they made me some gin and tonics. The guy was a talker, and mostly he talked about grizzly bears. "Oh, the griz around here mostly just keep to themselves," he said at one point. Not a minute later he was practically in my face -- "These are not the fat and happy griz you have over in the Flathead. These guys are lean and mean!" And then, a bit later, "Oh, the grizzlies now are mostly down low in heavy timber where the berries are." And a bit later: "You got to watch out all around here -- this is griz country."

Alas, no griz. Only a stupid black bear. The bears somehow get at all the huckleberries first. SO NOT FAIR!

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This is the last run of the season. I mean it. No more. That's it.

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Homeward bound.

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