The Winter Journey Begins – October 2016

Being gone for six months requires a lot of planning and preparation, both as what to take and what to leave behind. Decisions based on last year’s experience: What to do with the houseplants, which I love and some of which I have had for many years? Although someone came to tend them, being left all last winter in a 50 degree apartment was too hard on them; I decided it would be better for them to go to homes where they will be warm and looked after. Gradually over the summer I gave them away, but it was sad to pack up the last of them. Many of them will be with my daughters and hopefully wood-heated cabins will stay warm all winter. Which cello to take? I find the most joy in playing the Snow cello, but fear that the camping venue will be too hard on it. I couldn’t get it insured, so I finally decided on the old stout German cello, but the good bow, and a wide selection of pieces to work on.

Journey from Wallace, Idaho, to the Rest Stop near Anaconda, Montana

We leave Friday, October 7th, more than a month earlier than last year.

The journey begins

Hopefully we’ll avoid the snow that accompanied us all the way to Arizona last winter. We spend the night in Alberton in the parking lot next to the park and walk up to Merri’s in the rain for dinner. Good conversation and good food; bed late.

The next day, Saturday, October 8th, we drive out to Ang’s place. I lend a helping hand with the greenhouse construction, a drop in the bucket compared to what they have done so far and have yet to do, but at least I can say I helped.

The greenhouse under construction – lots of veges in the future

Sunday, October 9th is bottle-cutting day – a demonstration that Ang is doing using wine bottles that will become “bricks” in a straw/clay-built wall, the tops becoming wind-chimes. Raining hard most of the day.

Monday October 10th, Rama and Luther, Ang’s property-mates, help us figure out some electrical issues we have with Terry (our 19’ Terry Resort camper); a new converter is ordered and will be shipped to Katie’s house in Missoula. We say our good-byes and head for Missoula.

Leaving Two Raven

As we are going down Reserve (a main thoroughfare across town), our winter travels come within an inch or two of a complete disastrous halt as a vehicle in the oncoming lane of traffic makes a left turn across traffic right in front of us. Clifford swerves sharply to avoid a collision, Terry fishtailing like crazy. We pull over as soon as we can to assess damage. Miraculously, we did not hit the car that cut in front of us, nor did the fishtailing camper sideswipe anyone. Clifford thought he may have hit the guy and as we look closely, we see a new scuff mark on the bumper that could have been caused by a fast brush against something. Literally an inch or two difference between a serious wreck and the continuation of the journey. On to Katie’s house and park in front of the vacant lot next door.

Tuesday, October 11th, I am invited to join Katie and Justice on an outing that includes a trip to Saddle Mountain to secure things on their property there. I had dressed to run errands with Clifford, so do a bit of tip-toeing through the snow to take photos in my street shoes.

Snowy road to Saddle Mountain

Katie on Saddle Mountain

Views from Saddle Mountain

Then we go on to Quinns’ Hotsprings to soak in the hot water and savor an adult beverage before driving back to Missoula.

Wednesday, October 12th is errand day. We take Terry to Les Schwab to have tires flipped, run errands, and then out to see Mom. She is doing much better. She shows us her current projects and then while Clifford naps, she and I visit and play cribbage, which she wins. The hardest part of being gone all winter is not being able to see her until spring. Then on back to Les Schwab to pick Terry up and back to Katie’s place.

Thursday, October 13th, Rollie comes and helps us put in the new converter in trade for a cup of fresh-made organic French press coffee. By 1:00 we are packed up and ready to roll. Very pretty autumn colors along the Clark Fork River as we drive I-90 east toward Deer Lodge, our first gas stop. From there onward, it is quite windy; we are glad to reach the junction of I-90 and hwy 1, as there is a rest stop near the junction where we will spend the night.

Snow in the mountains near Anaconda, Montana


Rest stop near Anaconda – home for the night

A Walk in the Mountains

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A walk in the forest begins in the sunlight

While folks around the country have had more snow and wintery weather than ever and are weary of it, we in the Silver Valley of northern Idaho have had little.  So, my friend Sally and I drive up the road – literally to higher elevation – and then hike up the Pulaski Trail – we don’t go far enough to really call it a hike, even though it is a hiking trail – to even higher elevation….  and revel in the beauty of winter.

It was 15 degrees this morning, but blue sky above and and sunny where the sun’s rays reach into the valley.  The first part of the trail is in the sunlight, but we are soon walking in shade and snow on the trail.

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Icy edges on Placer Creek

Hiking along Placer Creek, we see some very enchanting ice formations.

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Ice formations hanging from a log over Placer Creek

Photography is a bit tricky with the low light and high contrast between snow and the almost-black water of the creek.  In spite of that, it is a delight to be here.  At the half-mile mark is my favorite waterfall, a fairlyland all mossy and green in the summer, but in the chill of the last days of winter, it is enchanting in quite a different way.

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Fairyland Falls in winter

We both would have like to have gone further, but Sally is in the process of moving and I am packing for our first road trip since last fall.  So, we turn back and soon see sunshine before us, beyond the grasp of the cold and winter-wonderland that we have briefly enjoyed.

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Sunlight ahead

Mid-winter Walk

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At the edge of town – dam on Placer Creek

Cabin fever:  I’ve been reviewing photos from previous camping trips, excited to get more blogs written showing some of my favorite places on the planet.  But sitting at a computer editing photos and writing blogs is lacking what I really need at the moment; I need to get outside and spend some time with the “real deal” – creeks and trees.  Even though it is mid-February, it feels like early spring: a good day to walk.  So I head out of town on my two feet; don’t even need ski poles this time.   Arriving at the Pulaski Trail, I only hike a short ways in, as here the shaded trail is quite icy and ski poles would have been handy.

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Bridge over Placer Creek at Pulaski Trail Head

But that is okay;  I dilly-dally taking photos of moss and ferns and dead leaves along the trail.

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Moss bright and fresh

Placer Creek is a challenge to photograph today due to the sunlight being brighter than it has been for some time.  The creek is also running high and wild due to snow-melt – in February!  Trying to get that wonderful silky look just isn’t happening, so I go for the frothy look instead.

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Placer Creek – the frothy look

I’m grateful for my wonderfully improved vision after recent cataract surgery; the world is bright and clear.  Even though I don’t get many “savers” on my outing, I find great delight in merely looking at bare winter trees intermingled with the grand firs towering over me, naked bushes and shrubs along the dashing creek, moss perking up, and other signs of life along my path.

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Signs of life

Soon we will be on the road, heading to new camping places and new sight-seeing adventures, but for today a good walk along Placer Creek invigorated my body, brightened my mind, and soothed my soul.

Pulaski Trail in Late November

Okay, so it’s only 12 degrees out this morning, but the sun is shining and not a cloud in the sky, at the moment, anyway. Rare for Wallace in the winter. So, Clifford and I decide to go for a little outing close to home. We both have a busy day lined up, but this is too good to resist. We bundle up in winter clothes and head to the Pulaski Trailhead, just a couple miles out of town.

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Clifford on the bridge over Placer Creek on the Pulaski Trail

Although down in Wallace the trees are are, here they are snow-covered,

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Snow-covered trees

We don’t know how far we’ll hike in, as it is quite chilly out and the trail is mostly in shadow this time of year.

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The trail into the sunless forest

Even though I’m dressed warmly, gloves light enough to finger camera dials are not quite warm enough to grasp ski poles (safer than hiking sticks on the snowy trail) comfortably.

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Warmly dressed

But it is easy to ignore the cold fingers as I become enchanted with taking photos of snowy trees and ice on the creek.

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Along the creek

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Encased in ice

Snow changes the look of everything. All becomes fresh and new.

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Fresh and new look

My goal is the bridge at the half-mile marker, as that is where my favorite waterfall is located. I’m not sure we’ll get that far what with the deeper chill in the sunless forest. I stop often to take photos (while Clifford waits patiently) and before we know it, we have arrived at the falls.

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Fairyland Falls

It looks so different with all the moss hidden under a layer of snow, and now it is the surrounding trees that make this a special wonderland.

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Wonderland trees at Fairyland Falls

I feel blessed to be here at this special place. Soon, however, we head back down the trail and find great delight in reaching a spot where the sun shines through the trees.

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Briefly basking in the sunshine

What a great outing: beautiful and refreshing!