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The Girls Fish the Madison River

We weren’t going to let the boys have all the fun on the river, so Dede and I decided to have our own fishing fun.  Dede has fly fished before, she has fished and caught sharks.  As for me, no previous experience, other than fishing with my dad which required placing worms on a hook-not exactly my cup of tea.

We scheduled a 1/2 day fly fishing float trip with a guide through The Tackle Shop.  Our guide, Mike, met us at 7:00am at the fly shop.  We drove about 40 miles to our starting point.

The spot we put in

The spot we put in with the boat

Before we put in we learned to cast (on dry ground).  It was so much fun! The motion of fly fishing is rhythmic and the motion feels almost natural.  After some practice time we boarded the boat, Dede took the front position and I was in the back.  Soon we were fishing and not only fishing but we were on the Madison River and it was pure beauty.  We stopped a few times to change flies since the fish were not biting on the flies we started with.  I guess this is pretty common. It sometimes can be difficult to find the “right” fly the fish will feed on.  Shortly after the fly change I had a bite and landed a fish.  A fish, a fish, a fish-my first fish.  It was a white fish which is native to the river and once I could actually see it I got pretty excited.  As Mike our guide says-“the tug is the drug.”  This was the only fish I caught and it didn’t matter-I was hooked.  I can’t wait to go out again, there was a peacefulness being on the water.  Next time i want to be in the water.

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Dede had luck as well, she caught a brown trout and she, too, will surely be back on the river.  

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It was a great way to end our vacation and time together.  

Ennis, Montana is a wonderful town.  Full of life, good energy, nice people, and beautiful surroundings.  We already know we will go back next year.  We hope our friends Foster and Cathy might consider picking up a Yukon and Airstream in Bozeman and joining us, as it is a special place.   A crazy good breakfast spot at the Pharmacy-yes  the Pharmacy.  There was a farmers’ market, many bars, restaurants and great shopping.  It fit all our needs and then some.  

Thanks Montana-you gave us some amazing memories, fun times with friends and the introduction to a new sport.  We will be back again.

Some more pictures of Ennis and the Madison River…

All around town they have these uniquely painted trout.  Similar to the cows in Chicago

All around town they have these uniquely painted trout. Similar to the cows in Chicago


Art around town.

Art around town.

Just another amazing sunset

Just another amazing sunset

True Montana.

True Montana.

Mike and Dede on the Madison River

Mike and Dede on the Madison River



Ennis, Montana & The Madison River

We said goodbye to Foster and Cathy as they made their way back to Missoula and we traveled on to Ennis, MT.  Ennis, MT sits on the Madison River and draws people from all over the world to fly fish.  Both Joe and Steve really love to fly fish and this is where “A River Runs Through It” was filmed and once you get on the river you can see why.

We booked our campsites just a few days before arrival at the Riverside Motel, which is walking distance to downtown.  A two block stretch which is packed some everything you need to have an enjoyable stay in Ennis.

The Riverside Motel and RV park (see the small sign)

The Riverside Motel and RV park (see the small sign)

It was a great location as we could walk to town, ride from there and it was easy access to the river.  There were only 6 RV spots so it was quite small.  After we got settled the guys ventured out for some fishing.  Oh, and who would have known this one–the “Moods of the Madison” was happening at the same time which was the first music festival of its kind in Ennis.  The lineup included Grand Funk Railroad and Buddy Guy.  We were in and all set to attend.

a view from our campsite

a view from our campsite

Moods of Madison was a blast. Grand Funk Railroad performed and they were amazing.  All but one of the original members were performing and they rocked it.  We were up front the entire performance, singing and dancing.  Who knew we’d find all of this in Ennis.

Steve, Dede and Joe enjoying the music at the "Moods of Madison"

Steve, Dede and Joe enjoying the music at the “Moods of Madison”

The days were filled with fly fishing.  Joe put his cat-a-raft into the water for it’s first float.  The first full day they floated and fished 8.5 miles down the Madison River from Varney Bridge to Burnt Tree Pole.  This took about 6 hours–rowing, beaching the cat-a-raft, and wading in to fish.  The second day they put in at Eight Mile Ford and floated 6 miles to Valley Garden.  Dede and I picked them up and you can see the loading process on the truck which then took place.


Steve and Joe securing the floats on top of the truck.  Really, they will stay on!!!

Steve and Joe securing the floats on top of the truck. Really, they will stay on!!!


An epic float

An epic float.

The final day was an epic float from McAtee Bridge to Varney Bridge covering a little over 12 miles.  Needless to say a lot of rowing and two tired fishermen.

And the really cool thing even though the guys had really big fishing days they set up this lovely “compound” between the Airstreams.

Having a little Airstream party

Having a little Airstream party

We made a lovely dinner which included a peach and blueberry cobbler in a Lodge Camp Dutch Oven.  This is the second amazing dessert Dede has made this trip in the Dutch Oven.  The first was a Gluten Free Chocolate cake in Glacier.

Cooking method with the dutch oven.  You create an oven environment with charcoals.

Cooking method with the dutch oven. You create an oven environment with charcoals.


The final product

Chef Dede with the delicious result.  And, it was yummy

Chef Dede with the delicious result. And, it was yummy

Our vacation is coming to a close.  One more post which will include the day Dede and Ginny fished the Madison.



Glacier National Park-McDonald Falls Hike

Our last day in Glacier and we decided on a hike close by the main entrance to the park-McDonald Creek Falls.  But first breakfast at Backwoods Bistro, which is an outdoor restaurant and is open to campers and locals.  On Wednesdays they do $1 pancakes and $2 Biscuit and Gravy as well as a full menu that satisfies any need.  We all enjoyed either pancakes, biscuits and gravy or the menu-it was all great and best of all.  NO CLEANUP.  

Breakfast the Backwoods Bistro.

Breakfast at the Backwoods Bistro.

So, with full tummies we set out for our final day in Glacier.  We chose a hike to enjoy together-and for whatever reason, this hike doesn’t show up on the trail map, nor is there any link.  The hike follows the McDonald Creek and you can easily reach the rocks which overlook the falls.  Round trip the hike is about 4.6 miles and it is pretty flat, and quite lovely.  You hike through a heavily wooded area and see the usual signs for Grizzlies and the warning to carry bear spray.  We saw no bears on this hike.  And, we had a spectacular last day in the park.  The last two pictures were just at the end of our hike, we spotted five Monarch butterflies on the trail, a pretty amazing site.

What an amazing way to complete this journey into one of the top National Parks.

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Glacier National Park–Selected Scenes

We had a wonderful time in Glacier National Park.  Many of our previous posts highlighted some of the vistas and sights we experienced.  We thought it would be fun to showcase some other images of the park.


Our site at Glacier Campground, West Glacier, Montana

Some of the scenery was magnificent!


View of Grinnell Lake and part of Grinnell Glacier (right)

Glacier National Park-Going to the Sun Road and Grinnell Glacier Hike

DSCN1410We awoke after a rainy night and the day was starting to clear.  It was such an amazing night hearing the rain against the aluminum shell, what a peaceful night's sleep the rain created.  The day showed signs of sunshine and today we were going over to the other side of the park via a road called: Going to the Sun Road.  This is no average road, a few facts about this road.  

  • It opened this year on July 4-due to the amount of snow which needed to be plowed away.
  • It spans 50 miles across the park
  • It is 2 lane, winding around mountainsides and overhangs that just seem to fall away
  • It is a stunning ride-notice I said ride.  If you are driving it is all eyes ahead and don't look to the side.  
  • You must drive both ways because the views are entirely different (see note below)

If you are the driver and do not have a willing participant (passenger) to drive one way then your options might include taking the Red Bus which offers a wonderful tour throughout the park.  We opted to drive over, Joe was very willing to drive and Foster, Cathy and I enjoyed the amazing views.  Here are a few pictures Foster took throughout the drive.

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 So we exited the park and we re-entered at Many Glaciers.  This is another area of the park with a lodge, campgrounds and hiking trails galore.  On this drive there is a high probability of spotting bears, either black or brown.  Cathy was so hoping to see a bear, now when I say this I mean at a distance!  


We arrived at the Grinnell Glacier Trailhead and noticed right away there was  sign telling us the trail was closed 4.4 miles out due to snow on the trail.  We had learned this at the Ranger station as well, but still decided to do this hike.  It is an amazing hike, different from many of the other hikes as you are out in open the entire trail, so the views are all around you.  The trail leads to a lake which is formed by the glacier and there you might hear and see the glacier calfing.  The last time we were here Joe and I hiked this trail and it has been one of our top 5 hikes ever.  We were excited to share this with our friends. 

DSCN1410 This is picture from the trail looking in front of us.  The snow fields ahead of us is part of the GrinnellGlacier and the wild flowers were pretty primo.  We hiked out 4.4 miles and just as the sign said the trail was closed.  



DSCN1422We could see people ahead so we continued on.  About 1/2 mile further up the trail we hit a snow field and pulled out our poles and crossed.  It was totally safe to cross given the people ahead of us and the imprints to follow across.  Below is a picture of the snow field.








We got about 250 yards beyond this snow field and we reach a stopping point, the next one was too dicey to pass.  We found a lovely spot for a snack and enjoyed our accomplishment.  A few pictures below of the group and the scenery.

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After we checked this one off the list we started our drive to lunch at Park Cafe.  On the way back down the trail we never saw a bear and Cathy was a little disappointed.  We loaded back into the car and starting driving to lunch.  When you are driving through Glacier a clear sign of wildlife nearby is cars pulled over or stopped on the road-seems simple.  So, we find just that and pull over.  There it was across the water eating away– a Brown Bear.  A brown bear meaning a Grizzly. Cathy was beside herself, well we all were to be truthful.   After seeing a grizzly bear there is nothing else to do but drive to the Park Cafe for lunch (really pie).

IMG_1922_2The Grizzly-see the brown spot, that is it.

Glacier National Park-Snyder Lake Hike

Another early day on the road for the campers.  Feeling compelled to get to the trail early and take advantage of the cool mornings was the objective.  Our nights have been late, so the challenge is this: the sun doesn't set until after 10:00pm and then we have been staying up way past that time.  We are no longer young pups and all of us like a full night's sleep.  And, we are in Glacier, we are all driven and we love a good challenge-so off we go.

Our hike today is to Snyder Lake. And, here is our Trail Description:

The hike to Snyder Lake begins from the Sperry Trailhead, located across the street from the Lake McDonald Lodge. In a very short distance, after passing the horse path, the trail becomes known as the Gunsight Pass Trail.

Almost immediately the trail begins climbing, passing through an old growth forest of red cedar, western larch and hemlock in the lower elevations, to a dense spruce-fir forest as it ascends higher. We had already climbed more than 900 feet before reaching the Mt. Brown Trail junction, roughly 1.6 miles from the trailhead. Hikers and horses share this heavily used segment of the trail as they head up to the Sperry Chalet and other points in the area.  You pass through fields of wildflowers, and cross some streams which are running off from the heavy winter snows.

After gaining another 1,000 feet over the course of the next 2.5 miles, the trail tops out at nearly 5,250 feet before making a short descent down to the lake.

Snyder Lake lies in a basin surrounded by Mt. Brown towards the north and Edwards Mountain towards the south. Little Matterhorn, towards the northeast, is the mountain that we could see directly ahead of us as we arrived at the foot of the lake. Beautiful.  The waterfalls cascading down the cliff walls surrounding the lake were amazing.


The lake and the creek are both named after George Snyder, who built a framed hotel in 1895 on the present day site of the Lake McDonald Lodge. During that same year Snyder built a road from the new railroad depot at Belton (now West Glacier) to the small village of Apgar. The road would allow him to transport the 40-foot steamboat that he had just purchased to Lake McDonald. The road would also allow visitors arriving by railroad to travel to Apgar, board his steamboat, and then sail the eight miles up the lake to his hotel, known as the "Glacier Hotel".


 (A doe we met coming towards us on the trail)









After hiking through a very dense forest of trees and healthy brush we came out to this view.  We kept thinking the whole way up the trail we might see a bear-it was a good feeding area for bears.  Up to this point no bears were seen-stay tuned.



This was our lunch spot.  Once we reached the lake we went all the way around the lake (after receiving a tip from a couple we met on their way down).  We had lunch on the rocks, listening to the waterfalls from high atop the surrounding mountains.  It was lovely, peaceful and still no bears.


We were hiking as a group of 6 and one of our fellow campers decided, after reaching the lake, to start heading back down and wait for us at a rock clearing.  She reached the rock clearing without one of the radios we were carrying (big no-no for any groups hiking together) and saw a bear.  It was above her on the rock clearing, and it was a black bear.  She had just passed a group having lunch so she carefully backed up, met up with the group and waited together for the rest of us.   A good lesson to never be without a group or way to communicate with your group.  

On our way down the trail we met "Buck" – we called him our trail guide.  He just walked along the trail, eating his way down.  I bet he was in front of us for 25 minutes so he would walk and then stop and eat, so we would walk and stop, walk and stop.  He was way more interested in all the food sources than us.    Snyder Lake Trail is something I would recommend for a day hike.  And, if you get to Glacier and can do an overnight on the mountain check out Sperry Chalet.  On our list for the next visit.  



Later that night after arriving back at camp, we started dinner with the rain pouring down.  Tonight was Cathy and Foster's dinner and it was yummy.  Here is menu for this night:

  • Gazapacho (Homemade)
  • Salad with Steak and a beautiful Sherry Vinegar dressing

This was an amazing dinner, given it was pouring rain outside and we all hunkered down in our Airstream.  It was the first time we had a dinner party for 6 inside.  It was actually really cozy and all the team kicked in and we cleaned up in a flash.  

Moving Day Flathead Lake to Glacier National Park

A full day awaited the group after breakfast.  We are a group who loves to cook and eat and so much of our time together is focused on four things: activities, planning meals, preparing meals and sharing meals.    We start the day with an amazing breakfast cooked outside-and our group  joins together to get stuff done.  Whether it is preparing, cooking or cleaning up-we all have our strong suits.   

We said goodbye to Finley Point Campground with a little sadness.  The water, the setting, and the weather was just perfect.  However, we know more adventure awaits, so we hooked up and pulled out, 3 rigs in tow on the way to Glacier National Park.


(In the dirty mirror you can see Foster and Cathy's rig-"the rental or billboard vehicle" and then Steve and Dede with their Airstream Classic 25).  We are quite the caravan.



We didn't get too far down the road when we spotted "Fresh Picked Huckleberries."  So there is nothing else to do but pull over and make a purchase.  Just picked that morning and the first of the season, we were in business for a cobbler later in the week.  P1010687







The drive to Glacier was about 2 hours and it was pretty stunning, we passed fields of canola in bloom which are a brillant yellow.


West Glacier Campground was our final destination.  The campground was equipped with water, electric, showers, laundry and a dump station (no internet or cell coverage).  So we checked in and got in line to take care of the business of cleaning out the tanks.   


Our sites were stunning, three sites in a row.  Unfortunately, not one person in our group got a picture of all three rigs.  So instead here is a look at the check in area.  





After getting our camps set up we piled into one truck and off we went.  We drove into Glacier National Park, stopped at the Ranger Station to get the local information about trail closures, bears…. (this is always our first stop when we enter any National Park).  Once we were loaded with information we decided on hiking the Avalanche Lake Trail.  And on the way we stopped for pictures at MacDonald Falls.


(Cathy and Foster) 




(Dede and Steve)  P1010692




"The hike to Avalanche Lake begins from the Trail of the Cedars trailhead, located 5.5 miles east of the McDonald Lodge.

The Trail of the Cedars, a wheelchair accessible trail, is a loop hike that begins and ends on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Although the western segment of the loop is slightly shorter, the eastern side is far more scenic. Hikers on the eastern portion of the loop travel along a raised boardwalk as they pass though a forest of ancient western hemlocks and red cedars. Situated on the eastern edge of the maritime climate of the Pacific Northwest, the Lake McDonald Valley also marks the extreme eastern limits for western hemlocks and red cedars. The humidity in the valley allows cedars to grow to heights of 100 feet, and diameters of 4 to 7 feet. Some of the trees in this area are more than 500 years old."  After the Trail of the Cedars we branched off on the hike up to Avalanche Lake.  The trail rises 730 feet through varied terrain and exposing some great views of the glaciated mountains along the way..  


(Our goal achieved and the Trail of the Cedars)






(Cathy and I playing around at the Lake)





After a full day we ventured out for dinner at the Belton Chalet.  It is a beautifully restored lodge that sits at the entrance of West Glacier.  We sat outside on the patio for dinner and had a wonderful meal and view of the Park.  This was a recommendation from our fellow Airstreamers-Riveted.  


 (Group Dinner at Belton Chalet and Sunset over Glacier National Park)









A glorious day at Glacier.  We headed to our trailers tired with our minds full of picture memories and hearts full of love after spending another glorious day together.