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Montana Vacay, Part 2: Hiking

June 24, 2010

I meant to post this yesterday, but spent too long editing pictures and had to go to yoga to stretch out the kinks induced by the 46+ hours that I’ve spent in a car in the past 10 days or so.  I know!  This funemployment thing is Rough! With a capital R!  Aren’t you glad you’re not on sabbatical, too!?

Anyways, a summary of hiking and whatnot.  Which we did a little bit of last week in Montana.  But I’d venture to guess that we actually spent more time eating or laughing or driving or talking about inappropriate bodily functions.  And as a sidenote, I was certainly on the listening end of the bodily function talk.  Because you all know that I am a lady and would never participate in such immature nonsense. Right?

Once it was deemed that we were not quite fit or woodsy enough to go on extreme hikes, we opted to go on the easiest hike in the book.  And we sweated and huffed most of the hike.  It was the altitude, I’m sure.

Pictured above are my hiking companions.  From left to right: mamabear, aunt (aka the poison ivy queen), sister, cousin.  Mamabear is a tree hugger.  But only in the picture.

One thing that you may not have known about me is that I tend to inspire others to name their offspring after me.  I mean, you are all itching to name your progeny Jennifer, right?  No?!  What!?

Anyways.  True story: my cousin is also named Jennifer.  It is probably not my fault that she got stuck with this lovely, but overused name, but she wears it well.  And, with two Jennifers on board for the week, we decided that it would be wise (and not at all annoying) to use Jennifer as a plural noun.  Meaning that all week, we’d utter such witty gems as Jennifer are hungry, Jennifer want to play scrabble, and No! Jennifer are NOT annoying.  I can’t wait till Thanksgiving, when we can once again elicit annoyed groans from extended family so easily!  Yes!

Above mamabear poses with Jennifi (singular for Jennifer, of course).  What is missing in both of the above photos of mamabear is the can of bear spray hugging her right hip.  While I should probably not discuss the general paranoia re: bears exhibited on the trip, I will say that if I ever actually saw a bear while hiking, my first response would not be to fumble with the spray can hitched to my waist.  I think I would a) panic, b) wet my pants, and c) run? (is that what you do when you see a bear?) in that order.  Thank goodness we did not see a bear while hiking, because I would have been completely and totally unprepared.

At the end of the hike, we were rewarded with waterfalls!  I had supermuchfun playing with the shutter speed on my camera while my hiking companions took a short break.  And then we made our way back to the trailhead, which is when disaster struck: I got the bear song stuck in my head.  And I cannot get rid of it.  The other day, I saw a bear, a great big bear, a way out there…

Apologies to those of you who are now singing the bear song at work.  Hopefully your version is more in-tune than mine.

Our first hike took place somewhere in Paradise Valley (see gorgeous mountain range and valley above).  Living in the flat upper midwest, I found myself mesmerized by the mountains.  Seriously.  On a sunny day, how could you look at the beauty of these and NOT smile?

After our hike, we headed to the nearby town of Livingston, Montana for shopping and dinner.  It’s a super-cute mountain town, and since the weather was so beautiful that day, we opted for lemonade and burgers on the only patiod restaurant in town.

On Wednesday, cousin Catherine arrived to join the party.  Little did she know, we were all hysterical by that point, and I think she may have spent the first few hours with us bewildered by the stupid stuff we were laughing at.  By the end of the day, though, I had her singing the bear song, and she even led the group in creation of new additional verses to the song (because none of us could remember more than 2 verses).

Yellowstone is a pretty pretty national park, although we’re not sure that it’s our favorite.  My mom voted for Glacier National Park (in northern Montana), which we visited about 10 years ago.  It was super-pretty.

We visited on a stormy, rainy, cold day, but it was okay because we did a lot of driving in the park.  You can see the stormy grayness of the day in most of my pictures, although the sun did make an appearance for a few minutes later in the day.

We were lucky to see an abundance of animals in the park – elk, deer, buffalo, and hawks.

Jennifer were a little dissappointed that no bears were spotted.

Jennifer thought the above photographers were dumb.  <20 feet from buffalo babies and mommas does not seem like a smart idea.  I mean, those things can run!  I failed to snap a photo of the lady posing her two small children in the field in front of the buffalo… that seemed like a superduper bad idea.

Jennifer snapped their own buffalo photos from the car, using their zoom lenses.  It was especially easy since Jennifer were carsick and had to sit in the front of the car.

{All of this Jennifer talk is not annoying in the least, is it?  Someone inform our travel companions that we are hilarious!  Please!}

We drove from the Northeast corner of the park to the West corner of the park.  It took a few hours, but we got to see a variety of landscapes.  Like the canyon above.

And the mountains — a backdrop for an old burned forest with new forest growth.

And stinky, sulphury mud pools.

And Yellowstone Lake.  Where the skies opened and the sun came out to play!

Our final destination before heading out of the park was Old Faithful.  It was 10 minutes late, and difficult to see with the grey sky as a backdrop, but sister was happy to see it, so the trip was worth it.

We ducked into a nearby hotel – the Old Faithful Inn – for hot cocoa before leaving the park.  The Old Faithful Inn is stunningly beautiful in it’s rustic simplicity.  My picture doesn’t do it justice.

Thursday, we relaxed and hung out at our awesome vacation home (more on that later), leaving the house only to swim in the nearby hotsprings and eat dinner (at a brewpub! Jason was so proud!) with aunt’s cousin, who also lives in Bozeman.  The food was delish – next time you’re in Bozeman, Montana, you’ll definitely want to stop at Montana Ale Works.  The fish tacos were amazing, and I’m now on the hunt for my own fish taco recipe.

The weather on Friday was gorgeous, so we decided to go on another hike.  As we drove to the trailhead, we discovered that the road was closed.  And then we discovered the above.  There may have been shrieking.  I don’t remember, I was too distracted by the disgustingness of it all.

We headed to Bridger Bowl and hiked the ski hill instead.  My calves burned from the uphillyness.  But it was a beautiful sunny day in the mountains, so I pressed on!  I am a real trooper!

Following our hiking, we headed to the rodeo… but I’ll save that story for another day…

21 Comments leave one →
  1. June 24, 2010 12:46 pm

    Great pics as always…can anyone tell what the last is a picture of?

  2. June 24, 2010 1:02 pm

    Awesome pics! I love those girl trips where you just laugh and be silly the whole time. PS: I think Jennifer is beautiful name!

  3. Tami permalink
    June 24, 2010 1:56 pm

    Are Jennifer STILL laughing????

    • June 25, 2010 12:50 pm

      of course Jennifer are still laughing! 🙂

  4. Jes permalink
    June 24, 2010 2:48 pm

    My husband and I are headed to Glacier Basin and July and your trip is getting me so excited. I agree, after living in the midwest all I can do is stare at mountains. They are so beautiful!

    • June 25, 2010 12:51 pm

      Ohh! Have a great time! Glacier was really beautiful!

  5. japortma permalink
    June 24, 2010 3:06 pm

    Jennifer are hilarious! and don’t worry Jennifi, Jennifi #2 will be home in no time! PS. I lovvvee the picture of all of us, and Jennifer were the prettiest 😉

    • June 25, 2010 12:52 pm

      Ahh, yes. Jennifer ARE the prettiest! 🙂

      When is Jennifi coming to Michigan? Now that I visited you, it only seems fair… hahaha!

  6. June 24, 2010 3:31 pm

    Your photos are beautiful! I love all the landscape and animal photos… and I definitely was singing that bear song! 🙂

  7. Amy permalink
    June 24, 2010 3:57 pm

    So, I’m pretty paranoid about bears (and other giant/carnivorous wild animals), so I thought you’d appreciate this bit of bear knowledge after your Yellowstone visit. Black bears, you fight back. For grizzly bears, YOU PLAY DEAD AND HOPE FOR THE CARNAGE TO BE OVER. Really.

    And for this reason, we’ve limited our backpacking trips to black bear country. We’ve heard them outside our tent (FREAKY) and seen paw prints on our car, but have otherwise remained unscathed.

    (Never mind the fact that our favorite park for hiking – the park I took the kids once a week when we were in CA – is a hot spot for bobcats, coyotes, and MOUNTAIN LIONS.)

    • June 24, 2010 9:32 pm

      To top it off, our first stop after heading back (it was in Billings MT) had a newspaper dispenser and on the front page was the headlines “Grizzly mauls Scientist in Yellowstone”. It happened the day after we were there. He wasn’t even studying bears, he was a botanist out hiking!

    • June 25, 2010 12:54 pm

      I probably would have freaked out had I heard bears outside our tent or seen prints on the car…

      Why are mountain lions less scary than bears? Is there more bear hype? Or do they actually kill more people? Also, FYI: I learned that you have to fight mountain lions, too, thanks to Dr. Wikipedia. 🙂

      • Amy permalink
        June 25, 2010 7:12 pm

        Good question, because mountain lions are all over the west. There were occasional stories of solo joggers with iPods who were mauled by mountain lions while running through their neighborhood park. If we’d come across one, I probably would have tossed the handiest child to him (to distract him) and then make off with the other.

        My favorite guide for what to do if you come across a bear is the National Park Service sign, which is basically a family jam session. It’s a family trying to make as much noise as possible banging on stuff, but it looks like they’re getting down. Kevin and I joked about getting our Country Bear Jambaroo on whenever we’d come across a bear.

  8. June 24, 2010 4:30 pm

    Love you pictures. I too love Montana. A beautiful place to be. Glad you were able to enjoy your surroundings. Cheers.

  9. June 24, 2010 7:34 pm

    That bear picture is crazy. I can’t believe you maintained composure to take a picture. I can guarantee I wouldn’t have.

    Love the buffalo shots… and the waterfalls. So beautiful

    • June 25, 2010 12:57 pm

      I know – so yucky. I think my puppy showing up at the door with deer legs and bones and skulls has equipped me for this sort of thing.

      I haven’t worked out whether that’s good or bad, though.

  10. June 25, 2010 10:19 am

    Jennifer are a scream! Your pics are gorgeous, I’m pretty sure you had a great time.

    • June 25, 2010 12:54 pm

      So glad you think Jennifer are funny! 🙂

  11. GGG permalink
    June 26, 2010 11:31 am

    Jennifi, You are tooooooo much. Looks like I missed real good trip. Don’t know if I could have handled all the hiking but I sure could have helped with the laughing:)

  12. July 19, 2010 1:29 am

    What absolutely gorgeous photos! My mom lives in Bozeman so I’ll pass along the brewpub recommendation to her.


  1. happy new year! «

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