We decided not to hike the local trail here outside Eureka after Tracy rode his bike up and back and found evidence of the reported grizzly bear all along the way. Tree branches pulled down so the bear could get better access to the chokecherry bushes. Mounds of fresh scat.
When Tracy rode the trail again, the scat was much closer to our trailer. He said he rang the bike bell on his handlebar so hard on the way back that his thumb got sore. We are not going on that trail.
To get some hiking in, he studied topo maps of the area and found an interesting trail pretty far away, but it leads to a couple of lakes. So we planned a day for it.
We drove an hour and a half along gravel roads, along the clearing in the mountains that designates the Canadian border. What an arbitrary line.
We parked at the trailhead, which is just a gravel pull-off with an old wooden sign warning you to be aware of bears and not to make a campfire. Duh.
The hike up to the lakes was lovely, in thick spruce and fir as well as huge pines.
At about 7,000 feet (we’d gained 1,000) we stopped at Bluebird Lake and spread out our blanket and took off our packs and ate sandwiches and nuts. Banjo kept up her watch for marmots and pikas.
Just as we felt we’d recovered and were headed back down, a couple comes up to admire the lake – the first people we’d seen all day. Turns out they’d ridden their mountain bikes up there! They humbly said they’d pushed them some, but come on. So much for our pride in hiking up the mountain.
Then, on the way back down we stepped aside for three gentleman who were just beginning a backcountry hiking vacation. They each had those huge packs on and were struggling up the mountain with hiking poles. But get this, they were probably 70 years old, at least.
They’d been doing annual backcountry trips together for years. On this one they didn’t have a plan: they were going to wander the hills and camp where and when they felt like it. They joked with each other like old friends about their legs, their gear, their families back home. They were adventurers; they made us look like lightweights as we take our little day hike and sleep in our bed that night. (My friend Jess goes on serious backcountry hiking trips as well and is a total badass.)
Seriously, the forest on that hike is gorgeous. We saw avalanche gorges (I forget the actual term for that), and open meadows where Banjo was sure large animals had been. A hummingbird checked us out while we picnicked, and we caught startling views through the trees of bare rock mountainsides.
Our greatest entertainment was the huckleberries that lined the entire trail.
Back at the Beartooth mountains, Banjo discovered she loves them, so it was all we could do to drag her along the trail; she’d stop to forage until she’d eaten all of them in the forest, if she could.
Banjo, the fearsome hunter. Turns out she’d rather gather because she has such a sweet tooth. Tracy joked that she’s our Huckleberry Hound. No need for badasses here.
And to match the photo up at the top that’s the view from the tent after a heavy rain cleared the smoke from the sky, here’s that night’s sunset.
You guys, take care.