Friday, August 23, 2013

Wild Huckleberries and Hanging Out with Friends

It's been a little struggle to find good hiking options outside Glacier National Park, allowing us to explore less crowded trails, with perhaps a bit less driving; oh, and avoid the smokey areas of the valley too. The town of Whitefish, about 15 miles NW of our home base of Columbia Falls, MT is home to the Whitefish Mountain Resort, providing skiing in the winter and hiking and biking in the summer.

Whitefish Lake from the Danny On trail.

We hiked the Danny On trail, a 3.8 mile trail (that can be stretched to 5.6 miles, one way) that climbs over 2,000 feet to the summit of the ski resort. It's mostly a fairly gentle climb that goes in and out of dense forest and across the flowered slopes of the ski runs, offering incredible views. Once you reach the summit the views are 360 degrees, including all the jagged peaks of Waterton Glacier National Park.

SE of Whitefish Mountain smoke haze blanketed the mountains.
It was especially heavy over the Hungry Horse Reservoir.

One neat perk to this trail system, you can take the ski gondola up and/or down (at $6 per person per ride) and so adjust your trail mileage to your own desires/physical abilities. We hiked the full round trip and were glad we started early as it got quite warm by the end of the hike.

The highlight of this hike was picking wild huckleberries! The entire mountainside is covered with huckleberry bushes and at the top we saw many folks with plastic containers who had made the trek or rode the lift specifically to collect berries. Having emptied a container at lunch, we slowly made our way back down the mountain as we stopped frequently to pick (and eat) huckleberries.

We easily filled a sandwich bag with huckleberries in an hour.
They made a delicious sauce over vanilla ice cream that night.

After the hike, we strolled downtown Whitefish. It's a pretty and upscale ski town, with all the fancy stores you'd expect to see.

Fun mosaic in Whitefish, MT.

That night Mike and Keyna rolled in to the RV park. They have been fulltiming one year longer than us and were the very first full timers we met on the Wells, NV last October. These two are hikers as well, so over dinner we planned our trail time together. Keyna is an excellent photographer and got some great shots of our hike.

First off, Snyder Lake in Glacier National Park. This 8.8 mile RT trail climbs 2147 feet, through some pretty dense forest and thick brush to a lovely small lake. The highlights of this trail were seeing a huge, pretty fresh pile of bear scat (!) and a doe with two fawns that really, really wanted to reach the creek we were standing near.

Rocky spires along the Snyder Lake trail.
These spiky shrooms were the size of a thumbnail.
Snyder Lake

The harsh lighting on the mountains made for some beautiful reflections.

The Snyder Lake trail head shared parking with the Lake McDonald Lodge. It's a beautiful, historic lodge set on the banks of the lake.

Lake McDonald Lodge is a classic National Park lodge.
Lake McDonald as seen from the Lodge.

Dinner with Mike and Keyna after a day on the trail. Those sausages came from Perfect Cuts, a wonderful little meat market right behind our RV park.

Cheers to good times!

Our time at Columbia Falls RV Park overlaps with Mike and Keyna for a few more days so we've got a couple more hikes planned together...proving once again how social and fun this RV lifestyle can be!


  1. nice photo-scapes...and good company...and beer/wine. Life is good.
    Waiting for a pic of old Griz...
    Box Canyon Mark

    1. You know I'm waiting for that photo to...from you!!! ;-)

  2. I can't remember if we talked about the hike to the Grinnell Glacier or not. It on the east side with the trailhead by Many Glaciers. It is 11 miles round trip. You also pass another glacier on the way. The Grinnell is melting fast and won't be around much longer. There are great pictures of the glacier then and now on the wall in the lodge. We weren't able to hike it because of the snow. I know it means driving to the other side but look at it.

    Glad you are finding some beautiful hikes. Enjoy your time with your friends:) Love the reflection photo!

    1. I would LOVE to do the Grinnel hike, but it is way too far for a day trip (in our opinion). We're talking about hitting the East side of the park next summer. It sounds like Many Glacier and Two Medicine are very scenic parts on that side.

      Tomorrow should be a long hike with views and possibly goats!!!!

    2. Wait for us!! We are thinking about coming west next spring by crossing Canada on the Yellowhead Hwy. We want to explore the northern Rockies and then do Canadian Glacier and then head back to Glacier to hike. We weren't hiking when we were there last time.

      Good you picked some huckleberries because $8.00 for a snack baggy you won't get any. I could believe how expensive they were!

    3. Hmmmm...perhaps our reunion won't be years away!

  3. I really wish I'd stayed in better shape so I could enjoy the magnificent scenery you guys find on your hikes - I really enjoy your photos. We made it into Kalispell yesterday and I'll have to tell the power shoppers about Whitefish - didn't realize it was a ski town.