Monday, July 05, 2010

An old-fashioned vacation

Approaching Iceberg Lake in rain and snow
I took an old-fashioned Montana vacation last week that included stops in Virginia City and Glacier National Park.
What I did was mostly sight-seeing, but there was some hiking, too.
Katie and I hadn’t been to Virginia City, that former territorial capital and vigilante homestead, for more than a dozen years.
We did some sightseeing along the way to the southwest corner of Montana, taking in the Tizer Gardens, a botanical garden and arboretum just outside Jefferson City on Prickly Pear Creek. It was a huge surprise. An Alberta couple had purchased some lands on the old Tizer Lakes Road into the Elkhorn Mountains and converted it into a botanical paradise with flower and shrubbery displays connected by bridges over the creek. It is $6 well spent to see the wonders this couple has wrought.
In Virginia City we had a great meal at Banditos restaurant, an upscale Mexican place in the old Wells Fargo Building, and we stayed for cheap at the Fairview Hotel on Main Street just across the street. We opted for shared bathroom, which was no hassle. Our evening entertainment was a production of Moliere’s “The Miser,” a comedy done by the Vigilante Players assisted by a Rocky Mountain College crew from Billings. It was very well done.
In the morning we headed to Nevada City, a short distance away, to see what the late Charles Bovey had put together in his makeshift village of historical buildings brought in from around the state. We spent a couple of hours looking at really interesting old buildings and artifacts. It is amazing what Bovey assembled.
We drove the Harrison-Ennis side of the Tobacco Root Mountains to Virginia City and the Sheridan side back, traversing the mountain range. It still has plenty of high country snow. I’ve had my sights on climbing its tallest and most interesting peak, Hollow Top, for years. We stopped in the old mining town of Laurin and looked at an old stone Catholic Church that is still in use.
The weather in Virginia City and later in Glacier Park was very cool and unsettled, with periods of high winds and rain.
That put a damper on what we could do in Glacier.
We stayed at one of the Swiftcurrent Inn cabains behind the lodge.
Our plan was to hike to Cracker Lake in the Many Glacier valley, but the rain altered our trip and we did the Iceberg Lake trail for the umpteenth time. However, the snow and the cloud-cast and the spectacular displays of wildflowers, made the trip fun.
We saw no grizzlies, but bighorn sheep and a bull moose on the trail going in.
There was lots of snow at Iceberg Lake.
We finished with a meal at the Park Café and then home.

No comments: