Sunday, March 22, 2020

Breaking the Covid-19 Virus isolation on the first full day of Spring

Thousands of snow geese and Arctic swans lift off Freezout Lake

The Blackfeet bison herd grazing in the Glacier foothills along the Duck Lake Road

Mounts Siyeh and Cracker on the St. Mary/Many Glacier divide

Grinnell Mountain and Grinell Point

A great way to spend an afternoon in isolation, but in a national park

The St. Mary Lake and valley
I've been pretty faithful with this isolation-thing during the coronavirus pandemic.
Aside from getting out with Mark Hertenstein in the Highwoods on Monday, I've been pretty sealed off from everyone but my wife.  I've had two brief, pre-dawn visits the grocery store for supplies and taken my daily walks.
Katie and I got out for a drive to Benton Lake Wildlife Refuge, where we were unsuccessful in finding any migrating birds and then on to Fort Benton for a walk along the Missouri River.
Then, on the weekend the weather turned spectacular.  The skies cleared and the temperatures shot up and we broke for Freezout Lake and then Glacier National Park.
At Freezout we saw Tundra Swans and Snow Geese in the thousands; a sight to behold.
We enjoyed the drive north up the Front along U.S. 89 and took the Duck Lake Road back to St. Mary.
The highways and park were empty and we decided to have a walk on the Going to the Sun Highway, which is blocked off just beyond the St. Mary Campground.
We started to put on snowshoes, but noticed that the snow was pretty thin, if somewhat icy, and chose to hike.
The lake was still ice-bound and the mountains were covered with snow.  The sky was bluebird and the sun was bright, which helped because we faced a fairly brisk wind.
On our 5-mile hike just short of the Rising Sun Campground we encountered about five groups consisting of 10 people.  Otherwise there was silence and splendor in every direction.
We headed back to Great Falls via U.S. 89 and the Star School cutoff.
We stopped again at Freezout Lake and saw only a smattering of birds coming back in from a day of feeding in the fields or dropping in from the migration for a rest.
It was a very satisfying break from the isolation, something I hope we'll do weekly until it's over.

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