Sunday, September 05, 2010

First snow

Thank you for the kind words and thoughts about my grandfather. As I reflect on his life and what he meant to me, the more peace I feel about his passing. He went gracefully, in his own home, with his wife and three daughters at his side. It was the way he would have wanted to go, in peace and on his own terms - not imprisoned in a hopeless battle with his pain. And next weekend, I will have an opportunity to attend his funeral and share memories with the scores of people who loved him.

As for me, I am in the midst of a fantastic Labor Day weekend in northern Montana. I drove up with my friend Dave from Missoula and we met up with Danni and Brad from Kalispell, then the four of us headed to the east side of Glacier National Park. We spent an incredible 10 hours traversing a high ridge, walking the tundra, scrambling up and down cliff bands and sliding through scree as we were blasted by 60 mph wind gusts. Sometimes cold, sometimes fending off dizzying bouts of vertigo, often giddy, and always in awe of the big world surrounding us. We ended up clocking 11,800 feet of vertical gain over 23 to 25 miles. I have a slew of pictures I'll have to sort through in time.

Today we decided to take it "easy" with an eight to nine-mile lollipop loop in the Swan Mountains, in Jewel Basin. I think the spirit of my grandfather was smiling down on me because we were met with what is one of my favorite events of the year - the first time I get caught outside in the snow.

Can you find the mountain goat in this photo?

Snow made our mellow hike giddily dramatic, one the fog moved through and the snow-dusted cliffs of the Bob Marshall wilderness rose into view.

Climbing high above the Flathead Valley.

Descending toward "The Bob."

First snows are most special when they happen in the summertime, in a world still alive with bright colors and brilliant greens. An early-season powder-coat paints it all with a kind of frosty softness, whitewashed edges and splashes of silver.

And you know these first snows won't last, which makes them that much more unique ... and palatable. After all, we want to relish these last days of summer. It won't be long now 'til it's fall.


  1. What a beautiful world you live in.
    I remember how much I loved first snowflakes as a kid. I still do though here in SF Bay Area we don't get much of it.
    Thank you for sharing you beautiful photos.

  2. Thank you for finding the best parts of where you end up Jill, these pics and this adventure make me giddy (and envious).

    Please find me a teaching job in Missoula, this might need to be my next move. It wouldn't be the first time I move to a place because of your blog!!

    Sorry to hear about your Grandpa (I've been away from my computer and I am just now catching up on blogs). Hugs.

  3. Very glad you're feeling alright, think you're looking at it in a good way.

    Awesome pictures.

  4. Hello Jill, from Australia
    I recently found your blog via Leslie when you were riding with Keith. My morning fix is to read another blog or 2 or 3..... [making me late for work] as I follow your footsteps from 2005. Can't wait to get your book.
    Your recent posts and photography have been heart rending beautiful. Your Grandfather must have been so proud of you. This post just leaves me in total awe of where you are and your ability to capture natures magnificence in both words and photos.
    Thankyou for another magical start to the day.

  5. Hello again. I have to set the record straight. The above comment is actually from Helen, Frank's wife. Am not accustomed to the various usernames and passwords so his name popped up. Alas he doesn't quite share my passion for the great outdoors and its spectacular moments. Hopefully I will get it right this time.

  6. Beautiful pictures, and I totally agree...there's something magical about the first snow. Well, about any snow, but especially the first. Meeting it hiking is much cooler than driving home from work in it...and the pictures are way better, too!

  7. awesome. the shots and story that is not the snow looks like its going to be a long winter.

  8. We truly have a beautiful world and that's what we need to see. You pictures are stunning and all lovely. Congratulations for a good blog :)

  9. I loved hiking in the Jewel Basin when I lived in Bigfork! Photos 3 and 4 look like you're hiking up the ridge and are almost to the peak of Aeneas. That is a classic hike with incredible views of the valley and the lake! I'm glad you are able to enjoy that amazing country, and that I can check out your photos and reminisce about the times I've spent in those mountains.


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