Sunday, August 7, 2011

Five Scholars rock fresh, North by Northwest

And it's still no rest 'cause we're not finished yet

Greetings from West (and arguably the best) Coast! (well, at least top 2)

Leaving Bozeman, we forged onward to the wild bear country of Glacier National Park. In light of recent mauling incidents around the world, we debated the necessity of bear spray but a park ranger said we would be alright and sent us off after watching an overly cheesy safety video. Our two night backpacking loop in the southern corner of the park was surprisingly tame and wildlife free, except for a brief encounter with a baby black bear. We also managed to hike two miles on the wrong trail, turning a five mile hike into nine.

"Uhh, did we walk for an hour in the wrong way?"
Once we got back to the trailhead, we hightailed to the river for a quick bath and then proceeded to the famed Going to the Sun Road. 

The curvy, narrow road had fantastic views of the park, including a few mountain goats munching grass on the shoulder. We continued towards the border, but the Canadian customs folk weren't so inclined to let five dirty, unemployed 20-somethings into their northern lands. With nothing to declare but handle of whiskey and a jam-packed car, we were certainly a suspicious looking bunch, but happily made it through after the minor holdup.

We spent two nights in the Ghost River Wilderness, Canada's equivalent to our national forests and BLM land -- aka Free Camping! Ben and Tommy were gracious enough to host a housewarming party, featuring their favorite meal: frank & beans and each of our favorite types of candy.

The next day's meals of blueberry pancakes and pita pizzas were also major hits. Little did we know, the area is also a haven for off-road vehicles so we quickly made friends with our ATV and dirt bike riding neighbors.

After two days of extreme relaxation, reading, and card playing, we finally ventured to Banff National Park. Sadly the steep price of $10 per night per person for a backcountry permit was beyond our measly budget, so we settled for standard car camping and woke up bright 'n early to hike Healy Pass.

Thanks for the hats Jackie!

We got to the trailhead before sunrise and made it to the pass in time to see the wildflowers, mountain lakes, waterfalls, and snowy peaks all by ourselves.

On August 2nd we dropped Tommy at the Calgary Airport and jumped with joy as the Quad came back into action!! (Mr. Hester visits his girlfriend Smitty in SoCal and jets off to Turkey for family vacay.) Without Tmoney's shady figure, we crossed the border like Easy Mac and made our way west on I-90. Careful to partake in as many regional foods as possible, we picked up a sack of Idaho potatoes and baked them in our campfire in the national forest outside of Seattle. That night crossing road trippers Nick and Tamara kicked it with us in the Snoqualmie forests, shared their avocados, and crashed on our tarp with us. 

Next stop, Seattle. We were probably the least showered we will be of the whole trip. I'm serious, really stinky. Then we got real clean and went over to the Hunts for dinner. Pat, Bryan, Grandpa and the whole squad threw down an awesome BBQ party. Perfect way to get back into
civilization: brauts and grilled meat and great company. 

Then we scooted back over to Paul and Kate's homegirl from CC, Ally. Such a wonderful host. We kicked it in her hottub, we cruised around Seattle and Pike's Place Market, cooked an amazing dinner and went out on the town. 

We went to this sick taphouse, Brouwers, where we had the best beers of the trip. This amazing watering hole had like 50+ beers on tap. Ben loved the Scuttlebutt tripel 7 Belgian, ya heard me?

We crawled out of bed and hit the road to make it to the Phish show where thousands of Phish fanatics were enjoying the beauty of the Gorge at an epic stop on Phish's summer tour. 

Amazing show, first set was the bomb, everyone needs to go see Phish soon. Shakedown street was wild. The scene in the Phish lot is pretty great, wish we could see another show. 
(Yes, we got perfectly photo-bombed by this bro in the red hat.)

Now we are chillin back in Seattle for the night till we make it out the San Juans to kick it with Cory, Alex, Bobby and Bill. Can't wait.


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