Category Archives: Summer 15

Posts that are pulled into the Summer Landing Page.

A Memorable Trip to Montana’s Glacier National Park

If you ask me, any visit to Glacier National Park is memorable. But my most recent trip to the park was extra memorable. Why? Well, a few reasons really. It was early June, the weather was perfect and I was in the Crown of the Continent with five of my favorites: Kristin, Jade, Spencer, Kent and Caanan. It was literally one of my favorite trips to the park.

Glacier National Park's Many Glacier Valley.

Glacier National Park’s Many Glacier Valley.

Now, as I’m sure you all can image, I have been to Glacier National Park 7,457 times (or some outrageous number similar to that). Maybe you’re wondering, “Tia, do you ever get bored of going to the same old park over and over?” To which I would respond, “Actually, no. That’s one thing I love about Glacier National Park. No matter how many times I visit, it touches me to the very core and somehow makes everything seem right in the world. Call me a sap, but Glacier National Park has my heart.”

Phew, now that that’s out of the way, let me show you why this most recent visit was one for the record books…

First things first, we started the trip with a helicopter tour over the park with Glacier Jet Center. Based out of Glacier Park International Airport, Glacier Jet Center is the crème de la crème of helicopter tours. I kid you not, that helicopter ride was as smooth as a paddle on the calmest of lakes. Plus, Mike (the general manager and pilot) is an utmost professional and a stellar pilot. We spent a perfect hour seeing the park from the sky — an absolutely stunning vantage point.

Admiring our black stallion of a helicopter.

Admiring our black stallion of a helicopter.

One of my seat buddies, Kent.

One of my seat buddies, Kent.

Flying over Hungry Horse Reservoir.

Flying over Hungry Horse Reservoir.

The view from above.

The view from above.

A great view of one of the peaks.

A great look at one of the park’s mountain peaks.

Jade documenting our trip.

Jade documenting our trip.

The view toward the park's peaks from the North Fork. One word: incredible.

The view toward the park from the North Fork. One word: incredible.

From the air, you can see peak after peak after peak.

From the air, you can see peak after peak after peak.

After one of the best hours of my life, we loaded up our rig and made the scenic drive along Highway 2 and into West Glacier. And you know we stopped for the obligatory tourist photo.

This group is full of hams.

Fact: this group is full of hams.

Lake McDonald from Apgar Village.

Lake McDonald from Apgar Village.

After dipping our toes in the chilly water at Lake McDonald, we continued east on Highway 2 to our lunch destination, the Izaak Walton Inn. All I’m going to say about that is this: if you have not had lunch or dinner at the Izaak Walton, put it on your agenda.

With full tummies, we cruised along to East Glacier Park. Growing up about two hours south of East Glacier, it has a sweet spot in my heart. We checked into our accommodations for the night at Glacier Park Lodge. When I was a wee little one, we’d come to Glacier Park Lodge nearly every summer and stay the night. To this blond-haired girl, it is one of the most special places in the world to me.

The view from the deck at Glacier Park Lodge.

The view from the deck at Glacier Park Lodge.

Our shared balcony was the perfect place to greet the morning.

Our shared balcony was the perfect place to greet the morning.

After a good night’s sleep among fresh Rocky Mountain air (I swear to you, there’s something about mountain air that will make you sleep like a well-behaved baby), we filled our tummies with huckleberry pancakes at Glacier Park Lodge and then headed for Two Medicine for a morning boat tour with Glacier Park Boat Company, followed by a quick jaunt to Running Eagle Falls.

Even with the overcast skies, the boat tour was lovely.

Even with the overcast skies, the boat tour was lovely.

Running Eagle Falls was named in honor of Running Eagle, a female Blackfeet warrior who had a vision quest here.

Running Eagle Falls was named in honor of Running Eagle, a female Blackfeet warrior who had a vision quest here.

We then continued on to our final destination of Many Glacier, but not before fueling up at the Park Cafe in St. Mary. Trust me on one thing: the pie is as good as ever. After again filling our bellies, we continued to Many Glacier Hotel for an afternoon hike with Glacier Guides. Along the way we saw ridiculous views, fresh bear poo and a few lingering piles of snow.

Oh, hey gorgeous mountain.

Oh, hey gorgeous mountain.

Lake Josephine in the park's Many Glacier Valley.

Lake Josephine in the park’s Many Glacier Valley.

This is how much we love Glacier National Park.

This is how much we love Glacier National Park.

In case you're wondering what tough Montana girls wear hiking, our attire consists of hot pink workout pants.

In case you’re wondering what tough Montana girls wear hiking, our attire includes hot pink workout pants.

After a gorgeous hike, we made our way back to Many Glacier Hotel for dinner.

Soaking up the view from my room.

Soaking up the view from my room.

The Ptarmigan Dining Room at Many Glacier Hotel.

The Ptarmigan Dining Room at Many Glacier Hotel.

Catching the last light from the deck at Many Glacier Hotel.

Catching the last light from the deck at Many Glacier Hotel.

Ending the night with a delightful drink, the Huckleberrry Smash.

Ending the night with a delightful drink, the Huckleberrry Smash.

After a cozy night in one of the park’s most magnificent lodges, we packed up the car and started making the drive to the airport. The biggest disappointment for some of my pals? We hadn’t seen any wildlife. However, I’m happy to tell you that en route to the airport we saw a moose and a bear. My response? That’s Montana for ya.

Waving goodbye to Many Glacier.

Waving goodbye to Many Glacier.

"Oh, it's a moose," was the direct quote from Spencer's mouth when he saw this guy.

“Oh, it’s a moose,” was the direct quote from Spencer’s mouth when he saw this guy.

Don't worry, when I saw the bear I properly alerted my group by saying, "Bear, bear, bear, BEAR!"

Don’t worry, when I saw the bear I properly alerted my group by saying, “Bear, bear, bear, BEAR!”

Saying our goodbyes in the only way we know how: a giant group selfie.

Saying our goodbyes in the only way we know how: a giant group selfie.

Somehow during our week of exploring Montana, the song “Meet Me in Montana” became our jam. So much so that we practiced the words and even recorded a video of our crew “performing” it.

To the #MT6Pack, miss you and your cute faces. Come back soon, okay?

xo,
TT

PS: For more from our group’s early summer jaunt through Western Montana’s Glacier Country, check out our time in Missoula, our day in the Seeley-Swan Valley and the fun we had soaking up the great outdoors in Montana’s Flathead Valley.

Visiting Montana’s Flathead Valley

*Hey you Montana lovers! Are you ready for part three of our road trip through Glacier Country? If I know you like I think I do, y’all are totally ready. Read on…

After our first two stops in Missoula and the Seeley-Swan Valley, our group of six continued our journey north to our next destination: Montana’s Flathead Valley. The Flathead is one of the state’s largest valleys and is home to a ton of recreational opportunities (like sailing on Flathead Lake, zip lining at Whitefish Mountain Resort or hiking in Jewel Basin), as well as cutesy small towns.

As we only had one day and two nights in the Flathead Valley, we knew we needed to maximize our time and soak up the personality of this corner of Montana.

Our time in the valley included…

A morning hike on The Whitefish TrailLocated a short drive from downtown Whitefish, The Whitefish Trail currently has 26+ miles of trails (as well as seven trailheads) that are prime launching points for hiking or biking the trail. We opted for one of the newest sections of the trail: the Woods Lake Loop. Not only was the hike gorgeous, but it also provided us with a view of Whitefish Lake. IMG_9209IMG_9205IMG_9208

Basking in the gorgeousness of The Lodge at Whitefish LakeWith its stunning location on the shore of Whitefish Lake, the lodge is one of the top places to stay in Whitefish. Plus, during the summer months you can dine on their deck, quench your thirst at the tiki bar or rent your water toy of choice (mine is a jet ski) for playing on Whitefish Lake. IMG_9193IMG_9217

Eating, eating and eating. While you may not think that Montana is a place to find tasty food, think again my friends. We filled (as in FILLED) our tummies on delectable meals at Tupelo Grille (hands down, my favorite place for dinner in Whitefish), Base Camp Cafe in Columbia Falls (LOVE their breakfast), Loula’s Cafe in Whitefish, Three Forks Grille in Columbia Falls and Sweet Peaks Ice Cream in Whitefish. *Side note: Judging from the photos below, I only eat sweets.IMG_9196IMG_9223IMG_9231IMG_9220

Catching our beauty rest (and stunning sunsets) at Meadow Lake Resort. Located in Columbia Falls and a stone’s throw from Glacier National Park, Meadow Lake is my idea of Montana perfection. It’s set back off the main highway, but is still so easy to get to. (Literally two minutes north of Highway 2). Plus, the rooms, grounds and views are pretty much perfect.  IMG_9230 IMG_9225

Your turn: What’s on your “must do” list in the Flathead Valley?

xo,
TT

PS: For photos from our road trip through Western Montana, check out hashtag #mt6pack on twitter and instagram.

Playing in Montana’s Seeley-Swan Valley

*Earlier this month, five friends made the trek to Western Montana to explore the region with me. In our seven days together, we had numerous adventures. So many in fact, that I’m breaking the trip up into multiple blog posts. Read about the first leg of our journey here

After our quick day and a half in Missoula, we loaded up and started making our way north. Our destination: Montana’s Seeley-Swan Valley.

Nestled between the Mission Mountain Range and the Swan Mountains, the Seeley-Swan Valley is a little piece of paradise. The valley itself is home to a few small towns (including Seeley Lake, Condon and Swan Lake) and ridiculous amounts of outdoor recreation.

One of my favorite things to do in the area is paddle the Clearwater Canoe Trail, located just outside of Seeley Lake. The trail starts a few miles north of town and meanders its way through a dense willow marsh before entering the north end of the lake. On the morning we paddled it, we were the only ones on the trail. It was just the six of us, three canoes and plenty of sunshine.

To sum it up: it was pure perfection.
Insider tip: If you want the trail to yourself, plan to go in the early morning. During the summer, it has a tendency to get crowded by late morning/early afternoon. 

Jade and Spencer taking in the view.

Jade and Spencer taking in the view.

My paddling partner, Kristin.

My paddling partner, Kristin.

One of the most peaceful ways to spend a morning.

One of the most peaceful ways to spend a morning.

At the take out for the Clearwater Canoe Trail.

At the take out for the Clearwater Canoe Trail.

After getting our paddle on, we continued north on Highway 83. As with any good road trip, it’s imperative to get off the main road and take the road less traveled. Which means we took a little detour over to Holland Lake for lunch…and some stretching.

Holland Lake. If you look closely, you can see Holland Falls across the lake.

Holland Lake. If you look closely, you can see Holland Falls across the lake.

Kristin practicing yoga on the shore of Holland Lake.

Kristin practicing yoga on the shore of Holland Lake.

Our last stop of the day was an afternoon trail ride with Swan Mountain Outfitters, located just south of Swan Lake. I’ve been on quite a few group trail rides and I have to say that hands down, this was my all-time favorite ride. The wranglers were skilled, the horses were lovely and the views were stunning.

As the tallest in our group, Spencer was (appropriately) paired with Jumbo.

As the tallest in our group, Spencer was paired with the biggest horse I’ve ever seen, appropriately named Jumbo.

The beginning part of the ride took us through forested terrain.

The beginning part of the ride took us through forested terrain.

My favorite view.

My favorite view.

It was the perfect day. I’ve just got one question: When are we going back?

xo,
TT

Exploring Missoula, Montana

You guys, I just had one of the most fun weeks ever. Why? Because I was able to spend it exploring Western Montana with five of my favorite humans.

Meet my lovely friends: Spencer, Caanan, Kent, Kristin and Jade.

Meet my lovely friends: Spencer, Caanan, Kent, Kristin and Jade.

For some background, this is a trip that the six of us had been planning for the past 18 months. You see, Spencer, Jade, Kristin, Kent and Caanan are some of the busiest people I know. But even with everyone’s vastly different schedules and obligations, the stars aligned perfectly for all of us to come together and meet in Montana. We had seven days to explore the region and let me tell you, explore it we did. We packed countless adventures into our time together and it was a week that left me feeling happy, full of joy and completely re-energized.

The first stop on our trip: Missoula. Missoula, for those of you who may not be familiar with it, is perhaps Montana’s coolest city. It’s this beautiful combination of a strong urban core (full of darling shops, locally owned restaurants and a lively music scene), stunning scenery and outdoor adventure.

We only had about a day a half to play in the Garden City before heading north, so I put together a slate of some of my favorite activities for all of us to do together in Missoula. Our “must do” items included…

Going on a pedal-powered tour of downtown Missoula with Thirst Gear. If you are visiting Missoula, I totally recommend checking out the city on this bike. It was an absolute kick in the pants. Plus, all of their drivers are awesome (and cute). Our reward for pedaling through the city? Big Dipper Ice Cream.
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Fueling up at a few of my favorite local restaurants. Topping the list: Scotty’s Table, The Catalyst and Lolo Creek Steak House.
GCT_Scotty's Table Chef Plates 2
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Shopping the cute boutiques in downtown Missoula. My favorites include The Green Light and Cloth & Crown (which is where I scored the cute gray jacket below).
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Perusing the local farmers markets. On Saturdays during the summer, Missoula has three markets: the farmers market on North Higgins, the People’s Market on Pine and Higgins and the Clark Fork Market under the Higgins Street Bridge.
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Exploring Missoula’s craft breweries. After perusing the local markets, we headed out for an afternoon brewery tour with Tap Room Tours. If you are a craft brew lover, this is the tour for you. Tap Room Tours offers behind-the-scenes looks into Missoula’s local breweries and distillery. Plus, the owners Phil and Cate are two of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.

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Group_Tap Room Tours

To my Montana loving friends, thanks for letting me share some of my favorite Missoula moments with you. And Missoula, thank you for being so awesome.

Your turn: Where would be on the top of your list when visiting Missoula?

xo,
TT

PS: I have way too many stories from our adventures to fit into one blog post. Stay tuned for more posts about our time playing in Montana’s Glacier Country.