Missoula to Seattle

Few words can cover the gratitude we have for our hosts, Don, Trish and Ellis who drove us 760km from their home to Seattle just to drop us off at our hotel for tonight – The Panama Hotel – AND THEN DROVE HOME AGAIN!! Amazing – thank you!!

Whilst being cared for at their home, we were completely looked after and taken on great hikes. Yesterday was a slightly rainy rest day.

Today had a cold start, around 4°C, clearly and indicator of the weeks and months ahead.

On the down side, Kerry tripped as she got out of the van, face planted onto the kerb leaving a nice bruise and graze, taking a chunk out of her left knee and injuring her wrist to a point that we realised this might be more than a sprain.  Jan, the owner at Panama, ensured we got ice for the wrist and provided TLC too.

We found a pharmacy come deli and bought stretchy strapping, topped up on anti-inflammatory pills, and did a reconnaissance to the train station to find where we had to go the next morning. This is always a good idea when feasible.

The only photo from today is one from close to our hotel after we found dinner at the local Shanghai restaurant. Good to know it’s fireproof.





A parade, we’ve seen a parade!

A bit of rain dampened our expeditioning intentions for today.

Don and I took his Toyota to the dealership to get the ‘check engine’ light checked out in preparation for the journey back to Seattle tomorrow. It had come on yesterday which caused some alarm, but with no evidence of any problem, we forged on. Fortunately the scan tool only came up with a faulty crank angle sensor – a common intermittent fault – so the journey can be planned to continue.

A little late morning trip to check out the mall turned into a major outing when we came across a homecoming parade – a real live homecoming parade. Not quite sure what it was all about, but it was fun to see. We were given plenty of lollies, plenty of fancy hats and promo materials.

A selection of images for you.




And a squirrel in the yard when we got home.











Missoula, Montana – Day 2

A nice surprise breakfast at the trendiest place in Missoula – Caffe Dolce and then heading north of the town to Holland Lake and a 6km hike to a waterfall.

With temperatures up to around 27°C and plenty of steep climbs, this was very pleasant scenery wise, but had tough sections.

The drive of an hour took us through the now familiar steep mountains with flat river valleys around Missoula and a turn of at Holland Lake Road. Ellis and Don had brought a visitor here a week ago and walked to the waterfalls at the end. Trish and Ellis made it a third of the way before resting.

Don allocates his two cans of bear spray – high powered pepper spray commonly used – or carried and hopefully not used – in this area. Guns are carried by some, but are unlikely to kill an attacking bear immediately – and will likely make the beer ever more angry. Pepper spray is regarded as the best defence.

Despite assurances we will not see a bear on this track, Kerry and I were a little anxious at this strange threat.

The track sometime followed the most clear glacial lake, and sometimes climbed quite high. Eventually at the end of a long climb, we found the waterfall we were seeking. It’s cooling spray was a welcome relief from the warm sun.

Views were WONDERFUL.

Don found us a nice bridge over a lilly covered lake for a late lunch and then another turnoff found us at the abandoned town of Garnite. Trish’s aunt lived in one of these houses in her youth. It was certainly a pretty spot, but given it was over 1800m high, it would have been bitterly cold in winter.

A pleasant day indeed, finished by a welcome Skype call with Jacob.






Missoula Day One

One of the things I was so looking forward to on this trip has been meeting up with Ellis again, and meeting her parents, Don and Trish. No only did I know they’d be lovely hosts and people, but they are also very outdoors people who know lots of cool hikes around their town.

Today, we found two, one east and one west of town.

Don was thrilled to find the big horn sheep had come down from the mountains and found a farm to graze on.

He was also pretty chuffed that we saw a wild moose in the forest. We disturbed it and could hear it crashing through the undergrowth about 20 metres from us. No chance of a photo, and only a glimpse of a big brown animal.

He was also most pleased we found a dipper bird, that is quite special in that it feeds only in the water, swims under the water and has a commitment to foraging that is amazing given the cold river water.


On the way back we saw an older white male driver expressing his opinion. I thought it wise to not take a picture of him.


After a bit of a rest and lunch, we headed east to another hike up a canyon – Kootenai Creek.

A very pleasant day indeed.




Seattle to Missoula

With great excitement we met up with Trish Ellis and Don and loaded our excessive baggage into their van – negotiated the mid morning roads of Seattle and headed west.

Climbing through mountains, the cloud soon parted and a clear day ensured – maximum about 24°C – very pleasant driving.

The mountains made way to rolling plains with the familiar yellow canola and wheat fields.

Around 8 hours later we arrived in Missoula, a city of around 70,000 and the delightful old style house that will be our home for the next few days.



A BBQ was set up for the evening meal and along came a deer, looking for a feed and a bit of company. Such a unique experience.

The famous Gumball the cat on the lookout for food.