It is finally spring here in Montana, so Jake and I did our first real hike of the year! River slept decently the night before which gave us the extra little nudge to get on the trail. So after a very rare restful night of sleep, we headed to Holland Lake Falls. The trail is just past Swan Lake in Condon, Montana which is about an hour and ten minutes southeast of our home. We arrived at 9am and were surprised that we were the first ones there as this is a popular trail. (When we got back the parking lot was pretty full though.) There were many other trails that started from the parking lot and it would be great to explore them another day! I used the front pack carrier with River since she is still too small for the backpack. The one we have is a hand-me down, but it did the trick. We got Echo and Tango out of the truck and with bear spray in hand, we set out!
Jake was excited to do some shed hunting which he had learned about from his coworkers. In the spring, deer and elk shed their antlers and people can search for them in the forest. While Jake scouted for antlers up on the ridge, I walked on the main trail with River. We had only been walking for about five minutes when I noticed Echo was missing. Jake said he hadn’t seen her for a while either.
Panic set in and Jake and I split up to look for her.
My mind jumped to the worst-case scenario. Maybe she went out on the lake and the ice broke under her. Maybe she got in an altercation with another animal. Maybe she ran so far she wouldn’t be able to find her way back! I started crying and a group of people passed me on the trail. They sweetly offered to bring her back down the trail if they saw her. After about 20 minutes of yelling and searching, I heard some rustling in the bushes and Echo sprung out. Her neck was wet and she was shaking. Jake had seen some deer over the ridge earlier and thought she might have chased them. We’re still not sure what happened, but you can bet she lost her wandering privileges after this fiasco.
I felt emotionally drained afterwards and almost didn’t complete the trail, but Jake persuaded me to keep going.
And thank goodness he did!
The views of the lake were stunning and there was almost a 360 view of different snow-capped mountain ranges. The hike was short (only 3.3 miles round trip) yet rewarding. After a bit of uphill hiking (with a 16-pound chest weight), I started to feel the spray from the falls.
The waterfall was roaring since it was early spring, and River was completely mesmerized. She had stayed awake the whole time chatting with daddy and watching the dogs run back and forth so by the time we got to the end, she was pretty hungry. It was dreamy breastfeeding her in the middle of the forest listening to the water crash around us.
Unfortunately, I forgot my camera, but we still captured some beautiful moments together! There are not many hikes you can do this early in the year since a lot of trails are still snow-packed or iced over. Holland Lake Falls will hold us over until we can reach those high peaks and alpine lakes. Jake and I already plan to come back here over the summer to do some swimming and maybe camping! (If we can get a site!)