|Jessica Stickseed (Hackelia micrantha).|
|Native clematis (Clematis occidentalis)|
|Along the trail.|
|Mountain Death Camas (Anticlea elegans)|
|Going to the Sun Road below the trail.|
As the trail wound around thickets of subalpine firs and some very steep hillsides, it was now several hundred feet above the Going to the Sun Road. The lush vegetation of the Garden Wall began to thin out and become more like grassland. Fields of bear grass in bloom dotted the slopes.
|Looking towards Haystack Butte.|
|Looking down a chute.|
|looking toward Haystack Butte.|
I hadn't encountered any hikers for a while, and it had stopped raining when I turned around and saw this tiny creature on the trail right behind me. I'm still trying to figure if it was a Pika, a small mammal that inhabits high-altitude meadows in the Rockies, or a baby chipmunk or vole of some sort (the coloring looks much like a chipmunk but it's lacking the characteristic stripes).
|A tiny inhabitant of the Highline Trail.|
|Pika or chipmunk?|
I held still while the tiny-eared creature grazed on the vegetation around the trail briefly and then disappeared into the brush. I gazed at my watch--it was getting towards four o'clock. I had intended to reach Haystack Falls before turning back, but I needed to turn around now to get back back in time to return my rental car before they closed at six.
Reluctantly I turned back. Other hikers returning from Haystack Falls passed me. I stopped now and then to take more photos.
|Wildflowers on the Garden Wall.|
|Wild onion (Allium schoenoprasum)|
This was the last photo I took before my camera froze up. The shutter would not focus or shoot, and when I tried to see the other photos I had taken, it would not change modes. Oh-no! What was I going to do without a camera, and this early into my trip? I had two weeks ahead at Sperry Chalet--how was I going to get the photos I needed? How could I have been so stupid?
Well, there was nothing I could do for now. Perhaps when the camera dried out it would go back to normal, or I could find a store in Columbia Falls where I could get it fixed quickly. But on a Saturday evening, the chances were slim. I passed a couple of Japanese tourists with very fancy camera rigs and was tempted to offer to buy one of their cameras, but they didn't understand enough English for me to even try.
I trudged on back towards my car. At least I'd gotten the hang of using the poles and my stride didn't feel so awkward as at the beginning of the hike. I drove back to the car rental place to call Kevin as prearranged. I explained the situation with my camera but he said he didn't know of any camera repair shop in town--there wasn't any store where I could make a quick purchase either. My only hope was to pray that the camera would dry overnight and work again.
That evening I tried to think of alternatives if the camera didn't go back to normal the next day. I called Herb and he thought perhaps he could buy me another camera the next day and ship it to Kevin overnight, and Kevin could send it up with the next mule train that would resupply the chalet in another few days. I fell asleep praying this wouldn't be necessary...