The day after the 4th of July/Hillstock crew climbed up Napi, we decided to put our feet up and drink in the views from the Big Field.

Just kidding!

We loaded up all 16 or so of us, including Nan and Chuck — as my parents shall hereafter be known on this blog, in the post-Maggie Era — AND Maggie Rose, and proceeded to scramble up into the basin above Apikuni Falls, in Many Glacier.

Isn’t Many Glacier ridiculously beautiful?

I’ve been there more times than I can count, and the above picture still causes me to shake my head in happy wonder that this really is my backyard.  Seeing Sherburne Reservoir dead calm and glacial blue below Mts. Wynn, Cracker, Siyeh, and Allen (left – right) takes every bit of the sting out of March’s many disappointments.

Once we had passed all the tourists en route for the falls — including a crazy woman standing on the trail telling everyone who passed her about “the glacier you can touch!” just past the waterfall — we pulled ourselves up into the Apikuni Basin.  From there, some of us decided to pick our way up the cliff bands guarding the Natahki Lakes, on to the summit of Mt. Altyn, and down through the scree to the Many Glacier porch.

Others of us decided to pick our way up the streambed coming down from Apikuni Ridge and an unnamed peak, with no particular goal in mind but to soak up the perfect stillness of the day, and the easy companionship of each other.  As the one hauling the nearing-30-pounds baby, I figured I’d get a half hour in and be heading for the porch, myself.  But somehow, my lungs kept expanding and my quads kept their steady course up, up, and up, and without really thinking much about it, several hours later I found myself just shy of the top of the unnamed peak, drinking in phenomenal views of the Many Glacier Valley, my favorite part of the park.

I found a cozy rock and shared a leftover hot dog with Maggie Rose, and sat in silence for a few moments, reflecting on Maggie’s unusual delivery and my subsequent hospitalization for salmonella, and the resulting despair I felt last July, when I wasn’t entirely certain I’d ever be able to even do another Hot Buns Hike, much less climb a mountain.  And yet there I was, on top of the mountain with the Hot Buns, my parents, and the baby herself.

Hot Buns: JC, Claire, Michy, Nan, LJ, me, Maggie Rose, Pseudo Sista

When Layla and Claire returned from summitting the unnamed peak, the Hot Buns posed, including Maggie Rose, for whom we waived the 20 mile hike requirement for membership.  Perhaps the mountains in the background, with Mt. Gould at slightly right of center, can give you an idea of just how far up this gorgeous ridge we walked.

Claire’s surprise visit was a highlight of Hillstock for all of us.  Come back soon, honey.

Brother Dear’s panoramic i-Phone app is providing us with all sorts of entertainment this summer.

After the Hot Buns got their photo shoot on, a quiet reverence again settled over our group, and I know I wasn’t the only one whose thoughts turned to the young men we’ve lost entirely too soon, and some of the reasons we keep hiking, through arthritis and asthma and heartbreak.  Those men are always with us, in the mountains.

2012.  Glacier County Honey Co.  Some photo credits to Sanford Stone and Layla Dunlap.  All Rights Reserved.