10 things to know about the Hiawatha trail

 #1. It’s a real thing

Opened in 1998, the Hiawatha trail is a 15-mile-long bike trail that operates out of Lookout Pass Ski Area right off of I-90 at exit 0. All amenities such as trail passes can be found at the ski area that opens at 8 a.m.  The actual main trail for the Hiawatha is actually located 7-miles east of the ski area at exit 5 in Montana. The trail is open roughly from the end of May and closes at the end of September every year.

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#2. You don’t need to own a bike to ride the Hiawatha Trail

Okay, that’s a lie, well only slightly. You do need a bike to ride the Hiawatha. However, you do not need to own one personally because you can rent one from the Lookout Pass ski area. Not only can you rent from two choices of mountain bikes for both children and adults, but you can also rent helmets, bike lights and bike trailers.

#3. You will never know what actual time it is

Because the Hiawatha trail main trailhead starts in Montana, but Lookout Pass ski area where you buy your ticket is in Idaho, and Idaho and Montana are in two different time zones it can get very confusing. Now you may be reading this and thinking that it’s logical to just reference Montana time because that’s where the trail starts. But actually half of the trail is in Idaho time because the first tunnel you bike through sends you straightunnamed-1 into Idaho from Montana. But then again be warned, I still don’t know this to be 100% because after riding the Hiawatha many times I still am very confused by the time concept.

#4. It’s fun for the whole family

Or in my case my best friend and I because we’re out of state college students.img_2858 But nonetheless, the Hiawatha trail is a perfect weekend outing for all ages. The 15-mile trail is mostly all downhill so it’s not as strenuous as 15 miles’ sounds. Along with this there are many pullout spots along the trail to take a break, take in the view and have a picnic.

#5. The views are incredible

I personally struggled with staying on the trail because of how pretty the scenery is. If you go later in the season, you’ll be able to see the trees begin to change color. So if you’re somebody who likes to look at everything but where you are going, go slow to avoid a spontaneous trip off the side of the trail.

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#6. There is a light at the end of the tunnel

One of the very cool things about the Hiawatha trail is that it use to a continental railroad system, and contains 7 sky high trestles along with 10 train tunnels. Right out of the gate, bikers will bike through the St. Paul Pass Tunnel which is 1.66 miles long. You will be totally consumed by darkness in this tunnel and it gets very cold. Unless you are Bane from the Dark Knight rises, it’s essential that you have a reliable and bright bike img_2848light, and no your IPhone flashlight will not suffice. It may sound scary to some, but the tunnels are one of the main attraction on the trail and an experience you don’t want to miss. Also, the acoustics in the St. Paul Pass tunnel will convince you that you should’ve auditioned for American Idol.

#7.  Make sure you pack the essentials

As a veteran of the Hiawatha trail I will tell you that it is much more fun if you pack the right things. Some of these necessities for ultimate fun on the trail include a helmet (everyone loves to be safe, also it’s required), gloves (the tunnels get very cold, so gloves come in clutch), a backpack (to hold all your snacks of course), snacks and a sack lunch (to fill your backpack of course. I also recommend img_2901packing a pb&j because it’s the one sandwich that taste best smashed), a bright light (if you have one, if not you can rent one), first aid kit (because better safe than sorry) and water (you’ve got to stay hydrated!). Also I recommend dressing in layers because some parts of the trail are more shaded then others which causes some to be colder than others.

#8. Always buy a shuttle pass

A shuttle pass is not required to buy because it’s possible to ride the 15 miles down to the bottom of the trail and then back up, and some people do this. However, from experience the 15 miles back up to the trailhead is a lot harder than the way down because, well, gravity. But when planning ahead purchasing a $9 shuttle pass so that you have the option to ride on the bus back up to the trailhead is never a bad idea. Better safe than sorry right? You never know what may happen to you on your 15-mile ride to the bottom. You may have plans to be an animal that day and go down and back up, but then realize you’re much more tired after the first half of the ride, or realize it took longer than you thought and you’re short on time. Like I said, it’s better safe than sorry, and also who doesn’t love fun facts and stories about the area provided to you by your very knowledge Hiawatha shuttle driver?  untitled-4

#9. Angels do exist on the Hiawatha trail

I recently learned on my past trip on the Hiawatha trail that angels exist. I was about 5 miles into the trail when tragedy struck and I popped a tire. I realized I was probably SOL because I never planned on popping a tire, because who plans on that? With ten more miles to go I began pedaling my sad self down the now extremely bumpy trail. After a mile or so on my embarrassing flat tire, a red haired angel pedaled up next to me on a blue bike and asked if I needed a replacement. Her name was Emma, or as I call her Angel Emma and she was one of the patrols on the trail that assisted the distressed like myself.  She quickly worked her magic and replaced my tire and sent me on my way. Thankfully Lookout Pass who operates the Hiawatha trail plans for people to have misfortunes down the trail.untitled-3

#10. Take your time on the trail and enjoy the ride

The Hiawatha trail has been dubbed the “crown jewel of rail to trail adventures” and a crown jewel of an adventure it is. Not only do you get to be outside exploring beautiful Montana Idaho but you get to be amongst other friendly cyclists! So enjoy the ride and take the whole day to experience it.

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Sad you missed your chance to ride the Hiawatha trail this season?

Because I know I would be if I missed it, but thankfully I didn’t! And because I didn’t you can experience parts of my ride in this short video.

Enjoy and visit www.ridethehiawatha.com for more information and to plan your trip next season!

 Have a hidden adventure you want to share?

Tell me about it!

Your Complete Instagram Guide to Missoula, MT

In  today’s day in age, any experience (for the most part) is accompanied by sharing that experience on social media. Missoula, Montana is known for it’s beautiful rivers and mountain ranges, however, it is also considered the cultural center of Montana. With an eclectic downtown scene, distinctive dining and strong sense of community, Missoula has a lot to offer as far as experience, both on and offline.

As an Instagram enthusiast myself, and a believer in the #DoItForTheGram mentality, I am all about curating an aesthetic and a strong social media presence. So I present to you your complete Instagram Guide to Missoula, MT to help you navigate the most aesthetically pleasing AND high quality hot spots around town.

Coffee: Black Coffee Roasting Co. 

img_2902img_2903The winner as far as aesthetics and quality coffee in Missoula goes, is definitely Black Coffee Roasting Co. Not only do they provide organic, craft roasted coffee while operating with sustainability, but they’re ambience is seriously on point. With a hipster-chic vibe and insanely good lighting, this is definitely the spot to go if you want some good latte art on your feed.

Walk in the Park: Greenough Park

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Greenough is a true gem, nestled just up the Rattlesnake and covering 42 acres, it is a peaceful place to go on a bike ride, run or, of course, go take photos. In the fall, Greenough is a paradise of colorful trees and crisp autumn air and a complete winter wonderland once the first snow occurs. It’s also just generally beautiful all year round, so if you want to go on a nice walk while taking amazing photos along the way, Greenough is the park for you.

Eats: Caffe Dolce

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As you may be able to tell, I love a good #FoodPorn flatlay. Caffe Dolce is by far the best spot across the board for breakfast, brunch, lunch AND dinner. Not only taste-wise, but to get a gorgeous food pic with minimal effort. Since Caffe Dolce’s establishment is made up of mainly windows, the lighting will always be perfection. Not to mention their tables are the ideal background color and texture, which is essential for any successful flatlay. Oh yeah, and the food looks pretty good too.

On the Town: Plonk

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As a grandma at heart, I’m no expert on the Missoula going out scene. However, I have to say that Plonk scores major points as far as experience, quality and Instagram-ability goes. The classy, big city atmosphere and gorgeous drink presentation are sure to elevate your feed into #InstagramGoals status.

Shopping: The Hip Strip + NOBO 

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Missoula has an awesome local shopping scene. With an array of unique and high quality boutiques, it’s definitely worth exploring when you get the chance, specifically downtown on The Hip Strip and NOBO (aka North of Broadway.) These areas are abundant with quirky shops, gorgeous boutiques, great places to eat and lots of Insta-worthy alleys tucked away perfect for that #ootd!

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Something Sweet: Sweet Peaks Ice Cream

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I know, I’m a true Big Dipper fan at heart too, however, there is no denying that Sweet Peaks brings it in the aesthetics department as well as well as their super unique ice cream flavors that make you go “huh, that sounds weird but also kind of good so I’ll try it.” If you want to capture a cool cone, venture over to Sweet Peaks. Don’t worry, it’s totally okay to cheat on Big Dipper every once in a while, especially if you get a good gram out of it.

Outside: The “M” Trail

img_2993img_2992 Now, I’ll admit I’ve only ever hiked the “M” in high school gym class, and once on a first date when a boy made me, and I was still in the “pretend to not be high maintenance phase” of the relationship. Needless to say, I don’t hike very much. But Missoula is the place for hikes, hiking and hikers so I had to include some kind of hike in this guide, to prevent getting Birkenstocks chucked at my head. All jokes aside the “M” trail is a beautiful hike, which is accessible to all levels of hiking ability and it takes a pretty damn good picture too, I must say.

 

I hope you enjoyed this Instagram Guide. Now you’re all set to go snap some #goals worthy IGs! But don’t forget to put down your phone to really appreciate the wonderful place that is Missoula, Montana. #Blessed, indeed (hate me yet?)

 

Do you have any favorite spots around Montana that didn’t make this list? Leave me a comment to let me know!

 

Photography by Michelle Dufflocq Williams, Aline Dufflocq Williams, McKenna Munden, Cloth & Crown, Betty’s Divine, Our Life Experiments and the University of Montana.

How to travel the air with comfort and style

Have you ever wondered while being on board of the plane how to make it more comfortable for you? Or maybe after the flight?
Thanksgiving break and Christmas holidays are quickly approaching and a lot of people will travel somewhere, probably home, on a trip, visit families and friends. As somebody who have traveled and flew quite a lot across the Europe and US and also overseas from Europe to US and Africa for several times I feel I am at least a little competent to talk about “how to” now. Although I don’t feel like I know everything and I think nobody does. There is still a lot of things I can learn and observe about flying. But experiences and mistakes teach us the most. And thanks to them we can find a lot of hacks for our own good, comfort and wellbeing. Some of them are very small things but especially on long flights or when there is a delay on your flight they can save you a lot of stress, money and time. As I learned a lot during that hours on plane or at the airport when I was cold, thirsty, hungry or bored, felt dried and my skin looked grayish I will share some hacks, observations and experiences with you so that you can think about it and enjoy your next flight in comfort and style. So sit back, relax and enjoy this article.

You can see spectacular things from the air
You can see spectacular things from the air

1. Stay hydrated!
It is more then essential to stay hydrated and it’s not always easy on board. My biggest hacks here? Thermal water in spray and empty bottle for water. It is essential to stay hydrated and it’s not very easy in an on board air and aircondition. Do you sometimes feel on a flight like your face is made of rubber? This is why, the air is very dry there. And this is what thermal water in spray will help you with. It’s very refreshing and it keeps your face “watered”. Also having an empty bottle for water, nobody will tell you anything and you can fill it almost everywhere. Remember you can always ask for a water on board anytime during the flight (probably not during takeoff and landing though) they don’t wanna faint you either. Also having a hydrating cream for face and hands is handy.

Make sure it is not over 50 ml / 1.76 OZ. This one is from Avene,but you can also buy Vichy, LaRoche or not branded one.
Make sure it is not over 50 ml / 1.76 OZ. This one is from Avene,but you can also buy Vichy, LaRoche or not branded one.

2. Don’t smell
Nobody wants to find out having a neighbour on a flight by bad smell. You know what I mean,some people sweat,some people sweat more and some people just smell a lot. Now,you can’t have big bottles, sprays or perfumes in your carry-on, so how to prevent from smell? Get small deodorant, either solid or spray. They have them in Target,Walgreens, everywhere for around $3. Also they fit everywhere, even a purse. If you really sweat a lot than having a spear t-shirt could help. Don’t wanna give up on your favorite perfume? Some brands have small perfume roll-on versions,if not buy perfume atomizer. Small thing you can fill up right from your perfume bottle,they have them in perfumeries or order online.

You can easily fill it with your favorite perfume and have it always by your side.
You can easily fill it with your favorite perfume and have it always by your side.

3. Freshness all over you
Maybe this applies just to women, but it’s important and nobody talks about it. Wet feminine wipes and maybe spare undergarment are life savers on long flights. When you fly from Europe to US and contrary you fly from 10 to 20 hours plus transfers. It is even worse on longer flights. You usually change your underwear at least once during 24 hours, right? This is the same time. Plus airport is usually not your final destination, you go to the hotel or straight downtown. Just think about it in advance…
4. Bacteria challenge
Do you know where on the plane is the biggest bacteria coverage? In recent article Business Insider revealed that places with biggest bacteria exposure are food trays, magazines and safety information in your seat pocket and WC handle aboard. It is very useful to have a small antibacterial gel or an antibacterial tissues on hand. Especially right before meal.
5. Cozy and warm
For staying cozy and warm have your own pillow, blanket or scarf and maybe pair of fluffy socks. You don’t wanna use airline’s pillow and blanket, because if you’re not first class they’re usually not very snug and clean. You can have inflatable pillow if you don’t wanna carry it around. For scarf you can easily style it with your outfit. And fluffy socks? Maybe also more feminine issue? They are great when you wanna take down your shoes, they will warm you and you can also walk in them around the plane, nobody cares there, plus it’s dark-ish there too.

Can serve as a scarf and a little blanket, 2 in 1.
Can serve as a scarf and a little blanket, 2 in 1.

6. Move it!
Don’t sit for over four hours. Sometimes you’re watching a movie or sleeping and really forget about time, but you should set an alarm and walk a bit, stretch and move your legs. It is not healthy for your muscles nor your veins to sit and not move too long. Doctors usually advise to set the alarm for every two hours. You’d also feel very stiff and even more tired after landing.
7. Entertain yourself
Especially on long flights it is very easy to get bored. You probably know that there is a free entertainment center or system provided by arline, you can even use Wi-Fi on board on most of the flights (pretty expensive one though). Any hacks here? Miss out some of your favorite show’s new episodes and catch on them on flight. Always have your earphones, it’s more hygienic to use them the one providing by airline and you don’t have to listen to every noise around. Don’t rely on the entertainment center and have your own book, iPod or whatever, it pays off when you find out there is nothing interesting on, it’s broken or you’ll eventually get bored of the center.

Find the perfect headphones for you and take them with you. Always.
Find the perfect headphones for you and take them with you. Always.

8. Where you going?
It is essential to think about your final destination. Especially about the weather and time difference. You can plan and layer your outfit according to it. Also you can try to plan your sleep a few days before your trip according to time difference and slightly adapt yourself to local time in advance.

You travel,you move from one place to another, think about your final destination.
You travel,you move from one place to another, think about your final destination.

Also don’t forget your camera, tablet with it or phone to capture the beautiful views from the plane.

Beautiful sunset somewhere over Utah
Beautiful sunset somewhere over Utah

Now, if you have any additional hacks or experiences feel free to write them in comments. They are appreciated. That’s the only way we can learn from each other and have more pleasant flights in the future. This is our final destination today, thank you for keeping with us.

The author is a university student from Czech Republic, currently on an exchange program at the University of Montana, USA. She likes traveling, exploring new places, skiing and going to the movies.