Home in 4 Days!!

In case the title of this post was too obscure, I’m going to be home in 4 days!! Based off my past adventures, here are some answers to questions I know I’m gonna get asked.

Wait, you were gone?

Yeah! I left May 8 and got back (or, at the moment, plan to get back) September 6. I spent the summer in Glacier National Park, working at a gift shop as a barista and t-shirt putter-outter, and also serving with A Christian Ministry in the National Parks.

0707191300_hdr

The best ACMNP team I could have asked for. Also, I couldn’t figure out how to flip this image so that it actually looks like we’re spelling out “ACMNP.”

I thought you were supposed to be back at the end of September?

True! I was originally supposed to work until September 21, but it turns out that is a ton of time to be away from home, my family, my super cute boyfriend, Burgerville milkshakes, etc.

22825

Was it just amazing?

Just amazing–that’s a really high expectation to put on any 4-month period.  So no, not exactly. There were some really awesome parts, and also some really sucky parts. Overall, it was a good experience.

Are you glad you did it?

Absolutely! This had been a dream of mine for seven-ish years, and I don’t think it would have ever left me alone if I hadn’t gone and tried. Also, Glacier is gorgeous and there were so many days when I stepped out of my dorm and thought, “I can’t believe I get to live here for a summer!!”

0822192030a_hdr-effects

A view from my evening walks. This was about a 4-minute walk from my house.

So what happened? Why are you home early?

Okay, this question maybe falls on the “questions I know people will want to ask but will probably be too polite to actually ask” list. Honestly, July happened. I cruised through June with only a few homesick days, but then I hit July and thought, “Wow, I’ve been here two months………and I’m not even halfway done yet. Crap.” July was one of the loneliest months I have had in the last 7 years. That was my own fault–I didn’t make a huge effort to go out and meet people. I get pretty stressed out of I don’t get time alone, and when I’m working retail 5 days a week and spending Sunday doing worship services, the thought of taking someone I barely know on a 2-hour car ride, then a 6-hour hike, then another 2-hour car ride back home on my only day to myself seemed like a bit more than I could handle. And it didn’t help to be thinking that I was also missing out on my first summer of dating Marc because we were in separate states.

Then, in the middle of July, I decided to Skype my mom. She was with my sister’s kids, so I got to talk with them. I was in my car so as not to disturb my roommate. The conversation went like this:

Pearl (my 3-year-old niece who loves to point out the obvious): Auntie, you are in your car.

Me: Yep.

Pearl: Good. Now you can come home!

19686

Pearl, umm, helping me in the garden last spring before I left.

And I thought, dang, girl, you have a point. I might have started the car right then and been home by dinner the next day, except my favorite books were in my dorm at the time and there’s no way I’m abandoning them. In any case, that got the idea in my head, and a few weeks later I found out that one of my co-workers was staying later than she had originally planned, and they were hiring another person who would stay until my original end date, so I asked if I could leave and my manager looked at the schedule and asked if I could stay till September 5, which was reasonable.

So, basically, I’m home early because I took advice from a 3 year old. But, like, a really cute one so it’s okay. #auntielife

Did you get to go on some great hikes?

Oh yeah!! I loved my days hiking.

Did you see some cool wildlife?

I saw mountain goats, marmots, deer, foxes, and a billion squirrels. I didn’t see any moose, and I only saw bears from the car, which I was honestly okay with. I usually hiked alone, so I wasn’t all that interested in seeing things that might decide to kill me.

You hiked alone! Insanity!!

Shhhhhhh……I was usually on well-traveled trails, I had bear spray and an emergency locator, and I didn’t spend four months away from home, family, friends, nieces, nephew, and boyfriend to not hike. It worked out fine. #NotDead

So what’s your next adventure?

There isn’t one! At least, not a long-term travel adventure. That’s kind of a new experience for me. I started dreaming of the PCT in middle school, and that dream took me through college. Then six months after I got back, my sister and I started planning our trip to New Zealand, which took me through another two years, and then a few months after that I got to come to Glacier, which is another dream I’ve had for a long time. I’m gonna go ahead and stay put for a while. I’m excited to not constantly be living a few months ahead of myself. I think it’s gonna work out just fine 🙂

Virginia Falls and St. Mary Falls

About a month ago, I was having a not super fun time and just needed to get out and hike. My days off had consisted of thunderstorms and homesickness, so I finally decided to just do a short trail after work. I drove across the park to hike to St. Mary Falls and, just past that, Virginia Falls.

DSC02250

St. Mary falls. No, St. Mary Falls. A location, not a sentence. #ThingsEditorsThinkAreFunny

Honestly, I’m not usually one for waking to waterfalls to begin with, so I chose this one more out of desperation to be outside than anything else, so my expectations were low. This was a good thing. It’s a pretty enough hike, but definitely not one I would recommend to someone who only has a few days in the park, especially not if you’re physically capable of doing a more difficult hike. This hike was really easy, at just around 4 miles, but the burned forest blocks most of your view and I think the fact that the trees are all dead would make it pretty miserable on a hot day. Luckily, I went on a cool evening so at least I had that advantage.

DSC02255

The trail follows a cool river most of the way. 

Virginia Falls was actually pretty impressive. The water brought out the vibrant colors of the rocks. I think my favorite thing, though, was getting to see a bird nest that was tucked into a hollow just below the falls. No predator could get to it. I wouldn’t have even noticed it if the mama bird hadn’t been flying back and forth to it so frequently, tiny orange breaks visible for a moment every time she returned to the nest. Getting to see that made me feel like the hike was totally worth it.

DSC02265

DSC02273 (2)

There is a green patch with a black hole in it on the right side of this picture, on the cliff in the foreground. That’s where the birds were 🙂

DSC02283

Blocking the view with my arms. So sorry 🙂

Hiking the Highline 😃

Yes, that’s an emoji in my blog post title, because this trail was awesome. I first hiked this trail in 2015 with my dad and sister, Olivia. It’s kind of the reason I started dreaming about Glacier and wanted to come back. It’s pretty gorgeous.

DSC02557

The view near the Granite Park Chalet. Heaven’s Peak on the right, Mount Oberlin on the left.

It also takes a while for the snow on it to melt, so it wasn’t open until early July. Then, the day before i planned to hike it, there was a grizzly bear hanging out on the trail, so they closed it for a few weeks. I finally got to hike it a week and a half ago, on a glorious sunny day in which I remembered both my sunscreen and my hat. #rare

The trail starts at Logan Pass, and quickly goes out on a ledge in the middle of a cliff. There’s a steel cable along this length, to which a family of 5 desperately clung. However, the trail is pretty wide even here, so I was able to pass them without feeling like I would die.

DSC02460

Not great for people who are afraid of heights.

One of my favorite moments happened a few hundred feet after that section, on what’s called the Garden Wall. Steep fields of flowers stretch above and below you, the trail the only interruption in its descent. The vastness of the valley masks the true height of the mountains around you, making them seem somehow huge but also not that far away. As I came around a corner, there was a little boy kneeling in the dirt, his grandpa walking a few steps ahead of him. His grandpa turned when he heard me coming and looked down at the 4 year old.

“What are you doing?” he asked, confused.

“Drawing,” the little boy replied.

Because, ya know, what better place to draw than in the dirt of the most gorgeous trail around?

Grandpa sighed. “Move aside so she can pass.”

The boy stood up, the seat of his sweatpants as dusty as his cuffs, and scampered out of the way. He was adorable.

The rest of the trail was also nice. I saw another goat, marveled at the flowers, and took a billion pictures. At the Granite Park Chalet, I stopped to make a sandwich on the porch. A squirrel tried to steal it from my hand. Some Canadians laughed at that. I ate faster.

DSC02549

The Granite Park Chalet with the Rocky Mountains in the background.

DSC02563

Me at the Granite Park Chalet.

DSC02555

I wonder why they call it the Garden Wall?

DSC02544

Name that flower! (Refer to my previous post from Iceberg Lake for a hint 😉 )

DSC02537

McDonald Creek flowing towards the Lake.

DSC02499

Looking up!

DSC02486

Towards the beginning of the trail. The Going to the Sun Road is on the right side of the picture.

The last four miles are pretty lame, but they’re made worth it by the 7 or so that you’ve already done. The trail ends at The Loop, a hairpin turn in the Going to the Sun Road. From there, I caught one of the last shuttles back to my car at the Apgar Campground, got some ice cream at the Cedar Tree, and finished the day cooling my feet in Lake McDonald. Not bad for a Friday 🙂

DSC02573.JPG

Indian Paintbrush on the trail back to the Loop.