Cobalt Lake

Today I had the day off, and since I was pretty sure I didn’t work until 2 tomorrow, I thought, “Hey, I’ll go for a hike on the east side of the park, camp there, and then take the Going to the Sun Road back tomorrow.”

Luckily I checked my schedule before I left and discovered that I actually work at 11. So, instead of a camping retreat, I just drove an hour and a half to the Two Medicine area and hiked to Cobalt Lake.

Honestly, it wasn’t my favorite hike ever. It’s pretty, but not spectacular like so many of the hikes in Glacier are. Still, I think it was exactly the hike I needed to be on today. Just being outside, on a trail that wasn’t crowded and was full of my favorite wildflower (Indian Paintbrush) and shallow water crossings was perfect.

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The whole hike was full of meadows like these.

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Like a trampoline, but sketchier.

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Rockwell Falls.

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I also met another solo female hiker, which is always fun. She was probably a few years younger than me and starts work in the park on Monday. She’s headed to New Zealand in October for a year, so we chatted about that for a while. After she left, I ate my dinner and watched the lake for a while. A marmot crossed the creek and walked within 10 feet of me to nibble some bear grass.

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Hello, friend!

It started raining just as it was time to leave. Luckily, I’d packed my warm jacket and leggings, and the rain was intermittent anyways so I didn’t get even a little uncomfortable. It did make the mountains look really cool with the shadows from the evening sun. It also gave me a great excuse to stop for hot chocolate on my way back home. Oh, darn 🙂

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Scenic Point at Two Medicine

I had yesterday off, so I decided to go to East Glacier. I decided to leave no later than 8 am, so naturally, I rolled out of West Glacier at around 10:30.

Because of my late start, I figured I’d just make it a scouting trip and see what the area looked like, maybe visit an information center, but definitely no hiking.

DSC02073.JPGMy first stop was at Running Eagle Falls. Pretty neat, and only .3 miles up the trail, so, like, it’s not even a hike.

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Running Eagle Falls, near the Two Medicine entrance to Glacier National Park. It’s a super easy walk.

I proceeded to Two Medicine Lake and ate my lunch at a super windy picnic bench, drove to the end of the road, and turned around to go home.

And then I saw a sign that said “Scenic Point.” Which usually is a pullover spot, maybe a short walk, right? I decided to stop and investigate.

By the time I saw the sign that said it was a 3.1 mile hike to the scenic point, I already had my backpack and boots on. I didn’t want to insult them by turning back, and I still had a few hours before I really needed to turn around, so I went up.

It was awesome. The trail followed a creek through and canyon for a bit before taking switchbacks up above the treeline. There was a section of bleached trees that reminded me of Gondor, and views of Two Medicine Lake and the mountains beyond. You could also look east to see the views beyond the Continental Divide.

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The view east from the top. Someone was quoting the Lion King here. It was me.

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“They guard it because they have hope.”

One of the most fun parts was when I came across a mountain goat. He was eating pine needles near the top of the trail, and continued doing so as I stood a few feet from him for about 5 minutes watching. His neck looked like he’s had a rough spring, but it was still really fun. Here’s a link to a video of him eating if you’re wanting something cute/have kids and want them to sit still for 1.5 minutes:

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Majestic.

I really wanted to make it to the advertised scenic point and figured I was within a few minutes of it, but then I came to a snow patch on a steep scree slope. There were other hikers who had crossed the first portion of it and were clearly trying to decide if they could make the second half without plummeting a half-mile to their doom. I looked at it and thought, “Nah, I like being alive.” Nevertheless, this hike was beautiful much the whole way up, and I completely recommend it to anyone looking to kill a few hours in the Two Medicine area.

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Not a lot of snow, but enough that I didn’t want to risk it.

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My high point for the day. #RiskAssessmentIsStillFun!!

Bicycling the Going to the Sun Road

In the spring, snowplows have already cleared the lower portions of the Going to the Sun Road, the main road that goes through Glacier Park. However, that doesn’t mean they allow cars on it yet. This year in particular, they’re doing a paving project that will keep the road closed through at least June 22. Which is awesome for me, because it means I was able to ride my bike on it without worrying about cars hitting me.

I started around 1 in the afternoon, because laziness. The first four miles only climb 156 feet, which was exciting for me because, honestly, I don’t ride my bike very often and long downhills scare me. It was gorgeous. Basically the whole time I was riding I was laughing and thinking how insane it is that God not only made this place, but he lets me live here.

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I got to Logan Creek after 4 miles and thought, “That was way easier than I thought! I wonder…” So I set off up the road. The next main viewpoint, The Loop, was 4 miles away and about 740 feet of elevation climb. I still did a lot better than I thought I would, but after a while I got super hungry and stopped in the middle of the road–reason number 117 why biking it with no cars is awesome.

As I pulled out some cheese and crackers, a guy rode past me and started laughing. “You’re so close!” he called out. “It’s literally right there!” He pointed up the rode.

“I know, but, food,” I said. I stuffed a cracker in my mouth, got back on my bike, and started crawling up the hill again.

It was indeed right there. The Loop is where the road does a hairpin turn to keep climbing up to Logan Pass. There’s a wide spot where I could eat, and bathrooms, so that was cool. I found a spot and had the rest of my cheese and crackers looking at Heaven’s Peak and the surrounding mountains.

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There was a guy from Newport, OR, who took my picture! Him and his wife travel full time in a campervan, and he was on his third attempt at getting to Logan Pass after having run out of time on his first two tries. 

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I then started my long descent. I was super worried. But it was awesome. There was wind in my face, which slowed me down a lot, and every quarter mile I’d come to an awesome viewpoint and have to stop anyways. I met a guy from France who was riding his bike from Alaska to South America with a friend, except his friend broke his hand and had to stay in Whitefish for a while.

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There’s a super sweet tunnel on the way that allows a river to go over the road!

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Also the tunnel has 2 balconies. NBD. 

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Many thanks to the random woman who took my picture and also shared my fears of seeing a bear by ourselves. She liked my idea of just singing loud at every corner.

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GAH IT’S SO BEAUTIFUL!!!!

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Red Rocks. You can’t really see it in this picture, but that’s the name of this spot so trust me, they’re red. 

I got back to my car about 4 hours after I started my bike ride. I felt super satisfied with how it went. I would totally recommend this trip to anyone who is in the area! I may or may not already be planning a trip for next week 🙂

Two trips to Avalanche Lake

One of the things I love about working the day shift in Glacier is that you almost get two days in a 24-hour period. You get the day that you work and get paid for, and then, if you don’t spend too long on dinner, you get a second day to go for a 5-6 mile hike.

Monday, my ACMNP team (almost–sorry you had to work, Claire!), one of their roommates, and a few other friends who work for our company decided to use our second half of the day to hike to Avalanche Lake. It’s one of the more popular hikes in Glacier, in part because the beauty-to-difficulty ratio is astounding.

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Logjam and the Lake

This is from my first trip to the lake.

I had hiked it about a week ago. It was the perfect way to spend my day off. I got to the top and, attempting to escape the 5th-grade field trip on the near side of the lake, circled around it and found quiet refuge on a gravelly beach on the opposite side. It was close enough that you could practically whisper to the mountain above us. There was just me and a few other adults seeking quiet, including a man watching mountain goats with binoculars and two guys fishing. I sat for half an hour listening to the waterfalls ringing down the mountain and the birds calling in the wind.

This time, we found a really peaceful beach at the near edge of the lake. Still, I liked how the other beach was so close to the foot of the mountain and suggested we go to it. Everyone agreed. I fell a bit behind on the way, until I got to the spot where the trail ends and you have to cross a little creek to get to the beach.

Except it wasn’t a little creek. The snow melt from the mountain has increased significantly in the last week, and there was no way we could pass.

But, we were undeterred. A small path ran just past the “End of Trail” sign along the edge of the creek, so we followed it through the woods until we found an opening. It was perfection. At least six waterfalls tumbled off the mountainside, splitting up as they hit what looked like a staircase for giants. There was a rainbow caught in one waterfall, and I sat on a log with my friend, Faye, and watched it inch higher and higher as the sun started its descent. It was the perfect way to spend my last night as a 26-year-old.

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Team photo!

Me and three members of my ACMNP team. Camden to the left, Jackie to the right, and Ethan floating on the log in the middle of the lake.

Avalanche of waterfalls

I really couldn’t decide if I liked watching the rainbow or the stairstep waterfalls more.

Photo cred: Faye Rogers 🙂

On the way down the trail we passed within a few feet of a doe and her baby. Also a bunch of the girls jumped into the lake. I was tempted, but I also love not being cold, so I stayed dry and lame, but man, I’m proud of them 🙂

Surprise! I’m becoming a barista?

I started work Monday, setting up children’s clothes and the Christmas section. We have super cute ornaments, if anyone was wondering.

Our gift shop also has a coffee shop in it, but the barista won’t be here until the middle of June. Because of that, our manager asked me and my friend, Claire, to learn how to make coffee.

I’ve never actually had a cup of coffee. The closest thing I can remember was when my sister took me to Starbucks in high school and got me a caramel frappecino. “There’s no coffee in it,” she assured me.

I took two sips before saying, “I think they forgot to clean the blender, because this tastes awful.” Thus her malevolent plans to trick me into liking coffee were thwarted.

Anyways, turns out making coffee is kind of hard, but also pretty fascinating. Our trainer went into a bit of the science behind it, and how the milk temperature needs to be about 160 degrees if it’s cow milk but 145 if it’s soy or almond, and the water is forced through the grounds at an exact pressure (9psi) (jk, actually 9 bar, which is more like 350 psi. Thanks to my friend and co-coffee-maker Claire for straightening me out 😉 ) and humidity and weather can make it so you need to change the coarseness of the grounds. A lot of it went over my head, but he left a cool manual showing how to make espresso so I’ve been reading that a lot.

So far I’ve worked 2 shifts. I always seem to be throwing out half the milk I steam, even though I swear I start with the same amount that our trainer told us to. Yesterday a guy ordered a 16 ounces chai and I ended up giving him an extra 8 ounce cup because I didn’t realize how much I poured in. I’ve been watching YouTube tutorials all morning to figure out what I’m doing wrong. Pretty sure I’m getting over-excited about the foam part of the drink. Kind of like how today I forgot to turn off the steam wand before taking it out of the pitcher of half and half I was heating up. I ended up wearing half and half all day. There are worse fashion trends. By the time the summer crowds start coming in, I should be competent at it!Also, while I may be the least qualified barista ever, the shop also has an ice cream stand with 12 flavors. I’m extremely qualified at loving ice cream and handing out samples, so it balances out.

A Tale of Two Airbnbs

I’m on my way to Montana!! After a long drive made bearable by a Burgerville milkshake and 2 naps, I got to Spokane at about 8 last night. My best friend just had a baby about 2 weeks ago, so I stopped and visited for a while. He’s adorable, nbd.

I got to my airbnb around 10 and was surprised at how nice it was. I only paid $30 for it, and there was Wi-Fi, my own bathroom, a zillion pillows on the bed, and complementary gift cards to a local salon. The only weird thing was that, on the welcome board, it said “Billy.” I double checked my email to confirm I was at the right address, and when I saw the key was still in the door I showered and got ready for bed.

I was just about to throw all the pillows from the bed when I thought, “I should look at the check out instructions.” That’s when I saw a follow up message to my original, telling me that she’d given me the wrong address initially and I needed to be in the house next door. I was sorely tempted to sleep there anyways, but then i thought of poor Billy coming in after midnight and finding his room locked–I sent an apology message and moved. (Also, there was no sign ghat anyone was still staying there. No luggage, and all the towels were folded still–I’m 98% sure he’d already checked out 🙂 )

The new place was better than the old. No Wi-Fi, but it was warmer and smaller, with a heated mattress and not as many nooks that my imagination could have monsters into. I slept great. Moral of the story: read all messages thoroughly before checking into your room. Even so, I would totally stay there again, or recommend it to anyone going through Spokane. Adventure!!

To Glacier I go!!

Wednesday I leave for the summer, so I figured I should write a blog post about it instead of clean my car or pack. Here’s a direct transcript of every conversion I’ve had for the last couple weeks:

Wow, Glacier?! Where’s that at?

Montana, right where the Rocky Mountains meet Canada.

How far of a drive is that?

According to Google, 11 hours. But I feel like I remember it being more like 16. In any case, I plan to stretch it out over 2 days.

And you’ll be a ranger, building trails and doing other…rangery… stuff?

Actually, I’ll be selling souvenirs at the Cedar Tree Gift Shop. I’ll also be volunteering with A Christian Ministry in the National Parks.

How did you find that job?

About 7 years ago I found out about the ministry and thought, “Wow, I’d love to do that.” I’ve actually filled out the application several times, but due to student loans, being in wedding parties, and other family things, it’s just never been the right time. Then I quit my job in January for my New Zealand trip, I figured I’d do this this summer as well.

*Interested sound* That sounds cool. So you’re not getting paid?

I will be getting some mula, no worries. The ministry will be volunteer work. My team of 5 people will host 5 worship services (I’ll be at 3 of them) every Sunday in the campgrounds of West Glacier. I’ll be playing the violin and doing some preaching as well. They seem like awesome people and I am so excited to get to know and serve with them this summer!! However, ACMNP partners with concessionaires in the park to help us get jobs. I’ll be working in the gift shop, for which I will be paid.

Where are you going to live?

They have employee housing there for us. I don’t know what it looks like–dorms, cabins, other–but since I just spent 2 months living out of a van, tent, or hostels, I think I’ll be able to survive 😉

What hours are you working?

No idea. I’ll find out when I’m there.

Have you been to Glacier before?

Yep! I was there July 6 and 7, 2015. I’m sooo excited to go back and hike the trails there!

How long will you be gone?

I’ll leave May 8 and return September 23ish.

What does your boyfriend think of this?

He’s the best ever. He’s okay with it and even plans to visit me a few times 🙂

Well, cool. Have a great summer!

Thanks, you too!!