Monday, August 17, 2015

June 11 Day 48 - June 16 Day 53 - Glacier National Park

(William, Scout, HoJo, Guy, Kramers, Axle, Me, Grim)

Guy, Grim, and I shared a room at the motel in Glacier. We had an early start to get to the Chief Mountain trail head on the Canadian Border. 6:30am, out the door and into Scout and Frodo's RV. With permission to cross the border, we took some pictures of Canada. 
(Sunlight on the monument at Chief Mountain)

Generally the CDT would be at Waterton, which is much more scenic and has the monument, but it was closed due to snow conditions, so we had settled on Chief Mountain.

After more pictures at the trail head we finally got walking, feet to trail. It was a bit surreal. Our purpose as hikers is to walk. It's what we do and what we do best. Not walking means so much to us. It means not fulfilling our purpose. It's like losing a limb in a way, or finding yourself in a place where you don't speak the language. You feel lost and disconnected. Walking the trail brings you right back to where you're supposed to be. We're fluent here.
(Welcome to Glacier and using my Duluth Lumbar Pack as a front pack- experiment)

I should really introduce this whole section, really most of Montana, with a bit of a forewarning. Montana was tough for me. It was tough for everyone. I don't know if it's because the state seems endless, being almost 1,000 miles of trail, or if it was the flip and the stress, or if it was the inordinate amount of being stuck in the trees and dense greenery. Whatever it was, many of us went through what I like to call "Hiker Fatigue." Every amazing view is "just another amazing view." Every step became tedious and motivation dropped off. Big miles didn't seem like an option let alone a necessity. The reason for being out on trail at all seemed to allude everyone. There was a distinct minority who did not feel this way. The rest of us did, and we did not talk about it. Until later, but I'll come back to it then, when we reach Anaconda.

For now, let's stick to Glacier. It is a beautiful place. Pictures can say more about my experience there than words can in this case.

It felt like a constant uphill with these huge passes to climb for hours. The snow was there and we did use our ice axes to carve steps to cross snow fields. We even played around with glissading, where you slide on your butt down the mountainside, and we practiced self-arrest, stopping yourself from sliding down a mountainside using your ice ax.

The blue of the lakes and of the ice was that deep glacial blue. The water tasted like purity and looked too good to filter, so I didn't. No Giardia, yay! The mountains were epic and grand. Proud even, if you can call mountains proud. They seemed to puff their chests. We could see for miles and note with excitement at how far we had come.
(Guy and Grim)
(Scout hiding from the wind)

At the top of the passes the wind was so strong it could knock you over, or at least me. I'm not the most physically substantial of the group, so I get a bit more tossed around by the elements. Within minutes the cold air and the wind would cool your sweat soaked body and force you into more warm layers if you wanted to spend any amount of time enjoying the view. Or you could get hypothermia, your choice. The wind was so strong in fact that Axle took is gloves off for a moment and they went flying down the side of the mountain! He spent the better part of an hour searching for them successfully!
(HoJo, Axle, Kramer's, me, Guy, Buck 30)
(Scout, Frodo, Grim)

(Grim, me, Guy)

William earned his trail name Sandman by sleeping in as everyone left camp one morning, forgetting to wake him. He had no maps of the area and didn't even know what the next campsite was! He somehow managed to connect with HoJo and found us all by the end of the day. Guy and I spent a lot of time hiking with Scout and Frodo, enjoying their stories and songs.
(Just taking a break!)
(That way!)
Our mileages were 20, 23, 15, 10, 10. Adorable is a good adjective to describe our plan. We all enjoyed early campfires, late starts, and meals together. It was a welcome break and a good reset as we got used to trail again.
(Just being awesome)
(We came from somewhere over there!)
(Serious wand shop in East Glacier)

We ended in East Glacier where we got a room at Brownie's Hostel and had a HUGE hiker dinner at Serrano's Mexican Restaurant. There may have been 20 hikers there. Many more people had decided to flip after we led the charge and it seemed like they were all here in East Glacier!

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