Flashback: Glacier National Park

We hop a plane to the paradise of Kauai this weekend, and I’m eagerly anticipating the change of scenery- to be immersed in all of the things that are different than home. The local food and drink. The warm climate. Vibrant color everywhere. Sun on my skin and the sea in my hair. The lush tropical vistas, opposite of the ones I’m used to. I love traveling because I get to experience another way of life– and come home appreciating my own a little bit more.

Until I return with Kauai stories, I thought I’d share a magical, too-short portion of our incredible 5-week road trip in the summer of 2011. It wasn’t our first jaunt with Betty, our 13-foot cottage-on-wheels; we’d spent a couple of weeks getting to know each other earlier in the season. Our vague yet ambitious plan for this second trip was to head north from Utah, turn left before we entered Canada, spend time in Seattle with my brother, and head south on Highway 1 until we reached San Francisco. If I tried to describe the countless wonders and adventures we encountered on that trip, I’d fill a book… so I’ll simply share a snippet.

By the time we reached Montana’s stunning Flathead Lake, we’d already been on the road for a week. We’d revisited site #13 at Warm River in Idaho, right on the water. Our favorite hippie couple had made us delectable sandwiches at the Mountain Market and Deli in Island Park. We camped at the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River, where we almost kidnapped two adorable baby pit bulls (pre-Cholula!). We tried out our brand-new paddle board on Henry’s Lake and John fished at sunset. We’d stopped for a picnic in Yellowstone and hiked Sage Creek Trail before landing in Bozeman for a few days of fun with our dear friends.

summer2011Collage summer20113Collage summer20112Collage summer20114Collage

We’d resumed our comfortable routine with Betty; we could unhitch and have camp set up before we’d even finished our first happy hour cocktail. As was our habit that summer, we made no campground reservations. We simply wandered until we found the perfect spot to call home for the night- and our luck had been spectacular.

Now there we were, ready to park Betty and explore. Not surprisingly, there was not a camp spot to be found anywhere on the east side of Flathead Lake in mid-August. We drove past numerous summertime cherry stands and “campground FULL” signs before stopping in charming Bigfork to regroup. Pointing at the little tent insignia on the map, we headed for Hungry Horse Reservoir. A long, bumpy drive down a dirt road was worth it and we found a beautiful, secluded campsite overlooking the lake. The best part: it was not far from Glacier National Park.

P1020204 P1020206 P1020207 P1020208 P1020212 P1020214 P1020215

We drove along Lake McDonald, stopping for photos and soaking in the views. It felt like we had stepped inside a painting. The glacial water was every shade of aqua and the clouds were spaced perfectly in the big Montana sky. I’ve spent a lot of time in the mountains, but I’d never seen anything like this.

P1020216 P1020222 P1020224 P1020229

We headed for Logan Pass, driving up the harrowing Going to the Sun Road. The views from every side were breathtaking. We bypassed the crowd at the visitor’s center and headed toward the trail to Hidden Lake. Even in August, we donned our thermal shirts and slogged through slushy snow.

P1020233 P1020238 P1020249 P1020251 P1020252 P1020255 P1020259 P1020261 P1020266 P1020268 P1020270 P1020271 P1020272 P1020275

We were turned away from the trail by a park ranger who told us a stubborn mountain goat was blocking the way. We spied on the goat for a while, watching him amble down toward the lake. What a happy beast he must be to live here.

P1020276 P1020280 P1020301 P1020290 P1020285 P1020288 P1020292 P1020297

We wanted to get back to camp before sundown, so we turned back toward the truck, watching another little goat family munching appetizers in a meadow full of flowers. The light on the peaks as we headed down the hill was warm and glorious.

P1020303 P1020308 P1020310 P1020317P1020319 P1020258 P1020326

We stopped to admire my dream cabin before grilling up another one of our fabulous camp meals. Afterward, John serenaded me on his guitar by firelight while I sipped wine. During that trip, so many days were as ideal as this. We knew then, in that brief time of life between jobs and before babies, that we were living a dream. 

P1020333 P1020332 P1020334 P1020340 P1020344 P1020345 P1020199

The next day, after an early morning paddle on the lake, we packed up and left the reservoir. Our one and only time commitment required that we get to Seattle in two days. My one regret about that portion of the trip is how little time we spent exploring the park. We pointed west near the Canadian border, toward the Methow River Valley and Northern Cascades National Park. There, we’d hike through hundreds of wildflowers and John would trick me into a much longer trek than I’d wanted. My reward was what has to be one of the most incredible views in America (see the masthead above!).

P1020347 P1020349 P1020350

But that’s another travel story for another day. I’ve got plenty of them.

Have a good week!

Need an escape? Dive into the Travel Bliss page!

One year ago: I took a look back on my trips back to California over the last few years.

 

5 replies »

  1. Don’t pop my bubble if you didn’t post this for me. Dreamy, dreamy. Can’t wait to go! LUV BUS…smile. Mountain goat photo…my fav. Great story with it.

    PS – did you even need another camera? These shots are amazing. If you did it with a point-n-shoot, I’ll be seriously impressed.

  2. Love your pictures and blog! We are going to be traveling to montana in a few weeks. I’m trying to search for beautiful camping areas. I love the camping site you found at the Hungry Horse Reservoir. Was that at a specific camp ground? Thanks so much! Liz

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Don't miss a post! Enter your email address to have The Usual Bliss delivered right to you.

Follow on Bloglovin

Archives

%d bloggers like this: