Glacier National Park Part Two

June 18 Reynolds Creek Campsite CDT Mile 49.6

I was sitting on the porch of the Many Glacier lodge this morning drinking a cup of hot coffee watching the swifts dart around over the lake. Around 8 I hit the trail with the guys and after about an hour I see MAV up the trail pointing. I get closer and see a huge bull moose about 25 feet off the trail, eating some shrubbery. We stood still and took photos and he somewhat ignored us. After about 30 seconds we went along our way.

Hammer went on ahead and Max, MAV and I had a small snack break below a huge waterfall before heading up the pass. And what an experience that was. Micro spikes were necessary and I got a little freaked out with some of the snow traverses. We all helped each other out and I’m glad I was not alone.

We met up with Hammer for the last push to the summit and it blew my mind. We didn’t have to cross any more snow fields but it was a very exposed hike and the trail was a little washed out in a couple of spots. The grade of the trail was really nice and I got a good pace going. The last little bit I had to get off trail and scramble around a snow field but it was a bit less steep by then.

And then the hike down was snow free for about a mile then we started hiking on snow at a downward traverse. It was exhausting. Finally I got here to the campsite and it looks like we have it to ourselves. I went down to the river and soaked my bandana and washed my face. Heavenly.

June 19/20 Red Eagle Lake Campsite CDT mile 64.2

The WPH (waterfalls per hour) was unusually high this morning and we got some good positive ions from the mist. Or did we? Max ran into a grizz and I fell down three times. The third time I felt something pop and my knee completely gave out. I got up and kept hiking, thinking, wow, I got lucky, I could have really hurt myself there.


Five hours later after fording a large river that almost swept me away I realized that my knee was starting to swell up and I couldn’t straighten it out. Nor could I bend it completely.

Familiar story.

I made it to camp and set up my tent, trying to ignore the growing pain with each step. This is not happening, this is not happening. I got into my tent as it started to rain.

This is happening.

I walked over to the guys who were sitting at the food prep area and told them. I started to cry and came back to my tent.

MAV came over and talked to me and I went back to hang out with my trail family.

One of the many reasons why I have grown to love hiking with friends. They have a way of making everything better. We talked about me hiking out 9 miles to St. Mary village and they guys talked about hiking out with me. We made no plans and decided to see how things were in the morning.

A huge bull moose walked by our tents and waded out into the lake for aqua grazing. He put his head and rack underwater (except for his ears) and would stay down for 30 seconds. Once he brought his head up and shook it, water going everywhere. It was incredible.

June 20

This morning MAV told me that he wanted to hike out with me and I was so relieved. We hiked the 9 miles to St Mary and had a good lunch. We took the shuttle to East Glacier where we both have rooms. Max and Hammer hiked on and I’ll see them here Saturday. I have a comfortable place to stay and rest. I have a good book to read.

I know I’ve said this many times, but I feel that it is worth repeating since it is a notion that is so poignant, especially right now. Surrounding circumstances can change in a heartbeat, on and off the trail. I find solace in the metaphor that is the trail. A living, breathing, wild metaphor. The grizzly Max saw as he came around the bend. The bull moose shaking his rack in the ice cold glacial lake. Calves and thighs, sore from working hard to take body and mind to mountain tops and through roaring rivers, ultimately failing and placing me here, in a busy hostel, in a small tourist village and off the trail.

Is it a failing? Maybe. It feels like one. Part of me wants to say I failed. Or that I didn’t do what I said I was going to do. Which brings me back to the metaphor and the comfort and relief I find within it. Everything changes. All the time. The change that took me off the trail also takes me on a new adventure. So now I will develop a new plan, a loose plan, and enjoy some time traveling around the country and seeing what I can see. I can accept this change.

Glacier National Park Part One

June 14 2019 Crooked Creek Campground, Canada CDT southbound mile 0

I am camped in a beautiful small campground in Canada just a few miles north of the Chief Mountain terminus of the CDT. I was going to start the trail in Waterton Park and hike in from there but MAV, who got the permit for us to go through Glacier National Park, had to work out some issues with our permit and campsites. So we have to start hiking at Chief Mt. I’m here with Hammer and Max. It is beautiful, a little rainy, kind of hot then nice and cool. So essentially the weather is all over the place. We start hiking south on the CDT tomorrow. And right now that is all that matters.

June 15 Gable Creek Campsite, Chief Mountain Alternate mile 7

Birdie, MAV’s wife, dropped us off the border and we walked across back into the States. It was a nice feeling. I am restarting this long hike but it doesn’t feel that way. It feels like I’m just out for a bit, to go for a hike for awhile. The vast swath of miles that lies ahead of me does not register. Right now I just hiking with friends, and we’re in a beautiful place. It has taken me thousands of miles to get to a place where I view the trail and my hike in this manner. I feel like I am leveling up. Big time.

Because of the permit system we have to stay in designated campsites every night. So our daily miles today and tomorrow are very small. I’m totally ok with that. Today we took a couple of long breaks and during one break in a nice meadow tow CDT hikers approached us. Moonshine and Piya chatted with us for some time and Moonshine recognized me from the AT last June. He looked totally different then, but I knew I had seen that hat somewhere: Vibes Por Favor. Earlier this year he had had a harrowing experience on trail and was missing for a few days. It was nice to see him happy and safe. The hiking community is close knit, and when something happens to a hiker, we all feel it.

I made it to our camp around 3pm, and were quite pleased that we were able to stretch out the day. While I was eating dinner I met Kiddo and Top Natch, two Triple Crowners who are camping here, working with a guiding group. We chatted trail and Kiddo gave me some good advice for upcoming alternates and routes.

We have a short day again tomorrow, and we have a waterfall to check out so that’s nice.

Oh, and I saw a grizzly 10 minutes into the hike today. It was taking a nap in the grass 10 feet from the trail. It saw us but did not care about us one bit.

June 16 Elizabeth Lake Head Campsite Chief Mt. Alternate mile 11

Dawn Mist Falls was otherworldly. I felt like I was transported back in time. Watching the water being pushed and pulled off the cliff and into a pool was mesmerizing. The color of the water, lighter than turquoise. The mist flung out from the pounding water up into the air to be carried to tree leaves and rocks. And me.

I had a leisurely walk down to Elizabeth Lake and along the lake to our campsite for the night. I’m super early but here I lounging against a log, watching the clouds move over the mountains, listening to the guys talking as they play Zip Chip (look it up). There were two bald eagles about 100 years away, perched on the top on pine trees. Lots of trout jumping up out of the water. And me jumping in. To fix my inflatable sleeping pad. I learned that I had a leak two nights ago and now that I was near a body of water where I could submerge my pad and find the leak. After about 10 minutes I found it, marked it with my Sharpie and brought it back to the tent to dry it off and patch it up. So far so good.

Then I saw two swans cruising around the lake near our campsite. Perfect.

June 17 Many Glacier Campground CDT mile 34.5

I hiked 20 miles today to get back onto the official CDT route. I climbed over Red Gap Pass, which was very challenging and rewarding; I saw one male mountain goat and five females. I also saw what I believed was a snowshoe hare. Many ground squirrels and chipmunks.

While I was hiking today I thought of all kinds of interesting things to write about today but right now, resting in my tent with a burger in my belly, I’m just content and very tired. I worked hard today and this is my reward.

I’ll do it again tomorrow.