Off to Big Sky Country....Montana

08/05/00 - 08/13/00

Oh Yeah! Off to my favorite place - the mountains. As most of you know I had been planning this trip for what seemed like eons and this trip was a bit unusual for me since I usually do my big annual trips out of the country but I've made the decision to start exploring my backyard and started with Glacier National Park in Montana. Glacier is in the Northwest part of the state and the park goes into Canada, correct me if I am wrong here, but there are actually two parks that comprise the entire area called Glacier/Waterton International Peace Park. It was definately a tough call as to where to go given all of the great places to see but I have some friends that had spent time at Glacier who told me that I would love it...hmmm we'll see, I'll be the judge of those mountains.

Since I was going to do this trip by myself I decided that it may not be wise to go it alone into bear country, I did some research and signed up with an outfitter called Glacier Wildnerness Guides. So the next real, necessary, crucial step of any outdoor trip is the excursion to REI...and you all know how this walk in, your eyes glaze over and your little inner voice says "I must have it all"...well that definately happened to me and I made sure that I am going to get a sizable refund check from those guys this year. So I loaded the stuff stacks, strapped on the Leki trekking poles, smashed by fleece jacket in the backpack and I was off to Kalispell, MO. I got to Kalispell late in the afternoon and pretty much crashed immediately given the somewhat hectic work/commute schedule that I had been keeping.

Bright and early Sunday morning I showed up at the hub of Glacier Wilderness Guides operations, at first I thought I was at goodness sodas, barrels of gorp, WhisperLite burners....all over the place. I met my guide Dan, Dan is a guidance school counselor in Wisconsin who works for the guide company during the summer and also spent 8 years in Glacier working for the park service. Of course what was causing me greater apprehension was seeing who else who be on the trip...and finally they arrived - Dominic and Susan a couple from Bath, England...based on first impressions they seemed like good people and when asked about whether or not they drank coffee they replied with an emphatic yes...oh yeah, I thought, we will all get along just fine. So I dumped my 60L Lowa Alpine for an external frame backpack that I thought would be more suitable for the trip...transported my stuff to the new pack, strapped on the tent, thermarest, sleeping bag...and what seemed like 10lbs of much for my ultra-light pack. We loaded the truck and we were off to the trailhead, of course when we got there we realized Renee's backpack was falling apart and had to do the 1hr roudntrip to get another one, we came back and we were off again...well we stopped first and had some snickerdoodle cookies....oh yum...okay now I was ready to go, bring on those 40 miles!

...and so we hiked and hiked and hiked...and I thought to am I out of shape..backpacking is surely not the easiest thing one could do on one's vacation. The best part of the hike though was the fact that we only ran across two people on the trail who were also going to be staying at our campsite, two people! I couldn't even remember the last time I had been on a trail with so few people....well welcome to Glacier's backcountry. Along the way we dined on huckleberries...they are like blueberries but sweeter...and the bears just love them.

Seven miles later we got to the campsite and we had plenty of time to sit by the creek, pump our filtered water, set up our tents and read our books...what a change from my life two days before...yeah just a tad slower. Eventually dinner rolled around ...we had curry stir fry with prawns...oh yeah we were really roughing it...and we had chocalate pie for dessert...and after the campfire went out, we strung up our food and our toiletries (bears like toothpaste) and we headed to the tents for a little bit of reading before bedtime. And this was pretty much the deal for six was very, very nice.

..Dan was up bright an early starting breakfast and woke us promptly at 7...yes I did say 7...aren't you up by 7 during your vacation? but the plus was that we got coffee and the first morning we had huckleberry pancakes with maple syrup...yummy yummy...those pancakes gave me just the right amount of energy to strap on the pack and hit the trail again...Okay let's get going to the next page where I'll talk about some hike highlights, trials and tribulations and the bears...oh yes the bears.

Mountains, Bears, Hiking...oh no