Something monumental happened in my life during the first week of July — I lived in a tent for almost a week!
After my husband’s photography workshop in Kalispell, we arrived at Glacier National Park intent on camping. For my husband who grew up camping and brought a tent as part of his marriage dowry, this housing situation was no big deal.
I, however, grew up in a family that considered a three-star hotel roughing it.
Nevertheless, I have changed a lot in my adult life. One of my favorite ways is that I’ve embraced the restorative and healing power of nature. Some of my greatest moments of joy in the last year have occurred simply by walking through the woods with a dog.
So, I approached camping with an open mind and an enthusiastic spirit.
My husband approached our first camping adventure together with some trepidation.
One of his biggest concerns was that sharing an air mattress would result in poor sleep for both of us. Ironically, he slept great and I slept okay. For someone with narcolepsy, okay sleep is actually quite good.
Case in point: for the first time in years, I averaged more than 8 hours of sleep a night. One night I even slept for a solid 12 hours!
Our trip to Glacier had been planned since December. But I’ve wanted to visit Glacier for years.
Overall, I found the park … meh. The Internet isn’t kidding when it says national parks get crowded in the summer time. More than a few times I had the thought that I was in a more open-air, natural version of Disney World.
If you do not get up early to secure a parking spot at any of the park’s trailheads, which we did not since we were too busy enjoying good sleep, then a good chunk of your day is spent searching for a parking space. Sometimes, you may even have to give up and go home. We heard quite a few people complaining about that in and around the park.
There are also people EVERYWHERE!
The experience reminded me of when I visited Machu Picchu in December 2015. At some points in MP, I literally stood in a line just to walk to the next observation point. That’s the first time I drew a parallel experience from Disney World to an outdoor experience.
Since most of my time prancing around nature in CT is people-less, I had gotten use to the tranquil solitude that comes with those experiences.
I had zero similar experiences in Glacier. That’s not to say there weren’t any moments of wonder or awe for me, because there were actually quite a few. Checkout these views:
At the same time, not everyone experiences awe the same way I do. Take our hike up Avalanche Trail, for example.
The first time we tried this hike, we got rained out. We went back the next day and trekked up the mountain. The scene at the top took my breath away.
Yet my moments of delight were interrupted by a 20-something year-old, maybe even a late teenager, who stripped down to his shorts and splashed around in the lake. His friends called him crazy, snapped pictures, hooped and hollered it up, and then turned their attention elsewhere after a few moments. This guy then proceeded to yell at them, “I’m peeing in the lake!” Cue giggles and shrieks from his friends.
I can’t really get mad at a kid for acting immature. If he’s been reinforced to act this way by family and friends, he may not know any better and at this point in his life he may not want to know any better. I can only send him a silent prayer of blessing, which I did, and turn my attention to myself. Which I also did.
I sat on a rock watching this chipmunk live his best life (video).
I threw rocks in the lake contemplating the profound nature of the ripple effect (also a video).
I watched my husband take photographs.
And then it started to downpour (it rained all week), so we headed back to the trail. On our way, we met a beautiful tanager.
My Glacier trip ended up being different than I wanted it to be. And that’s okay. Some of it exceeded expectations (YAY camping) and some of it fell below (BOO peeing in a lake). Then there’s the fact that it SNOWED in July. I didn’t even know that should be an expectation! (video)
What truly matters is I had new experiences, learned a few things about myself, spent time with the person I love most in this world, and met several new dogs.
I guess that means it was perfect.
For anyone so inclined, please send love and prayers to Diane and Fred, Tana’s mom and dad. They were our neighbors at the Apgar campground and we’ve stayed in touch. Tana had to be put down last week. Love to them and anyone who is missing a loyal animal companion.