Long post : buckle up... we're making it to Madison today! The last couple days of our time in Glacier were absolutely beautiful. We spent a lot of time hiking, talking, snacking and just soaking up all the beauty that was around us.
We did part of the Highline Trail - which is about 14 miles round trip if you go all the way out to the camp ground - and after Nevada Falls at Yosemite, this was cake. Beautiful, sunny blue-skied cake!
Hidden Lake Trail was a very. very. very. long hill. Not steep - just long, and winding through alpine meadows that inspired one (and only one) round of "The HILLLLLS are aliiiiiive....." before we saw Mr. Mountain Goat!
And ultimately found the Hidden Lake.
That night, we slept at the St Mary's Lake Lodge, which was beautiful except we ended up in a weird basement room that reminded me of an insane asylum.
Looking for something to eat, we stumbled upon the Park Cafe...which had a 45 min wait for dinner and a slogan of "PIE FOR STRENGTH." We left because we were too hungry to wait 45 min... but came back for dessert (who turns down Pie for Strength?)
They had HUCKLEBERRY-BLUEBERRY PIE with HUCKLEBERRY ICE CREAM.
So. I'm just going to go out on a limb here as a fitness professional and tell you to EAT DESSERT. Because every so often, one will change your life. There are no photos of this dessert because I was having an intimate love affair with it and was not to be disturbed. I am not exaggerating when I say: best thing I have ever eaten.
We went back to the Park Cafe for breakfast the next morning - which was amazing AGAIN - then headed over to the Many Glacier area of the National Park.
We hiked out to Red Rock Falls.
Found this hilarious tree.
Then hiked 7 more miles to Grinnell Glacier. No photos here.... I was reaching dirty/tired/crabby by the 3rd mile when I got smacked in the arm with a nettle and all following photos feature a very annoyed facial expression.
Then things got interesting...
Sweaty and hiked out we thought we would just drive as far as Bozeman and crash for the night. Thank you Anne's inability to read a map despite there only really being 2 highways in the entire state: we never went through Bozeman. And for those of you who have not been to Montana: THERE IS NOTHING IN MONTANA. No hotels. Nothing.
At the North Dakota border, we found out that thanks to an oil boom all local hotels were full. At 4 am, a gentleman nicely offered us a hotel room until 11 am for $120. Bail. At 7 am we slept in a cul-de-sac for an hour (in a van. literally by a river. The irony did not escape me.) For those of you counting: we were on the road for more than 16 hours after hiking 10 miles that morning. The van was...unpleasant.
At noon, we finally found a place in Fargo to sleep for a few hours, ordered $50 in Indian Food and slept another 10 hours. THEN. AND FINALLY THEN. We made the last push to Wisconsin. We spent a night at my brother-in-law's, shopped at the outlet mall for B's school clothes and pulled in to Madison to find our POD waiting patiently for us.
I'm just finishing up this blog post more than 2 months after the trip and feel like I have a really nice perspective looking back.
It was a trip with a little shadow of sadness. We were leaving our home, our friends, our life in California to begin a really difficult couple of years in law school.
It was also a trip with a lot of sunshine. B and I had an amazing reminder of why we're friends and why we love hanging out together. We saw some breathtaking parts of the country and had the opportunity to experience them without feeling rushed.
I feel - more than anything - grateful for the experience and blessed by the time we got to hang out and hike out and eat out. When I look at my life, these are the moments that take me back a step and ask "Why me? Why am I so blessed?" then smile and hug B and just sit with the awe and wonder and joy.