Glacier National Park. I've heard stories of the mountains and lakes and bears and goats. So many goats. When you hear story after story, or scroll through photos on Instagram, you start to paint a picture of what it must be like. What it's like to wake up to sunrise along the water and watch the peaks turn vibrant red at night. So when we had the opportunity to spend 5 days in the backcountry of this park, that's all I could imagine. Reality check - we spent the first night (before hiking) sleeping under a bridge near the water. This is not an ordinary trip.
For 4 nights and 5 days, we walked 60 miles across Glacier NP. We saw no bears, we saw no moose, but we did see a squad of goats running from behind a ridge and down a steep slope. Bear? Probably.
Our days evolved from a steady trail to diverging right and heading down into a valley. Through overgrown brush, up to high ground to gain a better perspective, down into the long valleys, and along (sometimes) sketchy goat trails. We mapped our route based off the land, walked along the Continental Divide, stood on the top of one peak (I think), and raced down mossy ground to set up camp right before a thunderstorm rolled in. At night, we listened to Adam play the guitar and in the morning, we woke up to Andy making coffee for everyone. Whatta guy.
My phone was accidentally packed into a wet tent on our second morning, so I had no sense of time throughout the days. Everyone else joined and kept their phones off. We fell asleep when it was still light out, woke up who knows when, and walked a lot each day. 15 miles the first day, 18 miles the last day, and whatever else in between. I have a lot of respect for off-trail travel and the skill that's involved to make sure you're on the right route. It's a completely different experience than following a well-groomed trail and I think everyone ought to find a friend who knows what they're doing and give it a shot. It might kick your ass, but it'll be worth it.
Andy, Maddie, Taylor, and Adam. These are my people. Here's a few things I learned from the crew who was up to no good - Don't take yourself seriously. Act like a little kid. Run across frozen lakes. Slide into freezing water (over and over). Moon helicopters. Carry a guitar so your friend can play. Keep a bag of gummies a surprise until Day 3. If you're not going to filter water, say "Freedom isn't free" each time you go into the unknown. Laugh when the trail is kicking your ass. Yelling is a good boost to make it over that pass. Don't eat peanut butter with rocks. Do make sandwiches with apricots and peanut butter. Being weird is okay.
Most importantly, celebrate your friends.