When I was 15 years old, my parents, middle sister, 1972 Coleman pop-up camper and I traveled out West. It was to be our last grand camping road trip of our youth, and being the youngest it was my turn to choose the destination. I had posters of A River Runs Through It and Legends of the Fall plastered to my walls and believed if Brad Pitt could love Montana then I could love Montana. Hopefully there was a budding transcendentalist taking root alongside my hormonal teenage spirit, but no matter the motives, we went to AAA, received our TripTiks, and jotted down some must-sees on our way to the elusive land of mountains, fly fishermen, and cowboys.
Though fictitiously set in the wild turf of Montana, we were told on the trip that neither of my aforementioned poster movies were actually filmed there (fraud, I tell you!), but such disappointment was eclipsed by the time we made it to Glacier National Park. My urban soul became part hippie those handful of days that we journeyed through the park in awe. All of us were dumbfounded by its beauty and a bit transformed by being witness to such a holy space.
That trip paved the way for the summer of 2006, when I spent one glorious summer season in Glacier National Park working at the front desk of Many Glacier Hotel. I made some extraordinary friendships, climbed some mountains, and got to know my Naturalist ways even better. I have been able to visit a few times since then, but this summer Andrew and I went out together for two perfect weeks. The number one question people asked was if we were going to take our Airstream with us. Though it would have been sweeeet to have our home in such a setting, Nashville to GNP is quite the jaunt. So to conserve our time for hiking and relaxing all cool, we used some flyer miles and got way out to Missoula, Montana in just a few hours.
We took our little Kia Rio rental car and Marmot tent up to Polebridge for our first and last days of the trip. We came close to buying a cabin up there…sigh…not really. Though Polebridge did the most to truly relax and renew, we were committed to doing some gnarly hiking as well. Floral Park has always been THE hike that I’ve longed to experience, but it ain’t that easy, folks. For two city dwellers in sea level TN, such a beast of a day (5,000 ft of elevation, 20-something miles, 10-15 HOURS) was a daunting task. But it just so happened that Britta, a bestie from that 2006 summer, and four other employees were planning on that hike while we were there…no excuses…
The bulk of the photos below are from that one day journey through Hidden Lake, Floral Park, Sperry Glacier Basin, and down to Lake McDonald Lodge. What is not documented is the last 2 miles of our epic journey where I felt like death…no need to take photos of such things. I just look at these images and remember how the first 20-something miles were well worth it.
Though we miss Montana most everyday, our Marmot tent was nothing like living in the Airstream.