Category: Getting Started

My 1st Travel Story

I have a travel story for you. One of those stories that isn’t funny while it’s happening but gives you a good giggle after. So I would happily like to present….

My 1st travel story that is sure to make you pack your bags.

I was recently in Litchfield National Park, an hour drive from Darwin, Australia. I forgot it was a weekend and unfortunately there were people everywhere. I spent the day checking out some beautiful waterfalls like Buley Rockhole and Wangi Falls. While these spots were refreshing they were not relaxing. There were too many people. By the time I drove to The Cascades and saw the jam-packed parking lot I decided to call it a day. I didn’t want to sit in another waterfall with a hundred other people. I was going to save The Cascades for early the next morning.

1st Story

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12 Things After 1 Month in Australia

Unbelievably I’ve been in Australia for 1 month, but it feels like I just left California yesterday. Time is flying by! I’ve done so much and already made many great friends. I’m starting to get used to life on the road, but a month isn’t long enough to get used to everything. Minor differences between California and Australia still pop up and surprise me.

I say “California” because the US is huge and I’m not going to group all of it into my judgments. The same goes for Australia. The country is as big as the US and I’ve only been to a few parts of it. So I thought it would be fun to go over the differences I’ve noticed so far, and perhaps update my list as the months go by.

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Goodbye San Diego – Hello Australia!

When I bought my flight to Australia 8 months ago I kept telling myself it was too soon. I am the “book last minute” type of gal, and booking a flight that far in advance felt like overkill. After I put it off for a few days I convinced myself 8 months would be here before I knew it. The little voice in my head told me to just buy the ticket. So I bought it, and it turns out the little voice was absolutely right. 8 months flew by and suddenly I was driving to work for the last time.

Goodbye San Diego!

View from Harbor Island

My last day was a sleepy Monday with only a handful of customers stopping in, and even fewer staying for more than 20 minutes. There was no manager, 1 server, and 2 cooks. Needless to say, it was a quiet night. The perfect night to quietly bow out from my 3-year gig. KN and KC came by to witness my last hours. When I was finally done locking up the bar KN gave me a chocolate bar and said “Here are the fireworks!” I couldn’t think of a more perfect way to end this job.

Goodbye San Diego!

I grabbed this picture from the Trader Joe’s website

Two weeks have gone by and I’ve been so busy that it hardly feels like I’m unemployed. I spend every day packing, cleaning, organizing, and doing last-minute stuff. On the bright side, my to-do list is getting shorter. Looking at the list, I can’t believe I’m almost done with everything.  The long 8 months have turned into 26 short days, and I’d be leaving San Diego soon. 

Goodbye San Diego!

Ocean Beach Pier

Overall I was pretty successful in the preparation of my trip (that I know of). However, there were a few unexpected things that snuck up on my to-do list. Here are some important points to consider if you’re planning a trip of your own.

Buy Your Ticket ASAP – It doesn’t matter if you start to pack and tell yourself you’re going to travel. You’re not going anywhere until you buy a ticket. Having the physical evidence that you are going somewhere means you ARE going somewhere. It makes excuses to back out  of your trip more difficult to find. The months before your trip will go by very fast, so don’t be afraid to buy a ticket in advance. It gives you more time to organize your trip.

Start Packing Now – About a month ago I went through my closets and started a thrift-store pile. This kick-started me to do a little something every day. I’m leaving San Diego in 3 days and can proudly say I am ready to leave. I don’t have any last-minute packing to do and I can spend the next few days with friends

Don’t Procrastinate on Your Blog – On my last international trip I wrote in my journal every single day. It made me think I could simply type my journal online instead of writing it. About 3 months ago I began my blog and spent a lot of time making it look the way I wanted. I only did 4 posts, but I got the dirty work out of the way. I also knew that between work and preparing for my trip I wasn’t going to post anything over the next couple months. With everything up and ready to go, you won’t be frustrated with the set-up right before your trip.

Buy Your Stuff Early – Having backpacked many times, I thought I had everything for my trip. I was seriously wrong and now I wish I started buying things sooner. It all adds up, and what I thought was going to be a couple bucks turned into a couple hundred. Some examples are:

  • Small, lightweight purse for the essentials
  • International charger
  • Prescription for my motion sickness patch
  • Cardigan to match my outfits
  • Lightweight flats that I can walk a whole day in
  • Books on my kindle
  • Earplugs/Eyemask
  • Small daypack I can stuff into my large backpack

Make a Final Will – I always recommend having a will if you travel. You never know what’s going to happen, and even if you’re broke, death can tear families apart. Thankfully I had a will from my last trip that I could update, but I am having trouble getting people to sign it. Finding people who can be in the same room, at the same time, watching you sign your will, who are not in your will, can be tricky.

See Your Doctors – I made all of my appointments except one. The one I put off was a teeth cleaning, and I simply won’t have time to do it now. I should have just made an appointment.

Spend Time With Friends – I decided against a goodbye party because the closer it gets to my departure date, the more exhausting it sounds. There are only a handful of people who really care I’m leaving, and I’d rather have a personal sit-down dinner with each of them separately. It certainly takes a lot more time and effort than throwing a party, but I am very happy I took this route. It gives me a chance to spend time with each one of my friends. My last few days are fully booked with lunch and dinner dates, but I’m so very glad I can spend quality time with all of my true friends before I leave.

Goodbye San Diego!

Sail Bay

And so I say farewell! San Diego has been absolutely amazing, and I will certainly be home-sick for certain things. I will miss everyone’s laid-back attitude, Taco Tuesday, the 5 minute drive to the beach, my amazing apartment, and the great friends I’ve made. Will I come back after my trip? I’m not sure, because it could be a great opportunity for me to live elsewhere. There are always new places to explore, and it will be difficult to pass up the chance to live somewhere new. Will I visit San Diego? Most definitely. Though I grew up in Northern California, San Diego is my home…unless I find a new one. But America’s finest city will certainly be a tough act to follow.

 

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Mission Trails Regional Park

If you want to do any decent hiking in San Diego, you need to drive at least 45 minutes from the main hub. Which is fine, except when you want a quick jaunt through the wilderness on a suddenly free afternoon. This is when I go to Mission Trails Regional Park . http://www.mtrp.org/

Mission Trails

Mission Trails is my backyard playground. It takes 20 minutes to drive there, and there are just enough hiking options to not get bored. Now while Mission Trails does consist of Cowles Mountain, I’m rarely caught on this over-used, selfie-filled, ridiculously congested hike. On the rare occasion I do hike Cowles, I hike it from the back-side, which has fewer people, and continue 2 more miles to Pyles Peak. Typically there are only a few people on the trail when I leave the top of Cowles and head towards Pyles.  So it’s a good way to lose the crowds.

That being said, I’m here to talk about the less-congested West side of the park. I prefer this side because you can easily get away from the crowds, and there are plenty of great trails to choose from. It’s easy to get great views, a good workout by adding extra miles, and of course my favorite part – flowers. The flowers are not year-round, but because of San Diego’s consistent 70 degree weather, there are plenty of months that offer flowers for your viewing pleasure. I always try to make a special trip in the spring specifically for the flowers. This year’s trip was especially wonderful because of  the increased amount of rain San Diego got.

Mission Trails

My two favorite hikes in Mission Trails are North Fortuna from the back side of the park, and South Fortuna from the front side. North Fortuna is my shorter option (I want to say 3 miles from Old Mission Dam, but don’t quote me on that), while South Fortuna is a 6-mile loop that has more to offer. 

When I first began to hike 5 years ago, I started with the North Fortuna trail. Although it’s fairly short, it is steep. This hike was a great way for me to build my incline muscles. I always know I’m in good hiking shape when I can hike the entire uphill part without stopping for a break. As I got more comfortable hiking, I tried the South Fortuna loop. It is just as steep as North Fortuna, but includes railroad tie steps and more variety in terrain. For my spring flower visit, I took my sweet time and did South Fortuna.

Mission Trails

I usually park my car in the lot before the turn into the visitor’s center. Before I start hiking, I go through my mental checklist as I do for every hike. This is assuming I have already packed the correct amount of water, snacks, and the 10 essentials.

  1. Apply sunscreen
  2. Put on hat
  3. Wallet/ID (so I can be identified in case of an accident)
  4. Phone (in case of emergency)
  5. Music Device/Headphones
  6. Camera
  7. Sunglasses
  8. Car keys

Then I’m ready to go! I begin walking along the Visitors Center Loop and cut across the San Diego River.

Mission Trails

Soon the trail turns into a steep, hot, shadeless utility road, but at the top of the hill there is a nice downhill stretch. Of course this means you have to go back up to get to South Fortuna Summit, but it also means there’s plenty of variety.

Mission Trails

Continuing downhill, the trail runs along a little river bed. There are always plenty of flowers to stop and admire here. This part also offers some shade from an otherwise treeless landscape. In the summer the park gets very hot, which makes this a perfect spot to take a break if I’m overheating.

Mission Trails

I’ve always loved California poppies. In addition to being the state flower, poppies are absolutely gorgeous! Whenever I take a picture of poppies they always look fake because they are so thin and velvety.

Mission Trails

Mission Trails always has a lot of purple flowers for me. I never get tired of flowers, and I certainly never get tired of purple, so the combination always leave me feeling fairly elated. These flowers were beautiful and had a lovely whisper of purple in them.

Mission Trails

I see these big guys frequently when I’m hiking in Southern California. They are yucca plants, and particularly beautiful when they flower. I’ve found that the more purple the flowers, the more bugs it has in and around them.

Mission Trails

Mission Trails

After a short walk by the river bed the trail starts to go uphill again. According to a passerby I had just missed a rattle snake, but that part of the trail had plenty more to offer.

Mission Trails

Everyone knows purple is my favorite color, so I enjoyed these beauties. They’re fragile though, and it took a minute for them to come into focus against the breeze.

There is a steady uphill climb with nice views of the summit for the next half mile. At the base of South Fortuna, I get a nice view of the steep uphill section. I take a short breather before I continue on and pretend to enjoy getting my butt kicked by the wooden steps and rock scrambling.

Mission Trails

Once at the top, I tried to reach the summit before taking a break, but got distracted by this pretty little thing. I was pleasantly surprised when she stayed still long enough for me to get a decent picture.

Mission Trails

I took a snack break when I reached my usual perch at the top of South Fortuna. A storm was coming in the next day, so unfortunately it wasn’t a nice day for views. Normally I can see downtown San Diego, but it was a hazy day.

Mission Trails

When the trail reaches the saddle of the Fortunas and starts going downhill there isn’t much in terms of flowers. It’s a dry, windy area with no shade. However, when the trail flattens out and turns back South, it meets up with the river bed again.

Mission Trails

This is my favorite section to hike if I’m looking for flowers. It never fails to impress, even if I have to keep an ear out for cross-country bikers while I’m bent down taking pictures. Many of the trails here are biking trails, and I’ve almost been knocked off the trail more than once. But the bikers are always having so much fun that I can’t be mad at them.

Mission Trails

Mission Trails

While I happily walked through my favorite flower-covered area, I heard a loud buzzing. I looked in the direction of the culprit and saw a HUGE bee! The picture doesn’t do him justice, but this bee was the size of a golf ball. I didn’t want to get too close, and of course jumped back hurriedly when he started flying towards me.

Mission Trails

He buzzed lazily past me and ignored my presence. I guess I wasn’t the only one enjoying the flowers! I hiked on and climbed the last uphill part of my hike with enthusiasm.

Mission Trails

IMG_6631

I was back on the utility road trail. Typically this part of the hike doesn’t have anything exciting on it, but I spotted this flower at the bottom of the hill. I don’t know how I missed it at the start of the hike, but it was a very nice way to end my spring flower hike.

Mission Trails

For anyone in the area I would absolutely recommend visiting this park. Although I avoid it in the summer because of the heat, Mission Trails is wonderful at all other parts of the year.  Just bring plenty of water and sun protection because there is little shade. Most importantly, enjoy the flowers!

My First Backpacking Trip – Glacier National Park

Looking back at my first backpacking trip I can’t help but laugh. I laugh at how little I knew. I laugh at how cool I thought I was. But you have to start somewhere right? My boyfriend at the time, IG, was a backpacker. He was itching to go on a trip (an itch I am now all too familiar with), and I wanted to join him. After lots of planning on his part, and lots of nods and uh-huhs from me, who had no idea what was going on, I found myself at Glacier National Park on my first backpack. I wish I could remember all of the gear I had brought with me. IG of course helped me organize my gear, but I would love to see the difference between my pack then vs now. I wore regular tennis shoes and brought a really heavy $10 Target sleeping bag. The only thing I remember having in terms of proper gear was my new backpack.  In fact, it is the same Deuter backpack that I have today. Compared to my 21 lb base-weight I have today, I wouldn’t be surprised if my pack was closer to 40 lbs on my first trip. Ouch!

First Backpack

I had always liked the idea of backpacking. I loved seeing pictures of people backpacking in the middle of a beautiful wilderness. I wanted to see views like they did. I wanted to know how to survive on my own with just the basics. The nature, the weather, the wildlife. All of these things were something I wanted to experience in their raw entirety. I was very excited about the whole concept of backpacking, so I was eager to jump on the backpacking train. IG had figured out everything for our trip. The cooking, the itinerary, the tent… I was really just tagging along, hoping I didn’t die, and hoping it was everything I imagined it would be.  

First Backpack

We began our tip in Calgary, flying in on a beautifully sunny morning. About 3 hours later we were in Glacier National Park. My goodness was it beautiful! It was the first time I had ever seen mountains like this. Or at least that I could remember. To this day, Glacier is my favorite national park. I’m sure this is partially due to the nostalgia of my first backpacking trip, but nobody can deny the park is breathtaking. Going-To-The-Sun Road gives you views that are hard to beat, and they get better and better as you drive further along.

First Backpack

First things first, IG and I went to the ranger station to get a permit. We had to watch a video about backpacking in bear country, what the acceptable locations to do your business are, and other educational necessities. We also had to book our campgrounds in advance and leave the itinerary at the station. This was so the rangers could keep track of us in case of an emergency, and to limit the amount of people in each campground. Our plan was to enter at Loop Trail Trailhead, end at Goat Haunt Campground, and loop back around through Fifty Mountain Campground back to Loop Trail Trailhead. I was a little sceptical about the 17.4 mile day, but heck! If IG thought I could do it, then it wouldn’t be a problem. Maybe backpacking was going to be easier than I thought.

First Backpack

We drove through more of Going-To-The-Sun Road and parked at Loop Trail Trailhead. Next thing I knew our adventure had begun. My very first backpack! Soon after we began I already started to have problems. My backpack kept hurting me. The backplate was poking my spine, and I couldn’t seem to fix it. At first I didn’t want to seem like a wuss, so I kept going and didn’t say anything to IG. Maybe all backpacks are fairly uncomfortable? We stopped for our first break and I threw my pack down, very frustrated with the pain. I kept trying to adjust the back plate, but nothing I tried worked. Angry, I manhandled the backpack and slammed the backplate. Success!  I just needed to use a little more force and the backplate went exactly where I wanted. Relieved, I was ready to continue on.

First Backpack

It was a hot day. The recent forest fire had burnt down the trees, and therefore the shade. We started hiking uphill, and although the incline was not huge, it was steep enough to make a difference with the high temperature. Trying to ignore the heat, I trudged along in my own little world, thinking about who knows what. My first major backpacking mistake was not paying attention to how my body was feeling. Suddenly, the world around me got strikingly bright. My vision closed in, and I was blinded by the bright green colors in the meadow around me. I couldn’t hold myself up, and I couldn’t see. I slowly lowered myself to the ground, grasping at anything I could to sit down. IG rushed over and realized something was seriously wrong.

First Backpack

An attempt to show you what I experienced


First BackpackAlthough I was clueless in that moment, this was my first real encounter with heat stroke. I sat down for several minutes while IG fanned me and put some water on my head. My vision slowly started to return and I started to realized how bad I felt. I couldn’t believe how quickly I had gone from pleasantly hiking to instantly feeling like I was going to vomit up the world. After resting for several minutes, IG convinced me that while he carried my pack, I should try to walk as far as I could, and sit back down again. I felt strong enough to try, so I began to walk. Just a few steps followed by a break. Then a few more steps and another break. The breaks got shorter, and my steps got longer until I felt good enough to take my pack and continue. Although IG asked me several times if I wanted to turn around, I insisted that I was not going to
end my first backpack before it had even begun. So we kept going.

We continued towards the campsite, which thankfully wasn’t much further. However, in a strange twist of mother nature irony, a storm came in. It began to rain. The rain turned into hail. Although IG did not think it was very funny, I couldn’t help but laugh. Here I was, not a half hour ago a victim of heat stroke, and now it was hailing… it was just something that I had to laugh at. Plus I’ll admit the cold felt wonderful on my face.

First Backpack

We picked up our pace and made it to camp by late afternoon. Someone had set up a tarp over the camp kitchen, and we chatted with our new neighbor while waiting out the rain. Once the rain stopped, we set up our tent, made dinner, said goodnight to the local deer wandering about, and went to bed. Perhaps I had been wrong about how easy backpacking was going to be.

This night was the start of what would be a long time of being cold while sleeping. I just assumed being cold was the consequence of sleeping in the wilderness. I wasn’t so cold that I couldn’t sleep, but cold enough to be absolutely uncomfortable. (Now I have “my baby.” A Western Mountaineering 10 degree down sleeping bag). When I woke up the next morning I was very thankful to IG for making me hot oatmeal. From that point on, oatmeal has been my staple backpacking breakfast meal.  It’s fast and you can warm up water for your tea at the same time. However, there is no better way to warm yourself up than by walking.

Today was going to be the most difficult day. We had 17.4 miles to go, and after my heat incident the day before, I was not super motivated. Grudgingly, I started to walk. I quickly began to warm up. The landscape started to get more beautiful. Then the sun came up. I still remember how wonderful it felt to have the first rays of the day shine on my face. I stopped to enjoy the moment. This was the point where I realized I was surrounded by nothing but nature. The road was miles away. The further I walked, the more enthusiastic I got. With every step I was getting further and further away from civilization, and I loved it. I reveled in it! It was a beautiful day, and so far everything was going very well.

First Backpack

A few miles in, we ran into our first predator. A grizzly bear! IG was the first to notice him, and the bear was… well not exactly how you’d imagine a fierce predator. He was exactly how you would picture a grizzly bear frolicking through a meadow. It was quite a sight! We were close enough to see him clearly, but far enough away that we were comfortable watching for a while. He rumbled through the meadow, lumbered over logs, and gnawed at the grass enthusiastically. He was not the biggest bear, but impressive he was. After several minutes he wandered away and we continued on.

First Backpack

Reading helps us forget about our sore feet!

Right around here is the spot where I have an incredibly vivid image of hiking. It was so windy that I was getting pushed off the trail. We were hiking through a field, so green and beautiful, and I was experiencing pure bliss. That moment is what I had imagined backpacking would be like. Weather, nature, and wildlife were surrounding me on all sides. It’s little moments like this that make not showering for days worth it.

Our goal for the was to reach Goat Haunt Campground, which is next to Upper Waterton Lake. This is also the least-used border between the US and Canada. Though the hike had been pleasant so far, IG and I still had quite a ways to go.

First Backpack

We passed through a campground, a beautiful meadow, and made our way to a huge valley. We stopped here for lunch and looked down at the beautiful vista before us. We also made friends with a marmot. He was keeping a lookout for visitors on the trail and gave us a head-bob greeting.

First Backpack

Quietly munching on granola bars, IG and I realized the sky was slightly darker than it was when we had originally perched ourselves over the valley. When we started walking again it got even darker, and not long after we started down into the valley, the clouds were a very ominous black. The park ranger had told us there was always a 20% chance of rain in the forecast. The weather could change in a second, and we should never trust what we thought was going to be a beautiful day. She could not have been more correct. It had been beautifully sunny not half an hour ago, but the quickly darkening skies were going to prove otherwise.

First Backpack

We continued down into the valley, and sure enough it started pouring. It rained and rained, and rain some more. We did not stop and wait it out because we couldn’t. There was no shelter anywhere. We were on multiple switchbacks going downhill, with a steep upward incline on one side and a sudden drop on the other. The only thing to do was keep walking, albeit carefully. It must have been an hour or more of constant, torrential rain. Only once we got to the bottom of the valley did the rain let up. We stumbled on a little shed, and right as we opened the door the rain stopped completely. Tired, we took a long break to get our spirits up again. The sun made an appearance so we went back outside and aired out our clothes. My base layer was orange, and I soon learned that butterflies love orange. Two butterflies fluttered over and landed right on my shirt! It was a moment that I thoroughly enjoyed, because we all know how much I love butterflies. After admiring the butterflies and conversing with a couple who had waited out the rain in the little shed, we continued to our final destination.

First Backpack

Unfortunately, IG and I proceeded into what I am convinced is the biggest mosquito population on planet Earth. It must have been the mixture of the rain and walking on the edge of a riverbed. At that time I did not have any mosquito netting to put on (however I purchased some after the trip). We tried to convince ourselves it wasn’t so bad, but IG and I quickly gave up and jogged through the mile or so of remaining mosquitos. We were eaten alive! It certainly didn’t help that I’ve always been a tasty treat for mosquitoes. Once we were safely past we slowly trudged the last mile to our campsite. I can’t remember my feet ever hurting so much. First thing I was going to do when I got home was purchase hiking shoes.

When we arrived, IG and I didn’t take in much of our surroundings, but immediately set up camp. I was not in a favorable mood because of the mosquito bites covering my entire body. Most notably my face. And oh how itchy they were! After a quick dinner I snuggled up in my sleeping bag and went to sleep. What a day it had been. We let ourselves wake up slowly the next mornig and sleep in (well I always wake up slowly). After spending the morning lounging around and admiring my dozens of mosquito bites we went down to the lake. Only then did we realize what a magnificent spot we were in.

First Backpack

The mountains were beautiful, and the sun was shining without a cloud in the sky. I had the idea to put my sore feet in the lake. This was one of the best ideas I’ve ever had! It felt so good to have my feet in the nice cold water, and it was just like an ice bath. IG followed my lead and we enjoyed ourselves for quite some time, feet in the water, taking in the view. It was one of the most beautiful views I had ever experienced. Finally we decided it was time to pack up and do our quick 3 mile hike to Kootenai Lake Campground.

First Backpack

The Ranger had told us Kootenai Lake was the best spot to see moose. Seeing a moose in the wild had always been on my bucket list, so I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. Thinking about the moose, I started the short 3 mile hike enthusiastically. This quickly changed to lugging myself along the trail at a snail’s pace. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from backpacking, it is to never tell yourself it’s just a “quick” walk anywhere. You will easily become unmotivated because it’s always more of a walk than you think…or at least than I think. To this day I always mentally prepare myself for a 20-miler, even if I’m only going 2 miles.

We took a fork to the campground where a sign stated we had .6 miles left. I still remember that sign, and I still remember how long that .6 miles felt. When we got to the campground I felt just as I had the day before. Exhausted and frustrated. IG and I set up camp and parked ourselves right at the lake shore. Sadly, no moose came, but looking out at the lake was lovely in itself. It put my frustrations out of my mind. Sunset came, and so did the mosquitoes, so we ate dinner and called it a night.

First Backpack

We had far to go the next morning, so IG and I got up early.  Well, it wasn’t necessarily the length of the hike, but the incline. We had to go back up the valley that we had come down in the pouring rain. Luckily the mosquitoes were not out in as much force as before, and we enjoyed the first few miles of the day. Before I knew it we were at the bottom of the valley. IG told me to take it slow, so at every switchback we took a quick break. 

First Backpack

It was absolutely beautiful looking out at the valley. You could see so far without the rain! I enjoyed the hike back up and we got to the top  much sooner than I thought we would. We had kept a steady pace and the breaks were just long enough to keep me going strong. When we got to the top of the valley IG and I took one last look into the valley. I looked down at our trail going to the right.First Backpack

At that moment I promised myself that I would come back one day and take the trail to the left. Where did it go? What is just as beautiful as the trail we had taken? Was it more beautiful? I had to know.

We didn’t have much further to go that day, so we took our time getting to Fifty Mountain Campground. We said hello to our marmot friend and got to the campsite in no time. Tomorrow was a 16 mile day, so we had some dinner and went to bed soon after we arrived.

First Backpack

The next morning IG and I got up before sunrise. At first it was difficult to find the trail in the dark because it was heading up a rocky hillside. The sun started to come up when we found the trail on the ridge we would be hiking that day. Unfortunately the views were not great because of the cloud cover, and the big issue was the wind. I tried to keep my spirits up, as this was the last day of our hike, but I can honestly say this was the coldest I have ever been. I was absolutely chilled through, and the wind was relentless. The plan was to stop for lunch, but it was so cold I couldn’t think of stopping. IG also wanted to hike an offshoot trail and try to see a glacier on the other side of the mountain pass, but I was simply too cold. I needed to keep moving, and I needed to warm up.

First Backpack

You can see the trail in the distance on the far left.

At some point the wind finally died down and the rain began. Even with the rain I was very thankful that the wind stopped. The rain was not as cold and I got a chance to warm up. We arrived at a campground right outside of Granite Park Chalet and took a snack break. I needed to use the restroom, so I excuse myself and took a little path to the pit toilet. I consider this to be the best bathroom that I have ever used. I even snapped a picture and took my sweet time so I could enjoy the scenery. The background is unfotunately washed out, but you get the idea. To this day, I still think about this pee whenever I think about this trip.

First Backpack

We still had a couple miles to go, so I grumbled, put my pack on, grumbled some more, and continued on. The trail started to go downhill and the grade got steeper and steeper. Suddenly IG and I were motivated to quicken our pace because we saw the road! I was so relieved the hike was almost over. It had definitely been a trying day, and the downhill slope was so steep that my knees started to hurt.

First Backpack

Then the trail suddenly turned away from the cars. Just as quickly as the trail turned the wrong way did my motivation shatter. The car was out of sight and we kept walking away from the direction of the car. Kept going, kept going…  Did we miss a turn? After some time of second-guessing ourselves the trail finally turned back in the direction of the parking lot. Completely ready to be done with the hike, the road came back into view. When I finally put my pack down I was frustrated, tired, hungry, and hurting, but I loved it.

First Backpack

Now I’ll be the first to admit this was not the most successful backpacking trip, especially for a first-timer. IG even admitted that it had been a tough one. In 4 days I had been through heat stroke, a hail storm, torrential rain, a mosquito orgy, and absolute cold. Not to mention incredibly sore feet. At first I was worried that all backpacking trips were like this – full of bad weather and blisters. IG promised me that this was not representative of a typical backpack. Knowing that, I felt that if I could make it through this trip without any previous experience, I could make it through anything.  Although I have done my share of backpacking trips since Glacier, this trip still presented me with the most obstacles I have ever faced. Even with the gear and experience I have now, it still would not have been an easy trip. Yet, my trip to Glacier had been everything I’d imagined. Fierce weather, great wildlife, fantastic views, and the feeling of absolute accomplishment.   

First Backpack

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