The Descend

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It turns out the mountains will give us Glacier National Park’s greatest gift. We would experience a mountain storm unlike anything we’ve seen. It really came out of nowhere. It was like a wave that crashed over the other side of the mountain and columns of rain and clouds descended on the valley that we were hiking.

We geared up with the rain coats and covered Emma’s backpack with her wind and rain covers. She was sleeping at the time. The biggest surprise wasn’t the rain, but the wind. The mountains channeled the winds upwards and hit us with such force I had to use my hiking poles to keep on balance.

Emma’s backpack is like a sail so we had to be very careful as we headed down the mountain. Things were not done yet…glacier had one more gift…one we didn’t really want to have to receive.

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Yes. The bear was the final gift. This massive Grisly was between us, the trail, 1000 feet of rock above and below. It is the brown spot uphill the trail. This bear and her cubs were going up trail, meaning we really had no way to go but back to the glacier in high winds and rain. All I got was this blurry shot because the rain and wind were about to hit us again. Most people took shelter on the cliff rocks that provided some natural roof.

Eventually the bear charged a person near the trail. It was a bluff charge and soon the bear headed down the rocks to the valley below. At this point we knew it was safe to go, but we didn’t spend much time there.

We continued on the way down to the boat dock.

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I really have to tell Emma that all she did as her father held on to dear life on that cliff with the wind, the rain, and the bear is that she didn’t get one foot wet or even woke up. Her cocoon Poco backpack protected her from everything, and what it did not, her mom and dad did. She even had a travel pillow so that her head wouldn’t move around too much. That is how you travel in glacier when you’re 2.

Back at the Many Glacier Hotel
Back at the Many Glacier Hotel

After a good shower and a meal at the spectacular century old dining hall, we remembered the adventure earlier and thought of the warm meal to come.

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The staff at the Many Glacier hotel had to light up the historic fireplace to keep the guest warm due to the drop in temperature for that day.

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Last Light
Last Light

Glacier wasn’t done giving however. We went for some coffee and at this point the wind and showers were coming and going. We must have had 40-50 mph winds because you could hardly open the door. Armed with the Sony RX100, I had to step out because, well I freaking love this place by now.

Why We Do this

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Being outside in the rain on the wind at a wind chill of about 40, after a 7 mile hike with my legs busted and my clothes wet again seems like a strange way to vacation. In fact we all lost weight which is the opposite of what people do on vacations. However, we do because of moments like this one.

This is not a sepia. This is how it was. This is the color of this place at this time. The smoke from the fire had turned things yellowish, the late sun came out one last time before another cloud ended the day. The rain curtains were dropping high from the clouds over the mountains before us and everything was just like another world. The entire moment lasted 5 minutes or less. But you had to be there to have seen it. 

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The many glacier valley is larger than anything on this place and looks like nothing else on earth. And that is why we do this. One day we will be too old, one day we will be too tired, one day I’ll be on a white sandy beach looking at some menu thinking the AC is too high and the drinks are not cold enough. But today we stood here and saw this world like few take the time to…and we love it.

Part One – Ascend to Grinell
Part Two – The Last Mile

 

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