How to “Level Up” in Life // Glacier National Park

From Yellowstone National Park, we continued our journey North to our next stop:

Glacier National Park, wayyyy up in Northern Montana.

Instead of driving 6-7 hours straight to the National Park, we decided to stop halfway at a Harvest Host location in Missoula, Montana.

Welcome to the SoJo Norwegian Ranch!

Our host, Sonia, lived on several acres of land, which allowed for multiple RVs to be parked in various spots across her and her husband’s property. As we got to talking with Sonia and her husband, we learned just how much they lived off the land. From chickens to bees, cows to goats, and their flourishing garden to this BEAUTIFUL view, they explained that they simply just preferred to have control over their livestock and fresh produce they put in their bodies.

As we sat around the fire with our hosts and our new RV friends, Andrea and Alan, a plate of freshly cut and grilled steak got passed around.

Let me tell you,

it was MELT IN YOUR MOUTH good.

What was probably only supposed to be half an hour of meeting new people, turned into 4 hours spent together…

The fire was incredible, the steak was to die for and the company felt all too familiar (despite being thousands of miles from home).

My point is, this property had it ALL, y’all.

There were probably 5 different sitting areas around the edge of their property that looked like this one…

The next morning, we packed our things and got back on the road.

Just over 3 hours later, we made it to another free camping site!

We went back and forth about where to try first as we saw a number of options located around the Hungry Horse Reservoir. Naturally, we started with the site that was closest to the National Park entrance!

It started as one of the Top 3 Bumpiest Roads We’ve Ever Driven..

It ended as one of the Top 3 Best Sites We’ve Ever Been In…

Despite the bumpy roads to get there, this was pretty much a free camping haven… There were several RV sites with waterfront views and even more tent camping sites with the same opportunities.

While our plan for visiting the National Park was to drive to the top of the Going-to-the-Sun Road (one of the main road through the park), we had to wait a couple of days for the weather to change before doing so.

We spent those first two days looking for bigfoot and where we were going to get a piece of Huckleberry pie…

If you’ve never heard of huckleberry, it’s like a cross between blueberry, cranberry and raspberry!

Except wayyy more expensive!

Finally, when the weather wasn’t calling for a day full of clouds and rain, we made our move…

Cue the 5AM alarm.

#WeWentThereTip: When we visited, you were required to have an entry ticket to drive the Going-to-the-Sun road if you entered the park between 6AM-5PM. These tickets have a $2 reservation fee but must be made at least 48 hours prior to entry.

Surprisingly, we were not the only ones who figured out the loophole if you were unable to get an entry ticket.

This was at 5:30AM as we entered the Park.

This was at 6:30 as we continued to climb the Going-to-the-Sun Road (obviously, rightfully named as it seemingly felt like a never ending inclining drive).

annnnnd here come the clouds.

When we finally made it to Logan Pass and the Hidden Lake Trailhead…

there was an overwhelmmmming number of cars and people in the parking lot for 6:45 in the morning.

#WeWentThereTip: I can almost guarantee that any weather forecast you see at the bottom of a mountain will in fact be very different at the top of the mountain.

Well, the temperature definitely will be at least.

We quickly snagged a parking spot (our luck does always seem to work out in that department) and were ready to get on the trail. Being that the temperature was now easily 15 degrees colder than what it had been when we left camp, now a steady 45 degrees, we were very surprised to see people still dressed in shorts and flip flops… to each his own.

It was indeed very cold, and was indeed very cloudy. When we first started, we knew we could either hike just over 1.5 miles to the Hidden Lake Overlook OR we could continue another 1.5-2 miles and get down to the lake.

Deciding to play it by ear, we wanted to wait to see how we felt after the first leg before mentally committing to the whole thing.

Here’s where things start to get fun. No more than half a mile in, the ascent (and killer views) really starts to kick in.

As we paced ourselves up the hill, we heard someone say something along the lines of, “being up here is like hitting the next level in life.”
I couldn’t have agreed more.

Warning: wildflowers are my weakness

We made it to the overlook in under an hour! Believe it or not, under all of that fog, there is a lake down there!

This is what it’s supposed to look like from the overlook in perfect conditions.

Nonetheless, we decided to continue down.

Just as we got started on the second half of this hike, I heard something clicking in the distance. When I looked up from the ground, I noticed a couple people using their binoculars and staring up at the side of the mountain. The more I focused on where the clicking was coming from, the more I noticed 4 little white dots moving wayyyyy up there– our first Mountain Goat sighting!!

I spy with my little eye…
We were spitballing ideas as to what it could be up there… “wolves” made that list

You know how I like to use the optimistic self-encouragement phrase, “The good thing about a hike that goes straight up is that coming back is all straight down?”

The first leg of this hike, up to the overlook, was exactly that.

The second leg of this hike, down to the lake, was the exact opposite of that.

I was absolutely DREADING having to come back up.

Insert crying laughing emoji.

..Okay, so maybe not dreading, because I really was excited to keep hiking…

I didn’t feel tired, I didn’t feel like I wanted to stop hiking.

It was more so this slight feeling of, “wow. yep, this is going to be one hell of a climb back up.”

When we finally made it down to lakeside, it looked a little like this:

(As I look back at and write all of this, I now 100% wonder why we hiked down to the lake expecting ANYTHING different than a view full of fog…)

We spent some time exploring the edge of the lake and skipping rocks.

Well, that is until Devon ate his Clif Bar and threw a rock that ended up getting stuck to his finger just long enough to hit me in the chin. A complete accident that was slightly painful, but incredibly funny.

blood was drawn

The trek back up the mountain wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be!

We took it slow and steady so we (I) wouldn’t run out of breath so quickly. I knew it was a “hell of a climb” and didn’t want to have to talk myself through it the entire way; I wanted to just do it.

I wanted to feel confident in my pace, confident in my breath, and confident in my body’s abilities.

The phrase, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” kept me going too.

There was no reason to rush the ascent.

Despite the fog continuing to roll in, we still passed a number of people going down to the lake.

One person we passed told us to keep an eye out for deer ahead and that, funnily enough, they were acting like trail guides!

It didn’t take long for us to catch up with them…

I wasn’t watching my map, but they walked right along with us for easily the last half mile of the trek back to the overlook.

According to Devon, the deer was saying, “Buck you, I’m not moving” 🙂

Just when we thought we lost them… Turns out they were just letting us have our turn in leading!

These deer were seriously, part human! Notice the people following just behind them too!

You’ll have to excuse my breathing, this was the final stretch. Behind me, you can somewhat see the incline I was working with.

By time we made it back up to the overlook, I’ll be honest, I didn’t notice we had made it.

Had it not been for the abundance of people, I probably would have just kept walking.

I almost cried tears of joy when we made it back, not because I was tired of climbing, but because I was so proud of myself for doing so without having to fight this huge mental battle to get there.

Also, because the fog was even worse than when we went down.

What looked like this at 7:30AM…:

Looked like this by 9:30AM…:

So again, my favorite #WeWentThereTip: GO EARLY.

The short hike back to the parking lot, was full of nothing but smiles.

Not sure which is more fascinating, the colors of the flowers or the colors of the rocks…

Tired and ready for a more substantial meal, we started the drive back home.

Even if you don’t get a chance to do this same hike, take advantage of simply driving the Going-to-the-Sun Road…

There are a number of pull-offs with some equally beautiful views…

Glacier National Park was everything we could have imagined and MORE!

And of course, we had to finish off the day with none other than a slice of Huckleberry Pie!

Fair warning, while one slice of pie will run you $7, a whole pie runs closer to $50.

But ooo-wee, that slice a la mode was worth every bite… Devon and I split one and while that should have been enough, it was so delicious that I could have ordered 15 more.

Huckleberry Patch’s Huckleberry Pie a la mode

Next stop, IDAHO.

Until then,

j&d

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