Glacier National Park–The First Trip: Part 1


I don’t know when it started. I don’t know how it started. I don’t know why it started. Ok, maybe that last statement wasn’t the whole truth. I do know why. I have numerous reasons why. My love of backpacking started in 2007, with the first step of my first trip. I can’t remember how we (Jared and I) decided we wanted to go backpacking, or why we chose Glacier, but that’s just the way things ended up. We were not disappointed, and haven’t been since. My first “step” backpacking wasn’t actually a step, it was an oar stroke. You see, we took an aluminum river canoe and paddled 7 miles across a lake, and then proceeded to hide the canoe in the bushes. That’s when the first literal step happened.  There are so many things about being in the middle of nowhere that I love. That’s actually one of the things I like the most–being in the middle of nowhere. There are many more. Waking up at the crack of dawn. Getting absolutely no sleep. Trying to find a position to sleep where you don’t feel that rock in the middle of your back. Eating 19 pounds of beef jerky. Rolling off your sleeping pad that’s as skinny as a nonfat latte. Trudging up an endless hill that’s just waiting to cramp the snot out of your legs. The list goes on. These are fun, you say? You bet. Of course…they’re not fun when they are actually happening. You have to wait until you’re back in the car cramming 8 Big Macs in your face. That’s when you look back and say, “Man, was that not the greatest trip, or what?!” I suppose I should get on with the story.

We left on a Wednesday night from Gresham and spent the night at a small campsite off of highway 135 in western Montana. We were driving Jared’s xterra with the canoe on the roof rack. Lets just say we went through the gas on this trip. Looking at this picture now, the car looks hilarious with the canoe sticking out so far. Ah, good times…

Campin’ Out On the Way to Glacier

The next morning we drove up to Glacier and hoped we’d get a campsite. I didn’t make reservations, which is possible, so it was a bit of a shot-in-the-dark. As it turned out, the site we wanted was free. So at the ranger station, we watched the required video on bear safety, being we were in the heart of Grizzly territory. The video had a lot of good information that newbs like us might not know. However, I had done a lot of research (imagine that…me doing research) beforehand, so I knew a bit about bear safety. Supposedly carrying a honey-glazed ham in your pack isn’t such a great idea. Huh. Wearing 6 different body products that scream Hey everybody! I just got a $10,000 Bath and Body Works gift card! apparently isn’t very smart either. So, I had to leave Jared locked in the car. Ok, that’s not true. That would have been boring.

We left the ranger station and grabbed a site at the Bowman Lake car campground, then canoed around the lake and fished for the rest of the day. We didn’t catch a thing. Maybe it was the crystal-clear water. Or that we are terrible fisherman that had (and still have) no idea what we are doing. Probably the latter. But we had fun nonetheless…

Bowman Lake

The night was uneventful. I remember both of us at one point during the night undertaking the wonderful and most pleasant task of getting up to pee (yes, I said pee) during the night. I just love getting out of your toasty sleeping bag when it’s 30 degrees out. Of course you can only get out if  you can find the zipper of your bag. Then the zipper of the tent. Then your shoes. Then a nice bush. Needless to say, by this point you’re half frozen because you didn’t even attempt to find a pair of pants or a shirt among the pile of stuff enveloping the tent. So finally the miserable deed is done, and then you have to get back in the tent. Not quite as bad, unless the zipper snags, and you don’t have a light. In the morning, we woke up to an animal almost on top of the tent. I looked through the mesh to see a deer 3 feet away munching away on some freshly salted greens.  Apparently the deer here have a taste for salt…

Early Morning Company

We ate bacon for breakfast, which, while camping in bear country, is a huge pain. What in the world do you do with the bacon grease?! After pondering this for approximately 10 minutes, we came to this brilliant conclusion–dump it under a tree and brush a few fir needles over it. Voila! Problem solved. (For the record, do not do that.)I’m absolutely positive every bear within a 300 mile radius was drooling like a toddler.  We were also using the cheapest aluminum camp cookset in the history of mankind. The bacon stuck to the pan like Spiderman with gecko feet. Clean-up was a total pain. That’s the last time we’ve taken bacon to Glacier. After we ate, we drove down to the lake and threw our packs into the canoe. I have to say, it was pretty exciting. The sun was just coming over the mountains to the east, and the lake looked as smooth as glass. Ahhh…it was like an ice-cold coke on a hot summer day. All was right with the world.

Oh the Places We Could Go
Our Packs

According to the map I had, the lake was about 7 miles long. It took us approximately 2 hours to paddle the length of the lake. Half of that time was spent trying to keep the canoe going in a straight line. If there had been any bystanders they would have sworn we were intoxicated. (We were not.) We found out later that the canoe was made for rivers, not lakes. Hence the lack of tracking ability. Ha. At the end of the lake, we pulled the canoe up into the brush, and put our packs on. It was go-time.     BK

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