Thursday, July 27, 2017

Incredible Beauty

I'm a bit behind on blog posts because I have been camping in areas without cell signal. That's been okay, though, because it has allowed me to be alone with my thoughts and to take in the special meaning of where I have been this past week.

It's been a very emotional few days for me. After Mom died in February. I gathered up her ~2 dozen journals and took them home to read. She and my dad did a lot of camp travel, especially in their retirement years. I've enjoyed reading about their many trips to different national parks, back to New York and Pennsylvania, and to the lakes in New Mexico. Sometimes they took a grandkid or two along with them; sometimes it was just the two of them.

She always wrote her diary days as they happened, with no details of plans or preamble, as if the reader would know where they were headed. I don't remember where they went and when, so it's always a surprise reveal to read through the years. In 1987 (I think it was about that time; but I didn't bring those journals with me, so can't be positive of the year), they headed north to Montana. It eventually became apparent they were going to Glacier National Park. They stopped to visit friends and relatives on the way, and came into Glacier from the east. They camped nearby, left the trailer and drove the truck over Going To The Sun Road. Mom didn't write many details, but the way she worded her experience of the day really struck a chord with me. "Incredible Beauty". Just those two words. It was unlike her usual way of describing things, and I knew it must be something really special. That's when I decided Glacier National Park would be my ultimate destination this summer. I knew I would be in a good position to go north to Glacier after dropping the boys off in Boise after our Rushmore trip. Well, you've read my recaps of my journey thus far, so no need to go over it all again.

As I started nearing Glacier, I felt myself welling up with emotion thinking about it. It was almost as if Mom had lead me there, and she had something to show me. Something she wanted me to experience, just as she had experienced it.

On Sunday morning, I arrived at Glacier National Park and was disappointed to discover the campgrounds were full. I turned around and went out to find a place to camp in the surrounding forest, and ended up in a large pullout near Hungry Horse Reservoir with two couples who were tent camping.

I got up very early the next morning and arrived at Glacier's entrance before 8:00. Apgar Campground (which doesn't take reservations) had open spaces! I drove right over, and joined about 40 other campers trolling for someone's spot the minute they pulled out. At 9:30, on my ~20th circle through the loops, the Full signs went up. Out of luck! I stopped at the Visitor's Center and gift shop in Apgar Village, then headed back to Hungry Horse, where I lucked into an available spot in a forest campground. I paid for 2 nights.
 Monday morning, Hanna and I got in the car and set out on Going To The Sun Road. I stopped at many many pullouts and overlooks just to drink in the beauty and spectacular views. Each time I did, I told myself, Mom was here and saw this. Often times, I couldn't see the scenery for the tears in my eyes. I tried to take pictures, but it's impossible to capture the grandeur on digital bits, especially when the lens is only an iPhone. But I captured it in my heart and will treasure the experience.

At Logan Pass Visitor's Center, I drove around the parking lot for over an hour trying to snag a spot so I could take a short hike and go inside the VC, but finally gave up and headed on down the mountain. I stopped a few more times, simply because I was reluctant for the drive to end. By the time I got back to my camp at Hungry Horse, it was mid-afternoon and I just curled up in my recliner. It had been an exhausting journey.

Maybe some day I'll go back to Glacier National Park, in May or September, when the crowds are thinner and the campgrounds and parking lots are emptier. Maybe the mountains will look different, with snow or a different angle of the sun. Maybe I'll have someone with me to share the beauty. Or maybe I'll just tuck this one special trip into my treasure box and let it be enough.


  1. Beautifully written post, Donna.

  2. Very emotional trip and you had me hooked from the first sentence. Loved the pictures.