Monday, July 28, 2014

Glacier National Park Day 3: Climbing, Glaciers, and Snowball Fights (July 7, 2014)

It had taken one year for a dream to become a reality. It started out with a camping excursion taken by four friends to Itasca State Park for a weekend and grew out of painful bike rides, laughter filled kayaking/canoe adventures, and quiet discussions held around the glowing light of a campfire.


It was a once mentioned destination that burrowed into our souls. At first just a half-joking suggestion, the idea took root and soon we were asking each other, "Why not?"

Cautiously we began brainstorming and planning. We lost two members of our party when they got engaged and had to choose between Glacier and a romantic getaway in Mexico (congrats again guys!). So, our foursome became a twosome, and my man-friend, best friend, and adventure buddy Bob and I had to really ask ourselves if we wanted to commit to the trip. I don't think it was really even a conversation- one of us brought it up cautiously, and the other said something along the lines of "Let's do this!"

That's how, after months of planning, reserving campsites, researching hikes, and purchasing the appropriate gear,  I was standing on a mountain looking onto lake after glacial lake and climbing ever higher in the hopes of seeing Grinnel Glacier. We were pushing ourselves hard, trying to make up for a late start and a drive through the park that was delayed by construction on the famous Going-To-The-Sun Road. We were hot, and frequently made use of our new Camelbak bladders as the sun pulled water from our pores. Yes, we were warm, but we were also incredibly happy. Our legs were protesting the climb, our lungs were complaining over the thinning air, but our hearts grew ever lighter as we shared new sights and light-hearted conversation.

When we reached the crest of the trail we found the descent into the Glacier's valley to be barred by treacherous snow bridges. We were disappointing, but instead of mourning our inability to get closer, we took the opportunity to soak in the beauty  of the snowy peaks and three clad slopes. We also had an impromptu snowball fight, which cemented the climb into one of my favorite memories from the trip. 

As we travel homeward with weary muscles and backpacks filled with Instax shots and memory cards brimming with yet-to-be-sorted images, I am struck anew by the wonder of the experience. 

It started out as a whispered dream and grew into something solid and soul-fulfilling.

Dare to dream. Dare to explore. 
Go and Do. 


If you missed the other Glacier adventures, never fear! Links are below!
 Day 1   Day 2 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Glacier National Park Day 2: Arriving at Glacier and Setting Up Camp (July 6, 2014)

Hello everyone!

I apologize for my absence, my computer decided to extend its vacation by going to Minneapolis with Bob! BUT I have it back now, so I can once again start sharing the wonderfulness that is Glacier National Park!!

Day Two involved a pleasant morning in which Bob and I slept in till the awfully late hour of 8, and went to Kitty's for coffee with Sue before picking up the perishable food items we needed for the trip and hitting the road. I drove this portion of the trip so that Bob could watch as the mountains steadily rose higher and higher across the plains. As the mountains loomed ever larger, our excitement levels rose, and by the time we drove through the West Entrance into Glacier both Bob and I were bouncing in our seats with enthusiastic energy.

Our first move was to check into Fish Creek Campground and find our site. I had picked the location online, and as such was nervous and unsure about what we would find. My worries were unnecessary, however, because our site was almost perfect. We were across the street from both the fresh water spigot and the restrooms, which meant that we had the convenience of those locations without having to deal with people walking onto or through our campsite to reach them. To top it off, walking to the lake took less than 3 minutes.

Upon arriving at our site and after our exclamations of satisfaction over the location, we started to unpack. First order of business was the tent, which turned out to be a frustrating venture. While our location was perfect, the site itself had no flat spots, and (as both Bob and I are from relatively flat portions of the country) it was no easy task figuring out exactly how to set the tent up on a tilted surface. There was some frustration, huge sighs were heard, and there might even have been some muttering, but (after a snack break) Bob and I finally had the tent set-up complete.

We then dug through our suitcases and removed all scented items, which we stored in the car for the remainder of the trip. The food related items, including dishes (even if washed), were also left in the car. Bob and I take the bear safety instructions seriously, and we wanted to be certain that no bears would be tempted to wander into our campsite.

Finally, with our camp set up to our satisfaction, we drove to nearby Apgar Villiage to look around and purchase ice for our cooler. We also walked down to the shore to get our first real glimpse of Lake McDonald.


just wow. 

You see pictures, and you read the facts, but nothing really prepares you for the sight of that massive glacial lake. Absolutely stunning- surrounded by forests and views of the mountains from all angles. A rich turquoise color with shockingly clear water, plunging to depths of 472 ft., and stretching for miles and miles, this lake was absolute breathtaking perfection.

have i mentioned "wow"?
Bob and I finally tore ourselves away from the lake, purchased our ice and firewood, and returned to our campsite to make our first meal. We decided to try making noodles over the fire, a fun idea, but it turns out that boiling water over a campfire takes.... well it takes a while, so we eventually gave up and made our noodles on the camp stove. We ate, and then tackled the task of cleaning up, which involved discussions on how to best set up a wash and rinse station and then transport all dirty water to the appropriate dumping station- never underestimate the need for a 5-gallon bucket and leave it at home like we did. Finally, at around 9:00 P.M. we had a clean camp again, and started to think about finding the showers. We found them, froze in them (ice cold water the whole trip), and scurried home were we settled into our nice warm sleeping bags and drifted into contented dreams.

Bon Voyage,

If you missed the other Glacier adventures, never fear! Links are below!
Day 1    Day 3 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Glacier National Park 2014 Day 1: Badlands, Natural Springs, and Ice Cream (July 5, 2014)

Hey guys and gals!

I'm on the road again, this time heading to Glacier National Park with my man friend Bob! The car has been stuffed full of food, camping supplies, and hiking equipment and we have just completed the first leg of journey! The drive was much the same as it was on the first day of my trip to Seattle (see here), but with some notable differences.

1) Bob has been out West only a few times, and as such it was really different sharing the drive with someone to whom it is new. Bob swears he will have a sore neck from whipping his head around so often trying to absorb in the changing scenery. :) It is really adorable to see the excitement and amazement on his face, and it forces me to reevaluate the way in which I view the drive.

2) Bob let me stop to see SUE THE WORLD'S LARGEST COW*!!! :D :D :D :D Guys, I was so excited and I felt so touristy and cliche, but it was so AWESOME! 

 *How do they know these things? Does someone actually check and measure all the cow statues in the world?

3) Sue (the wondrous woman who was like a second mother to me growing up, not the giant cow) took us down to Giant Springs State Park, a place that I remember through the eyes of a child. It was wonderful being able to wander down the paths and to realize how much I had forgotten or simply not seen as a young girl. Luckily for us the weather was perfect for such a meander, and it gave Sue and Bob time to get to know each other- it was like Bob was meeting my parents all over again, he was so nervous, shy and sweet!


4)  Sue had made fudge and brownies for the Fourth of July, so (being the gracious guests that we are *cheesy wink*) we helped her finish off the brownies by making Hot Fudge Sundays.
Needless to say it has been a wonderful trip, and I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings! Next stop is Glacier! :D

Ta ta for now! 

If you missed the other Glacier adventures, never fear! Links are below!
Day 2      Day 3 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Klaus House Goes West: Day 1, Grand Forks to Great Falls (June 8, 2013)


We (my mother, brother, and myself) were on the road around 6 A.M., and for the first hour or two it seemed like the road belonged only to us, the truck drivers, and the golden light of the rising sun. As we passed Fargo and headed west on I-94 we were gradually joined by more travelers like ourselves. 

The travel highlight of the day was stopping in the Badlands at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. As always, the Badlands are an inspiring sight. You drive across generally flat grasslands and then suddenly, without a warning, the earth opens up and the scene is dominated by jutting red rocks and stunted trees. Each layer or rock seems to be a different rosy shade, which contrasts sharply with the greenery that manages to find a foothold in the sandy soil. This trip was especially memorable because the buffalo that inhabit the park decided to come and say hello to all the visitors. My family has been visiting the Badlands for longer than I can remember, and we have never had the buffalo willingly come and graze so close to people! It was a slightly crazy but amazing moment, and one that will probably never happen to me again no matter how many more times I visit the area. :)

That dark shape sitting at the edge of the cliff in the center is a buffalo!

Family Time!
In my family the Badlands are filled with memories of happy camping trips and a reverence for the beauty held within the park. Do you remember in the Lion King when the hyenas shiver at the word "Mufasa?" Replace "Mufasa" with "Badlands" and you have our reaction in a nutshell! If there was one place I would tell everyone who passes through ND (or live there for that matter) to go, it would be Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Seriously guys, please, if you get the chance or if you have to change your schedule to make it, do yourself a favor and just go there

After the Badlands we headed through Dickinson (yes, that is its real name... but feel free to take a few seconds to snicker if you feel the need) and through to Montana 200. The road is a two lane highway with many hills, so keep your eyes peeled for the escaped sheep/cattle/antelope that has wandered onto the road. Other than that and the occasional hairy pass to get around a truck, this portion of the drive was uneventful. The terrain we went through was empty grassland dotted with cattle and the occasional beaten up looking ranch or town. 

TIP: Fill up in the last city in North Dakota before you continue into Montana, because there isn't another gas station until you hit Great Falls! 

We pulled into Great Falls around 6:00 P.M. and I am forever grateful to our family friend Sue- she had dinner cooked up and waiting for us. There are few things more lifting to ones mood than being surprised with delicious food after a long day in the car! During and after dinner there was happy chatter as we all caught up with one another, but by 8:00 P.M. we travelers were weary and soon found ourselves fast asleep in our beds. 

And Thus Ended Day 1 of the Klaus' Trip West.