Monthly Archives: July 2013

Hitchhiking and the Highline Trail

“Shit, there goes the shuttle!” said Sammi as she scooped up her stuff and sprinted after the bus. Completely caught off guard, Collin and I attempted to follow suit … Instead, we more or less watched as the shuttle, our planned mode of transportation to the top of Logan Pass, rounded the loop and headed up the Going to the Sun Road.

As Plan A disappeared around the bend, we switched to Plan B: We stuck out our thumbs and hoped to catch a quick ride to the top. (We should be able to hitch a ride in one of the busiest national parks in the U.S. in the middle of summer, right?)

Glacier National Park Trail

Views for days on the Highline Trail. Photo: Joe Johnson

Ten minutes passed. No luck. More trucks with empty seats and empty beds passed than I cared to count. One guy smiled and waved … but didn’t stop. Thirty minutes passed … And so did all of the cars.

Insert curse words. Lots of them.

We finally made it to Logan Pass and our destination, the Highline Trail, courtesy of a couple in a Subaru. Cliché, but true.

The Highline Trail hugs the high alpine terrain from Logan Pass to the loop for 11 miles, overlooking the Going to the Sun Road. The sweeping vistas make it one of the most scenic and accessible trails in Glacier National Park.

Trail Running Glacier National Park

Sammi topping out on the big climb. Photo: Joe Johnson

Trail running Glacier National Park

Collin striding out. Photo: Joe Johnson

We ran along the trail, falling easily into a comfortable pace that was only interrupted by the occasional passing mountain goat. We made solid time from Logan Pass to Haystack Butte, finishing with a strong push up the only major climb of the run before stopping for a hot minute to soak in the view.

Then we were back at it, picking up our pace as the terrain leveled out and we rolled into Granite Park Chalet. Clif Bars were devoured and water was slammed before we hopped back on the trail and descended the final four miles of the loop back to to our car.

Granite Park Chalet Glacier National Park

First view of Granite Park Chalet. Photo: Joe Johnson

Looking back, this was without a doubt the best run, trail or road, I’ve ever done. From trails carved into the side of cliffs and creek crossings to meadows overflowing with wildflowers and mountaintop vistas, the terrain and views could not have been better.

Pro Tip: Start early (before 9 a.m.) to miss the crowds.

Gear tested:

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Just Add Water

I’m not a huge fan of wine. The swirling, the sniffing, the swishing – they’re all unnecessary distractions that keep you from actually getting down to the business of drinking.

My girlfriend is half Italian. She studied abroad in Italy during college, has Italian citizenship and currently guides cycling trips through Italy’s wine country a few months out of every year. She knows wine. She knows how to pair wine. She digs it.

Paddleboarding Lake McDonald

Just add water

You see my problem, right?

Sunday night we hopped in my car and headed up to Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park for a little sunset paddle. I brought the paddleboards, she brought the dinner and drinks. And by drinks I mean wine.

Already craving a beer, I pushed out from shore, watching our paddles cutting cleanly through the water as we pointed our boards north and headed for the middle of the lake, the glassy surface perfectly reflecting the surrounding mountains and setting sun.

Paddleboarding

Lauran, her wine and her paddleboard

No people. No boats. We had the lake to ourselves as we sat down on our boards and busted out some salami, pesto and cheese sandwiches followed by a bottle of white wine. Before I knew it, the sandwiches and the bottle of wine were both gone. Not a crumb or drop to be seen. What the hell just happened?

You might assume that I cheated on my first love, beer, and now consider wine my main squeeze. You’d be mistaken. In all seriousness, I realized that all you have to do is add water. That night, sitting in the middle of Lake McDonald, surrounded by pure, mountain water, I lost track of everything else. There were no distractions. I wasn’t thinking about whether I like or dislike something, There were no other thoughts. I was simply enjoying the moment.

Water has that affect on me. Or maybe it was because we were drinking the wine out of the bottle?

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Solitary Sunset SUP

Where the hell is everybody?

It was Sunday in Glacier National Park on the shore of Lake McDonald. Canada Day was the next day. The Fourth of July “weekend” would be kicking off mid-week. The weather—too hot if you ask locals—felt perfect as the sun started its descend for the evening.

Lake McDonald SUP

SUP on Lake McDonald

Paddle board under my arm, I followed the trail through the trees to the shore. My first view of the lake stopped me in my tracks: 10 miles long and nearly a mile wide, Lake McDonald stretched in front of me with its glassy surface reflecting the setting sun and the surrounding mountains, begging me to jump in. … Not a soul to be seen.

My paddle cutting into the water was the only sound I could hear besides the low hum of cars on the road miles away. I headed north across the middle of the lake, my sights on the signature peaks that guard McDonald’s far end. Still, not a soul to be seen.

With no reason to rush and nowhere to be, I sat down on my board with my feet dangling in the clear, cool water and enjoyed the sun’s final rays as it dropped over the Apgar Mountains.

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