A Week Before Glacier

Mind the gap.

This past winter was long, and it was far too cold to be outside very much. May was our first snow-less month, but to be fair, since then, we have had gorgeous weekend after gorgeous weekend.

I have been busy getting things ready for a two-week jaunt in Montana’s Glacier National Park. It is quite an undertaking–to pare down what you need for two weeks, and that’s two weeks of wearing, sleeping, cooking, etc.–into a backpack. It is especially tricky for someone like me who insists upon traveling with the equivalent of a small medicine cabinet. But it’s good to be prepared! the voice of the worrywart shouts in my head. I’ll admit that we are actually car camping most of the time, but there will be one overnight and one three-day backpack (during which we might actually have car access at one point). Based on current trail conditions, it seems our hiking plans are generally still a bit up in the air at this point. But I figure it’s a big park. There will be things to do.

Walking, it would seem, can let you know what’s really necessary. Except it’s more than walking, because it’s camping, too. But when you’ve got to walk with your camp on your back… Well, no wonder turtles move so slowly and seem so liberated in water.

Saturday was spent in Gambrill State Park with a mostly full backpack. It was a good hike and one of only few lately, as I’ve had shin splints. To keep up my (moderate) walking in the week before our trip, I went for an hour-long hike yesterday around Lake Needwood, in Rock Creek Regional Park. There were boaters, but no other hikers, only a trio of construction workers at one point on the trail (sewer line repairs, I’ve read). I wondered what it is I go looking for. In a specific sense, yesterday I was looking for exercise and testing the fit of my new boots. But beyond that, do I merely wish to feast my eyes? Or is it mostly about movement? Perhaps it is just being outside in the air.

Then, in reviewing trail statuses for Glacier, and upon noting how short the open season is for many trails, and considering how much effort–plowing, clearing trees and debris, installing cables and hand rails–goes into maintaining these trails for a few months’ use… Why does someone repeatedly find this worthwhile work? It is such a lot of effort. But then, so is baking a croissant.


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