Our priorities on sabbatical are: us, body, and mind. I am also embracing this time to face fears and do things that I wouldn't normally do. So far I think we are right on track!
We have been hiking almost every day, which ticks off all the priority boxes because we spend time together, getting closer, getting stronger/healthier, and connecting with nature. I can't get to the gym, but I can get 15,000 or more hard-earned steps most days on the trails.
I also face my fear daily of being eaten by a bear in the wild! And we did hike right by a bear the other day on the way back from Bullhead Lake to the trailhead!
After my trek through the snow to Hidden Lake in Tevas the previous day, I decided I should go buy some proper hiking boots. Luckily there was a Cabela's Outpost 40 minutes away in Kalispell, MT.
I bought some Merrell's and was ready to tackle our second hike in Glacier. Trent picked Avalanche Lake, a nice five mile trek with a modest 500 foot elevation gain. The first 1/3 mile was on a platform through the oldest forest in Glacier. This section hasn't burned in over 500 years. The trees were enormous! Shady and mossy and lush and beautiful.
At lunch after the hike to Avalanche Lake, we met two young Thai women who gave us their contact information and promised to show us around Bangkok when we arrive in November. Many of the parks employees are young people from all over the world. Kind people everywhere.
And delicious huckleberry wine with lunch of course. We usually eat lunch around 4 or 5 after we hike so I guess that's more like dinner. Lunch is crackers and granola bars and jerky on the trail each day.
And unexpected surprises are everywhere in the park. We got stuck in some unusual traffic heading back to our campground on Going to the Sun Road. The horses had escaped their corral and were being rounded up by the cowboys.
Our third hike was to Bullhead Lake. Eight miles round trip and modest elevation gain.
Another beautiful hike, passing Red Rock falls along the way where we saw our first wildlife of the day, a moose! He's hiding in the grass if you look closely. Giant antlers!
The moose were too far for good pictures but luckily we had binoculars to watch them. All three were hanging by the lake or the river. I've been hoping for a moose sighting for years, so I was thrilled to get three for the price of one! Of course, hope isn't a strategy, so I had to work for these moose sightings! Such enormous and majestic creatures.
If you look closely you can see the mama and young moose drinking on the left of the lake
On way back, some other hikers let us know that they saw two bear right by the trail. Trent got out the bear spray and we approached with caution. Sure enough, there was a black bear no more than 20 feet from the trail just munching away in the brush. See the big dark blob in the picture below. We only saw this one. And that was enough. The photo is not great but trust me that's a bear. I was moving pretty fast when I took this.
As if we hadn't had enough wildlife for one day, and I guess that's not possible, we saw this grizzly from the car on the drive back. It was digging like mad in the dirt and everyone was pulled over watching with binoculars. This is the best shot my little iPhone could manage. May need a better camera… you can't tell here but he had a tracking collar on of some sort.
Are you Yeti to zip?
After a few intense hikes, three in a row, we needed a day of rest. So what does that mean? Extreme sporting of course!
Are you yeti to zip? That was the slogan, and yes, I was ready! The only other time I ziplined was in Jamaica several years ago and I was so scared I cried and don't remember too much.
This time was different. I am primed and ready to face fears!
Next: The hike through hell, the one that may end my love of hiking! Stay tuned for this guest post by my husband Trent because I can't stand to relive this hike to Granite Mountain Chalet. Sounds nice, doesn't it? Not so much!