Saturday, August 11, 2012

Highline Trail

Mom post ~

Our last day at Glacier ~ what do we want to experience this final day? Dallas votes for flyfishing, which we plan to do in the afternoon. The weather has been almost perfect. One hazy day, but mostly clear blue skies, and no rain to keep us from an adventure. So many options for trails to hike. In our research stage before we came, we were thinking a challenge sounded like the ticket. Off the beaten trail, something that would take most of a day to accomplish ~ But, my reasoning kicked in once we were actually here. Our shorter 2 mile hikes were more our speed. You start to factor all you need to carry, and WHO you will have to carry should you bite off more than you can chew.
   Our choice rested on a trail called highline ~ rightly earning its name because of its altitude. It is a part of the continental divide that separates the waterways. On one side the water flows toward the Pacific and the other to the Gulf of Mexico. Our itinerary was to hike along until we felt like turning around. Sounds like a real plan to me:) We packed our lunch and left it in our cooler in the van. We'd be back before too long. We loaded one backpack with some essentials. Like water and some snacks, one diaper and a couple wipes, a tripod, and of course the camera, which never actually made it in the bag. Marcus decided to carry Ian, stating that the ergo just didn't fit him quite right. Dallas manned the backpack, Shiloh had a water carrier on her back, and I was left to watch over our 5 and 8 year old. So here we go. 

Words are not enough, and the camera couldn't quite capture it either. The first part of the trail was breathtaking. Literally. Our rock wall path dropped off to hundreds of feet below. But, we were energized, our steps careful and measured. And we just kept walking. Each corner bringing us a new sight. Big horned sheep resting on the hillside, mountain goats on shear rock walls jumping from one ledge to another, nervous little marmots peering through the grasses, and chattering ground squirrels looking for a dropped crumb. 

we started out with smiles
Not to forget the mountains beyond. Snow capped peaks and meadows filled with wildflowers ~ and waterfalls cascading down and down and down. I literally could not look at times. I felt my gut would just come on up. I kept my eyes on my children and the trail ahead, warning constantly of that root, that rock, that loose gravel. Please hold my hand, and by all means keep away from that ledge

But the views were the most spectacular, awe-inspiring, creation of God that I have ever seen. We had been on the path a couple hours, when a park ranger passed us by. We inquired of him our location and he said we'd probably came about 3 mile already. WOW! At that point we knew we'd keep on walking. The map had stated it was 7.6 mile to point a. (the swiss chalet). I wasn't real excited about retracing some of our steps where the path hardly seemed wide enough for two people to pass, so pressing on seamed like a good plan.

We knew they had buses at the other end, waiting to shuttle people back to the parking lot where our van would be waiting for us. Lunch might be late, but we had our snacks, and hopefully enough water. So we pressed on ~ past waterfalls, through pine groves, and up steep switchbacks. After one especially steep climb I wondered at our sanity.

Psalm 104:18 The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats, and the rocks for the conies.
Then we started passing people who were headed the opposite way. I thought they must have started at the other end, but after asking some of them, they were simply turning around and retracing the steps to where we had all started. I thought they were crazy. Surely it was closer to just finish the course. We stopped now and then for water and a snack. Energy to keep us going. Ian messed his diaper, so we were thankful for the extra we had stuck in. Nap time was taken in his daddy's arms, and he had snacks and water with the rest of us. He also had his times when he wanted down, but he was hanging in there. A kind lady along the trail insisted we take her bandanna for his tender exposed head. We had put sunblock on him, but hadn't anticipated such a long hike. We thankfully tied it on him.

We stopped for lunch (ie, most of our snack) on an outcrop of rocks and rested our weary feet. The children were being real troopers, needing some encouragement now and then, but mostly holding there own. The afternoon sun was now glaring down on us, causing us to wear our sweatshirts tied around our waist, and we pressed on.

psalm 104:24 O lord, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou  made them all : the earth is full of thy riches.
Surely, over this next peek, we'd at least see our destination, but no, just more trail, so far into the distance, you couldn't even see where it went. It just kinda disappeared. I'm not sure at what point we learned the truth. Our destination, the swiss chalet, was merely a rest station. It was no ending point. No way out from there, except on your own two legs. Another four mile down the other side. Four steep mile. We really had no concept of how far we'd come, or how far we had yet to go. Our minds said, just keep going, the water was almost gone. We had one chunk of ice that kept slowly melting. The chalet would have water. And a rest room. I was picturing a cool stream for our feet, and water till you could drink no more.

I'm not sure when my discouragement came. Maybe when I learned it was going to be an extra 4 miles. and we hadn't even reached point a. yet. Or was it when Marcus and I got separated. Me lagging behind to encourage the little ones. He thought I was just behind him and he kept on trucking. His arms were aching from the weight of Ian, who was happier if you just kept on trucking. I ended up with a 40lb. boy on my back, trying to catch up with my man and my son ~ who happened to be our only source of water. Shiloh's pack had run out long ago. Or it could have been when we finally rounded one more mountain peak, and that swiss chalet was only a speck on the next mountain top, hardly visible with the human eye. So far, far away. What were our options? Just keep on putting one foot in front of the other. We need water, we could only wet our tongues when our ice chunk melted enough.

 Eventually we reach our destination. Folks are constantly commenting on their amazement to see us there. We're amazed too. ~ But more disappointment.....No free water. 3.50 for one little pint.
And it wasn't even cold, not that it really mattered at this point. Everyone was bushed. We didn't even take our shoes off. We had 4 more miles to go in the hot afternoon sun. So we rallied the troops. The last bus pick-up was at 7:00 ~ we really needed to make it in time. And we being a slow moving caravan. We poured our purchases over our little chunk of ice and headed out. A sip to wet your tongue every 45 minutes was our ration. We had some peanut brittle left in our pack, but it didn't even temp us, as it would have made us thirstier. So, down we go. Bear country. This side doesn't have the spectacular views we had seen earlier. We now understood why people had turned around so long ago. 

The forest around us had seen a fire in recent years and only offered us their charred trunks. Not many clicks of the shutter happened anymore. Four mile. Surely it's faster going down than coming up?! Dallas was the hero here. He steadfastly carried his heavy pack all day ~ plus he encouraged  his siblings, putting his arm around them and kept them going, still anticipating fly fishing when we reached the bottom. My husband was the miracle. Carried our just turned one year old. 20 some pounds mind you. He took 2-3 naps (Ian that is) and begged in his own way when you mentioned water. His cheeks were sunburned beneath his little makeshift hat. What a trooper.

Anyone we met ~ our question " how much longer?" It seemed that time had been deceptive all day. "Not much further", and "around the corner" were a looong ways. Plod, plod ~ encourage~ sometimes we even had to be firm. There simply was no choice. Our legs and knees burned with pain. Our toes jarring against the front of our shoes with each step. Shoulders stooped under the weight of our burden. Either physical or mental. The children simply would sit down in the middle of the path at times. I feel like crying. We all think were dying of thirst. The little two even talk about it. I assure them that we'll be fine. I tell them stories of wagon train days and we pretend we're one of them. We try to keep their minds busy, off their pain and thirst.
   And then, alas, ~ Dallas who was always leading the pack, spots the road. "RUN! Here comes a bus!" Oh the energy that burst forth. But, we have a river to cross, another switchback. But, we don't care. The end is in sight. Hopefully another bus will come soon. We just want to sit down.
Step, step, step, down to the road.

have you ever seen anything that looked so good?

 My children deserve medals. At this point I can't stop my tears. It's nearly 5:30.... 9 hours of solid walking. We clamber onto the next bus. It's a pretty quiet ride. Simeon falls promptly asleep. I try to keep my tears silent as I sob my relief. Thank you God. We made it. Everyone is fine. No        injuries besides sunburn, a couple bug bites and thirst. 
                          I guess we ended up with our challenge hike after all.
                                So much for an afternoon of fly fishing.
                                  The sleep of a laboring man is sweep.
                                      Thanks for continued prayers.
          We are looking forward to a weekend of fellowship and communion in Idaho.

 Dear Diary,                                                                                                         8/9/12
    Today we were going to hike a little portion of a six, almost seven mile trail. But, after we went a while, we decided to go a bit more, and more, and more, and ended up going the whole way to the chalet. Over and around hills after hill till we came to the end of our water supply, and we were still half a mile till our destination. What dry mouths we had. We managed to  get to the chalet without dying of thirst,( but barely.) I mean about Isaiah and Simeon. They were the most lag, the thirstiest who thought they would die. But we encouraged them to go on. When we got to the chalet, we thought there might be water, plenty of it. But only water bottles were to be found for a steep price. Then, after we fill up on water we talked to a ranger who said we have four miles down hill. That means 11.8 mile we will have hiked. We hike downhill for two and one half hours, to catch a shuttle back to our van, which was at Logan Pass. We were going to go fishing, but decide not to because of our nine hour hike. Most of us were exhausted, so we headed back to camp. We ate supper, took showers, and went to sleep.
                                                                     Until later, 


  1. Wow! what a day! Thankful you are all safe!

  2. Adventure and exhaustion! Whew! I would have been one of the ones whining!

  3. You made me hurt just reading it.....

  4. But look at the memories you made! You'll talk about this day with fondness many years from now! Blessings...

  5. Yes, Teresa. We knew the satisfaction and memories in the end would be worth it! But, I cried again when writing about it the next day. Now that I have 2 days under my belt, it's getting better. :) Our muscles are still aching though. The amazing part was once we were back at camp, some of the children ran around and played for awhile, as though they had energy to spare.