Day 3: Trail of Bravery.

A Dirt in my Shoes itinerary started my morning.

First up was Trail of Cedars. It’s a short .8 mile loop and most of it is on a well-maintained boardwalk. When I pulled up, I was the first and only car. No biggie, I thought. Then I saw a sign noting that the connecting trail to Avalanche Lake (that I had planned on taking) was closed due to grizzly sightings. Gah!

Bear spray clutched tightly in my hands, I started along the path. Trees as tall as I could see covered the skyline on both sides of this gorgeous boardwalk. It was eerily quiet and the rustling of a squirrels gave me goosebumps. Why did venturing down this perfect-in-every-way path give me more anxiety than my entire trip to Iceland just 10 months ago? It couldn’t be the threat of bears alone. I think this is what being cooped up in isolation does to a person; makes them afraid. For the entire trail, I channeled my inner-self, proclaiming positive affirmations aloud, reminding myself of my guardian angels and imagining my niece saying “Be brave. Just be brave” like it was no biggie.

I’m so glad I did. Every step I took, I felt like reverting back and taking ten steps towards my vehicle. I wanted to give up on this silly little trail more than I wanted to complete it at first but I also wanted to be brave. One of my biggest faults is to worry. It’s been much more apparent over the last few months than ever before in my life. I worry about all of the things all of the time. The worst possible outcomes impair my thinking and I need to remind myself daily, momentarily even, not to let that (aka anxiety) put me into a corner. Because, it will. Fear and worry and isolation will indefinitely put me into a corner if I allow it.

The TOC did not disappoint. The highlight was a crystal clear, bright blue waterfall surrounded by moss covered rocks and bright green foliage! Can you imagine if I had given up and not had the opportunity to see such a sight?

Next up on the DIMS itinerary, I briefly stopped at Sacred Dancing Cascade and McDonald Falls; both quietly loud in their own right. These waterfalls were easily accessible and relatively unknown according to the downloaded guide I was following. I spent a good bit of time at Sacred Dancing Cascade. There’s a bridge to cross breaking up the entrance of Going to the Sun Road and the wilderness. I found a spot on a rock below the bridge to put down my backpack and watch the water quite literally cascade. No one was around for what seemed like hours and it was such peace. Fresh mountain air to breathe in was so refreshing.

The late afternoon consisted of exploring the tiny town of West Glacier, grabbing a few souvenirs (because ya girl cannot get enough of travel magnets) and indulging in a Sweet Peaks double scoop of a Chocolate Love & Huckleberry waffle cone from Luke n’ Duke’s Ice Cream Shop. Huckleberry FTW, ya’ll.

And GUESS WHAT! The evening ended in the best of ways; a scenic float down Flathead River. The weather was absolutely perfect and the skies were as clear as the water. I’ve never seen water so clear in my life as here in GNP. I can’t believe this trip was just a bucket list item only a week ago, virtually unplanned and so unlike me in all the ways but here I am; floating on a blow up raft in the middle of God’s country all alone but surrounded by so much.

I could write for days about today alone but my eyes are heavy and my penmanship is trash. I have zero reception up here in the Montana woods so I’ve been journaling while I’ve been away with the hopes to transcribe once I return home. If you’re reading, my wish for you is to find yourself in Glacier as soon as humanly possible. It’s so much more magical than it looks. Thank you for reading!

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