Glacier National Park
After our hike to Plain of the Six Glaciers, we drove back into the states (crazily, U.S. customs were nicer than Canadian) and then were challenged with finding a dispersed camping spot on the east side of Glacier National Park; the land is almost all part of the Blackfeet Reservation, and the Blackfeet Nation is currently trying to open its own national park. July 16 was a bit disappointing because we had to cancel our backcountry camping reservation we made months ago (read: at 12:01 a.m. on March 15) because of some gnarly blisters I sustained while backpacking in Banff. So, instead of the Many Glacier loop, on this day we drove the Going the Sun Road (amazing) and checked out White Fish. While there, I posted up in at Wild Coffee Company, while Sam went on a trail run.
That night, we found a really cool free campsite in the Hungry Horse Reservoir. There were multiple other spots, but some looked like longer-term residences.
In the morning, we headed to Glacier National Park in attempts to reserve a camp spot. We arrived by 10 a.m. to the Apgar campground to find it totally booked (on a Wednesday). We befriended a couple of park rangers (Patty and Jim), and it happened to be their first day...and somehow we ended up with a site. Sam decided to do the Swiftcurrent Pass hike, while I stayed back and read.
After Sam’s extremely fast hike, we checked out Freeda’s Bar directly outside of the park and made friends with a bunch of park staff. One guy, Jesse, was specifically funny and told us about his work, answered our questions about grizzly bears, recommended a few hikes and played beer pong with Sam. On our way out of the bar, all the park staff waved goodbye, and Jesse screamed, “Don’t get fucking eaten by a grizzly bear!”
On July 18, we hiked to Avalanche Lake, which was beautiful but crowded, before saying goodbye to Glacier and heading to Missoula!
Missoula and Goldbug Hot Springs
The drive to Missoula was pretty, especially while bordering Flathead Lake, and we made it into town around 3 p.m.- just in time to take advantage of a real shower and head out for some live music!
Beers are cheaper in Montana, or at least at the music event: $4. We each grabbed one before heading to Conflux Brewing and then to a ramen spot. In the morning, we did laundry at Sparkle Laundromat (so good!) and then walked to campus and Sam’s old dorm, Jesse Hall, and then around town, stopping at Clyde Coffee and the Jeanette Rankin Peace Center.
After that, we kept moving toward Goldbug Hot Springs...arrived around 7 p.m. on a Friday to not only find a parking spot but also a camping site and a moment alone in the hot springs, something that seems like it would be impossible in Colorado at this point. The hot springs were a highlight for both of us! We cooked dinner once we set up camp and got up to the springs just fast enough to catch the last light of the day. Then, we had them all to ourselves for about 30 minutes as the stars came out. We returned in the morning, but they did become more crowded then, and we ran into quite a few folks on our way out!
Sawtooth National Forest
From the hot springs, we traveled south to Stanley, Idaho, where there was a weekend arts fair going on that made the town’s normal population of 63 a bit more popping. We were concerned about finding camping but ended up finding a spot along 75 (and the river!) that an older man named Mike Farley let us join in. We hammocked and hung out with him before hitting the hay.
On July 21, we woke up and got ready to do a day hike to Sawtooth Lake (8.5 miles). The hike itself was gradually uphill and passed by another lake (Alpine) on the way to Sawtooth. Once at the top, we hammocked and napped/read. The hike itself was very reminiscent of Colorado.
July 22-23 were spent doing the Toxaway Lake hike in Sawtooth National Forest, a 17.7-mile loop! The first day was a lot of uphill, rewarded by scattered lakes and porcelain-looking waterfalls. We scored a pretty good camping spot along Toxaway Lake (about mile 9.6), sans mosquitos and ants. The stars were beautiful here! We were woken up by strong winds and lightning in the middle of the night: a crazy experience that high up.
We hiked down in the morning and were out by 12:45 p.m. We headed south, stopping in Ketchum for coffee and then in Hailey to see Lion King! Found some free camping off Highway 20 on our way to Boise…