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DISCLAIMER: Considering I’m two weeks into the trip, clearly I’m not in Glacier anymore. Starting this travel blog I underestimated how much internet access I would have, how much energy I would have left after days of exploring and how much time it takes to upload and blog. Speaking of time..

Still a little shaken from the Swinging Bridge I made it back to my car with a growling stomach. No wonder I was hungry, my phone said it was 2 p.m. Curiously, I had left the camp site at 9:30 a.m. and had only traveled 50 miles. Surely, the three-quarter mile hike hadn’t taken 3 hours? Had it? Something was fishy, but since I was apparently behind schedule I hit the road and cruised to Glacier National Park. When I got into West Glacier, I stopped at the Montana Vortex to take pictures. Clearly, this was not the only vortex I had entered. How was time flying by? Checking my phone again it was 2 p.m. And then it hit me, time zones! My “satellite” oriented phone was futilely trying to keep up with time. Hence, I have come to rely upon my internal clock and asking locals.

With a snow advisory for the evening, I set up camp at Sprague Creek (a 20 tent site) and then took off to tour Going to the Sun Road and Logan Pass before any potential weather. If I had to describe the word immense in an image, it would be the glaciers that even dwarf 500 foot tall waterfalls that miraculously spring from their rock faces. While it’s summer, it is still shocking how little snow comprises these “glaciers” (I am still not clear if that term includes the ice or the ice and underlying rock). Glaciers are known to move achingly slow, yet their recession has been stealth. This is how global warming hits home, which was reinforced by the park ranger presentation I saw that night at Lake McDonald Lodge. Now, if we could only bring everyone here, so they could truly understand the immensity of the environmental shift/crisis we are undergoing.

A moment at Avalanche Lake in Glacier.

A moment at Avalanche Lake in Glacier.

I fully entered the vortex of the outdoors on my hike to Avalanche Lake. Nature truly is a different world. A world where time seems to become irrelevant. If it’s still light out, what does it matter if it’s 11 a.m. or 3 p.m.? I was easily sucked into the timelessness of the present moment along the trail. One moment paused to look for a place to take a leak. The next moment I’m staring at a mama-sized black bear 75 feet down the trail. Run? Photo? Stay? Talk? Shouldn’t I be more scared? Something is wrong when my immediate thought is to get closer for a photo of a WILD animal, when just yesterday a bridge scared my pants off!

We parted ways and I eventually made it to the serene lake. Now, this is what I picture Eden like. How could you not “be present” in this world? That is all there is – a series of moments – unlike my life at home. Isn’t it amazing that we let our lives be dictated by this abstract constriction we created, called time? It has been hard to turn off that calculated, proactive, “efficient” part of my brain on this trip. I could only spend 30 minutes at the lake before needing to head back, check out of the campsite by noon and head to Missoula. Unfortunately, my human, time-constrained schedule beckoned.

My (refined) sugar-free birthday "cake" at pre-bday breakfast with the family

My (refined) sugar-free birthday cake at pre-bday breakfast with the family.

As of midnight (well, technically 2:17 am) tonight, August 31, I will officially start a new year. January 1 may mark the start of our calendar, but it has always felt so arbitrary to me as the date to kick off change and resolutions. Yet, our birthday – the day we emerged and started this journey called life – that day, when it cycles around again after 364 days truly marks a new year. In the past I’ve made a bulleted list of resolutions to accomplish before the next birthday, i.e.: being able to run five miles without breaking a sweat, having a piece of my own art hanging in my home, communicating appreciation… This year, there is no list. I have accomplished so much in 25 and attained so many goals, I’m shifting gears. Now I am more aware of the journey as opposed to the destination. As I finish packing (Oregon beer as host gifts, firewood, camping gear – thanks to some sweet birthday presents etc.) I still have no idea what to expect. This is the least planned trip I have ever embarked on. Yes, it’s me (and clearly I’m a Virgo) so, of course, I have a TripTik from AAA and a fully stocked car emergency kit, but I have barely researched where I’m going beyond Google directions between stops. I embark with the confidence of the wise words: “Without mystery, adventure is impossible.” Ultimately, I’m headed to Colorado with a two week loop through MT, WY, UT and ID surrounding what could be one of the most significant nights of this year. This epic road trip kicks off my 26th “year of adventure” which will start in approximately 7.5 hours when I, the Subby and my mixed tapes hop on I-84 heading for Coeur d’Alene to camp at…well, I’ll let you know when I get there.

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26 was a defining and adventurous year for Julie Williams, a Portland, Ore.-based communications consultant.

This blog chronicles Julie's crossing of the quarter-life threshold and coming of age on her solo road trip across seven Western states from Aug.-Sept. 2008.

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