August 14 2017
Destination: Glacier National Park, British Columbia
As soon as Christine and I woke up, we headed to the ferry. We boarded without any issue. Both of us took time to make phone calls, Christine to her friend and I called one of mine. I spent some time wandering the ship – it was still so novel to me. After, we met back up and decided to get some very expensive soft serve swirl ice cream. There was so much that we struggled to finish but we powered through. Of course I spent the rest of the otherwise uneventful ferry ride freezing cold.
I got to drive the car off the ferry which was neat! From there it was about a six-hour drive to Glacier National Park. The wildfires were especially bad on this drive. They were about 5k from the highway and we could see smoke everywhere, clouding the horizon. We don’t really know what the landscape looked like on this stretch of road because the smoke was so bad. We did see little fires, too; smoke shooting up through the trees close enough to walk to in about twenty minutes. We had a moment of silence for the animals who were trapped, or scared, or injured, or dead. We couldn’t really shake that sadness, though, and we drove a lot in silence.
We had wanted to camp in Revelstoke National Park but we didn’t realize it didn’t have campgrounds so we drove through it and back out, and yes we count that as one of the 20 National Parks we visited on our trip!
We stopped in Revelstoke to get groceries. It was actually our first grocery stop of the trip! We had mostly been eating food that we’d brought with us and a few gas station stops when desperate. It felt awesome to have a bunch of actual fresh food again! We also treated ourselves to a Starbucks iced drink and bought ice for the cooler.
On our way into Glacier, we pulled into what seemed like the entrance to a trail, just to see if it was one we might want to do. We saw a woman outside of her car with a camera, and when we saw what it was aimed at, we both gasped. Not far from the woman, only about 10 metres, there was a mama grizzly and her cubs. We took a photo (from INSIDE the car!) and drove away quickly. The bear had been descending a hill into the parking lot so we decided not to stick around and tempt her with all our fresh groceries. The other woman did not make as wise a choice; we didn’t see her leave, and the next day when we drove past, her vehicle was still there and the parking lot was cordoned off (which makes sense that they would close the trail, but we never found out why her car was still there – maybe she decided the bear wasn’t a threat and hiked into the trail and camped overnight… we hope it’s something like that and not that the bear went after her). We did call the parks office to report the bear sighting, but they didn’t seem overly concerned.
We scouted all three campgrounds in Glacier and decided on Mount Sir Donald, named after a towering mountain that you could see through the opening in the trees from our site. It was really cool to be so close to a mountain but still be in a forest. There was a beautiful sunset that was made all the more stunning because of the smoky skies. Sometimes beauty is tinged by pain.
We were somewhat early to the site so we had time after dinner to get out the maps and itinerary and see exactly where we were on our timeline. Our schedule was firm in terms of locations, although we’d had to drop a few already, but where we spent the night was often up in the air depending on availability. We didn’t have enough control to book things in advance, so we relied on available spots. So far that had worked out well, with only a few glitches. Coming back through the country again was odd. We were taking entirely different routes and the only stretch we would repeat was a few hours in Ontario. The first quarter of the tour was over.
Already we felt we had learned a lot: about ourselves, each other, and what we can tolerate. I think we’ve surprised ourselves with how easy it was to live so small. I didn’t really miss having a bedroom or even a bed. I didn’t miss running water. I sometimes missed having a secure toilet for pooping, and I missed cooking because our frying pan was shitty. But those were such small things compared to everything we were experiencing. And as we carried on our trip, I came to see just how little I needed in terms of things. If I do the trip again, I would bring even less. Fewer clothes, supplies, and ‘just in case’ things.
The campsite was so beautiful, though small. We were nervous about the bear and the site was pretty remote with not a lot of other campers, so we made sure to practise good bear etiquette and not leave anything out overnight. We accidentally spilled our can of clam chowder, which was pretty devastating because we were so hungry but also because it took so much effort to clean up. I’m pretty sure the bear smell that from a mile away, but we didn’t have any visitors (that’s one hard thing about camping though; most normal things take a lot more energy than you’d usually expel. Cleaning, laundry, dishes, hygiene; nothing is as simple as it is at home. Still, in my mind, that makes it all the better – more intention is needed to accomplish tasks, and more satisfaction is derived from their completion).
The only complaint we had that night was the train that roared past every few hours. You think you’re in nature, but…