Monday, August 10, 2015

Plans for 3 weeks...

I am a planner.  So I make plans, and then watch them fall apart.  Or evolve into something else. 
Surrounded by fires and the thickest black smoke.
Earlier in the spring I though I’d be done with Montana by now, and heading back to finish the PCT.  I didn’t expect to fall in love with Montana.  Hadn’t imagined extending my AmeriCorps term.  Or deciding to forgo plans to hike a long trail this fall.  Once my heart got set on a 3-week Montana backpacking vacation and I'd worked out getting the time off, I certainly wasn't ready for all these fires.

My 3-week Montana vacation was nothing like I'd planned. 

Oh, the fires.  Closing so many trails.  The air thick with smoke, my sensitive throat burned, my eyes got red and puffy.  On the worst days, I got a panicky feeling that made me think “flee, get out of here, danger, escape” like a wild animal.  I contemplated leaving Montana, but then I realized that I didn't want perfect skies— I wanted to be in Montana, regardless of what came along with that. So, I hiked through the smoke.
Without the sense of purpose that a long trail or section hike can bring, I found satisfaction doing surveys during many hikes—mostly for Glacier National Park’s Citizen Science program.
Surveying for loons at Upper Kintla, Glacier National Park. Photo by D. Mayes.
I hiked a lot solo, but also enjoyed the comradery of several new and old friends.
Hiking with friends visiting from Philadelphia.  Piegan Pass, Glacier National Park.
I’m glad I opted to stay around Montana and see what I could here.  The time spent researching trails was worthwhile (even if they ended up being closed, like the Bob), and I still found some trails that weren't closed, especially in Glacier.
 These forests are adapted to fires, and regrowth happens quickly.  Flattop Mountain Trail in Glacier.
I’ll be posting some stories from my trips in the next few days…
Jumping above the smoke, Mt Aeneas, Jewel Basin, Montana.


  1. I"ve been wondering where you were! Missed seeing your updates. Glad the smoke didn't run you out of state!

    1. I tried the experiment of not blogging while I was hiking this time. Not sure I'd do it again--I really missed having a daily reflection on what was happening and what I saw. It really made me appreciate how much I've come to rely on writing as a way to process experiences.

  2. Doesn't sound like it was a good year for the Washington Pct. You made the right choice!

    1. That's for sure! Maybe I'll try for it next year, a little earlier in the season, perhaps.