summer adventures, part 3: glacier national park

glacier national park | the merry gourmet

Summer is over, yet here I am trying to catch up on my summer vacation posting. Posting this last post, about our days in Glacier National Park, has been on my to-do list for the past month and a half. But so are so many other things, and those things have taken priority.

Ah, Glacier. This amazing national park embedded itself into my soul. I can’t stop thinking of it or reading about it or looking at online photos of the park. During the week, I check my weather app for local weather, and then I automatically check the weather forecast in Glacier. I tell my husband about bear sightings or recent snow in the area. I’m certain he’s getting tired of me doing that, but I can’t seem to help myself.

glacier national park | the merry gourmet

We were lucky to snag rooms in the historic Many Glacier Hotel for a couple of nights. We booked our room about a year in advance. It was small, with two double beds, no air conditioning, a clawfoot tub in the bathroom, and a shower rigged into the tub that required following a list of about 17 steps in order to turn it on – and again, in reverse, to turn the shower off. I loved it.

On our first full day there, we took a Red Bus tour of the eastern part of the park. The highlight of that tour was the drive along Going-to-the-Sun Road, the nearly 50 mile two-lane highway that cuts through the middle of the park from east to west. The Red Bus tour is a lovely way to travel part or all of that distance while someone else does the driving.

Our Red Bus tour took us from our hotel to the visitors center at Logan Pass before turning around and heading back to the Many Glacier Hotel. The kids seemed to enjoy the tour, but we were all a bit stir-crazy after riding in the back of that vintage bus for four hours. An afternoon family row boat trip (without a bus-load of chatty tourists) was exactly what we needed. Sam did all the rowing, so the kids and I loved it.

glacier national park | the merry gourmet

glacier national park | the merry gourmet

On one of the next days, we made our way back to Logan Pass to hike to the Hidden Lake Overlook. The trail was 3 miles roundtrip, with an elevation gain of 550 feet. The first part started as boardwalk, so it appeared that it would be an easy hike. It was not. The boardwalk eventually ended (and there were lots of stair steps on that boardwalk), and the climb upward continued. The day was warm, and the kids were complaining — one more vocally than the other — so the trip up was not as pleasant as these photos might imply.

As we neared the upper portion of the trail, though, the crowds thinned — the idiots wearing flip flops had turned around by then — and a crisp breeze came off the nearby snowfields. Mountain goats wandered nearby, sometimes on the trail itself, and they dotted the snowfields. The views were stunning, and the Hidden Lake Overlook was completely worth that hike.

glacier national park | the merry gourmet

glacier national park | the merry gourmet

glacier national park | the merry gourmet

glacier national park | the merry gourmet

View of Hidden Lake from the overlook.

glacier national park | the merry gourmet

glacier national park | the merry gourmet

Sam was disappointed in our bear sightings in Glacier. We saw two — both black bears — when we first arrived at Many Glacier after our drive south from Canada. After that, no bears at all. The lack of bears was made up for, though, buy the abundance of mountain goats and bighorn sheep in the Logan Pass area.

The same day we hiked the 3 miles to Hidden Lake Overlook, we also hiked to Red Rock Falls, out of the Swiftcurrent Pass area, a 3.6 mile roundtrip. This hike was a fairly gentle hike, according to our guidebook. There was much less whining from the kids on this hike, so I guess the guidebook was right. There were bugs near the lake, though, and that brought a whole different variety of complaints.

In spite of the complaints, the waterfall was loud and wonderful. I took a video on my phone, and you can hear the roaring of the falls for yourself.

As much as they complained, though, my kids were really quite the little troopers. They hiked almost 7 miles, and this was just 3 days after the previous 7 mile hike. Fourteen miles within three days isn’t bad for two iPad-addicted, technology junkies.

glacier national park | the merry gourmet

glacier national park | the merry gourmet

glacier national park | the merry gourmet

glacier national park | the merry gourmet

Red Rock Falls

Our last hike of the Glacier trip was to Avalanche Lake, on our last full day in the park. We arrived at the trailhead in the morning, with our backpacks filled with water, granola, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch. The hike was a 4-mile roundtrip, and like most of the hikes that we did, the first part was a tough uphill climb for us. Despite that, Sam and I loved it.

Avalanche Lake is a subalpine lake on the western side of Glacier, and the lakeshore was peaceful and quiet. Waterfalls tumbled over the far mountainside, and chipmunks and ground squirrels scavenged for crumbs along the fallen trees along the waters edge. We sat on one of these logs and ate our PB&Js in silence, marveling at our surroundings.

glacier national park | the merry gourmet

glacier national park | the merry gourmet

We finished our final day in Glacier with a drive to the North Fork area, far in the northwest corner of the park, at the border of British Columbia and Montana. Our primary goal was to explore this remote part of Glacier — it can only be visited by driving an hour over a rough, gravel road filled with potholes, with no gas stations or other services — but our other goal was to have a beer at the Northern Lights Saloon in Polebridge. We also discovered fantastic pastries at the Polebridge Mercantile.

Being in Polebridge felt like being in another country all together. The handful of buildings there run on generator power, and while we sat in the saloon having a local beer, the power was out for most of our visit. The shared bathroom for the Mercantile and the Northern Lights Saloon was an outhouse with a pack-it-in/pack-it-out policy. Remote and rustic seem like understatements.

glacier national park | the merry gourmet

glacier national park | the merry gourmet

We have several Glacier hikes on our wish list that we weren’t able to do. We never made it to Iceberg Lake, and we’ve heard great things about the hike to Grinnell Glacier. Both of those hikes are over 9 miles – one is 9.4 and the other is 11 miles round trip – and we just ran out of time. Plus, I’m sure the kids would have been even more miserable. I’d like to go to Glacier in the fall, to see the leaves change colors. I’d like to go there in the winter, to see it covered in snow. I’d like to go again in the summer, to do more exploring.

Mostly, I’d just like to go back.

glacier national park | the merry gourmet

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37 Responses to “the big summer potluck of 2012 and reflections”

  1. 1
    Winnie — July 30, 2012 @ 9:14 pm

    I adore you so much and I love this post…I am so glad we got to spend so much time together this weekend.

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — August 1st, 2012 @ 4:12 pm

      I adore you just as much, Winnie, if not more. xo

  2. 2
    Aimee @ Simple Bites — July 30, 2012 @ 9:43 pm

    I so appreciate how you soaked every moment of this weekend up and seem to have processed it already. I was a tad distracted (baby!) but loved the event all the same.

    It was lovely to see you, even if we didn’t get to talk much. I was happy to have been able to make it, and am not going to have regrets over missed conversations.

    I hope we see each other again soon.

  3. 3
    Liren — July 30, 2012 @ 9:56 pm

    I can sense the book in you, always have. Thank you for sharing how wonderful the weekend was, I lived vicariously through you. And the next time you look in the mirror, remember there’s a beautiful person looking back! Hopefully one day I get to meet her in person 🙂

  4. 4
    art and lemons — July 30, 2012 @ 10:30 pm

    A beautiful post, as always! I agree with what Molly said, just sit down and let the book come out. Reading this post makes me wish I had gone to BSP, next year.

  5. 5
    Gail — July 30, 2012 @ 10:31 pm

    You’ve summed this experience up better than anyone has or ever will.
    It’s a transformational (is that even a word?) experience, and I’m glad you had it.

    Next year, we all cry together.

  6. 6

    It was such a pleasure finally getting to meet you and getting to chat a little here and there.

    I told you the other day that I love your work. It’s true. I love the stories, the recipes, the photos. It’s you through and through and THAT is what makes me come back to your site time after time.

    And I have no doubt that your book will come out of you and it will be beautiful and I’m sure it will bring tears to my eyes.

    Glad you made it home safe. 🙂


  7. 7
    Mallory — July 30, 2012 @ 11:05 pm

    You captured the experience and the purpose of the weekend retreat perfectly. Thank you for this post.

  8. 8
    Kimmie — July 31, 2012 @ 1:22 am

    Beautiful. Both inside and out. Love your honesty and love hugging these beautiful people vicariously through you.

  9. 9

    You SO have a book in you MJ. Posts like this are evidence. Hugs xo

  10. 10
    Kathryn — July 31, 2012 @ 4:05 am

    It sounds like it was such a special weekend for everyone involved and I look forward to seeing where this journey takes you.

  11. 11
    autumn — July 31, 2012 @ 7:45 am

    I am so, so happy we got to meet and chat and I think you really captured the feeling of the weekend perfectly. Molly’s words really resonated with me as well. I have had a ton of creative energy for my writing recently, but deciding how to make the time for it and what the finished product might look like feels like the biggest struggle. After this weekend I feel like we’re all in a much better place to begin working towards something that feels a little more clearly defined, right? Gorgeous pics, too!

  12. 12
    Chef Dennis — July 31, 2012 @ 7:50 am

    Hi MJ

    Thank you so much for writing such a beautiful recap of the weekend. It was very nice meeting you and getting to speak with you.

    It is reassuring to know that we all face the same insecurities, and it was nice to be able to let share them with others. I too feel like their is a book in me, but have no idea how to get it out, Molly was very helpful in that area.

    I look forward to seeing you again!

  13. 13
    DessertForTwo — July 31, 2012 @ 7:54 am

    I so enjoyed your recap. I always enjoy your writing. I, too, feel like there’s a book in me, but I’m scared to let it out. I’m scared it will consume my life, and right now, I have too many priorities.
    I adore Maggie’s shirt. It just shines on her.
    I’m taking the words “be fully engaged in everything you do” with me 🙂

  14. 14
    Jessica L. — July 31, 2012 @ 8:00 am

    this is so beautiful! a great reminder for everyone to believe in ourselves and do the things we love. thank you!

  15. 15
    olga — July 31, 2012 @ 8:33 am

    MJ i am so sad to have missed the potluck (for both reasons!) and especially seeing you in NYC this past weekend. Personally, I think you’re a beautiful person, inside and out, and you bring so much and give so much to others. I think that next time when you look at yourself, make a small list of things you are proud of. We’re all in short supply of self praise and sometimes it’s very important to be your own biggest champion. I think you’re a very good writer. I feel almost banal saying that a book, if you have a story in you, will shape itself in time. You can’t rush the fruit ripening on a tree – let the idea ripen. And to echo Molly’s suggestion – in the meantime, write, write, write.

  16. 16
    Betty Ann @Mango_Queen — July 31, 2012 @ 9:16 am

    Beautfiul post from someone who sounds so lovely! You captured the weekend of Big Summer Potluck so well with your honesty, candor and true voice. I wished there had been time to get to know you better. Thanks for sharing this post! And yes, you have a bestseller in you, don’t ever doubt that! Cheers!

  17. 17
    Ken — July 31, 2012 @ 11:13 am

    Beautiful words, you’ve captured the essence of the weekend in the most poetic way.

  18. 18

    What a lovely re-cap! It was really nice to meet you at Sunday’s breakfast. I wish we’d had a chance to talk some more during the weekend! Looking forward to seeing you next year (if not sooner).

  19. 19
    Brooke — July 31, 2012 @ 12:20 pm

    If anyone has a book in them, its you. Your words are so beautiful, vulnerable, and true. What a gorgeous POV on this weekend. Thank you for your gorgeous words and beautiful honesty. Spending time with you this weekend was a highlight. More, please!

  20. 20
    Sheri — July 31, 2012 @ 12:58 pm

    I’m so happy to have met and spent some time with you last weekend. One of the highlights, hands down.

  21. 21
    Margaret — July 31, 2012 @ 1:04 pm

    What a gorgeous post and beautiful way to capture this weekend. Reading this recap was like reading a page from you novel. It was captivating, and I look forward to your book being published. You’re beautiful inside and out. xoxo

  22. 22
    Tricia — July 31, 2012 @ 4:22 pm

    Isn’t Molly transformative? Can’t wait to see that book come out of you – this writing is only a small example of the amazing talent you have. Thank you.

  23. 23
    Lindsay — August 1, 2012 @ 10:39 am

    Lovely, truly lovely words. I was so happy to spend time with you this weekend. Something I’m going to remember for a long, long time.

  24. 24
    Jenny @ BAKE — August 1, 2012 @ 11:02 am

    this is really beautifully written, so open and honest! the retreat looks amazing too

  25. 25
    Nisrine — August 1, 2012 @ 8:21 pm

    Looks like a lot of fun. I wish I were there!

  26. 26
    Courtney — August 2, 2012 @ 5:36 pm

    I’m so thankful that we got to meet and for the time that we spent chatting. This post eloquently sums up so many of the things I felt last weekend. I really hope I get to see you again next year!

  27. Pingback: Friday Faves and August 2012 Food Blog Calendar Download | foodiecrush

  28. 27
    Elizabeth — August 3, 2012 @ 9:24 am

    So well said! You capture so many of the important moments of the weekend, and the thoughts and feelings behind those moments. Since getting back I’ve felt such an intense clarity, and a similar willingness to look at the things that are right in front of me. Mostly I just feel like, let’s do this! I can’t wait to read your book, whenever it materializes. And, it was so wonderful to finally meet in person, and I’m hoping our paths will cross again soon!

  29. 28
    Aggie — August 3, 2012 @ 9:24 pm

    I always love your takes from events like this, always written in just your way…you always find the right words to describe in such a way that I feel like I was there MJ.

    Your photos, especially the one of the porch & bench, are stunning!

  30. 29
    Paula — August 4, 2012 @ 12:01 pm

    I haven’t read all the recaps of this retreat but of the ones I have, I have to say that yours is the most honest and personally reflective. I remember how so many attendees were moved to tears in the barn at last year’s gathering and though it has grown in numbers this year, I’m so happy that the essence of the retreat remains intact. To be present amongst friends and yet to be made friends where others are so willing to share and many are so willing to open themselves to experiences of giving is an opportunity not to be missed if at all possible. Thanks you for sharing your personal experiences at the BSP3. Perhaps one day I shall be able to attend too 🙂

  31. 30
    Frank O'Hara — August 5, 2012 @ 3:23 pm

    The next time you look in a mirror, please give her a big smile.
    You deserve it.

  32. 31
    Elizabeth @duckandcake — August 6, 2012 @ 3:53 pm

    I am finally getting around to reading all of the BSP recaps, and I started with yours. What a lovely post, beautifully capturing everything we all felt. I am glad to have met you, and look foward to getting to know you even better through your blog and hopefully in person.


  33. 32
    Kristen — August 7, 2012 @ 8:29 am

    Oh girl – I love love love reading posts like this and seeing how powerful of a transformation one can have just by being surrounded by the right people. This made me happy. Thanks for sharing so much of yourself with us.

  34. 33
    Cate O'Malley — August 7, 2012 @ 9:45 am

    Sounds like an amazing adventure was had!

  35. 34
    Kiran @ — August 8, 2012 @ 2:44 pm

    We met so briefly during FBF but I rather we met than nothing meet at all. Thanks for sharing YOU, with us here 🙂

  36. 35
    Isabelle @ Crumb — August 9, 2012 @ 11:42 am

    Merry, this is quite possibly the most beautiful post I’ve read about BSP… I’m kind of glad I waited until after I’d posted my own recap to read it, if only because I’d never have had the nerve to write anything of my own after reading your eloquent and heartfelt words.
    It was wonderful to meet you, though I’m sorry we didn’t have more time to chat. Next year, hopefully?
    PS: I can’t wait to read your book. I hope it finds its way out soon.

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