Our plan for the day was to be leaving the campsite by 7 to make sure that we found a parking spot at the base of the Grinnell Glacier trail. We woke up at that time instead. Oops. We still made it to to the trailhead by 9 and got one of the last parking spots. Yippee! The weather was perfect and we were so excited to be there. The total distance was about 12 miles. I’m not sure of the elevation climb but it wasn’t too bad. Even for me! We didn’t bring the bear spray, though of course there were the most bears we’d been around on this trail. Our fellow hikers had our backs! There were plenty of other hikers joining us, and this time we were grateful for them. We saw a brown bear from an overlook mosying through a field. Is mosying a word? It was the perfect way to see wildlife. From a good distance above. The hike views only got better. Wildflowers, blue lakes, and monstrous peaks everywhere you looked. The sun was shinging, and there was a slight breeze. We were so grateful.
We made it to the top and celebrated with a peanut butter (almond butter for me) and jelly sandwich with our new favorite beers and a view! Then we headed up a little bit more to check out the Glacier and take some pictures where we met the loveliest two people from Canada! They were friends traveling and we swapped pictures. That’s been working out quite well. We chatted the whole way back down the mountain. It made the time just fly! On the way down we ran into a big horned sheep right in the middle of the trail, as well as an adorable marmot hanging out next to it. The sheep was a little in shock I think, poor guy. He didn’t move at all and just stared at us for a while. When we reached the bottom, we exchanged numbers with our new friends, made plans to make it back up to the stampede next year in Calgary, and then headed our separate ways. They asked what we were doing tonight and we felt like old people when our response was just hanging out at the site. We were pooped and drinks by the fire sounded excellent. No shame.
We headed back to camp, making a stop at the overpriced grocery store by St.Mary’s lodge for some icecream and snacks. A box of Cheerios was $10. Needless to say, if you are traveling and camping in Glacier and are looking to save money like we try to do, do your grocery shopping elsewhere. Hence the backpacking food dinner the night before. Every little bit helps! Tonight we found some fettuccini pasta sides that actually looked really good and were affordable. Plus we had some pesto, and fresh herbs to use as well as wine we had picked up in Canada! It worked out perfectly. Until it rained. Once a day everyday we get a shower and we’ve gotten pretty used to it at this point. The pasta stayed surprisingly warm as it sat on the stove getting wet. We dried off by the fire and ate standing up with a rainbow behind us and a slight wine buzz. No complaints. After dinner we spent time drying everything off and then headed to bed, looking forward to moving forward and onto new places tomorrow!
We actually made our goal of leaving the campsite at 7! Win! The overnight oats were a success and made for an extra easy morning. Campsites in such high demand there was a guy waiting to take our spot at 6:30. He took a final picture of the campsite number to share with Grandma, and then we were on our way. Coffee filled drives with views of going to the sun road in the opposite direction made for an amazing morning.
We arrived at Rising Sun campground and waited in line for about 45 minutes before getting our spot. Yes, even at 8 in the morning there was a long line of people hoping to secure a campsite. Success! We paid for two nights and then headed to the entrance of the park to find laundry. It was only about 9:30. Ah, the beauty of early morning rising. Johnson’s campground had a wonderful coin laundry service AND good wifi. WIN. I was able to get a little work done and do laundry at the same time. Fresh bedding. Fresh clothes. Happy Jake and Cass. After laundry our hungry selves went on our way to find some food at St. Mary’s lodge. It worked but we wouldn’t recommend it. Not to be rude, just honest. After lunch we picked up some groceries. They had the cutest little shopping carts that my little kid self got overly excited about! It’s the little things. Literally.
Jake dropped me back off at Johnson’s to continue catching up on work for a couple of hours while he checked out some fishing around the area. Then, we stopped at the KOA for long, well deserved showers. We were feeling fresh in every way. It was a very cleansing day indeed! We had a simple dinner of backpacking food. Dave’s recipe. Chicken Teriyaki in a tortilla. No pictures, oops! More to come tomorrow!
We woke up to rain. Drizzling with a hint of depression. Just kidding, we truly have nothing to be sad about, but were getting a bit sick of the rain at this point. None the less! We perservered, made oatmeal, and put our rain gear on and headed out to do a couple of hikes before lunch. Trail of Cedars and Avalanche lake were just a short walk from the campsite, just as my grandma had told us. We did the trail of the Cedars first. A nice “forest bathing” stroll on a boardwalk as a warm up. There were plaques with poems on them along the way. That was my favorite part. Well, that and the ferns. The hike to Avalanche lake was only about 2 miles up with just the right amount of incline. The sun peeked out a bit and we shed a layer on the way up. The trail was lined with a babbling river and waterfalls , it seemed like we beat a rush of people also which was nice. When we got to the top we met the nicest family, of course. They suggested we visit a Glacier on the other side of the park so we made that our new plan! I shouldn’t even really say new because we didn’t quite have a plan to begin with, and that’s the way we like it.
When we got back to camp we made tuna sandwiches. I got a little crazy and added cucumber, sprouts and avocado to mine. It was delicious! We then hung out for a bit and read. I fell asleep.
When we (I) woke up at 4:30 Jake decided to go back up up Avalanche and fish. Crazy man! He ended up having the most incredible time and catching beautiful pink colored fish. He captured some beautiful shots as well. I stayed behind and did wifely things. Re-organized the truck, clorox wiped everything, threw away anything we didn’t need, made some overnight oats for the morning, and hung the blankets out to dry in the peek of sunshine we were blessed with.
I had tea and a very simple solo dinner, and left it out for Jake to have when he got back around 9. Leftover burrito filling and a premade salad mixture. It was delicious! And more importantly, super easy. We were both fulfilled in all the ways, and were ready for a good night’s rest. We would be up at 6 tomorrow to head over and try and get a spot at our new campsite!
We woke up early this day, jumped in the car, and headed out to grab our campsite at Avalanche. On the way though, we made a very good decision to stop into the KOA and see if we could use their showers. We were going on day 3 and I was not okay with baby wiping any longer. KOA if you are reading this somehow we apologize BUT we actually just pulled up and were able to use the showers no problem. We left without any trouble and were very grateful for the quick hot water rinse. Headed back to West Glacier, we again, decided to detour and stop for breakfast. We hadn’t eaten out for a bit and a full breakfast was just too good to say no. It was very expensive but we were happy. We picked up some bread, beer, and avocados, and then headed to our campsite. Praying the entire way there that site #63 was still available! Our prayers were answered. I set up my hammock and sat and prayed for a long time. Which led to tears. Among other losses, my grandpa had passed earlier this year and it was just overwhelming to know that they had been at this exact site. Truly special. We made some tea and read for a bit before making the usual veggie sandwich lunch. We hopped into bed afterwards to escape the rain and ended up napping. Oh, boo, what a terrible time I know.After an hour of laying, I decided to head into town to attempt to find wifi and do some work while Jake went fishing. The only place I could find was the visitor center in West Glacier, but they were so friendly, and basically just grabbed me and told me I could sit wherever. Not ideal, but you make things work when it’s important to you right? Jake would be back to pick me up at 6. They closed at 5 so I headed up the street to a nearby bar to have a beer. It was a lovely little hour waiting. When I went outside and didn’t see Jake, I decided to get a huckleberry ice cream as well. Good excuse, right? Anytime I can squeeze in the local goods I try to do so, but only when it feels right and works out that way. As all things should be done. We arrived to a rainy campsite, made an assessment of how we would cook dinner, and decided that beer and music would help. So we turned on our trip playlist, opened the beers we had gotten earlier, and started to cook burritos. I’m not sure if it was the weather that made them taste so good but they sure were delicious! I should let Jake cook more often. We hopped into bed early and read because it was raining and cold and what else is there to do?
We had a slower morning at the campsite. Anytime we have a nice space and a table to relax at we fully enjoy it. The chai we bought to mix with our coffee also made for a splendid morning! We made protein oatmeal, read our books, and then got ready to get out a hike in Waterton. We (I) felt like we at least needed to have one hiking experience in the park while we were here.
We decided to check out Red Rock Canyon, but to our surprise, the parkway was closed and it would take us about 6 hours to walk all the way in there. Tourist mistake. We walked in as far as we felt like anyways, and had fun laying in the fields of wildflowers. Despite the windy weather, the sunshine helped. After our hike, or walk rather, we headed into town to pick up a few camping supplies and gas. I also bought a pair of necessary but unecessary (but necessary) yellow pants that are now my favorite thing. It was Tuesday so I could treat myself, right?
Getting through customs was a breeze, we are so blessed to have U.S. passports but that’s a whole other story. We drove into Montana and were in awe of the mountains already. Both of our jaws dropped when we made it into the park and began driving up Going to the Sun road. It started raining a bit at first, but once the sun broke through the heavens sang and we were blown away. We had anticipated Banff being the highlight of this trip but were completely taken back. Glacier is defintiely a sight to see. Ask Jake, he could tell you.
We climbed up to Logan Pass and got out to check out the views and do the tourist thing. As much as we dislike the crowds, we keep reminding ourselves that we’re no better. A sign was hanging that perfectly described the dilemma I’m facing taking these photos.
We headed down the pass and checked out the visitors centers on the way to a free campsite Jake’s brother had told us about. As soon as we got service we found the location. On the way there we had pb&J’s for lunch and I discovered that peanut butter doesn’t agree well with my stomach. We stopped by Avalanche campground to see if anyone might be leaving, and spoke with the couple that was staying at the site we were hoping to get. The site where my grandparents stayed years ago when they came through the park on their motorcycle. Fortunately they would be leaving in the morning, and were sweet enough to let us put our tag under theirs to save our spot. When we got to our free site, it was about 6. We made soup and grilled cheese for lunch and I was so hungry when we got there I didn’t get a picture. The site was a sandbar next to a river just outside the park on blankenship Rd. It worked out perfectly. We were joined by many other car campers and felt right at home. You can’t beat free! Jake fished the river and caught a few, while I read and did yoga. A typical evening.
We woke up early and headed out. There weren’t any signs stating that we couldn’t stay there overnight but we didn’t want to hangout long enough to find out otherwise! Waterton National Park was about 2 hours away. We got there and decided to head to a campground near the edge of the park called Belly River. It was about 30 minutes from town with plenty of trees and open fields which sounded perfect to us! We went up to snag a site and make lunch. Veggie sandwiches have become our new favorite thing! After lunch I drove Jake’s truck down into town to have my weekly Arbonne meeting and catch up on some things. It was an exciting thing to drive it for the first time! He fished while I was away, but didn’t have any luck.
I arrived back (late) to the campsite and Jake was worried sick. 3 beers deep with a fire going. Poor guy! But I did pick up famous fried chicken from town so he was over it fairly quickly. We ate our very nutritious dinner and then hung out by the fire with our beer. I caught up on some writing. We walked up the road for a little bit and looked out at the beautiful flowers. We would only be here for one night, but I would definitely come back here. As much firewood as you could want and very peaceful.
We woke up in our little parking lot community of car campers and hopped in the car to find restrooms! There was a rec center called Elevation two minutes up the road and it couldn’t have been more perfect. It was just the start of our regret sinking in telling us that we should have come here yesterday…oops ! They had a sweet little library with strong wifi that would have been perfect for me to get some work done, and an array of activities for Jake to enjoy in the meantime as well. They had rock climbing, a pool, and an amazing view. Next time! After we got ready for the day, we headed downtown to check it out and were absolutely delighted. I almost don’t want to share because I feel like it’s a total secret from the bustling well known downtown area of Banff. We loved the quaintness and space from the crowds. After walking a short ways up the street, a bagel shop caught my eye (of course) and we decided to stop in there. Jake grabbed an outdoor table and we enjoyed our breakfast and my very fancy most delicious coffee I had ever had. Rose water and vanilla! It was lovely. I then dragged Jake from shop to shop and enjoyed every minute of it. Not the dragging part of course, but small shops are the best! My favorite spot was a used book store next to Rocky Mountain Bagel. It was like stepping back in time and was so very special. At one of the stores we got a recommendation from the worker on which back roads to take on the way to Waterton. Jake was pleased with shopping around after that.
We headed out of town, and stopped at the rec center so I could do an hour of work. Squeezing it in while I can! It actually working out quite well. That library is perfect and I would highly recommend it to all of my digital nomad friends out there! We followed our new friend’s directions and headed on our way to 742 Smith Dorrien Trail Rd. We would take this road to 40 and then onto 22 South all the way to Waterton. The drive was mostly gravel, but came with stunning views and many opportunities to pull off and soak in the wild open air. We saw some big horned sheep but not much else. Jake still hasn’t seen a moose! Poor guy. We stopped for lunch and made tuna sandwiches. Then checked out the lodge close by called Mount Engadine. It was delightful but out of our price range. We’ll stick with our hotel on wheels for now. We were out of service and had to go old school with the atlas to find our way! We got lost, but found our way again.
After a couple more hours of driving, we saw a place to pull off called “Cat River” It was about an hour and a half away from our original end destination but we were both a bit tired and loved it. I’m so happy we made the decision to stay. It was one of my favorite stops. It was probably all the horse poop smell from trail riders but I just loved it! Jake went off fishing and I stayed behind to do some yoga. It was about 6. I started making dinner when he returned and rain swept through. It was a quick finish trying to get the asparagus cooked before we were soaked but it actually tasted great. Win! We ate inside the truck and then waited for the rain to stop by watching a predownloaded movie and eating popcorn. We truly have everything we need. After the rain stopped, we cleaned up the damage and then headed on the most wonderful golden hour walk I think I’ve ever been on. The fields of yellow flowers were glowing and we could hear cows talking to each other. On our walk back we got a glimpse of our little home beneath the moon and it all felt so special. We would be leaving early to head to Waterton in the morning, so we climbed in early for bed.
We had one of the slowest and most needed mornings yet. On our way to the hot tubs we stopped at the truck to make shakes to reset our bodies from all the backpacking food. So delicious and necessary. After an hour of sauna and spa time, we went back to the room to do some yoga and shower. 12 o’clock check out time came quickly, and we headed out the door to…well we didn’t exactly know. I needed to get some work done for a few hours so we found the sweetest coffee shop called “Little Wild” that worked out perfectly.
Jake left at about 3 to go do some laundry (best fiance ever) and came back at about 5:30 with some premade salads to eat until we figured out what we were doing. We found a free place to park overnight in Canmore but weren’t sure of what to do until then. So we headed to the Christmas store like tourists! Of course. I had been excited to see it ever since we passed by. It didn’t dissapoint. Such magic. Afterwards we picked up a few more gifts and then had a drink at the very fancy bar of the Maple Leaf. Still no plan. The bartender suggested that we go check out the Fairmont and use their swimming pool and hot tub for a low cost. That sounded good to us! First, groceries and dinner. On our way to the grocery store to pick up a few things, we heard someone mention ramen. We were planning on cooking to save money but Jake couldn’t resist. The Ramen place had the longest line, so instead we went to a Chinese restaurant close by. Aside from the view and my green tea bubble tea, the food was a fail. It was a weird thing to do in Banff.
We drove up to the castle that is the Fairmont and once again, it was like the whole wierdness of the day had led up to this magical moment. The receptionist at the spa was the nicest and gave us the local rate, and we headed into our very fancy changing rooms. Seniorita by Justin Timberlake was playing in mine and I danced the whole time I was changing. It was fun pretending like we could afford to be here. We made our way out to the outdoor pool, which we found out was a giant hot tub. It was so lovely. We used their bathrooms to change into our pajamas and get ready for bed, then headed to the overnight spot in Calgary. We weren’t sure about the safety of the spot, but were pleasantly surprised when we found a crew of car campers all huddled together in the parking lot outside of the downtown. Our people!
We woke up so full of it on this morning. There’s something about being completely disconnected that is so fueling for the soul. It may be difficult at first, but the reward is so worth it. We had coffee and talked with our new friends for a bit before packing up and heading out DOWN the mountain. Yippee!
We got back to the truck at about 1:30 and spent about an hour unpacking/repacking. Then, we headed into town for well deserved beers and food! We would be checking into our FIRST hotel of the whole trip later that day and we’re beyond excited for a good shower and hot tub. We came across a place called “Wild Bill’s” and felt that it was fitting. There was no one there! We couldn’t believe it. The views were amazing, the people were fantastic and the food and beer was everything we needed. Win! We ambitiously chose to do some shopping downtown. The popcorn was the best part. Some things never change! When we arrived at the hotel it was about 5. After taking the most amazing shower and unpacking a bit, we headed straight for the hot tub and sauna.
We decided to get take out from the hotel restaurant to eat on the balcony and it was probably the best decision we had made all day. Movies and relaxation afterwards. Cheers to that!
Jake was up at 7 and fishing by the time my lazy bum woke up. He had already caught 5 fish when he got back around 10! He was the happiest. Good sized trout and a beautiful morning with rainbows. He had his coffee, I had my tizzy, and soupy gross breakfast together. Jake added too much water, oops! Watery eggs it is.
After breakfast, we packed up some lunch and snacks and headed to hike to lake O’Brien. The trail said it was only 2 km but it felt much further. Whew we were sore! The lake was so peaceful. It was a bit swampy due to the heavy rains but it almost made the scenes even more beautiful. Jake fished and I caught up on some writing . We made the best of it until it began raining again, and then we headed back down. I went back to camp to paint and Jake stopped by the river to continue fishing.
Jake finished his book in the bug net hammock and then made friends with our neighbors and played a game while I finished up painting. They were the nicest people from Calgary! I wish we got a picture. We made a very delicious but not so good for us backpacking dinner and then hung out for a bit before heading inside for sleep to escape from the bugs.