It took me three days of waiting as patiently as I could before the weather would cooperate and allow me to visit Glacier National Park. It may have been raining in Kalispell where I was held up, but it beat snow storms and sleeping in 19 degree weather. My reward was beautiful weather, a fun hike that lead to a lake, meeting new friends (including one girl who was very inspirational to talk with) and hanging out with my pal Thomas.
Thomas is a butterfly. One day, a year ago, a friend of mine and I had an amazing encounter with an orange butterfly. He hung out with us for what felt like hours. We named him Thomas. Ever since then, Thomas comes and visits me on days I really need to slow down and enjoy the magic that is life. Now I am fully aware that it is not the same butterfly. But that doesn’t really matter. The important thing is that I recognize the moment and slow down. Because of this, every orange butterfly I come in contact with is now named Thomas.
Thomas visited me while I was in Glacier.
The day before I ran into Thomas, I decided to go on a hike up to Avalanche Lake. After setting up my tent at Sprague Creek Campground, I drove up to the Avalanche Trail Head. It was over flowing with parked vehicles. In fact up to a mile in either direction past the parking lot there were cars, trucks, campers and motorcycles. It was full. I would, along with other tourists, slowly drive past the vehicles hoping someone would be leaving. A mile or so down the road I would find a place to flip a bitch and slowly make my way the other direction. It was quite frustrating after 6 or 7 passes and I was beginning to make a plan ‘B’ when all of the sudden a bear cub crossed the road in front of me. No momma in site but I’m sure she was around. I didn’t have time to grab my camera as the cub was running but wow did it make me stop and be present. As I pulled away from the bear sighting, a spot opened up right at the trail head. Score! Now it was a tight squeeze and I had a passer byer actually help me by stopping traffic so I could re-angle my car. I tried to be as considerate of a parker as I could. But like I said, it was a tight squeeze. This didn’t stop the people in the jeep I parked next to (I’m assuming it was them as I only left them about 12 inches on the driver side but they had like 3 feet on the passengers side) from writing all over my car some obvious stress relieving profanity. Thankfully I had the dirt to help them out.
As I began down the trail, I stopped at the map sign to get my bearings. That’s where I met the bay area boys. We walked a little ways together and met up several times on the trail. It was fun to talk about pictures, traveling and being adventurers.
The trail was just what I needed. Weaving in and out of trees, waterfalls, a slight incline but not too rough and a lake so calm it reflected, like glass, the mountains surrounding it. As I reached the lake I couldn’t help but stop and take a picture of a couple from Oregon enjoying the view. Funny thing is I took the picture with their camera and didn’t even think to take one with mine. It was picturesque. At least they have it to enjoy! They did however take one of me in the same area.
The trail continued to the far end of the lake. That’s where I first saw the girl in purple leggings. She was napping. I thought ‘what a wonderful place to just be.’ I found my own little resting area and had a snack. This side of the lake was much less crowded which made it much quieter. Really, the only chattering I heard was the people exclaiming “Look! Up there! That white dot…the one moving!” People were very thrilled to “see” the mountain goats or the “little white dots on the mountain”.
After giving myself an hour to simply relax and enjoy my view, I decided it was time to make my way back to my car. For some reason I wanted to wake up the girl in purple leggings but I thought better of it and headed down the trail. About 1/4 of the way down, she passed me with a “excuse me, thank you, sorry, have a good day”.
I waited till she passed me and then I called out “that’s a lot of statements in a short amount of time” She looked back, we exchanged a few words and we giggled. I continued down the trail.
My body was a bit achy. I was looking forward to making it back to camp, eating, journaling and going to bed. It was still relatively early, but I knew I needed to listen to my body and get some decent sleep. But since I was still hiking, I decided to not focus on the future, but instead be mindful to the moment. That’s when I heard footsteps coming up behind me. I glanced back and it was the girl with purple leggings. She must have pulled over somewhere around the other side of the lake as she was, once again, about to pass me. I stepped aside. As she passed me, our eyes met.
“You’re passing me again…” I noted.
“We’ll see for how long” she joked.
Quickly she was out of my sight again. Before I knew it, more footsteps behind me. This time it was a lady in her 60’s jogging down the trail. I was inspired. I began jogging behind her. I did not keep up with her. I did however, run into the girl with purple leggings. We began chatting. In fact we chatted the rest of the way down the trail. She too was on a journey. She was inspiring to talk with. We exchanged info and talked the possibility of hiking the next day with one another. She however was going on a 11 mile hike and I was going on several smaller hikes. Her hike meant no children on the trail. Mine meant my body could heal. But regardless, the plan was to text each other in the morning when either of us woke up and see how the day unfolded.
Well apparently I was right in listening to my body. I slept in till 9 am. I checked my phone. No service. ‘Well I guess I’m solo today’ I thought. I made myself some oatmeal with peanut butter, pre-meditated and made my way to the East side of Glacier. Because of the snow storm, a few days prior, the main road through the park (Road to the Sun) was closed half way through. This meant driving around the park on Hwy 2. It was a beautiful drive.
I made my way to Two Medicine Lake. This is where Thomas was. He landed on my back pack and we had ourselves a photo shoot. After about an hour, I decided to move on.
When I reached my camp site that evening, I had a couple hours left of day light. The camp ground overlooks Lake McDonald. I decided to walk down and day dream. Guess who was waiting for me? Thomas! This time he landed on my leg. I took a video. Then he landed on my finger. This is when I lost track of time. This is when I became lost in the moment. This is when I found total bliss. Thank you, Thomas, for helping me enjoy the magic we call life.
Thanks for reading my story and going on this journey with me!
Love and Hugs, Adventure Mel