Spending my birthday deep in nature was a no brainer.
The hard part was deciding where to go! And I couldn't have been happier than with the incredibly picturesque Glacier National Park in northeast Montana. Everywhere we looked there was scenery beckoning to be captured and shared.
In addition to kayaking and swimming, we ventured on a 13-mile hike to Grinnell Glacier, which yielded for me an important reminder.
We hit the trailhead at about 8 a.m., keenly listening for any bear activity during the first two miles. Alas, no bears this time. We were, however, treated to some delightful views in the lush forest leading to Grinnell and a nice peak of the glacially-carved valley up which we'd soon be marching.
After several foot bridges, thus began our ascent. In total, it was a roughly 1,700 gain over 5 miles. While the switchbacks along the mountain wall were at times grueling, it was comforting to know that each step we took revealed even more beautiful views. Red, orange and green flora bordered the trail as we gazed onto nearby valleys, some Big Horn Sheep and the sheer rock faces the Garden Wall. As the sun beat down on us, we inched silently closer to our goal, focused on our breathing, thoughts and foot placement. We briefly cut west and, around a bend, there it was: The massive — but significant'y receded — Grinnell Glacier. Hundreds of icebergs danced along the tarn as we walked faster and faster toward the water. It was significantly cooler near the glacier, offering a nice respite from the September sun.
Sitting along the shore that afternoon, admiring the incredible majesty before me, I thought to myself: It's always worth the sweat. To capture the type of stories you want to share with the world, it requires hard work, dedication and discomfort. There's often pain along the way but, for me, it's always been worth it. It's so satisfying to accomplish not only a physical goal, but also a creative mission.