My friend Wendy and I celebrated two milestones in July 2007: Wendy finally earned tenure at the college where she was a professor, and I finished my two-year stint as a PTO co-president at my daughters’ elementary school. We presented our families with these achievements along with the Zephyr Catalog, having circled the Glacier Park Hiking Trip in bold ink. Our beaming families agreed to send us off together to celebrate. Wendy and I sat together on the airplane enroute to Kalispell, Montana and said to ourselves, “Holy Moly we DID IT!” Followed by, “What the heck have we done?” Our brave faces and enthusiasm for our first trip away from our families turned to sour stomachs, guilt, and frantic checking of our tickets and bags.
This lasted five minutes.
I cannot tell you the sense of euphoria that came over us after the plane lifted off the runway at Logan Airport. Whatever achievements we told our families we were celebrating paled immediately to the possibility of new adventures in the land of bears, mountains, and scarier still, new people. Wendy and I got to know each other years ago when we discovered that we shared a chronic tendency toward introspectiveness, so what better way to have fun together than to go out and do what made us extraordinarily uncomfortable.
We landed in Montana and met our wonderful guides Kris and Terry whom we immediately came to adore in the way a newly hatched duckling seeks out the red spot on the beak of its caregiver. We were given instructions to change into hiking clothes and head back to the van to be transported to our first hike near Glacier Park’s entrance. This was nerve-wracking, but once the hike commenced our nervousness was shed like snake skin.
Having now participated in two Zephyr trips, I can tell you there is no better or more comfortable way to meet new people than while hiking. Everyone has a story to tell, and most of the stories were fascinating. Somehow the metronomic pace of walking allowed people to think more chronologically and clearly, and the added benefit of beautiful Glacier Park terrain made conversation flow easily. Kris and Terry spent time with all of us and had an uncanny ability to draw everyone out so that all of us enjoyed our time in Montana as much as possible. Our hike was followed by dinner (more talking; we got the hang of it), and five unforgettable days of sunset wine toasts on Lake McDonald, near-encounters with grizzlies, goats with no shame, no shame at all, and a delicious exhaustion at the end of each day after enjoying some of the most breathtakingly beautiful vistas our country has to offer.
In the intervening years I have felt a desire to return with my family to Glacier National Park to get one last look at the glaciated mountain-tops before they melt. I hope Wendy and her family come too. We will definitely travel there with Zephyr.
This guest blog post was written by Katy who lives and works in the Boston area with her husband, two daughters and two yellow labs. They do not own goats.