I’m not totally sure why Montana. Part being a fan of Joe Montana as a kid. Part wanting to see a state and park most people don’t consider when thinking of trips. Part needing to do something really random after the month of movie production we had. In many ways, saying I was going to Montana was more foreign and exotic to everyone than saying Thailand, Peru, or Egypt.
I had 3 full days and I mentally broke it down as Macro, Micro, and Intro…
Day Zero: Arriving
I’ll admit that as the trip was approaching I was actually getting a little worried. Going to a small, rural ‘murica town… hiking alone through an enormous park. Was this the smartest thing? Was this a horror story/hate crime waiting to happen? Reading articles like this didn’t help. Hypersensitive? Maybe. Unnecessary caution? Definitely not. So the first thing I did upon arriving in Kalispell was to make myself feel the most at home and normal as possible. This obviously meant…
And watching a movie at the local (only) cineplex. I chose Guardians. Somehow doing these very normal things put me at ease and less “fish out of the water”. Was it narrow-minded of me to think that being one of 3 Asians that I saw meant I was in danger? Possibly.. but I was also definitely getting stares. Overall though, everyone I came across was very polite. My goal was to be super nice and friendly considering I might be the only Asian some of these ppl would see in years. Wanted to rep us well. Ok, let’s put the race stuff and apprehension behind. I was in Montana!
Day One: Macro
I spent the first day doing the main drive through the popular portion of the park. This was called “The Going the Sun Road” and it took the whole day. If I had just driven straight through and back, it would’ve been “only” 4 hours, but I was literally stopping on the side of the road around every bend, the views were so incredible.
I wanted to get a general sense of the park first. Get the birds eye view, the postcard shots. The touristy views. I felt like that was the best way to start, and there was definitely much to capture.
Day Two: Micro
After seeing the park on a grand scale, I wanted to get more intimate. Be right beside the trees, lakes, and streams. Get up in there. So the second day I planned a hike. Originally I had wanted to do some of the more populated hikes because it was encouraged and printed everywhere not to hike alone. And about half a mile into the forest I realized why.With bears being an actual threat, and barely anyone on the trail, I was so deep in there with no one around… if something were to go terribly wrong, I was screwed. Luckily I caught up to a family doing the same hike, and I sorta hovered around them. And the longer I was in there, the more comfortable I felt. The apprehension started fading as the excitement of the trail started taking over.
I chose an 8 mile hike to Snyder Lake (4.4 each way) with a crazy 1000ft incline the first mile, and leveling out through some lush vegetation, which lead to an amphitheater of mountain peaks.
Day Three: Intro
After putting myself through a 6 hour hike the day before, I wanted my last day in the park to be more relaxed. This morning I packed a book and my journal. I hit up the easier more touristy hikes (didn’t wanna push my luck going solo deep into the mountains again) and I didn’t rush from one stop to another.
I wandered, I sat, read, wrote. Introspection was the theme of the day right? It was a nice feeling, on this third day, feeling like I knew the park well (although a infinitesimal portion of it), and it was a solo day w/in this solo trip, if that makes any sense.
Day Four: Departure
My last day was actually almost a full day, since my flight left at 6p. I felt I didn’t have enough time to go all the way back to the park so I decided to check out a local resort town called Whitefish. Usually known for their skiing, most people were there enjoying the “beach”. I had one of the best breakfast dishes in my life (hashbrowns never as perfect as in these “buffalo pies”), took a paddle board around the lake, and spent my last $1.50 of cash on a scoop of huckleberry ice cream.
Everyone asked before I left if I was going out there to find myself, to look for something I was missing. I guess even though I said no, there was a part of me who was hoping for some kind of new insight. But I realized that that was impossible. 4 days in a place and lifestyle not remotely close to the life I live the rest of the year could not change me. Even if I like how simple life was during this trip, and how simple it could be, I know that in reality, it cannot. Not for me at least, not in my current stage of life. So if anything, I know what life could be like, and I still choose to reject it =\. I choose to only take part in it a few days of the year, and the rest, I want the chaos, the crowds, the challenges and uncertainty. I guess that says something.
In the end, it was a great trip. Awesome knowing I could do it, grateful knowing I have the means to, and I would definitely suggest everyone to put it on their list. There are a TON more trails, I didn’t even scratch the surface with these photos and hopefully I can return again someday. Thanks for reading.