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“These hikes are non-negotiable.”

As with our visit to Rocky Mountain National Park, I feared we would be biting off more than we could chew with our plans to hike every day for our trip to Glacier National Park. Jay proved that he bounced back in Colorado, but I worried that our time away from training hikes as he recovered would impact my ability to enjoy our hikes.

Each day he had hikes of 10 miles or more on the itinerary. He stacked several trails together on the days we tackled “only” single-digit hikes. I insisted cuts had to be made and sent him back to the drawing board. With additional research, he became even more entrenched in his position.

“I can add in a rest day, but we cannot cut these trails.”

With a bit of tweaking, we finally agreed upon a plan. Our first day would include almost 14 miles of hiking but split over 4 trails. This would give us time to snack and rest our legs before hitting the next trail.

Jay then split the two big hikes, which he refused to compromise on, adding a rest day between them. Turns out, he was right. (Let’s not tell him that though, ‘kay?) These two hikes gave us some of the most incredible views we have ever seen. Much like our experience in Isle of Skye, each time we rounded the corner of the Highline Trail, it treated us to a new breathtaking view. “It’s like Scotland, only with glaciers,” I commented.

I struggle to write about these trails because even words like “awestruck” don’t do the scenery justice. I’ve shared pictures, but please understand that they don’t begin to capture the true beauty.

I struggled on the Garden Wall section of the Highline Trail to the Grinnell Glacier Overlook. Classified as moderate, we had an easy time on the trail until it the offshoot, which climbs 1,000 feet in one mile. Thankfully transcripts of my commentary are unavailable. However, I did make this Reel on Instagram, which is a more sanitized version. I don’t think the photos do justice to just how difficult the climb was. Unfortunately, I made it to the top too exhausted (and terrified) to enjoy the view. Jay took a picture of the back of my head, so that my scowl didn’t ruin the photo, then grabbed a selfie before we headed back down.

Rather than going out and back to the overlook, Jay’s research suggested using the park’s shuttle bus system to make this a point-to-point hike. After descending from the overlook, we headed to the Granite Park Chalet – backcountry lodging similar to Mt. LeConte Lodge in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

By the time we reached the Chalet, I had recovered enough to enjoy the view. My quads and knees still felt weak and exhausted, but my mood improved enough to not be miserable on the hike down. Mind you, I didn’t have a chipper attitude, but I also didn’t want to hurl Jay off the side of the mountain for dragging me onto the trail. Even small progress can be considered a win when tensions are high and energy is low!

From the chalet, we found The Loop trail junction and finished off the last 4 miles of trail hiking downhill. Most of this part of the trail was exposed and hot in the afternoon sun. The downhill felt particularly difficult given the toasted nature of my quadriceps muscles at that point of the experience. Grateful to not be climbing anymore, however, I tried to keep my complaints to a minimum. 

Even considering the struggle I had with the one section of trail, I still count Highline as one of the top ten hikes Jay and I have ever completed. Sure, I’d love a re-do of the Grinnell Glacier Overlook experience. To have another go at photos of us, together, smiling with the glacier in the distance. To better fuel, be more patient with myself, more kind to my darling. 

Since I can’t, I’ll just requote the wedding advice I received from a friend 13 years ago, which I have adapted for life in general. “Cherish the things that go wrong. The {moments} pass so quickly that if nothing goes wrong, you’ll have no memories.”