After semi-successfully contorting our bodies into a resting position on the train the night before, we slept luxuriously in our king size bed at the Grouse Mountain Lodge. The rental car company met us at the hotel to deliver our “compact” car – a Subaru Forester. We were officially a rolling stereotype.
After lazing about the hotel for a bit, we drove, sunroof open, to the eastern entrance of the park. We purchased our seven-day visitor pass and located our reserved site at the Fish Creek campground near Lake McDonald. The site had a pull-through for the Subi, a gravel pad, a picnic table and some bear grass and trees between the sites around us. Sleeping on gravel sucks, so we chose a not-quite flat spot in the grass. The patch was well worn, so we assumed it was okay to be back there.
We were gone when the camp host stopped by to give us the scoop on bear safety. He left a pamphlet depicting terrifying renderings of grizzly bears trolling through campsites along with a hand-scribbled note about our tent being “out of bounds.” Fortunately, we hadn’t trampled any bear grass, so we had permission to remain there for one night.
While the camp host was writing our nasty gram, we were busy exploring Avalanche Lake and Trail of the Cedars. The trail was a nontechnical four-mile loop that wound through old growth cedars shedding chunks of bark the size of my head, past the milky blue water of Avalanche Creek, and ended at the shores of Avalanche Lake. It was the first of many times we happened upon such an amazing view the only way to properly articulate our awe was to exclaim, “holy shit!”
We felt very small and very lucky to be there.