You Fckn Did It

“You fuckin’ did it

You really did it yeah

You fuckin’ did it

You fuckin’ did it

You fuckin’ did it

You really did it yeah

You fuckin’ did it

You fuckin’ did it”

Jason Mraz

That’s right blog readers, we Fucking Did It. By far the most challenging hike of the summer, the one that came after such a crazy last couple of weeks that we were all battered with injuries, the one we most anticipated, the one we are most glad to have over: Glacier National Park.

Last time we were here it quickly became one of our favorite parks. We did a couple fabulous day hikes here and spent a morning kayaking. We pledged to return as soon as possible for a backpacking trip. I got a recommendation from a colleague who spends a lot of time in the area to hike a loop around Rising Wolf Mountain in the Two Medicine area of the park and applied for a permit as soon as they opened. A month later we heard back from the park service that our request was granted and we all started to get excited for the last big hike of the summer.

We actually spent the night before the hike at the Lake Mcdonald Lodge on the West side of the park. Although it was a bit of a bummer that the dining room was COVID closed, we had a great evening on the shore of the lake swimming and watching sunset. In the morning we loaded up our packs with three days of clothes and food along with all the other essentials. We’d hoped to find a decent lunch somewhere in St. Mary before starting the hike, but there was only one place open and it was the definition of mediocre.

We finally made it to the Two Medicine trailhead mid-afternoon. Our first scheduled leg of the hike was to Upper Two Medicine Lake, what should have been an easy 4.5 mile walk with only 700 feet of elevation. About halfway through, though, my back started hurting for the first time this trip. It must have just been the extra weight in the pack, or how I happened to have strapped it on. Before long my entire left leg was hurting and every step was agonizing. I did my best to keep going since I knew Molly was walking on a broken ankle, but I had to ask for a few stops to momentarily take off my pack to stretch and readjust.

As we were hiking we were being swarmed by flies. Specifically, the world’s stupidest flies. They would land and just sit there waiting to be swatted and killed. When we finally got to camp we found our boots full of flies that had died after crawling a bit too far inside. Each time I asked for a stop to adjust my pack the swarms multiplied. It was probably the most miserable 4 miles of summer to that point. Things only began to improve when a group of hikers coming from the other direction pointed out a moose having dinner in a marshy lake. We stopped to watch it eating for a good 10 minutes or so and mercifully the flies gave us a break to do so.

We finally pulled into camp and were greeted by several other groups. Glacier has a unique backcountry campground system in which there are four or so sites with one common cooking/eating area. Normally I prefer the solitude of a campsite to ourselves. In fact, solitude is one of the reasons we backpack instead of staying in campgrounds. We met some interesting people this trip though: a group of 3 50ish year-olds, a woman that had graduated from the girl’s high school, a continental divide trail thru hiker. The flies mostly held off for the evening and we were able to enjoy cool beers and dinner by the lake. Day 1 complete.

Day 2 did not start well. Molly’s ankle was still broken, my back/leg still hurt (although not as much as the day before), none of us were excited about the 11 miles with 4,000 feet of gain in full packs ahead of us. Worst though, were the flies. They were thick. Molly fell again. Ellie was very unpleasant. I decided we should stop to filter more water and the flies attacked. Molly fell yet again. We were close to turning around pretty constantly for the first few miles.

Somehow, we persevered. Somehow we made it to the top of Dawson Pass. We dropped our packs, we opened the bear cans, I filled a cup of water, and we took in the views, the cool breeze, and the complete lack of flies. I think we also knew for the first time at that point that we were going to make it.

The hike along Dawson Pass was one of the best three mile stretches of the summer. The trail consists of a thin line, perhaps 2 foot wide, of loose gravelly stone at the top of a 3,000 foot drop off that felt near vertical at times. It was the longest, most exposed section of trail we’ve ever been on and I kept thinking back to the two times Molly had already fallen that day. It was three miles that made the rest of the hike worthwhile with beautiful views of the valley below and the mountains all around.

Eventually we reached the end of the pass and made our decent to Old Man Lake, our campgrpund for the night. The bugs were thick again and we had to kick some person out of a campsite since they apparently didn’t actually have a permit. I fell asleep pretty quickly on our last night backpacking of the trip.

The last morning we woke to rain. It kept raining for pretty much the whole uneventful 6.5 miles back to Fred. This wasn’t my favorite hike of the trip by any means. It was long, hard, pretty miserable at times. There were only 3 miles of the 21 that were really enjoyable hiking. It is, however, the one I’m most proud of. The one I’ll probably tell my students about when I talk about my summer. There was swearing, doubt, negativity. But… we did it. We Fucking Did It.

One thought on “You Fckn Did It

  1. Should we be concerned that your favorite part of the trip was the 3 miles when you wondered if Molly would fall off a cliff??

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