Posted by: chlost | January 1, 2011

The end. And the beginning.

My husband and I love the mountains. He grew up traveling to the mountains nearly every summer, to stay at Glacier National Park. He knows the park very well, and loves it with nearly every fiber of his being.

When we began to date seriously, he decided that he would take me on a trip to the mountains. He couldn’t believe that I had never been there.  Living on the flat plains of the middle western U.S., I had never seen more than the bluffs along the Mississippi River.  They are beautiful, by the way.

So, off to Montana we did go.  He picked a trail that he had never taken, through an area called “Hell Roaring Canyon”. The name was ominous. But I was young.  I was in love.  I wanted to impress him with my enthusiasm and ability to enjoy this new place.

The park is spectacular. There is no other place like it. I have seen the Alps, or at least part of them. I have seen the Colorado Rocky mountains. I saw the Dolomites. I loved all of those. But none match the mountains of Glacier. I may be a bit sentimental for them because they were the first. But I believe I am being objective.

The trail through the Hell Roaring Canyon began after a boat ride across a large lake. The boat was scheduled to return late in the afternoon to take us back to our campsite. The goal of the hike was to reach a lake nestled in between the mountains. This is Emerald Lake. It sounded beautiful, relaxing, wonderful.

There were many people who took the trail by horseback. We did not. We hiked on foot.  It was during this hike that I learned the concept of “switchbacks”.  The distance to the lake was doubled by the trail going up in S curves, in order to keep the trail at a lower angle. I was wearing tennis shoes. He was wearing well-worn hiking boots.

There were markings of bears on the trail. Fresh scratches on the trees. Recent droppings. We had bear bells, which my husband had attached to our backpacks, ringing as we walked. We kept up a conversation as we hiked, hoping that we would not startle a bear, but that it would be warned of our presence, allowing it to get away. Grizzlies are my husband’s greatest fear.

We hiked up the trail, in hot sun, cool shade, on rocks, dirt and gravel. When I say hiked “up”, I mean UP. We climbed many, many hundreds of feet of elevation over a few miles of trail.  We (I) hiked on when we (I) thought that going further was not possible. My husband reminded me that there was not an alternative. We couldn’t stay there. We had to meet the boat later that afternoon.  I trudged on, just one foot in front of the other. I think I cried at some point.

When we got near the lake, we had to climb a ladder, which consisted of chain-link rungs attached to the stone of a cliff. After climbing this, we had to travel through a tunnel-bent over nearly in half or on our hands and knees, to reach the lake. 

The lake was beyond description.

Aptly named, it was an iridescent green. It was surrounded by mountain walls, fed by a waterfall of several hundred feet. We were alone to enjoy this spectacular place. 

As my blog friend sweffling says, it was one of my moments.

Today, I feel I am at Emerald Lake again.

 The year 2010 has ended. I worked very hard to get to the end of this year. It was a very difficult time for me. I trudged, one foot in front of the other.  There was no choice.  We had several losses in our family, illness and life-changing events. Not one of our family has expressed any regret to see this year end. 

Thankfully, we are hopeful for the coming year. We expect to add a new grandchild to our family. My husband could take early retirement if he wishes. We are somewhat settled into the changes in our lives which came in the past year.

I have been making an attempt to change my outlook on life over the past month. I have been looking for three positive things that happened each day of the month of December.  Here’s to the last day-

December 31, 2010:

1. My daughter and her boyfriend made it safely back to Oregon.

2. We went out for dinner with my brother-in-law, nephew, and mom.

3. It is December 31st. The month is over. This year is done.

I am not sure that I can say that I now have a positive attitude in general, but I think that trying to find the positives has been helpful.  It is easy to get caught up in the bad stuff, because it is so overwhelming at times. It hides the good things.  Sometimes there are lots of really big bad things. And just little good things.  But enough little good things sometimes add up to counterbalance a bad thing.  And if you are not looking for them, you may miss those many good things.

So, I will try to look for the positives.

As the final tip of the hat to the old year, I have come up with 5 (count ’em FIVE!) good things for the year.


1.We were able to travel to Oregon for my daughter’s graduation with my brother and my mom.

2.Our family was able to find a good place for my mom to live, and found a way to get her moved closer to me.

3. Our son and daughter-in-law and their two girls found a good place to live on their own.

4. Our daughter got a job in her field after receiving her Master’s.

5.My husband and I both still have jobs and are paying the bills in this economy.

Okay, to on to the beginning of a new year.

 We’ve had a long hike to get here. That challenging trail is behind us.  I’m looking up at the mountain tops.



  1. A Great positive post to start the new year on Chlost! This is going to be a great year! Keep hiking! Glacier National Park is on my “to-do” list while I am still fairly young. I have never even been to Yellowstone yet. Maybe we will kill two birds with one stone and visit both parks in one trip sometime before the kid leaves the nest. Have a great day Chlost! 🙂

    • Thanks, Mark. I think you would love Glacier. I’ll meet you there this summer!

  2. And the view is all yours chlost, and all new and sparkly. Well done on the hike, you deserve the ‘moment’ and I hope you have many wonderful moments in 2011.

    You are so right about the positive small things: they get overlooked by the hugeness and dreadfulness of the big, bad things, but they are there nonetheless and important in the great balance of things.

    • I hope that you, too will have many moments in this new year. Thanks so much for your support through my tough year.

  3. It will be a positive new year, I believe this. Hugs at you.

    • Thank you. Got the hug-appreciate it! and sending one back.

  4. This is such a great post!!! I espouse the theory “what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger” and know that no matter how hard life gets, I will prevail even though I have to kvetch sometimes. The hardest part is keeping what Hemingway called “the black dog” (depression) away. You’ve kept him away beautifully!

    And what great adventures you have on the horizon!!!!!! I can hardly wait for you to have them and share them with us.

    • Thanks, Kay. Guess we just do as well as we can, huh?

      I love the River of Stones project you had on your site, and I am joining in too. It is the logical step after my December positivity project!

  5. I think I took that trail with my ex-wife when we were younger. I recall the nice level hike part way then the huge climb. Wow, we were naive back then.

    That night in our tent, a bear came through the campground. I recall its heavy breathing just on the other side of the thin tent fabric. All our food was safely in the car. Then we heard people yelling and banging on pots and pans. We only stayed in the campground that one night.

    • We were naive and young and skinny. The knees would never make it now.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: