This morning started uneventfully, arrived at the gate, checked in and I waited patiently at the gate without messing around. I called the Glacier transportation company whom agreed to pick me up at the airport at 1130 am. The airplane is a tiny little thing I had to bend down to get into the passenger seat. They even have to check in my carryon due to the small size overhead compartment. The plane took off the flew over the Great Salt Lake, an absolutely beautiful body of water from above.
The plane arrived on time and after I grabbed my luggage, I headed straight for the Glacier Transportation
. As it turns out, there are very few taxi companies in the area and so is the car rental company, so it actually make more sense to call a taxi to bring someone around than to rent a car due to the extreme high price of car rental. The average national car rental from my experience ranges from $19 to $50 dollars a day, but here in Kalispell it is over $80 a day plus tax. I arrived at Glacier Guides Montana Raft and was immediately greeted by Judith and company owner. She realized my delay and arranged a guide to walk me into the camp but I would have to pay an additional fee, I was very delighted how things worked out. I gave my wallent and passport to Judith for safe keeping and head out to the picnic bench with Drew the guide for packing directions. Drew showed me what to pack and what not to pack, well there goes I-POD, cell phone, extra camera lens, anything cotton on the NOT TO BRING items. I was literally stripped down to the bare essentials as Drew told me anything extra I bring will be extra weight on the backpack. Drew also gave me some extra zip lock bag to prevent anything from getting wet. When I am done packing, its about 2 pm so we took off to Cut Bank trail. We drove east first to West Glacier than south around the park than to East Glacier. We stopped along the way at Goat Salt lick for a scenic view of the gorge and for picnic lunch. It was a huge turkey sandwich with cheese topping very delicious. We looked everywhere for mountain goats but saw nothing, so we head back to our car for the hiking trail
. It took another hour before we arrived. The hike in from Cut Bank trail head to Atlantic Creek Campground is about 4 miles or two hours. I rented all the camping equipment so I have everything packed and ready to go. At the trail head, Drew helped me put on my backpack complete with tent, foam pad, sleeping bag and everything else. My, it sure was HEAVY about 50 pounds to be exact. There are so many straps and buckled everything to hold on to different items. The main strap goes on the waist so majorities of the weight sits on the pelvis. I started hiking with Drew, the hike was so much more difficult than I think, a 4 mile hike became 20 miles, I was walking a wabbling a bit. Luckly, the trail was quite flat without too much incline or decline. We walked through the woods and saw lot of wild flower and plants. Drew taught me how to identify some species such as Fir, lodgepole, Spruce, Bear Grass, Indian Pantbrush and Service berries. He kept quizzing me all the way to campsite to make sure I remember every species. It sure was fun. I finally arrived at the Atlantic creek campsite where all the other hikers are relaxing. My true hiking guide JD came and greeted me and showed me to my campsite. I then set up my tent to join the rest of the hikers for dinner. My first guide Drew than dashed back to his van. It actually worked out to my adventage because I got a private tour all the way up to the campsite.
In the evening, I was surprised how many mosquitos are out there
. There are so many mosquitos that they swam every hikers from all directions, I am pretty much covered from head down starting with large hat, glasses to long sleeves. But those pesky mosquitos still managed to fly underneath my hat and puncture through my long sleeve shirt to suck my blood. I went back to my tent just to see more mosquitos attacking from every direction, so I dugged under my tent covered and quickly dug inside the tent to avoid the mosquitos.
JD has a a water filter system to filter the stream water so it will be giardia free, except it drains very slowly, so everyone takes turn filling their water bottles. The Bathroom is also a huge chore as we packed a roll of toilet paper in the ziplock bag and use the hand sanitizer when we are done. The toilet is actually a pit toilet smells extremely bad. I was choking as I walked in. I was so afraid to sit on it, I ended up squatting. At the camp, everything we take for granted turns into a major task.
The evening gets a bit cold so I threw on my thick fleece polyester sweated and join the rest for dinner. I was completely surprised about how JD was able to pull out all kinds to things from his pack and make a delicious spiced coconut curry rice complete with assorted vegetables
. He just added boiled water. I still couldn't believe the gourmet food that JD created out of thin air. The dinner was absolutely delicious. Everyone gather around the campfire and enjoying the warm. The smoke actually drove the mosquitos away somewhat. After dinner, I saw JD brought out these folded polyester bucketsto wash dishes. he first make a bucket of water foam up with dishwashing detergent and a separate bucket with 10 drops of bleach, then we are off doing dishes. I made a terrible mistake not to bring my mug and water bottle, all I have was a hydration pack. So I ended up using one of the serving bowls for water. Since I wasn't interested in hot liquids like coffee or tea, it didn't bother me as much. After dishwashing, I watched JD brought out a filter to get rid of any solid food particles before dumping rest of the water in a bucket. I then watch JD swing the bucket to disposed all the liquids in a large area to avoid environmental impact. Even brushing teeth is a task. Since I don't have a cup to hold water, I ended up using a small ziplock bag to hold water and brush my teeth with my mouth closed to avoid any spillage of tooth paste. JD taught us to spray instead of spitting out all the tooth brushing liquid to avoid concentrated scent that can attract bears. We just followed. The whole idea is to keep the park prestine and zero human impact and JD is doing a wonderful job teaching us all that.
For the night, I got into my tent feeling at least 20-30 bites all over my back and itching all over, I simply ignored it and fell a sleep.