Oh man, Kalispell, Montana. What a place! It’s a small city, but compared to the unincorporated town I reside in, it’s basically NYC.
There’s Lone Pine State Park, and we’re 45 minutes from Glacier National Park. All around us is wilderness. An hour north is Canada. To the east we have the Great Bear Wilderness, the Bob Marshall Wilderness, the Flathead National Forest, and the Mission Mountains Wilderness. I live on Flathead Lake, which is the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River.
There’s mountains, rivers, streams, creaks, hills, peaks, waterfalls, wild animals, earthquakes, wildfires, avalanches, rock slides, extreme heat, and extreme cold all at the same time. We have some of the most dangerous roads in the United States, with some of the most ridiculous highway statistics I’ve ever heard of.
This summer, I have hiked in all of the aforementioned locations and conditions. I’ve hiked over 250 miles, mostly solo in the wilderness, backpacking with a bivy sack, cooking ramen noodles on a camp stove. I’ve ran into multiple bull moose, had a frightening encounter with a grizzly bear about 20 feet away from me, wolves, elk, black bears, mountain goats, and bighorn sheep.
I’ve had to grow up this summer quite a lot, not only with my professional life, but with my personal life as well. While I had been fine tuning and developing my professional skills for a resume and for experience, I had also been learning survival skills that had helped me face life or death challenges in the backcountry of Glacier National Park and in national forests and state parks alike.
While the natural world has left me speechless, the social aspect of my summer has left more to be desired. I think that while Montana is a beautiful and wild place, I do not think I could spend the rest of my life here. I 100% am planning on returning to Montana one day, either when I’m older or in the near future, to reunite with the individuals who have helped shape my experiences here (Shout out to Cinnamon and Linda and all of my coworkers). I’d like to show my family all of my new favorite spots and secret hiking places I have discovered with new friends who I’ll call family.