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Flying the Edge of America:

Glacier National Park, Montana

It was Wednesday, July 9th and Julia and David had been on the road, or in the air, for ten days. They had experienced really awful weather all the way up the west coast, Julia's fear of flying had not improved, and they had passed in and out of customs, flown over giant mountains, survived rotating air masses, camping, cheap hotels, and being away from home. They felt this was a real accomplishment, but wondered if they could keep going for the entire three months the trip was scheduled to take. Julia and David were at a low point and the only motivation they had was their excitement about visiting their next stop: Glacier National Park. Neither of them had ever been there before, but they had heard it was amazing.

Oroville Video

Everything was clear under the big blue sky, the mountains were in the distance, they had landed safely, and it felt good to be alive and on the ground at Glacier Airport! By this time Julia had developed some coping techniques for reducing her flight anxiety. She kept reminding herself that each flight was usually less than three hours long, and with any luck, required only one take-off and landing. She kept herself distracted from obsessive thoughts about the airplane's likelihood of crashing by listening to audio books. She had downloaded several into her phone before departing on the adventure and listened to them under the headset she wore in the airplane. She also became the flight photographer. She felt much safer viewing all the spectacular scenery far below her through a camera lens. Her final defense against her fear of flying was valium, which she would take as a last resort. After surviving the flight over the Cascades she had decided to try not taking the drug on this leg, she felt her other distraction techniques would get her through and it would probably not do much for advancing her relationship with David, becoming a valium-addicted zombie.

Avalanche Lake Video

They arrived at their motel, at the West Glacier entrance, in the mid-afternoon, and could not resist the lure of the wilderness beyond. They filled up water bottles and headed out on a six mile hike to Avalanche Lake. The lake is surrounded by a ring of mountains. They stood and watched waterfalls pouring off the cliffs into the lake below. Some were so sheer that the water did not touch a rock until it smashed into the ground hundreds of feet below. Apparently, in winter, instead of waterfalls the snow falls off the cliffs in avalanches.

Hidden Lake Video

It was late afternoon by the time they finished the hike. On their way back to the motel they stopped at Lake McDonald (at 10 miles long it is the largest lake in the park) to catch the spectacular sunset. They watched as the sun dipped behind the tree covered mountain peaks surrounding the lake, casting off yellow, orange, and golden hues. As they sat on a log next to the lake they felt very close to the place and each other.

Many Glaciers Video

Continue the adventure, in my next excerpt from Flying the Edge of America.


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