Saturday, August 30, 2014

Go! (Again!)

This stoppin', breathin' and relaxin' stuff takes some practice.

I've not been very good at it since I left home, but I'm willing to work at it so I can get better.

I left home a week ago Friday, and headed up to Minnesota to see family.  From there, I headed off to see more beautiful places I haven't seen yet.

Buffalo River State Park, MN
The first night out of Minneapolis, I drove to Buffalo River State Park, near the North Dakota border.  The park bore out my prejudices towards state parks - they put them where they do because there's something pretty there.  In this case, it is a bit of untouched prairie.  Beautiful.

Painted Canyon, ND
From there, I drove across North Dakota to Teddy Roosevelt National Park - the North Dakota part of the badlands.  I loved my hike down into one of the canyons.  The short loop and the visitor's center at the top of the hill were busy, but as I walked away and down the hill, the sounds of trucks and people faded away, replaced by the chirps of birds and grasshoppers.  The view of asphalt and cars was replaced by the wonders revealed along a rugged trail winding down into the path ancient waters cut into the layered rock.  The smell of car exhaust was replaced by sun-heated grass.  For the first time in ages, I stopped to just breathe.

I left North Dakota, and spent four hours along Route 200S across Montana looking at some of the most beautiful nothing I've ever seen.  Every turn along the road brought a new version of beauty.  This turn showed badlands-like hills and vales.  Around here, a desert landscape.  The next revealed a lush and green valley, cows contentedly munching.  And so it went.  I found myself eagerly driving to the next hill, to see what I would see.

Virginia Falls, MT
And now, I'm happily ensconced in a friend's dining room after the morning's hike in Glacier Park.  Four of us went up into the park for a four mile hike near St. Mary's lake to see the water coming down the mountain.  It was cool up near the road, but once we got down onto the trail, the weather was perfect - comfortable walking in a long-sleeved t-shirt.  We had almost completed our hike when the overcast skies decided to dump part of their load.  I must admit I was very grateful for my '10 hiking essentials checklist' at that point, and was almost smug as I pulled my waterproof jacket out of my daypack and hiked up the hill back to the car in relative comfort.

I know I can get good at this stop, breathe and relax thing if I only try.

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