**Disclaimer to our parents: We are indeed safe. No injuries or illnesses or lasting negative effects from the following adventure.
**Disclaimer to the rest of the world: While this was an amazing adventure and story to tell, we do not recommend or condone that you follow our lead. Learn from foolishness: trust construction signs.
Monday we traveled through Washington and Idaho, into Montana, and that evening we reached Glacier National Park. At first it was basically what I expected - big mountains in the distance, a sparkling blue lake, pine trees... very pretty, I thought, but not quite worth all the fuss we've heard...
I thought maybe sunset would be the most spectacular view we would get - and it was quite spectacular - and that we'd just drive into the darkness to our cabin lodging for the night...
Hannah and Anna stopped to collect a few of the pebbles from the shore, which were so many different brilliant colors. Beautiful!
The sun set quickly behind the amazingly high mountains, and we found ourselves winding into them, further up and further in, on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Higher and higher, we found ourselves in the clouds at 6,000 feet, hugging the edge of a mountain. It was too dark to take pictures, too dark to really grasp the vastness of what was around us. But at one point I looked out my window and saw the breath-taking depths below us, only a couple feet away from our car.
We were listening to Andrew Peterson's album, Light for the Lost Boy, during this ascent, and I must say it was the absolute most perfect soundtrack for the setting - shadows and clouds, heights and depths, and silence (we were one of the only cars on the road). Very haunting and deep and beautiful. I recommend it, if you ever find yourself on that road at night.
And here's where the real adventure began. Somewhere early on the road, around 8:30, when it was still light, there was a sign that said "Road Closed ahead 9pm-2am." We all decided it was irrelevant... Hannah thought that surely at least one lane would be open, and I thought surely we would pass through before any real construction got underway, and we all agreed it would be better to go through instead of backtracking four hours to get to our cabin another way. So on we went... At 10:00, we passed a car parked on the side of the road, and thought it an odd place to spend the night, until we came around the curve and found a complete barricade:
What do three girls who are tired and crazy and in an epic national park at night do? Why, we move the barricade so we can pass through, of course! We continued on, sure that the construction was not nearly that dramatic, until we came to this scene:
Yeah, that would be a 17-foot gaping hole that spanned the full width of the road. A construction worker walked over to the car, and amazingly did not ask why or how we were there. He just confirmed that we would not be able to pass until at least 2am. He assured us they were working as fast as they could, and if we wanted to park there by their trucks and sleep, they would let us know when it was safe to pass. He motioned behind us and said there was a restroom about a mile back down the mountain if we wanted to use it and return. So we went back and found a rustic little spot with no lights. We parked and turned the car off, and left the headlights on so we could see where we were going, used the restroom and got into our pajamas and sweatshirts. When we got back to the car 20 minutes later... the battery was dead. It is now about 10:30, and 40 degrees, and we were 8,000 feet up, and the only people we knew of were the five construction workers a mile up the mountain and the person who was sleeping outside the barricade a couple miles down. And did I mention all the signs that said not to feed the bears? So likely there were bears closer to us than people. So we bundled up and prayed for help and slept for about three hours.
At about 1:15, a truck with flashing lights came down and pulled in next to us. It was a construction worker who wanted to let us know the road wouldn't be open until about 3:30. We told him about our car, and he drove down the mountain to get jumper cables, and came back and rescued us. He offered us waters and granola bars, and escorted us back to the construction site. He said, "You should come up and watch five men hard at work!" But I think the whole crew was taking care of us, wanting to keep an eye on us and make sure we were ok, which is pretty cool. We asked if he thought the lodge would even let us check in so late, and he said, "I would think so... people in Montana are weird, and really nice."
We did indeed watch those five men work hard, and at 3:00, they gave us the all-clear to pass through, escorted again by their flashing truck, all the way to the lodge. We waved goodbye to the crew, blew kisses, and as they waved back in amusement, I am pretty sure one of them tipped his hard hat at us, Mr. Bingley style. They were our heroes of the night.
We got to the lodge and a good-looking security guard escorted us to our cabin, clearly curious about our arrival time, but kindly didn't ask questions and we got about 4 hours of sleep. This is the view we woke up to in the morning:
We took some time for a good hearty breakfast and got some huckleberry jam to bring home as a momento, and then decided to go back down the mountain road so we could see the view that we couldn't the night before.
So amazing!! I wish we could have stayed longer. Some day I will return and spend a week there in those mountains, soaking it in and writing stories. But we had other places to visit, other adventures to seek, so we said good-bye to this beautiful piece of the universe and continued on...