Glacier NP Trip

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I’m back with another trip! I’ve been so lucky this summer to go to some pretty amazing places- definitely a perk of not working. My parents planned a trip to Glacier National Park and they had a hotel room with and extra bed at one of their stops and they invited me to tag along. Fortunately, I was able to use United miles and get a direct flight from Chicago to Kalispell, MT (perk of big city living). I had four full days to spend in Glacier with my parents who had driven out from Michigan. We spent most of our time based out of St. Mary on the east side of Glacier NP. The park is HUGE and I definitely did not even come close to seeing even half of it. My dad was stoked to go on a national park trip again; they haven’t been to a NP in over 10 years. He had all of our hikes pretty much planned out and he wanted to cover some major miles. After our Machu Picchu trip, I caught the hiking bug so I was excited for these hikes too!

Day 1 Hiking: Iceberg Lake Hike out of Many Glacier

We hiked up to this lake with a ranger and some other hikers which was nice in terms of scaring any grizzly bears away but I really prefer hiking solo so that I can go at my own (quicker) pace. This hike was about 10 miles but the elevation gain was not substantial. In general, Glacier NP only gets up to around 8000 feet which is minimal compared to Peru and even the Rockies in Colorado.  We carried backpacks each day with lunches, rain gear, some warmer layers, and plenty of h20.

After we finished this hike, we heard that there were 2 moose in a lake about 0.5 mile away so we decided to walk over to check it out. We found them!

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Day 2: Hike to Ptarmigan Tunnel out of Many Glacier (approx 10 miles)

Half of this hike was on the trail that we used on the first day before cutting off and leading us on a steep climb up to Ptarmigan Tunnel. Apparently we just missed seeing a grizzly bear on this trail. Unfortunately, we got to the top and it was all fogged in so we weren’t able to see anything! The tunnel was cool to see and I’m not sure how anyone engineered/constructed it.

After this hike, we decided to do a 3 mile hike to Red Rocks which was an easy trail with a pretty lake for viewing. We also tried to spot our moose friends again but they weren’t to be found.

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Day 3: Highline Trail out of Logan Pass (approx 13 miles)

This hike was the most beautiful of all the hikes we did. The wildflowers, the mountains, the animals, this trail had it all. We started this hike with a ranger but the pace was too slow so we ended up breaking off from the group. Our original intention was to hike the 6.5 miles to the chalet and then hike 4 miles from the chalet to the road and then take a bus back to our car. However, this whole time my dad had been having really bad foot/heel pain from ill fitting hiking boots which was exacerbated when going downhill. The four miles to finish the hike were all downhill and he just didn’t think he could walk downhill for that long. So, we decided to go back the way we came (hence why we did 13 miles instead of 9). The hike was gorgeous but I will be honest, I was pooped by mile 11. My mom and I had beer and goldfish in the car and that’s all I thought about during those last few miles. This hike had a few good climbs but overall was not too difficult. We were able to get a great view of a mountain goat on the hike back which was cool!

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During this hike, my left achilles tendon also started aching. At first I thought it was just rubbing on my hiking boot wrong but then I realized it more of an “internal” problem. I’m not sure if the hiking made my already tight calves even tighter or if hiking all of these miles so close together was too much for me. Since our trip, my achilles hasn’t quite been normal and gets especially achey when running. 😦

Day 4: 6 mile lake hike from Logan Pass

We decide to switch out our hikes for our last day. All of us had something aching (achilles for me) so we ended up doing a fairly easy 6 mile hike instead of another 10 miler. On this hike, we saw a mountain goat, mountain sheep in the distance, and a cute little marmot. When we got down to the lake, the fog once again rolled in which created an erie feel. After this hike, we drove to west Glacier and walked around Apgar Village, saw Lake McDonald, and then went and checked into our hotel in Whitefish. Whitefish is a super cute town and has a ski hill that I wouldn’t mind checking out in the winter. I flew out back to Chicago the next day.

Overall, this was a super fun trip and I would definitely go back. There is so much more to see! My parents are super frugal so we ate most of our meals in the hotel room (hello packaged tuna and easy mac) but this definitely kept the cost of the trip down. I think I spent $20 the entire time…all on coffee (note- I don’t drink instant coffee if there is an alternative lol). It was also nice to take a trip where the only clothes I packed were hiking clothes and I left my make-up at home. I of course got my hiking fix too.

xo

Mary

Oiselle #birdcamp

Not to be confused with actual birds.

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Oiselle is a women’s running and apparel company, owned by women, made for women, sponsoring elite female athletes. The name is a play on words of oiseau (French for bird) and elle (French female pronoun), so there’s a lot of bird-related jokes and branding.

So, Bird Camp, where all the lady runners come to play.

Continue reading Oiselle #birdcamp

Peru!

Hi!

Long time, no blog! I have so much to tell you so I’m going to try and get back to posting more regularly and plan on writing some catch up blogs. I’ll start with our trip to Peru from May 2016. Rob and I started talking about where we wanted to vacation in May last summer because we knew we would have a few weeks to go on an awesome trip post graduate school. I’ve never traveled abroad so Rob was kind enough to let me pick the destination (he has been to several places in Europe and Australia). I instantly chose Peru. For some non-specific reason, I have been wanting to hike the Incan trail to Machu Picchu since taking several Spanish classes in college. We started planning our trip last fall and this winter and settled on a 10 day journey to Peru, including a 4 day/ 3 night hike on the Incan trail to Machu Picchu. I’m going to try and give you a brief overview of our itinerary and share some of my fabulous Iphone pics 🙂

First stop: Cusco, Peru

Fortunately, Peru is on Central time so there was no jet lag to deal with. However, we did have to factor in the altitude. In Cusco, we were hanging out around 8,000 feet and on the Incan trail, you hike to upwards of 11,000 feet. Because of this, all of the guide books recommend spending a few days in acclimatizing in Peru before starting the Incan trail hike (or any of the other hikes). I also got a prescription from my primary care provider for Diamox which is an altitude sickness drug that I took prophylactically during our trip (it does make your hands, feet, and parts of your face go numb…). We could definitely feel the altitude! Climbing up stairs and walking up hills in Cusco was so much more breathtaking (literally and figuratively). While getting “adjusted” to the altitude in Cusco, we explored some historic sites and also took a day trip to the Sacred Valley from Cusco. Cusco was the capital of the Incan empire. Side note- I have never seen so many stray dogs in my life! They are all over Peru and generally just ignore humans. It took all of my energy not to try and play with/pet them.

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Overlooking Cusco
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Rob enjoying the first of many Pisco Sours (a popular Peruvian drink)
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Plaza De Armas in the center of Cusco
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These llama/Alpaca are all over! This was our hotel’s
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This large statue of Jesus sits high on a hill looking over Cusco

Second stop: 4 day/ 3 night Incan trail backpacking trip with Alpaca Expeditions

After a few days in Cusco, we embarked on our Incan trail hike with our tour group. Our group consisted of 3 nurses from Washington, a group of 6 friends from Canada, and us. We were all similar in age which made hiking with them so much fun! We also had a fabulous guide and assistant guide, chaskis (porters), a chef, and a sous chef. This was definitely glamping. All we had to carry each day was a day pack with things we would need while hiking with plenty of water. The chaskis carried the rest and they are AMAZING. This hike would have been so much more tough and dare I say not doable for us if we had to carry everything. It was plenty challenging as it was. While the concept of having all of these support people is a little strange, it’s really how everyone does this hike. There are lots of tour groups in Peru that lead hikes on this trail and a few others and they all work similarly. What made the trail specifically challenging was that there are no switchbacks. You are either going straight up (usually rock stairs) or straight down them. At some points, I felt like I had to stop every couple of stairs to catch my breath. However, despite these “challenges” it was so worth it! (I could see how people really struggle and don’t enjoy the trip if they aren’t athletic natured and minded to begin with though.) This hike was definitely the highlight of our trip. We were able to see parts of the Andes that you would not be able to see without hiking and were also able to visit some magnificent Incan ruins that are along the trail. While a fair number of people hike the trail daily, we never felt crowded and there were some days where we didn’t see many other people besides those who were with us. Because we were able to see some large Incan ruins without having hoards of other tourists around, we felt like Machu Picchu, while spectacular was also a bit of a let down. On the last day, we woke up at 3am to get to Machu Picchu for sunrise and it was incredible. But once we got down to the site at around 7:30am, there were already tons of tourists who had come in via bus. Machu Picchu was quite noisy and crowded- something we hadn’t experienced for the past 3 days on the trail. We also really bonded with our group by the end of the trek and were sad to separate! And…I could go on and on. Here are some pictures which can’t quite capture the beauty that was the Andes….

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First day done! Thank goodness for Peruvian women who came to the site with cervezas!
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Example of the stairs that we climbed…and climbed
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Some of the tents at camp
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Machu Picchu

Stop 3: Lake Titicaca, Peru

After our hike, we flew from Cusco to Juliaca and then took a cab to Lake Titicaca, about an hour away from the airport. This is the highest fresh water lake in the world and is at about 11,000 feet. While the lake was beautiful, we didn’t enjoy this part of the trip as much. We went out on a boat tour one day and met some local people who are still maintaining ancient cultures. We also visited a floating island made of reeds where some communities still dwell. This felt very touristy to us and also just didn’t settle quite right. While these communities do make money from tourists who purchase their goods, I don’t like the idea of going to watch how “other” people live their lives. We were able to visit some pre-Incan ruins on our way back to the airport and that was probably the best part. I wouldn’t recommend taking time to visit Lake Titicaca if you ever find yourself in Peru.

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Floating Reed Island

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We had so many airport/flight disasters on the way back from Peru but I will just stick to the happy memories. This trip was so fun and I would definitely recommend going to Cusco and hiking the Incan trail. I’ve also heard that the Salcantay trail is fantastic too. I’ve definitely got the hiking bug now and would love to do more similar trips. It’s wonderful to see beautiful places and be physically challenged at the same time!

XO

Mary