Glacier National Park | Montana

If you're into fresh air, huge mountains, and views that take you breathe away - go to Glacier National Park

JT and I have always wanted to explore Glacier so we rallied both our families this summer and headed to Montana in a mini van, or as I like to lovingly refer to it, the silver bullet. Having all of our favorite people under one log-roofed cabin with tons of exploration/adventure at our fingertips for a whole week was a dream!

We made Whitefish, MT our home base and stayed in a cabin that was nestled quietly into the Montana hillside. Here we spent our nights cooking and relaxing together before each new day began, filled with non-stop hiking, fishing, and even white water kayaking. This was my favorite part - the togetherness.

Here are a few snapshots from the trip + some recommendations if you ever find yourself in Glacier National Park. 

Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park. 

Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park. 

Trail to Avalanche Lake

Trail to Avalanche Lake

Hiking

Unfortunately, we didn't get to do as much of this as we would of liked. JT and I are avid backpackers, and plan on making a trip back to explore the park a little more extensively and primitively. Since this trip was with family, we made sure to pick trails that fit every skill level. The good thing is, the 2 trails I am going to share are family friendly and have stunning views.

Avalanche Lake: This is a 4.5 round trip hike. The trail head is located off of the Trail Of Cedars, and winds you past rushing rivers, creeks, and some of the tallest trees you'll ever see. At the end of the trail you get to experience the beauty of a glacier lake. Avalanche Lake is huge and is great for wading, fishing, and wild animal sightings. This hike is what we like to call "low risk, high reward". This was most of our groups favorite hike. 

Snyder Lake: This is one of the hardest and prettiest hikes in West Glacier. It is an 8.8 mile hike round trip. And I am going to be honest - it is all uphill. I would rate it as easy/moderate for experienced hikers and those who mountaineer often. For everyone else it would definitely be strenuous. There is a 2000 ft elevation gain which is what makes the uphill sections so hard. However, the reward is totally worth it. This trail is much less traveled and we finished it by crossing a bridge that overlooked a beautiful, isolated glacier lake and not a single other person was there. We brought our fly fishing gear and caught 17 fish in less than an hour. If you want to work for your views a little more - then this is the hike for you. Word to the wise - bring bug repellent! The mosquitoes were losing their minds. 

Other Hikes to check out: Highline Loop, Icerberg Lake, Grinnell Glacier

Food

Whitefish did NOT disappoint on the food side of things. We left every place we ate in a food coma. 

Piggyback BBQ: Guys, hands down one of the best BBQ places I have ever been - and I am from Texas, so that is saying a lot. They had tons of homemade sauces, like spicy BBQ & sweet & spicy chili sauce - sauces are my love language so I was sold right away. I ordered a pulled chicken sandwich and sweet potato fries (might be the best I have ever had). The sandwich was slathered in their house BBQ sauce and then I poured some of the spicy mustard sauce on top for good measure. BBQ heaven, people. JT ordered their Southwestern BBQ salad - and it was like drool-all-over-yourself good. It was full of organic greens with your choice of BBQ meat, fresh cut veggies, crispy tortilla strips & the best honey lime jalapeno vinaigrette. ORDER THIS. Just do it. Did I mention that all of their meat is sourced locally AND they have outdoor seating that makes you feel like you are on your best friend's back porch with a perfect view of those Montana mountains?

Craggy Range Bar & Grill: I have 2 words for you - truffle fries. 'Nuff said. 

For those who have never had the life changing truffle mushrooms - don't question me, just order all da truffle fries you can fit in your mouth. Your welcome.

Craggy Range was another favorite spot of our groups. It has that typical bar and grill feel - lots of locals fill the seats, but even as a tourist you still feel like you fit right in. Craggy Range literally had options for every taste bud - vegetarian, spicy, BBQ, Tex-Mex, Asian - you name it, they had it. But again, can I just say truffle fries? I ordered a burger called Deep South - a 1/2 lb Angus burger topped with house pimento cheese & fried pickles on a toasted brioche bun. We will definitely be back!

Coffee

I would never lie to you - so I won't pretend we were blown away by the coffee shops here because we most definitely were not. But if you are in a dire need of a cup of jo or shot of espresso, or maybe you just want a nice place to relax and read a book - I can point you in the best direction available.

Montana Coffee Traders: This place was pretty cool from a vibe perspective. It had the rustic, Montana vibe you would expect with a killer gift shop at the front of the store. We picked up tons of cool trinkets/souvenirs and really enjoyed their selections of good. Drinks wise - do not get an espresso drink. Just don't. Stick to plain drip coffee. I got a cappuccino, and it was definitely below average. However, my mother-in-law got a homemade raspberry Italian cream soda that made me want to move to Italy if they would let me drink this thing everyday. So I would say stick to novelty drinks and baked good at this stop. 

Red Caboose Frozen Yogurt + Coffee: They serve Stumptown coffee -can't go wrong there. 

Extras

Glacier Rafting Co: The group consensus was that one of our favorite things we did was white water kayaking. It was around $60 per person and you can either have a single or a double kayak. The guides were friendly and knowledgeable, and the class three rapids were perfect for our group of first time white water kayakers (we all had experience rafting and river kayaking just not in rapids). Glacier Rafting Co is a great company to go with - I would definitely recommend. They do discounts for larger groups and have a great gift shop and outdoor store to keep you entertained while you suit up for your trip. 

Downtown Whitefish: By the end of the week our whole group was pretty beat, so we decided to spend a day hanging in downtown Whitefish. This ended up being a great decision - Central Avenue is a long strip full of local shops and boutiques. The rustic culture of Montana translated seamlessly into each of the little stores we visited. We ended up with a haul full of new fly fishing gear, touristy coffee mugs, local jewelry, and local jams and honey. Whether you are looking to spend money or just want to window shop, if you have a free morning/afternoon I recommend spending some time there.

Quandary Peak | Colorado

Spontaneity is the name of the game. Or at least the name of our game.

JT and I live off last minute decisions fueled by wanderlust and a unquenchable thirst for adventure. We have innate need to experience it all.

We also live busy lives, and sometimes we hit that wall where we know the mountains and the wafting smell of pine are calling our names. And when pine trees start talking, you listen.

We decided on a Wednesday night that we needed a Colorado pick-me-up, and by Thursday afternoon we were halfway to Denver with Zooey & Alyosha in tow.  

After 12 hrs, we made it to Denver around 3 am and we embraced the vagabond life and slept in our car in the parking lot of a Walmart. Two full grown humans and two 50 lb dogs make for a fun night of backseat sleeping. 

We woke up with the sun and after freshening up and re-packing the car, we did our road trip ritual and found a local coffee shop with high reviews.  We ended up spending the morning on the back porch of a lovely coffee shop called Two Rivers Craft Coffee Company sipping a vegan cappuccino for me and a house coffee for my man. The breeze was perfect and the mountains were in view, and we were feeling great. 

After a relaxing morning (and a mound of Greek homework for JT) we headed into Breckenridge, CO where we were going to knock out a 14er. The mount of choice? Quandary Peak. This would be our first winter summit, so we were really stoked. We did some exploring in town and then spent the afternoon doing some easy hiking to let the pups get some energy out + allow for some altitude acclamation. We then came back in to town and ate a big pre-14er meal at one our favorite stops, Eric's, before beginning our search for a place to sleep. With the previous nights sleep still haunting us, we broke down and bought a cheap dog friendly room for the night. A soft, BIG bed and a heater make all the difference. Also, showers are nice too :)

Saturday started bright and early at 6 am as we scrambled to get all of our gear together for our hike. We started so early because 14ers break treeline and are super exposed to lightening and other weather conditions, so you really want to try and summit before 12 or 1 pm. 

We started a little later than we had hoped but made it to the trail head by 8 am and began one of our favorite hikes ever.

This trail starts you out on a winding narrow path enveloped by evergreens. After about half a mile you burst into the open surrounded by mountain ranges in all directions. After another quarter of a mile, we began the first big ascent that was about .8 of a mile. At the end of this section we broke tree line, and the view was GORGEOUS. From there, it was all up. The hike itself was relatively easy in terms of a 14er (though 14er's are never "easy"), other then a few patches of ices that made me rely a little more on my ice spikes than I would have liked, it was perfection. It took us almost 5 hrs to summit and 2 hrs to descend. It was both of our dogs first time doing a 14er, and other than a little altitude sickness they did great. They really enjoyed the hike and the snow - not even the ice seemed to slow them down. We had them off leash the entire time and they did great staying within 15 ft of us.

We both loved Quandary and would highly recommend it to any of our fellow mountaineering lovers. Just make sure you have the right equipment!

Here are some photos from out trip:

warm up hike near Hoosier Pass. 

warm up hike near Hoosier Pass. 

and so it begins...

and so it begins...

my hunky hubby leading the way up the first false summit. 

my hunky hubby leading the way up the first false summit. 

The view from the top of Quandary.

The view from the top of Quandary.

soaking in the view with my girls

soaking in the view with my girls

our sweet pups in their ruffwear boots

our sweet pups in their ruffwear boots

summit of Quandary

summit of Quandary

summit marker

summit marker

12 Things of Me

Since we are still getting to know each other, I thought it would be fun to tell you 12 things about me that you might find interesting. Or maybe you won't, but either way you are about to know 12 more things about me than you didn't 5 minutes ago :)

1) I played soccer in college. I have a love-hate relationship with this. College soccer taught me so much about myself, but it was also one of the darkest times of my life. Ultimately,  I am thankful for the opportunity that I had and that my school was paid for so we will just leave it at that. 

2) My favorite movie in the whole world is Last of the Mohicans. Don't even get me started on the soundtrack...it. is. MAGICAL. My dad and I started watching it together on a lot of our daddy-daughter dates when I was in 7th grade, so there is also some major nostalgia involved. But it's also just the best movie of all time. 

3) I am a dreamer, not a doer. I am in a constant internal struggle with myself because I get these (at least what I think are) great ideas that I am terrible at following through on. I am convinced that this is one of the reasons God blessed me with JT. He believes in me AND pushes me to make all my grand ideas a reality.

4) Discipleship is my favorite. I love being discipled and I love being the discipler. God's word is a deep well. Seriously, it's infinite. I encourage you to spend time swimming in it (see what I did there), on your own and in community. Grasp a hold of the sweetness of knowing and being known by Christ. 

5) Curry makes dreams come true. Curry soup, curry chicken, curry everything.

6) Take me to the fresh air, the scent of pine, and a nice mountain view and I am one happy lady. I lived in Colorado several years ago and worked as an intern for several church plants. It was there I realized how great the great outdoors actually are. That summer I hiked my first fourteener, bought my first backpacking bag (I had no idea what I was doing and accidentally bought a men's large frame), and learned how to cook over an open flame. It was life changing. For anyone who has never climbed a mountain, I highly encourage you to do so. It's really great. 

7)  I have a predictable obsession with plants. I think last time I counted I was up to 28, and I love each one of my plant babies as if they were pets. Or children. Totally normal, right? Also, I haven't killed one in over 2 years, which should count for something. 

8) I met my husband on Instagram. Yay Instagram!

9) Over the last 2 years I have turned into a coffee snob. This can be blamed on my husband, because he taught me that there are ways to make coffee that don't include a Keurig. 

10) I am a major animal lover. If I had my way we would own like 11 dogs, 5 cats, and a few birds and rabbits. But for now we have our 2 rescue pups - Zooey, who is a 4 year old collie/aussie mix and the smartest pup around and Alyosha who is a 1 year old German shepherd mix and a lover of all people. We call them our adventure pups because they love camping and hiking with us and do so well out on the trails. They are also GREAT cuddlers so we feel like we really hit the jackpot. Everyone should rescue in my opinion!

11) I am from an extremely tight knit family - my mom and dad have been an instrumental part in helping to shape me to be the woman I am today. I also married in to the best family in the world, so I am one very lucky and loved girl. JT and I are constantly reflecting on how blessed we are in this way. 

12) I am an extroverted introvert. I love my people and I also love my quiet, self reflection time. I need both to function.

 

I Want to Start a Blog When I Grow Up

I thought it would be good to start with answering the question of "why".

Why start a blog?

I can think of a big ol' bucket full of reasons, but I'll just share a few closest to my heart.

Number 1:  Community is precious and in this ever evolving digital space we find ourselves in, we are able to connect in places unforeseen.  What a gift to be able to meet women all over the world brought together by mutual passions and interests. Nothing has impacted me quite as much as the women in my life that have so graciously loved me, pushed me to be better, laughed with me and grown with me. Here is a place to do all of those things.

Number 2: I am, by nature, an oversharer. What does any good over-sharer, talk-to-a-brick-wall type do? Start a blog, where there is an infinite amount of listeners. 

Number 3: I am a nutrition junky. I went through a no sugar, no gluten, no red meat, dairy free phase and was never the same. I am now a converted lover of coconut oil, anything green and leafy, GF flour, dates, organic maple syrup and honey, almond milk, every nut butter imaginable, and anything I can label raw, paleo and occasionally vegan. When I first started this journey my only reference point was the blogs I was able to find online. There I found recipe ideas, ingredient substitutions, and people who loved being weird about their food as much as I do. So on my little corner of the inter-webs I plan on dedicating a small portion to my food journey, my recipes, and my kitchen. 

Number 4: Last but probably most importantly,  I want to share my life as Jesus continues to shape me as a woman, wife, daughter and friend. He is constantly teaching me and I want to share those moments with you. 

Thanks for being apart of my journey.

- Kali