Sunday, April 10, 2011

G- Is for Glacier National Park

What is your phobia?  Mine is heights.  Back in the late 1980's I took my Mom to Glacier National Park.  We heard that the Going to the Sun Highway was very beautiful, without knowing anything more we set off to explore.  Bad decision on my part!

The road is windy, narrow hardly any shoulders and did I say steep.  A man I knew who lived in Kallispell, MT told me his father had worked on building the original road during the 1930's.  He said when he was a kid, they drove up there and you could touch the side of the mountain from the car window and on the other side was only a narrow shoulder.

By the time I drove the road it was two lanes with an occasional pull out.  (Place you could pull over to let other cars pass.)  Did I mention that I have major anxiety attacks connected to heights?  The trip up Going to the Sun Highway was beautiful.  It was also terrifying.  I realized early on that I was in for a difficult trip, but there was no place to turn around and go back.  I had to keep on going.

The Going to the Sun Road is approximately 50 miles long.  In places the drop is phenomenal.  You have to admire the engineering and grit it took to carve the original road out of the mountain.  It seemed like it took forever to get to the top of the mountain.  Once there I asked how to get back to Kallispell.

"Mam, you take the road you just came up and you go down.  Just retrace your journey."

These words sent ice shooting up my spine.  Perspiration dripped from my hands as they shook.  My heartbeat went into overdrive.  My chest felt like a 500 pound demon was sitting on it as I labored to breath.

I decided there had to be another answer.  I pointed to the road going in the opposite direction.  "Where does that go?"

"That will take you to Saint Marys."

"So if I take that road, how do I get to Kallispell?"

The ranger looked at me with confusion.  "Mam, its a long way out of your way.  But follow the road and you will see some signs when you get to Browning."

Its approximately 140 miles from Logan Pass to West Glacier KOA where our gear was.  Did I mention it was dark and I don't enjoy driving in the dark.  We eventually made it back to our cabin around midnight.

I recently learned that the park now runs shuttles up the road.  People don't have to drive themselves.  I would like to go again before the Glacier melts.  I know I would do better with someone else driving.      I can shut my eyes when it gets to scary.  That didn't work so well when I was the one driving.

Enhanced by Zemanta


  1. Can you imagine going up that road in a model T? Anyway, it was good to hear how you handled the challenge. I have to admit, I'm gone out of my way to avoid certain roads. Nice to hear the story.

  2. I could feel the anxiety in your words. I would have taken the long way home too. That road would have freaked me out. How dumb that I can ride any roller coasters but a drive like that would scare me to death. And I'm with you on trying to keep up the daily writing. I'm trying. :)

  3. The tension and fear oozed out of this piece! I especially liked the paragraph that started with the ice shooting up your spine...great word choice there. This ABC format is also a fun way to keep writing every day. I'm trying to keep up the habit also--it can be hard!

  4. Great descriptions throughout the piece! I too fear heights, so I don't know if I could do this trip. Can't wait to learn more about Montana.

  5. You had me when you mention phobias and heights. I could almost feel myself in the car, reaching out to touch the mountain.

  6. I, too, have issues with heights. Your picture made my stomach turn over! When I was a girl in Alaska, I had nightmares about a road my parents drove that was along a mountainside like this. I always had to sit on the mountain-side when we drove. In my nightmares, when we fell off the edge, I would jump out (I was, after all, on the safe side), and my arm would stretch down, down, down, to pull up the car with my family in it. It is still a real fear to this day. Thanks for sharing! I'd like to hear more about the ABC challenge.

  7. Okay, that was too real for me. I could feel your terror and my hands started to sweat and my feet started to hurt like they do when I'm up too high. Your next post has to be on the ground!

  8. A community after my own heart. My fear of heights is great. How about walking up Massada at 5am on a foot path along the side of the cliff...Me? I don't know how I did that?

  9. Wow, I am surprised by how many people share this fear. My husband has never been to Glacier National Park. I think we may go this summer.

  10. Oh, my gosh. I felt like I was in the car with you! I started to feel nervous early on. My stomach began to tighten up. You did a great job bringing a nerve-wracking experience to life.


Thank you for dropping by and leaving a comment.