There isn’t a lake in which Hong doesn’t want to swim. Neither rain nor sleet, nor icy cold mountain waters will keep this boy away from a swimming opportunity. One evening, we decided to go to Apgar Village near the western entrance of Glacier National Park, which sits on one end of Lake McDonald. The village has a few shops, cafes, a hotel, and spectacular views of the Lake. Hong was determined to swim that night despite the fact that he had no swim shorts and that no one else was in the water because they were well aware of its temperature.
It took him about 45 minutes to prepare for this moment. He first had to eat some protein, try to find a swimsuit for purchase (mission failed), do some Michael Phelps stretching techniques, walk into the water and quickly back to shore, and at last he did it…he swam in this freezing water. At our urging, he swam in his shorts. To the visitors of Lake McDonald that night, I say, “You’re welcome.” After several quick swims, he came out of the water rejuvenated, shivering, and quite possibly hypothermic. It may have been the best moment of his vacation. We returned to the car, found some sweatpants in the back of the truck for Hong to wear, and then blasted the heat so that he wouldn’t freeze to death. We ended the evening with an excellent meal at the Lake McDonald Lodge.
The following day, we checked out of our RV park and spent one last day at Glacier. While Chris, unfortunately, had to spend the day working in a parking lot at Apgar Transportation Center, Hong and I caught one of the free shuttle buses (A great service provided by the park) and took off for the Hidden Lake Trail at Logan Pass. Earlier in our journey, Hong noted that he never saw African Americans vacationing in the mountains and informed us that he was told by one of his best friends that African Americans simply have no interest in being in a mountainous region. It quickly became Hong’s mission to prove his friend wrong. I think you see where this is going…but we’ll get to that later.
Our ride on the shuttle was more than entertaining. We met a few women from Bigfork, Montana who shared their almost unbelievable bear stories with us, with one story involving a grizzly bear that licked a woman who was kneeling down while on a trail. We still aren’t sure if the story is true, but how can you make that up? They shared with us their stories and educated us on what to do if you meet a grizzly bear…always good to know before you hike in grizzly country. Before we knew it, we had made the one hour trek up to Logan Pass.
The trail to Hidden Lake was really crowded as it is one of the most popular hikes in the park. Hong, not one to do a slow, leisurely walk, had us passing people right and left. One lady commented that she needed to move out of the way to make room for the “real hikers.” Ha…me? A real hiker? I don’t think so. But, I had no problems with her thinking it. We made it to the overlook in no time and caught the breathtaking view of Hidden Lake. It truly is a beautiful sight. The trail continued on but signs warned us of the steep and rocky descent. While this sign scared off most of the tourists, we just simply read it and continued on down the path. Nothing was stopping Hong from getting to that lake!
The trail was strenuous but manageable. Hong, the fitness enthusiast, thought nothing of it. My knees reminded me quickly that I was not in the best shape, but I survived. We made it down to the lake and were not disappointed with the view. The water was crystal clear. Because of the hike’s difficulty, few people were there. We sat and ate Curves granola bars (Hong’s purchase at the grocery store…not mine…he’s watching his weight) while we watched a couple of people skip rocks on the water and two girls bravely swim in the water. That’s right…someone other than Hong is brave enough to swim in the icy cold waters! I was sure Hong would fall quickly in love with the bikini-clad girls. Instead, he was just angry that he did not bring along his swimsuit and had to settle for just putting his feet in the water. I joined him and I have no idea how anyone could take on that water. It was cold. Really cold.
We began the hike back which was much more difficult than the hike down but again, manageable and the views of the lake kept me occupied so I did not think about my achy knees too much. We got up to the overlook point and stopped, this time for a few pictures. A nice man offered to take our picture with the beautiful views in the background and then asked for us to do the same for him. Hong took his picture, they briefly discussed the types of cameras each was using, and we parted ways. Not ten steps away, Hong and I stop, look at each other, and at the same time say, “That was a black man…in the mountains!” An excited Hong rushed back to the man and while I stayed back and observed from a distance. I could hear Hong mentioning his friend’s theory and then from the man I heard laughter. Laughter so loud that all of Glacier probably heard it, including the wild animals who probably scurried away to their hiding places. The man and Hong shook hands and Hong took a picture to prove to his friend that black people do indeed go to the mountains.