The 5 Highs of Hiking the Highline Trail

All hikes are wonderful, but some are unforgettable, uplifting and undeniably life changing.   My hike on the Highline Trail in Glacier National Park perfectly fits the latter.   I have never felt so close to wildlife as I did along this impassioned trek.  With an unparalleled guide amid heave-on-earth, all the ingredients concocted a revitalization of my mind and spirit.  On its own, this hike ignited my creative spark; This hike enabled me to reignite that blaze of motivation and drive; This hike enabled me to feel the pull of magic once more.

Seeing the immense transformative powers of a single hike led me to create a new blog category on my website where each post will focus on a single, specific trail and the benefits gained within it.  All with the intentions and hopes that you, too, can seek out these similar rewards for yourself.  Each post will have the ability to serve as a guide, through photos and descriptives, of the possibilities the featured trail CAN offer and HAS offered.  Throughout my time web-searching a multitude of trails, what I’ve found lacking is a unique take on each trail; I’ve discovered a lack of creative posts surrounding this topic as a whole.  The vast amount of content already out there merely centers on the duration, the difficulty and more facts + data of each trail whereas I wish to focus on each trails’ significance.

Without further ado, I introduce to you the first post of my new series pertaining to the five highs I experienced while hiking the Highline Trail in Glaicer National Park this past month…

Photo Jul 18, 2 34 49 PM


1. Panoramic Peaks

“Nature is not a place to visit.  It is home.” – Gary Snyder

Photo Aug 13, 2 56 53 PM

One of the most outstanding features of this hike is its plethora of never-ending views every which way you turn.  The offering of boundless panoramic peaks truly spellbinds whomever steps foot on its dirt.  This is the FIRST high of the hike you will take note of – the overwhelming beauty immediately pulls you in, begging you to explore deeper with every step.  The magnetism is undeniable and inescapable.

The hike follows along the Continental Divide, also known as the Garden Wall in this portion of Glacier National Park.  Thus, it continually takes its hikers along the “high line” (giving it its name).   From the trailhead onward, you are jaunting along the canyon’s ridge, high above the valley below, and you are NEVER without a jaw-dropping scene.

Encompassed by enormity,  I felt small and humbled.  My trivial problems were put to rest as I gained perspective amid the grandeur.   What an incredible high I felt overcoming worry and finding  peace + hope in its place.  Along with these feelings, I gained inspiration.  These scenes inspired me to overcome my mountains and challenged me to become MORE.  Nowhere else can I uncover clearer certainty that… there is MORE to this life than any one person can conceive.  And nowhere else can I find the inspiration to voraciously go searching for that something MORE.

If you’re a seeker like me with an unquenchable curiosity, then your soul craves renewal and it craves answers to your limitless questions.  With a forever-racing mind, it’s hard to simultaneously silence AND fulfill it.   During my hike along the Highline Trail, I found the answers I was seeking at this point in my life AND my mind, indeed, grew still.  When my mind is at peace, I find purpose and my next course of action becomes evident.  Quite frankly: I see my path clearer.  Thanks to this journey, I discovered my next step and as a result, my soul felt renewed + rejuvenated.

The beauty of this transition was overwhelming and overdue.  I needed it something fierce.  And, with that, I have no doubt in my mind that this trail has the power to renew, inspire and fulfill any seeker who is open to receive her magic and magnitude.


2. Extraordinary Encounters

“Much of human behavior can be explained by watching the wild beasts around us. They are constantly teaching us things about ourselves and the way of the universe, but most people are too blind to watch and listen.”
Suzy Kassem

Photo Aug 13, 1 02 22 PM (1)
Photo by: Doug Michaels

In nature, I’m always seeking to forge deep bonds.  Through meaningful connections, I am able to grow and learn and it is, in part, the reason why I continually travel.  My restless soul is unable to rest until it expands beyond its current capacity.  Even after expansion, it only rests momentarily before seeking further growth and knowledge.  It’s a cycle in which I’m grateful to be caught in.  Que…

The extraordinary mountain goat encounter.

Never, and I repeat N-E-V-E-R, in my life have I been SO close to a wild creature as this encounter upon the Highline Trail.  The stunning goat (pictured above) took it upon himself to guide the two of us along our way.  He would saunter in front of us, pause, look back…once seeing where we were… he’d proceed along the trail continuing to lead our way.  He’d stop, here and there, to eat and even drink as we passed through a small glacial stream.  As hesitant as we were to be in such close proximity to him, I could feel his hesitation just the same.  Furthermore, I could feel his curiosity exude as our curiosity exuded.  Perhaps the most beautiful part of it all, I could sense his comfort grow the more we became acquainted.   As he grew more comfortable, I grew more comfortable and, ultimately, we became a mirror for one another reflecting our inner feelings, intentions and spirit.  We were sharing this unbelievable, unique connection that BLEW MY MIND.  The fact that I was able to see myself in this wild being surpassed my wildest expectations.  Not only had he become my literal and physical guide, he became my metaphorical and spiritual guide as well.

Though the most profound, this mountain goat was far from our only wildlife encounter:  We saw hoary marmots, squirrels and big horn sheep in abundance. The connectedness I was blessed to find throughout my time on the Highline Trail was a pinnacle high.  My heart was overflowing with gratitude and the immense insight I obtained was nothing short of divine.


3. Climbing in the Clouds

“Heaven is all around us. All we need is perception; to extol the melodies of Nature’s orchestra.”
Anurag Shourie

Being so close to the clouds, even IN the clouds, made heaven feel tangible.  The realization that a piece of heaven was there, with me on my hike, became more apparent as we came to the clouds.  This brought about a new level of awareness enabling me to better decode the voice of the wind, the dance of each passing cloud, the aesthetic of every blooming wildflower, the stoicism of the rock and the strength of every tree.  I was living in the moment; allowing the present to consume me and creating an intensifying high.  Was it possible to be any more high on life?  Every universal aspect was working in my favor to create one of the best and most impactful times of my life.

As I was living this dream come true, I was inundated with gratitude and the sense of endless possibilities.  With a new wave of fortune beyond each wind of the trail, the possibilities WERE endless.  The invitation? Open.

Deep appreciation for every small living thing and for every personal discovery equals a profound sense of fulfillment.  I graciously thanked the heavens above (directly above) and the heavens surrounding me for it ALL.

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

For those who know me, they know I always say, “I feel closest to God when I’m in nature”.   As a whole, nature is my place of worship.  And my goodness, how I worshipped along this trail.  I pray that you, too, are able to find comparable closeness to your faith along your Highline Trail pilgrimage and may your spirit soar to new + unfathomable heights.


4. Brilliant Bloom

“I think I like wildflowers best,” I explain. “They just grow wherever they want. No one has to plant them. And then their seeds blow in the wind and they find a new place to grow.”
Rebecca Donovan

Photo Aug 13, 2 48 36 PM

The brilliantly blooming wildflowers, in all their gorgeous glory, reminded me of two important things:

  1. Change is inevitable.  There is so much beauty in change.

I couldn’t help but feel a new chapter unfolding as I gazed upon the yellow mountainside.  My life was changing and it was changing for the better.  After a gray-er start to my year, I needed this resurgence of color and promise.  It spoke to me, confirming that I must welcome this new chapter and embrace its significance.  After all, I felt that it was TIME I take back my creative liberty.  No more waiting.  The time is NOW.

Moreover, when granted such brilliant artwork, such as a single wildflower itself, the sparks of creativity naturally reignite. Reaching this revived and reformed passion to create, I was more than ready and appreciative to kick that “block” chapter to the curb.

2.  Having freedom to grow is everything to me.

I knew I never wanted to stifle my freedom to grow.  Call it a “wake up call”, if you will. But it occurred to me in full-force that I value freedom at my core.  It is the core value in which my whole world orbits (second to love).  Without it, I am no longer ME.  I strongly feel that everyone is entitled to this freedom and, even more, its essentiality.

For some, such as myself, the freedom to grow is synonymous with travel; always traveling in pursuit of places for growth (just as the wildflower seed travels in the wind in search of a new place to grow).  May your freedom reign and growth prosper.

Photo Aug 13, 10 12 45 PM


5. Frozen Failure

“Knowledge empowers people with our most powerful tool: the ability to think and decide. There is no power for change greater than a child discovering what he or she cares about.”
Seymour Simon

I arrived to a mountain pass that was once a glacier.  To me, it still appeared to be one.  However, I was well-informed by a nearby ranger that this once-glacier now fully melts at the end of each summer season.  Thus, making it a mere pile of snow nowadays.

In that very instant, my motivation kicked into HIGH gear.  Yes, I knew the great risks and tragedies our environment is and will continually be facing, but something about seeing it firsthand is heart-breaking enough to kick one’s butt into overdrive.  It’s not like I had been passively sitting by, but I also didn’t feel I was doing ALL that I could.  I was angry at humankind and knew I had to be a BIGGER part of the change.  Collectively, we have failed this earth.  This frozen glacier now fails to exist and that is only one, minute fraction of the sum of disasters our imprint has cost this planet + all its living things.

I needed to do better, try harder.  And I vowed to do just that.

One, small way in which I’ve decided to take action:

Comment on this post a simple way to aid in protecting our environment through sustainability and green living (let’s get the conversation rolling here) AND for each comment, I will donate more $ to Global Footprint Network.

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In conclusion..get out and hike, everyone!  My experience hiking the Highline Trail is a prime example that:

“In every walk with Nature one receives far more than [s]he seeks.” – John Muir.

A walk in nature is never JUST a walk in nature.

Photo Jul 13, 9 51 39 PM

Also, I clearly HIGHLY recommend this trail.  It was one of the best hikes and days of my life and I can’t imagine it’d be any less for you so long as you are open and there for it.

As always…

Much love and happy travels,

-Mindy

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2 thoughts on “The 5 Highs of Hiking the Highline Trail

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