Saturday, September 17 Canada, eh!

Friday, September 23rd, 2016

SUMMARY:  The wind howled all night, and this morning the clouds were moving in fast, looking nastier by the hour.  Before 7 am, we were on the road, headed for Canada, walking against a stiff headwind.  Finally the road dropped down enough to be out of the wind, whew!   And at 9:05, we walked up to the US side of the border.  It was no problem then walking over to the Canadian side for pictures and some cheering!  (Getting back across was harder, though–the USA border officials gave us a bit of a bad time)

The long hike is DONE.  Worth it?  Absolutely.  We got to see God’s loving care firsthand almost every day on this hike, in ways only He could manage, ways we never even dreamed were possible.

Two songs were running through my head as we hiked in the early morning wind and clouds–one a Christian song and the other a sea chantey.  I did change the words a bit….

“Bless the Lord, oh my soul” was a song that I sang to myself on the very first day of our hike, as we were on our way to the CDT beginning at Crazy Cook monument, New Mexico.

“The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning–it’s time to sing Your song again.   Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me, Let me be singing when the evening comes, “Bless the Lord, oh my soul, oh my soul, He loves and cares for me, Sing like never before, oh my soul,  My Father walks with me.”

And then there is the sea chantey, “Home, Dearie, Home.”   Here’s my version to celebrate reaching Canada:  “Oh it’s home, dearie, home, My tops’ls are hoisted, and I’m bound to sea.  The birch and the larch and the bonny aspen tree are all turning gold in this north country, and it’s home, dearie, home.”

DETAILS:   The wind howled and blew all night, but it wasn’t too cold, and clouds started to fill the sky.  We ate our last CDT “trail” breakfast in the tent while it was still dark (yum, it was good!) and headed back to the Parkway for the final walk to Chief Mountain border station.  We were walking as fast as we could, hoping to be there when the station opened at 9:00 am.

But the wind seemed determined to give us a hard time.  We were walking straight into a very strong headwind that slowed us down.  All around us the aspens were a glorious gold color, and in the sky, the increasingly menacing clouds glowed red.  We looked at those clouds and said to each other, “Wow, it’s a good thing we’re almost done!”   We kept fighting the wind and kept walking, till finally the road dropped down a bit and we were more protected.  Whew, what a relief!

We reached the National Park border and cheered–kept on walking, peering hopefully around every bend for our first sight of the Border station.  Finally, there it was!  We walked past the line of cars waiting to enter Canada, and asked the guard if we could walk over to the big “International Peace Park” sign where the American and Canadian flags fly side by side, and take a few pictures to celebrate our CDT finish line,  then come back.  He said, “Sure!  Just let me have a look at your passports first.”  A quick glance, and he handed them back.  “Congratulations!”

So we walked over to the sign to get some pictures.  I took pictures of Bill with the Canadian flag, and he was starting to take some pictures of me, when a car pulled up and a lady hopped out.  “Would you like me to take of picture of you two, together?” she asked.  Oh yes!  I was so grateful to her for stopping.

Then we walked back past the Canadian border guard.  We could see Terry, the guy we’d met at the St. Mary’s restaurant, waiting for us.  At that point, we could have simply walked back on the left side of the road, then cut over to where Terry was.  But we thought, “We don’t want the US border guards to think we’re trying to sneak in.  We’d better go through on the right side.”  Big mistake!   We politely crossed over the road (still on the Canada side of the border) and walked up to the US border station, just as we had walked up to the Canadian one.  But to our complete astonishment, one of the border people (a lady) started yelling at us very fiercely and acted rather threatening.  We were amazed.  What on earth had we done?  Well, we finally deciphered what all her yelling was about.  Apparently, if you WALK in, there is a special pathway you are supposed to follow, and we weren’t on it.  OK, what pathway?  We had seen no sign or indication of it.  So as politely as I could, I said, “We are so sorry.  We didn’t know.  Where would you like us to go?”  She pointed to an orange cone back down the road a bit and said, “Go there, and wait until I tell you that you may come in!”

So we dutifully turned and walked back to the orange cone and stood there waiting.  Terry, who was on the US side of the border, was watching all this, equally amazed.  Finally the fierce lady gestured to us that we could come across the border.  She checked our passports and snarled at us some more and finally let us go.   Terry hurried up to us and said, “Whoa!  That was bad!”

We hopped into Terry’s car, and headed back towards his place, stopping off for a second breakfast along the way, and then Terry took us to his place in St. Mary’s, where we were able to do laundry and take showers and have a snack and watch some of the amazing videos and photos that Terry has done.  He likes to hang out with the grizzlies and make videos of them!  He said “If you meet a grizz, just sit down on a log or a rock or something and TALK to it.”  He said that’s what the Native Americans do.   Outside, it was beginning to rain, and clouds covered the mountains.

Then Terry gave us a ride back to East Glacier.  Fixit and I were amazed as the car sped along.  We were thinking, “Did we really walk all this way in just the last couple of days??”  But for me it was a bit of a tough ride because I was in the back seat, the road was very winding, and I haven’t ridden in a car all summer.  So I was battling car sickness the whole way.  Fortunately, Terry kept stopping to take pictures.  “You guys are really lucky!” he said.  “The aspens are at their peak.”  Every time he stopped to take pictures, I would get out and walk around in the cold wind and rain drips, trying to breathe deeply to calm my poor stomach down.  (I heard later from Stop N Go that when he got his ride back from the border, he also got horribly carsick!)

On the drive, Terry told us about his adventures in wildlife photography, and also about how the Native Americans live around here.  He is a friend to many of them and has learned a lot about how they think and see things.  Turns out that he makes a living as a swimming pool expert, particularly in the area of pool chemistry.  He said you CAN have a clean pool without using all the horrible chemicals (like chlorine, etc.).   Terry is a man of many interests and talents, he has no “home base”, really, but is constantly travelling, staying in one place for a little while before moving on.  Actually, he was planning to “move on” tomorrow, so we were really blessed to meet him when we did.

Back at last in East Glacier, we gratefully thanked Terry.  He headed back to St. Mary’s, and Fixit wanted to head for some lunch, but I still felt so carsick that I could not yet face eating anything.  So we went and got our “CDT Finish Celebration” T-shirts.  Fixit got a specifically CDT shirt, while I got one of a hiker out in a remote mountain area that said, “Not all who wander are lost.”  Yeah.  No kidding!

Finally I felt well enough to face eating a late lunch, and then we went to the Amtrak station to get our train tickets for Portland.  We needed to wait a couple of hours, so we used that time to go through our packs and get rid of anything we didn’t need anymore.  And the train station itself is actually sort of a museum, with a lot of very interesting exhibits about the history of East Glacier, the Park, and the train.

Meanwhile outside, it was getting colder and colder.  The wind was gusting, and the rain really started to come down.  The clouds were low–we could not see the Glacier Park mountains at all.  Fixit and I looked at that and said, “Thank you, Lord, that we are not up there!  Please take care of our friends who ARE up there!”   Just before the train was due, Stop N Go came tearing in, and he was able to get a ticket, too.  Whew!

We shivered through the cold and rain on the platform, and it felt so good to sit down and be able to just look out a window at the gray skies and pouring rain.  The train pulled out of the station, and it was “Goodbye, Glacier, we’re homeward bound!”  I stayed glued to the train window until it was too dark to see anymore, and then we went and got dinner at the dining car before curling up on our seats to catch a bit of sleep as the train headed for Portland.

Again, words cannot express how grateful we are to God for all He has done for us.  Every step of the way, He has been with us.  If you are reading this and you do not yet know Him, reconsider.  He loves you, He can change your life, and He has made the way to come to Him, by letting go of “me do” and trusting in what Jesus did FOR you.



Leave a Reply