Yet another cold night – the bushes in the background are covered in frost
Its funny the things that you think about when you are cold. As you look at all the RVs parked at the campground, while you are slowly freezing at your picnic table, you get this strong envy of how warm and comfortable their nights are, you envy them so much, you yearn to be warm! The nights in the National Parks we’ve visited so far have been consistently close to or below freezing. Add in a bit of rain and wind and you guarantee yourself a miserable day. I read over my first post, about why we travel, and I thought to myself that its great that I wrote it when I was in a good mood, since at that point in our cold misery it seemed so far away and we couldn’t help asking ourselves – what are we doing?
Glacier National Park in Montana had been the worst so far – we came there from Badlands – a small National Park in South Dakota. After an 800 mile drive, with sleeping in the car on the way, we arrived to Glacier Park on September 18th, to find the entire park covered in clouds, extremely windy with gusts over 30mph and COLD. Thankfully we got a camping spot with trees somewhat protecting us from the wind. As we were pitching our tent, dark clouds suddenly descended on us from the mountains and we found ourselves in a cold drizzle while trying to battle the tent’s rain fly that kept trying to fly away with each gust of wind. And did I mention – it was bitterly cold, with the humidity making it even more bone chilling.
At night the laptops, the utensils, the food, the tent – everything including us, was covered in a cold moisture that turned into heavy frost in the morning. We got woken up by droplets of water falling on our faces inside the tent, when the frost melted in the morning. At night it was unbearable to do anything but sit right by the fire, which barely warmed you up or to cuddle up in the tent with our sleeping bags zipped together.
Its like December weather in DC except you can’t just run to your car and drive home – you must stay and live in it and sleep outside. We even said that there better be some character building going on because otherwise its really miserable to be us.
At that point all we could think and talk about was how cold it is and how nice it would be to get warm. From the usual chat about life, the trip and photography, our conversation turns into one liners:
- “I cant believe how cold it is!
- “I don’t know how people climb Everest and bear with THAT coldness!”
- “How did people survive and used to live in such cold conditions during the Ice Age?”
- “What is the weather like tomorrow?” “rain all day and 31 at night” “F**K”
- “We should go camp in California on the beach in wine country and edit photos and write our blog!”
The second day at Glacier was Roman’s birthday. It was overcast with even crazier wind and clouds flying by extremely fast. I guess the weather is very moody there. But there was no rain yet, so I use the opportunity to go to the bathroom. Yeah, did I mention that sometimes you have to walk 0.25 mile to go to the bathroom that is open, since the annoying thing about end of the season is that the campgrounds are closing ½ of their facilities already. As I am about to come out I open the door and its raining really hard, the wind picks up and its gusting 35-40mph. I realize that the wind is making the rain go sideways and if I make a run for it I will be soaking wet by the time I make it. I try to wait it out and hope Roman will drive up and pick me up, but he never comes. As I’m waiting, I see a private residence nearby, I start thinking about how nice it must be for them – they are warm, probably making coffee and watching the rain fall while reading the news. Back to reality – the rain quiets down just a bit- I realize I must make a run for it NOW. I run to the site – the rain is hitting me right in the face and I’m soaked when I make it there, no time to unzip the tent – I get into the car. A minute later I see Roman also soaking wet holding our tiny umbrella – apparently he went to look for me in the other bathroom. He gets into the car and now we’re both wet and shivering from the cold. The key is in the tent, so we can’t even start the car for warmth, while the dry clothes are in the duffle bag in the tent.
We sit there ‘talking’ about how cold it is, what else. Oh yeah – Happy Birthday Roman!
At least the rain stops in the afternoon, clouds clears up as fast as they came, and the wind dies down. As we come out of the tent, we are treated to a beautiful sight of the mountains around us covered in fresh snow – it was almost worth it!
The one thing you learn really quickly when camping is how much the elements affect you – there is no blog writing, photo editing, doing research, being creative or doing anything else when you are miserable and freezing. I realize that the same applies to being miserable psychologically – the way we were living our other life – you are unmotivated, uninspired and dont want to do anything.
But then the next day at Glacier it was sunny and there was no wind and the temperature was in the 70s. We went on a beautiful hike and took some great photos. And your spirits are lifted just a bit and life is a little better, even though the nights are still below freezing. But something happens – you cope, you deal, you adapt, you move on. All of a sudden even though the nights are just as cold temperature wise it’s “not so bad”. You stop complaining and you feel yourself growing stronger and more resilient. We, humans can get used to anything and overcome things we never thought possible. It’s all about a little step at a time, a small psychological barrier that you break, and that’s how its possible to eventually climb Everest. Which I would never do – its too F**king cold damn it!
Roma and Natalia are world travelers, photographers, and an all around fun couple. When they are not travelling far away continents or driving around USA in their trusted Highlander, they can be found in San Francisco, California.