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Baumgarten: Wait for me, Glacier

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Press Photos by April Baumgarten Glacier National Park has plenty of opportunities for hikers and photographers. Here are a few sights travelers can see as they venture into the park.2 / 11
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“I want to move to Montana.”

That’s what I kept saying as I drove through the beautiful scenery of the Big Sky State. I had never seen such a sight. Towering trees, flourishing flowers, white snow and glaciers with melted ice water playing along the greenery — it was like a perfect paradox, where it was winter yet summer, where ice existed with fire, and life played with frozen stillness.

OK, maybe I am being a little dramatic, but if you saw the pictures, which I got plenty of, you may agree.

This all comes after a long time of passing on vacation. I haven’t had much of a holiday since high school, mostly because I was either studying, working or taking someone else on their vacation.

I did get away from work, but it usually included a trip to Fargo, Bismarck, Medora or the ever-popular Black Hills. Nothing against Mount Rushmore or the little town of Keystone, but after 10 trips, most are inclined to find a new adventure.

I’ve told myself that this year I would go on a real vacation, one that was out of the state and without my family. That’s why I was a little reluctant when Dad called me a few weeks ago. I had taken my Fourth of July vacation day for last weekend so I could work cattle. However, plans changed and we had to reschedule the activity. That’s when my parents asked me if I wanted to go somewhere.

I was a little leery, as I said. Did I really want to spend a weekend in a room with my parents, or worse, a camper? You can have your opinion about the great outdoors, but in my mind, is just paying a small fortune to live in the wilderness, which used to be free. It’s an attempt to rough, though some use it to get closer to nature or enjoy the simple things. That’s totally fine, but it’s not my cup of tea.

Regardless of my thoughts, I decided to take the trek to Glacier National Park. When I say trek, I mean 600 miles, or almost 10 hours, of driving. That means driving through 600 miles of rolling hills — sometimes flat hills — with no cellphone service and only Dad’s singing ability to make the classics classically annoying. I guess I know where I get it.

But the long drive was worth it. We got into the park and drove along the Going to the Sun Road — and you are almost going off the cliffs. The two-lane road swerves about 50 miles through park, going along mountain cliffs, lakes and a clear-as-the-ocean river. Supposedly, the entire route through the park opened July 2, after plows cleared it of snow near Logan Pass.

By the way, did you know Logan Pass sits along the Continental Divide at almost 6,650 feet above sea level? On one side you get to see rivers flowing west, and on the other they flow east. The mountain goats love to crawl along the mountain cliffs, at their own risk, of course.

But the best part about the park, aside from getting a slight tan, was seeing all the waterfalls come off the glaciers and melting snow. Drivers let their cars get a shower as they drove along the Weeping Wall. Hikers have their choice of more than 700 miles of trails to get close to glaciers— I conquered about two miles of going up and down mountains before I said enough. I got to sit along a mossy rock overlooking a raging falls, which produced waves of white and blue before calmly drifting over a bed of rocks that sparkled in the sunshine. I even got to float along the still waters of McDonald Lake in a kayak, and, yes, I almost tipped it — almost.

The park made me want to leave all my responsibilities behind and build a cabin on the green valleys hidden in the Rockies. It was so romantic and majestic. The calm sound of the streams and falls made my heart melt thinking about sitting on the banks, watching the river flow while I lean against the shoulder of a lover.

But as we all know, the grass is always greener on the other side, and all things come to an end. As sad as I was to leave my rushing streams and snow-covered peaks, I couldn’t wait to get back to my exciting North Dakota, where there is always a story to tell. Yes, I get a sick thrill out of driving to explosions or digging deep for the truth on controversy. I like telling stories and giving the people what they deserve to know. Don’t worry, Dickinson. You aren’t rid of me just yet.

But I promise, Glacier, I will return someday. I want to see winter turn to summer before my eyes again. I want to see those rocks under the glass-cover of water that is the Hidden Lake. And hopefully I will have someone with me to enjoy the crashing sound of your waterfalls, aside from my parents and camera.

Baumgarten is the assistant editor of The Dickinson Press. Email her at Like her on Facebook at Follow her at

April Baumgarten
April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, as the news editor. She works with a team of talented journalists and editors, who strive to give the Grand Forks area the quality news readers deserve to know. Baumgarten grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family continues to raise registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college,  she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as the Dickinson city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.