Not a bad view

Adventure Film 04: Glacier National Park

The goal of the Adventure Film Project is to create an educational film about teardrops & tiny trailers which connects standard high-school US History topics (ie National Road system, Effects of Labor Unions, Model T & mass produced automobiles, national parks, and world war II).  Read more about the film here.

For part 1-3 of the filming for this project, we visited a teardrop trailer gathering in Ocean Shores, WA.  The goal being to have fun at our first teardrop gathering and to get a taste of the teardrop culture on film.  Both were easy to accomplish.  If you haven’t read parts 1-3 of the adventure film blog series yet, you can read them here:

Days 4-5

One of the greatest treasures & forward thinking policies in United States history is the establishment of National Parks.  Conservationists, presidents, local people, and visitors to the nation’s most beautiful & unique land features have all helped to protect some of the nation’s greatest natural wonders.  Glacier National Park is one of these national gems.

Growing up in the great Northwest of the United States, my family would occasionally travel to Glacier for holiday.  I have memories of hiking on the transcontinental divide, making noises to ward off grizzly bears, stepping off of a trail so a great horned sheep & her offspring could walk by within arms reach, flowers, snow, waterfalls, altitude, cold, wanting a warmer sleeping bag, and so much more.  Glacier is my favorite national park for mostly wild nature reasons but there is some nostalgia mixed in to cement its importance in my soul.

It seemed fitting, then, that the film should feature a place which is so near to many people’s hearts (including my own).  Following the weekend at Ocean Shores, Landon (my Cameraman & video expert) and I spent a few hours repacking the jPod with camera gear, audio gear, and our personal belongings.  Then we struck out for Glacier National Park (about 5 hours from home).  Along the way, we made stops for groceries, fuel, the ID badges which were required for film crews in Glacier, and to give various tours of the jPod trailer.  That evening we camped just outside of Glacier National Park at a campground which is creatively named “GLACIER CAMPGROUND“.  Ya, we thought it was a bit anti-climatic as well (but only in name).

To film this adventure, we had to adopt a style of camping which I do not enjoy.  This style?  Camping in campgrounds with other people.  To me, camping should be out in nature and I should find peace & silence (serenity now!! – Read my thoughts on real camping here).  Campground camping is fraught with all the things I don’t like when I’m seeking a peaceful sanctuary in nature: generators humming, toilets flushing, and 18″ of bushes between me & the next guy.  It is unfortunate that camera gear needs electricity to charge batteries or we would have sought other areas to camp.

Overall, the Glacier Campground is one of the best campgrounds I’ve ever visited.  It is affordable, with warm clean showers, and free WiFi.  It doesn’t fit my definition of true camping but it is a pretty nice place to stay and more rural than my house.  We made quite a few friends there too.  As the only teardrop trailer in a large campground, we were subject to quite a bit of attention & gawking.  I gave multiple tours of the jPod and shared about the film & teardrops in general.

On the first full day in Glacier, we arranged our film permits at the park’s headquarters, got park passes, and made for the Going-to-the-Sun Road (GTTSR).  The GTTSR is probably the most traveled single road in any national park.  It is a cleverly camouflaged road that crosses the Continental Divide and draws tens of thousands of auto travelers each year.  It is somewhat ironic that Glacier has the GTTSR slicing through its middle since Glacier is primarily a hiker’s park.  Yet the road enables its adventurers to have a taste of the hiker’s experience from their vehicle.  Beautiful mountain lakes, dry flat lands, wildlife and scenery are at every turn.   Our arrival at the park was 3 days before the pass at the top of the GTTSR opened for through traffic.  The park had just endured numerous rainstorms for several weeks and the air was thick with the smell of freshly fallen water.  Fog rolled up the valleys and waterfalls fell with swelled enthusiasm.  It cheapens the experience to put it this way but…it was beautiful.  Landon and I filled memory card after memory card with awe inspiring footage and we couldn’t stop talking about our next film project together -which we decided would focus exclusively on Glacier National Park (I’m not sure how serious we actually are about that but the place is just that inspiring).

At about noon, we drove back to the park headquarters where we were met by Glacier’s Communications & Outreach Manager, Amy Vanderbilt.  Amy has 30+ years of experience at the park & should write a series of books with her vast expertise on the park.  She is also a very gracious host, really fun to be around, and does a killer interview.  Our arrival was well timed since the park turns 100 years old this year.  Amy said that the year is more of a somber commemoration rather than a typical ridiculous American celebration.  The reason for a more restrained milestone is because of the park’s history.

Long before the US government had an interest in what is now Glacier National Park, the Native groups lived in the area and considered the park to be sacred (in fact, they still do consider it sacred).  Turning the territory into a United States’ national park has had a strange effect on the way of life for the Native groups.  On one hand, the territory is now owned by a foreign government which can do with it as it pleases.  Yet, on the other hand, without protection of that territory there would likely be a Starbucks on every mountain peak now.  Ok, maybe not a Starbucks but you get the idea (probably a Super Walmart parking lots the size of Europe).

Amy only shared a small sliver of her wealth of knowledge in the interview and I find myself dreading the editing process.  I know we will have to cut some material down to the bare bones to make it fit the requirements of this film project  (perhaps I’ll make a director’s cut for the intellectually curious).

Following our time with Amy, we traveled on dirt roads north towards the Canadian border to visit some old historic towns & a mountain lake.  These roads made the Jeep demand that it be used for its natural purpose (to get muddy).  Mud puddles the size of small ponds where on every road we traveled.  Some spanned wider than the road and were over a foot deep.  In short, it was a lot of fun getting to that mountain lake & the jeep came out a nice light tan color (which lasted for 5 more days of travel until we were in Wisconsin).

Finally, exhausted from the travel, time changes, and with a sense of impending editor’s doom, Landon and I crept back to our campsite, and the jPod.  Once there, I backed up all of our data (3 hours on 3 hard drives) and charged batteries for the next day’s journey.  We ate tomato, cheese, onion, and lettuce sandwiches and went to bed early.  The next day we had a 14 hour drive planned.  One which would test our patience and redefine the words: HOT, FLAT, and BORING.  Yet, for the time, we happily chose to ignore the obvious fact.  What fact did we determine to drive from our consciousness?  The fact that the next day we planned to start driving through the state of South Dakota.

If you haven’t been there, the State of South Dakota is the natural beauty and geographical arch nemesis of Glacier National Park.

Click Here to Read Part 5

1 thought on “Adventure Film 04: Glacier National Park”

  1. Wow! Your commentary is excellant! I want to go there again! very descriptive. Photos are very nice, too bad you have to edit any–any chance you could make an uncut version someday? Great job both of you!

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