Stunning scenery, peace and wildlife
We live in Tucson, and during this lockdown have been discovering all the hiking trails in the "cactus forest" of Saguaro National Park East. What a blessing to hike these trails, surrounded by majestic saguaros, cholla, prickly pear and palo verde trees. Early in the day there are many birds, including gila woodpeckers, thrashers, martins, and cactus wrens. We have also been lucky enough to spot gila monsters and antelope jackrabbits. In April and May the cacti burst into bloom. If you have never been to this park, put it on your list right away!
I’ve been around long enough now to have learned that certain seasons of life bring unpredictability and unanswered questions; however, I’ve also been around long enough now to have learned that those seasons of life eventually lead to opportunities for healing and growth.
2016 was the first year in my life where I felt totally lost. Starting not long after I had graduated college that previous December, I began to feel myself increasingly shrink under the pressures of navigating post-grad life and trying to find my first real job. The goalposts I had been using my entire life to measure success were no longer relevant and I was unsure of what that meant for me. By the time summer rolled around I was weary and not sure I would ever see the light at the end of the tunnel.
That July I visited Glacier National Park for the first time and was instantly awed by the beauty of its rushing rivers, majestic peaks, and moody skies. It was a dark and somber beauty that mirrored what I had been feeling in my own life. I didn’t yet know it but that trip would change my perspective on life and stick with me for years to come. The most moving part of my visit was the hike to St. Mary's Falls and Virginia Falls beyond that.
While the waterfalls themselves were certainly beautiful, it was the trail leading back to them that truly resonated with me. The foreground surrounding us told a story of pain and of loss. As evidenced by the charred tree trunks and lack of canopy, there had within the past year been a devastating forest fire that ravaged a large section of the park. Languid limbs hung from the tree tops, drooping and bare. Tree trunks that once stood tall now scattered the forest floor, broken and burnt. But that was not all. Imposing mountains commanded our attention with views that normally would have been obscured by the trees. Wildflowers in magnificent hues burst forth all around us, able to grow now that those foothills were not covered by the shade of a dense forest canopy.
In that moment on that hike I witnessed the rebirth that comes after destruction, the light that comes after darkness. The views around me looked very different than I imagine they once had, but they still displayed unimaginable beauty and abundant life.
We are collectively in a very trying and uncertain time; however, I remain hopeful of the wildflowers yet to bloom as I try to find perspectives on life that may have been previously obscured. Glacier National Park is my absolute favorite place on this planet, and it serves as a beautiful reminder to me of the healing that is to come.
Do you prefer to hit the trail or relax by the water? Are you a history buff or an outdoor explorer? And do you know which parks offer activities you’re interested in? Let us help you find the perfect park for your next adventure.