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Camas Flowers / NPS

Every year, the Conservancy welcomes a team of seasonal employees to work in our busy retail stores during the summer season. They travel from all over, and for many, this is their first trip to Montana or Glacier National Park. Their enthusiasm and energy are contagious as they experience many “firsts”. We thought it would be fun to share some of their personal experiences and reflections in a series of blog posts.

Our third in the series is by Ripleigh from Montana.

I have only been working at the Conservancy for a few weeks, but the experiences I have had and the memories I have made are going to stay with me for a lifetime. I have spent my entire life in Montana and have been to Glacier countless times, but getting the opportunity to experience the park with so many wonderful, like-minded people is an honor. One day, in particular, has outshined the rest – I got to go on a sunrise hike, do product photography, and go on a classic boat tour of Lake McDonald. This day happened to be the summer solstice, which seems to be very fitting as I walk into this new season of my life.

My day started at 4:50 am. I got picked up by a car full of my new coworkers with another full car following behind. We headed off towards Camas Road and up the Inside North Fork Road. Up and up and up we went until we reached Camas Creek Trail. We all got out looking at the very cloudy sky around us. But we were determined to see the first light of summer and a beautiful meadow that our friend Jenn had been telling us about. We were off and going, but we soon realized this was becoming a very muddy hike. Most of the trail was pretty flooded due to the consistent rain the days before. We hiked about a mile and reached Christensen Meadows. We walked out of the blanket of trees into this beautiful sea of purple flowers. It was breathtaking. This flower was the Camas flower (the bulb is actually edible). We didn’t have the chance to see the sun much, but the overcast sky made for some beautiful photos of the flowers. As we made our way back to the car we laughed and joked about how sopping wet all our shoes had gotten. On our way back down the Inside North Fork Road, we got to see glints of the sun peeking around the clouds, the first of its summer light.

A meadow of yellow flowers blooming with a snowy mountain in the background.

Ripleigh’s Picture of Camas Flowers in the Rain

 A co-worker and I were working on product photography that day for our e-commerce site, so we gathered up all the products with the rest of the team and headed into the park.

Our first stop was the beach at Apgar Village. We got some fun photos and played around with having both the lake and mountains in the background. Next we were planning to go to Trail of the Cedars, but when we got up to the trail there was no parking anywhere so we played the license plate game as we looked for a spot. I had never seen so many people from different places. The ones that really surprised me were people traveling all the way from the east coast–like Maine and New York. I wanted to hear all their stories and perspectives, but that would have to wait. We found no parking so we headed back down and stopped at the Sacred Dancing Cascade. We got some good shots of the product with the falls and had a great time laughing at our poses.

We stopped at a couple more locations on our way back and went up to a Camas road pullout to get some pictures for our book club book, The Weight of Night. This pullout overlooks the burn scar from the Robert Fire of 2003. This fire burned 57,570 acres along Lake McDonald and Camas Road. The perfect background for our book.

That evening was the employee boat tour of Lake McDonald. I was in a car with some of the co-workers who I had started the day out with (I absolutely love when things come around full circle). We made it to Lake McDonald Lodge and met most of the other seasonal employees working for the Conservancy there (we had a group of 22). We all made our way onto the DeSmet, a beautiful antique boat made in 1930. I was very excited! I had never had a chance to embark on a boat tour in Glacier. We had a really fun captain and I learned a lot of history. Everyone seemed to be enjoying their time. The energy was high! I got the chance to go up to the top deck – the views were astounding.

When the tour was over and we got back to Lake McDonald Lodge we took a big employee photo. I love how welcoming everyone on this team is and how genuinely caring everyone has been. We headed to the car and went back to the other side of the lake by Apgar Village and jumped in the water. It was extremely cold and a great way to end a great day!

A group of people poses for a picture.

It was all smiles after the boat ride!

When we got back to the house there was a fire started and we all sat in a circle, made s’mores, and asked each other questions. One of the questions was “What would you rate your day on a scale 1 to 10. One being the worst day of your life and 10 being the best.” I really thought about it a lot, and when it came to my answer I gave my day a 9.8 out of 10. I had been waiting for a day like this with people like this for a very long time. Between the great vibes, the great conversation, and the perfect circumstances this day will stay with me for a lifetime.