We arrive at the trailhead and thankfully, there is Gini’s car waiting for us. Now I’m wishing I didn’t have wet boots as I’d like to take them off but I don’t have another pair of shoes. Note to self: remember to leave an extra pair of sandals in the car for just such a situation.

The packers arrive an hour later and it’s evident that they’re not happy. They had to rearrange everything to get the weight right for the horses and mule. They went through our boxes and made sure to bring out the food, trash, and our paintings. In doing so, they saw all the extra supplies that weren’t used and I’m sure felt that we had been way too extravagant in all that we brought.

Photo of horse packers

Our packers returning with horses and mule.

We truly did our best and packed what we thought we needed. Never having done this before, we learned a lot. Especially about how much time it takes just to live in a remote environment while fitting in painting sessions as we can. We know that we had too much stuff—we apologize and try to smooth ruffled feathers. Luckily, they see that we are sincere and the smiles come back all around.

Photo of horse packers

Unloading the gear.

We load up our gear in the car, give Sue and Bob our thank you card along with a cash gift and say our goodbyes. Thank goodness they brought out my water shoes and I can change out of my wet boots and socks.

Finally, we are on the road, driving out of the Great Bear Wilderness. Our adventure, or at least this leg of it is over, and we are tired, dusty, and anxious to get home. We have a 2-hour drive and talk about our experiences in a sort of debriefing.

Photo of mountains and fireweed.

Fireweed in abundance on the drive out.

We think about what we would do differently if we had it to do over and we come up with a few things. We would simplify our meals so they take less time to prepare which would give us more painting time. We also wish we would have taken a day to hike up to Castle Lake, another 3 miles beyond our cabin, to see it and shoot photos.

Looking at Glacier from Hwy 2.

The drive home and looking at the mountains in Glacier Park from the south.

We meet John at the little brown church (where the adventure started) and I transfer my stuff from Gini’s car to ours. It’s a relief to finally be able to wind down and let someone else, namely John, take over. He drives me home and I dream about that hot shower that is going to be heavenly! Just think, no hauling water—it comes right out of the faucet! Flush toilets—OMG!

Adventures are wonderful but home is never so appreciated as when one returns from one. Especially when you have an awesome husband who has deep-cleaned the whole house. My 59th birthday is in 4 days and this clean house is the best gift I could ask for. That, along with gratefulness that our adventure was everything we hoped it would be including returning safely with no face-to-face bear encounters!

I’m entering a new decade of life and I have marked it with a journey that has challenged both my body and my mind. At this age, I have a newfound confidence in my capabilities, my fortitude, and my commitment to expressing my creative spirit. I feel this path is right for me and I still have the time needed to strive toward and achieve a place in the world of art making. It is exhilarating and a little frightening, but it is the challenge I need to propel my art to a more advanced level. I welcome it!

Thanks to all of you for your interest, your comments, and your support. Sharing this experience of the backcountry of Montana with you has been so much more gratifying then I ever could have imagined. I appreciate you all so much!

I’ll be taking a short sabbatical from writing my blog as I’m off next week on another wilderness painting adventure. It won’t be as remote as this experience but Gini and I will be painting Glacier Park together for a few days for another upcoming exhibit in 2020.

I’ll resume the posts again in a few weeks with musings about how the Artist-Wilderness-Connection experience directed my creative inspiration and my work. I’ll also share how I approached the year of studio painting for the Hockaday exhibit and show some time-lapse movies of works in progress. Stay tuned…I’ll be back!

Animals we saw today:
Resident Chipmunk
Resident mouse

Harebell (Bellflower)
Aspen Daisy
Sulphur Flower
Indian Paint Brush