After packing up everything I needed for three days in the backcountry, I found myself in a van with 7 strangers and no cell service — and it felt like home.
This past weekend's first official Women's Backcountry Yoga Retreat hosted by Glacier Guides in Glacier National Park brought out a side of me I thought was fleeting... the version I left back in my summer camp. I spent over 11 years working at summer camps in Northern Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula, doing everything from cleaning toilets, kitchen prep, high and low ropes course leadership facilitation, Art Director, Camp Counselor, and leading backpacking, canoeing and biking trips with young women for anywhere from 3 to 17 days.
So when Courtney at Glacier Guides asked me if I'd teach yoga on this inaugural trip a few months ago, I agreed... and I was excited! Tie dye flashed before my eyes, and I felt like a kid again. Although I'll admit I was nervous. Did I still have it in me? Would I remember how to do this? Could I do this?
Turns out the version of myself I left at summer camp is alive and well. And in that moment in the van — slightly choked up — I realized she was there. Always has been. Resourceful with a spatula, capable of setting up a tent at lightning speed, equipped to tackle mountains, and ready to share memories in the wilderness with other like-minded women. No cell phones. No responsibilities other than getting ourselves from A to B and sharing stories along the way.
For me, the trip challenged my comfort zone. Although I love hiking long distances, when you mix in unbelievable amounts of mosquitoes with the heat and sun, I melt and mildly obsess about keeping bugs off my body. (Who says wearing your rain gear during the hottest part of the day can't be fun?!). The first day, we trekked over 7 miles to the other side of Bowman Lake and we set up camp for a night before tackling the challenging Brown Pass. Our yoga and meditation session on the shore of Bowman Lake that night included a visit from a majestic bald eagle right after savasana — a moment I will never forget.
After a good night's sleep and some much-needed morning yoga to prep, we hiked 8.4 miles over Brown Pass (grueling in the hot sun) to a campground that I think might be the birthplace of mosquitoes. We escaped some of the bugs walking down to Lake Frances and did yoga on a rocky beach looking out to waterfalls. I'm literally not even joking — it was incredible. Look:
On our final super early morning, we woke with the sun to trek another 7.9-ish miles down to Lake Waterton to catch an 11:30am ferry across the lake to Canada (ridiculously beautiful bucket list item). We were greeted with a delicious, homemade deli lunch, a mosquito-free breeze, and a shuttle back to Glacier Guides.
For what it's worth, I can count 36 mosquito bites on my right knee alone!
But as I told one of the women on the trip, during our climb up Brown Pass, it's really hard to remember the slogging and the torture after you get home from a trip like this. And sure enough, by the time I got home, I was on cloud nine... itching my knees occasionally, but already brainstorming how I can incorporate more backpacking + yoga into Yoga Hive Montana, and eventual Yoga Hive's around the country. It's that sense of accomplishment that keeps us coming back... because it helps us learn who we really are. When we strip down all the "stuff," we have what's left: Our true nature (in nature!). That's the greatest gift of all — to observe our true nature and incorporate more of those vibes into everything we do.
And I'll let you in on a little secret: Observing, learning from, and incorporating your true self into all parts of your life is the entire purpose and inevitable side effect of doing yoga. For that matter, I think it's the entire purpose of our life on this planet.
(Shhh... don't tell anyone I told you!)
While I don't have answers or "next steps" yet, you can bet I'm working on it. I'm not the only one who wants backpacking + yoga... and I didn't spend 11+ summers doing this work to never do it again. Oh no. Camp Counselor Mollie is coming back... bring on the tie dye!
Wondering how I keep up with all these adventures and projects and goals? There are essential oils for that ;-) And this Tuesday, I'm hosting a free essential oils workshop at the Whitefish Studio. I'm bringing out all my most favorite, can't-live-without-them essential oils so we can sip, sniff and play from 6:30-8. I'll even show you the five oils I brought with me in the backcountry (so you know they've got to be good if I carried them all that way). Register on the Yoga Hive schedule so I know you're coming... sign up with a friend and you both go home with a free essential oil sample!
Big thanks to Jordan Smith, our backcountry guide this past week... and to Glacier Guides for having the vision, making it happen and inviting me and Yoga Hive to be a part of the adventure! Make sure you scroll below for all the upcoming events, and NEW classes on the schedule this summer (more restorative yoga in Cfalls and Kalispell!).
(and... "Camp Counselor Mollie," below!)
Mollie Busby is the owner of Yoga Hive, and writes inspirational musings for our newsletter, which we post here, along with upcoming trainings and workshops. To filter, navigate using the links above to see the category you're interested in. If you have questions, or wish to get in touch with Mollie, drop in to a class, or connect online: