The cliff section of Garden Wall at Glacier National Park is beautiful… and formidable. The three-foot-wide trail snakes along the side of a towering precipice with a sheer drop uncomfortably close underfoot. Shante paused in her tracks to take a deep breath and absorb whispered words of encouragement from a teacher, hesitating before cautiously moving ahead. The terrain was rough and each step, uncertain, as she grasped the Glacier Overlook offers a window looking east over a glacier and a trio of subalpine lakes. To reach the stellar overlook, Garden Wall Trail climbs a thousand feet in one mile. If that sounds intimidating, there is more tough news the hike ended; when she livened up, she was impressed by her own valor, “I was terrified at first. I couldn’t focus on anything but moving forward along the path… I got over so many fears!”
Shante grew up in the city; her first camping experience ever occurred just months earlier at WI’s Apostle Islands Base Camp with her peers in the Saint Paul Public Schools AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program. The trip was a stepping-stone between a half-day paddle on the Mississippi and the Glacier National Park expedition. Shante and her classmates learned how to pitch a tent, collect wood and build a fire, prepare meals and cook on a camp stove, and other basic outdoor skills they would later rely on in Glacier.
“The most important thing that I’ve learned from participating in WI’s UWCA program is my love of the outdoors and passion to protect the environment. I’ve learned how to respect the land.” This realization is driving Shante to pursue a degree in environmental science in hopes of landing a career in the outdoor industry.
Before entering college this fall, Shante returned to Glacier with WI…this time as a student leader, poised to encourage and inspire other young adults to conquer their Garden Walls.