Troy High School Scholarship Winner Moxley Roesler-Begalke

A Hike to Geiger Lakes: The Eye-opening Experience for a Young Boy

When I was nine years old, my family moved from Minnesota back to Montana. It was late in the summer and my parents were hard at work, getting ready for their jobs and getting the new house ready. This didn’t leave much time for us to escape into the woods and explore the wilderness that Montana possesses. I would stare out into the mountains and imagine what they were like, but we never got to go on a long hike.

The months passed by, bringing a harsh winter that trapped us in the town of Troy. As the snow melted, the anticipation for the wilderness grew. My dad began to talk more about going on hikes and that this summer, we would take one together. I became giddy with excitement, ready for what lay ahead. 

The spring changed to summer, and I began to get nervous. My dad told me that we would be spending the night, which I had never done before. The day we would set off grew closer and closer, dad was helping me pack and calming my nerves. I grew less and less tense and more and more ready for the coming adventure. 

We set out early in the morning, ready to reach the lake by the end of the day. But luck was against us, and we took the wrong trail, hiking for a couple hours before realizing our mistake and doubling back. We headed home that day, more determined than ever to reach the lake. 

On the following day, we returned to the trailhead and we strode out again, but this time on the right path. We reached the lake later that day and set up camp. We would spend the next two nights up there. The next morning, we spent the day ascending to Upper Geiger. Hiking through snow, we trotted along, our progress only hindered by the depth of the snow that lay in front of us. The natural beauties of the place wowed me, opening my eyes even more to the magnificent landscape that was Montana. As we rested at Upper Geiger, I couldn’t believe that a place like this could be real, the gorgeous water, the grass rustling with the calm wind, and the peaceful quiet that I had rarely heard. As my dad and I sat on a hill overlooking the lake, we silently stared out across the emptiness, not wanting to disturb the peace that surrounded us.

In that moment, I truly felt calm. I looked around, stunned at my surroundings and oblivious to the gravity of the situation. I didn’t want to move but my dad and I arose, filled our water bottles and descended from that lake. In later years, I thought back to that moment, and realized that was when I had fallen in love with the feeling of the wilderness. That emptiness, yet peacefulness that I felt that moment had carved out a special place in my mind.

It has been years since that awesome trip, but I have never been able to feel the way I did that first time. I have hiked up to numerous places, yet nothing has stayed in my mind like that moment did. I think what made that trip so special was two things. The first was the mistake we made on our first try. It was monumental and set us back greatly, but it made us all the more determined to make it there. The second was that it made me fall in love with the wild. I will forever remember that breathtaking trip on those three special days with my dad.

Moxley Roesler-Begalke is a Lincoln County graduating senior and the 2020 winner of the Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness essay competition for Troy High School. Congratulations Moxley! Moxley’s essay can also be found on the Your Wild Place podcast.

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About The Author:

Henry grew up ranching and recreating along the Rocky Mountain Front in Choteau, Montana. He graduated from Carroll College in 2016 with a B.A. in Political Science & International Relations with an emphasis on public lands and environmental policy. Henry has been involved in elections administration, forestry, wilderness therapy, and outdoor education across Montana and Idaho. Henry resides in Troy and also works as a Student Life Counselor at Boulder Creek Academy in Bonners Ferry. His passion lies at the intersection of community engagement, outdoor education, and mental health.

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