T.S. Elliot wrote, “…the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” That is what it feels like to return to Glacier National Park. I lived here for ten years. I’ve been away for almost four months. I live in Florida now, which is about as different from Northwest Montana as one can get. I’ve traded the mountains for an ocean, snow for humidity, and the chance to see the Northern Lights for the opportunity to witness the power of hurricanes. For this brief time, I find myself visiting a place I once called home and am getting to see so many people I love.
On my absolute “MUST DO” list was a sunrise trek into Glacier because, as I’ve mentioned countless times: sunrise is always worth it. It’s worth the effort, worth the shrill alarm clocks, worth the cold and the bugs and the dark because you never can tell if you will be blessed with truly magical light breaking the day and glancing off Heaven’s Peak. The day I went up the sky was cloudless and hazy — not my favorite for wonderful color and drama — but it was still amazing because I got to be in close proximity to two of my wildlife favorites: Rocky Mountain goats and bighorn sheep. It is impossible for me to see these creatures and not stand in awe. They are so wild and so unexpected and yet so close, and like that video I’ve seen on facebook, sometimes too close. My friend and I carried bear spray because there is a video from Hidden Lake trail of a grizzly bear chasing mountain goats right past a group of very startled tourists. (Yikes!)
Glacier is such a wonder. I’m so grateful for the leadership of those who saw its value and chose to protect it for generations to come. I wish all who come here would treat it with reverence and respect, but as the world seems to grow ever more selfish that wish seem more and more like a dream that cannot be. But wouldn’t it be grand if visitors really tried to “Take only pictures, leave only footprints.” So before I go into the pretty pictures of the day here is my service announcement/plea for this place that I love:
— If your van is pumping out blueish smog maybe get that fixed at your local dealer before you drive all the way from Broward County Florida to pollute the crystal clear air up here.
— If you have a dog (I love dogs) respect the wildlife here that might not be able to handle whatever intestinal bugs a dog from wherever poops out and respect the rule that dogs are only allowed in Glacier at Apgar, not up at Logan Pass, not even if you keep them on a leash. Your beautiful pups are a risk to animals that live here. Respect that.
— And most of all, please be careful with your food and your trash. Improper food storage can attract bears and get you killed. Little bits of trash get eaten by curious resident wildlife. Please protect them.
I don’t have kids of my own, but I like the idea of generations yet to come getting to look out over the Crown of the Continent and be blessed by this wild and special place. Smokey told us when we were kids, “Only you can prevent forest fires.” Well today, only you in partnership with all of us, can protect these wild places. They deserve to be protected.
Baby goats are always a source of joy.
People come here to escape the smoke and smog and noise of their urban homes. This van was idling and pumping out smog the entire time I was at Logan Pass. The saddest part for me was seeing the license plate from Broward County, Florida. That is only a few hours south of my home in Indian River County.
The Crown of the Continent at daybreak.
Snow! Icky, hard, not the kind you want to play in at all, but still a joy to me as I continue to get used to the heat and humidity of Florida.