Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A long walk on 9/11

The sound of rushing water cuts through the crisp morning air, the cascade just visible through the spruce trees and across the wide reach of a high Rockies valley. A stern rock rampart looms ahead.

“It’s such a gift, that someone had the foresight to preserve this,’’ says Mary Lynne Boardman of Maine.

Nearly 20 of us have spent the morning hiking through the firebrush, trembling aspens and hemlocks blanketing the hillsides of sedimentary rock on the east side of Glacier National Park. Our ranger-led walk will take us nearly five miles in from the trail head to Iceberg Lake, a glacial pool tucked against the back wall of mountains we’ve seen the day before from Going to the Sun Road. Total hike: Close to 10 miles.

Boardman and husband Wayne are making a two week trip that includes Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. “I just want to get outside, away from the computer and cell phone,’’ she says.

No one mentions the fact that this is 9/11, the fifth anniversary of the horrific terrorist attack. Perhaps no one really remembers; unless your watch tells the date, it’s easy to forget about the outside world when you’re surrounded by such natural beauty.

We didn’t imagine when we’d left on this hike that we’d be coming all the way to this far rock palisade; it seemed a million miles away. But here it is, sheltered in the far side Iceberg Lake.

Even standing at the pool’s edge, this all seems so small. Yet ranger Ginny West tells us that the cliff face rises 3,000 feet from the top of the lake, itself a half-mile across and 150 feet deep.

Glacier’s no longer cling to the rock, though a few thick snow patches remain. Even those are far smaller than when West first arrived in Glacier, 16 summers ago. As for climate change, West answers “yes, yes’’ – the change is due to natural cycles but is hastened by human activity.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Glacier National Park is perhaps the most beautiful place I have ever visited. It's tranquil, it's serene, it's just beautiful. I've wanted to visit the park every year since that first time. It's gives you a chance to get back to nature and get in touch with yourself and your loved ones without the distractions of everyday life. It's the most magical places I have ever experienced.