Friday, July 16, 2010

The Great Divide

Today I sit here, looking out my window, green fills my view. I've waited patiently for summer's peak to arrive. I sat here months ago and viewed colors of grey, white, brown and black. The plants have quickly grown and burst into color. The wild rose is in full bloom next to the black cottonwoods in my backyard. The grass is still un-mowed and is gaining height. Summer is here with it's full blown strength. Life and death is now apparent on the landscape, as the spruce budworm fills the Douglas Fir trees and threatens their life. Life is evident in the new shoots of the chokecherries outside my door. Green is everywhere.

View from Divide Mountain

The next month or so, here in Glacier National Park, is the best time of the year. The mountains are shrugging off the remaining snow, glaciers are being discovered as the snow from last winter is melting, and mountain passes become accessible for hiking.

Tiny alpine plant: Purple Mountain Saxifrage (a new flower for me!)

I took the opportunity, a few weeks back, to climb a mountain. I became a mountaineer for a day. I risked scuffing my hands, a few scrapes, and gained everything. On June 27th, I left work on time...which was a feat in itself...! At about 6:15pm, I was starting my climb up Divide Mountain. Some Blackfeet tribal members say this peak has more significance than the sacred Chief Mountain that is well known for its spirit quests and spiritual values to several tribes. I agree that Divide has more significance than Chief, especially for me.

Sunset in the St. Mary Valley from Divide Mountain

I view Divide Mountain as a very real dividing line between the Blackfeet Indian Reservation and Glacier National Park. I view the mountain as a strong hold of the edge of the mountain range (as it sits the farthest east in a chain of mountains in the St. Mary Valley). I view Divide as a separation between waterways, as it starts the Hudson Bay Divide and sends water to the Gulf of Mexico (to the south) and to the Hudson Bay (to the north). I also view Divide as a comfort of coming home. It welcomes me from afar and I can see it for several miles before I actually reach Glacier. In the begininning of my season, upon arrival, I look for Divide to mark where I'm going and it calls me in.

Jake and Michelle on top of Divide Mountain, taking it all in!

The view at the top is perfect...I only wonder what it looks like during the day. We hiked up, leisurely, on the western slope or the "scenic" route.

Stopped at the old fire lookout on the shoulder of the mountain. Then made our way up, up, and away.

We watched the sun set and let our eyes grow accustom to the darkness on our way down. We safely arrived at our vehicles at about 11:15pm. What a trip! The photos speak for themselves. I plan on hiking this again, several times! The scrapes and torn up hands are worth the reward.

Me, on the top of the world!

View to the north

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Brutal Blessings

I don't have much to say, just a few quick thoughts about Glacier and it's blessings and hardships. It can be beautiful, breathtaking, bountiful and blessed. But it can also be brutal, bruising, and breaking. When you're here, you walk a fine line. I feel strange every time I have to talk to a group of visitors about to deal with bears, how to walk on a trail that's uneven, how to stay away from slippery rocks near waterfalls, and to watch every detail possible. I also feel wonderful telling visitors how the park's beautiful and amazing. Fine line that you could cross. Are we destined to break all the rules we set for ourselves? How do we straddle that line and not fall over the edge? It's a wild world out there and we want to explore it...How is it that I'm lucky enough to survive through the brutal Glacier and view the beautiful Glacier?