The Wandering Jew: Adventures in Glacier National Park, Part I

Glaciers, draining their purity into hundreds of streams and falls, hug the mountainsides. The peaks along massive ridges stand tall, but are reminiscent of fortress ruins rather than granite towers. One side of the valley stretching ever further toward the sky, the other crumbling away having served its term of glorifying our humble terra firma.
Alpine meadows with Beargrass, Indian Paintbrushes, Fireweeds, Asters and Lillies dancing in in the breeze, glowing in the un-hazed sun.
Huckleberry bushes as far as the eye can see, more than one could ever eat – though how we tried!
Rose Hips, Blackberries, Salmon berries, currants, blueberries and thimbleberries – an amazing site, but I could not help but feel as though I too were on the menu when walking through endless acres of bear snacks. Having seen black bears in Jasper eating berries, I would not want to be so gently treated by one.
Giant boulders, once part of towering facades, clearing chutes along the skirts and bases as they rolled like Juggernauts down the slopes killing hundreds of trees, now lie peacefully with the offspring of the dead firs growing atop them, as if in defiance of their destruction.
At every turn of the path there lay a new wonder – another monument to patience and time; a delicate expression of color and perseverance; a sweeping view that makes it all but impossible to consider littering, strip-mining, or deforesting our precious home. But most do not come to see it, do not go beyond the safety and comfort of their drywalled nests; and so we waste and waste, and now our ears won’t hear the song of 100’s of songbirds known to our forefathers. I wondered how those within a few days drive could live out their lives never having seen the very best of what this world possesses.
The day after we broke camp at Cobalt lake, in the south-eastern wilderness are, brought more than any person should go through in a 24 hour period.
We began the day with a hike up to two medicine pass where three valleys opened themselves before our eyes. Mountains goats flanked the west side, a wolverine kept guard over the east while hawks and eagles patrolled the endless sky, and glaciers and lakes for endless miles in every direction.
Before heading out to camp 2, after we returned from the pass, we decided to take a dip in the glacial lake, on whose shores stood our tents. Naked and free we ran into its chilling waters; within a few seconds we felt its icy grip at our throats and bones and so quickly re-emerged, gasping for breath. There are many levels of cold:
cool; nippy; chilly; cold; chilling; very cold; icy; fucking cold!; freezing; sweet and holy, 6 pound 4 ounce baby Jesus it’s cold… Glacial.
In the last, the water steals your breath and your testicles re-ascend so far you feel like a fetus again.
But that half minute in the lake shot more life into us than a syringe of epinephrine to the heart.
And so enveloped in Joie de Vivre we went along the valley to our second camp at upper two medicine lake.
We stopped often on the way to gorge on huckleberries, and prayed the bears would not gorge on us.
Within a couple of hours we discovered that our prayers were answered.
To be continued…