Wholed It Together – W.I.T
Blog entry 11 of many
This past week I spent my time in Glacier National Park, Montana. Upon my ascent into the park I noticed the thick, gray clouds and the tall, woody trees. The fern, olive, and emerald greens of the grasses were shining against the smoky sky. There was a lot of smoke because wildfires stretching from British Columbia to Oregon had taken over the forests and hillsides. Turns out that there is some scientific debate as to whether we should be combating natural forest fires or allowing them to burn. Many ecosystems are dependent on the charred brush and yet with the rising temperatures we must be wary of what is ‘natural’ as opposed to human-made.
The juxtaposition of natural and human-made was very apparent as I sat in a line of cars waiting to pay the entrance fee while being surrounded by jutting mountains and rambling woodpeckers. I paid the thirty dollars, grabbed the brochure from the Park Ranger, and drove to the Fish Creek camping site.
The next morning, I set out on my first hike into Packer’s Roost on the Southwest side of the park. Some La Sportiva hiking boots, a Camelbak water reservoir, and a bear-deterring bell strapped to my Cotopaxi pack composed the framework of my 10-mile hiking gear. But none of that is what this story is about.
The Wildflowers. That’s what this story is about. The Glacier Lilies, Big Sky Balsamroot, and Monkeyflowers were bright and lush! Walking along the river with Fireweed up to my neck was so refreshing as I lost myself in the leaves and petals. My body seemed to meld into the flowers as I walked by and felt the coolness of the stems wisp against my ankles. Was that my hair brushing against my shoulder or a Forest Fern’s feathery leaves? It was difficult to tell. And in those moments, I became a part of the landscape.
The wildflowers were so abundant that I almost didn’t notice the 6,000-foot mountain faces with snow fields looming above. There was a moment as I was walking toward the suspension bridge that I remembered a quote on a silly magnet I read in the gift shop. The quote said: “Advice from a wildflower – show your true colors, delight in simple pleasures, spread seeds of joy, open up, be wild and wonderful!” Hiking with a 2,000-foot elevation gain and a 360-degree view of massive near-extinct glaciers, somehow the simplicity of that magnet quote resonated. Here I was, a tiny speck amongst these wildflowers which greatly outnumbered me and had a much deeper history with the park. I felt compelled to cherish every single drop of the park and take any advice the wildflowers would offer!
I found my way to the 7,600-foot packer’s camp spot, laid my pack on the turquoise rocks below me, and drank the thin, cold air. What an amazing experience. I sat and dangled my feet probably a little too close to the mountain’s edge. Looking down toward the direction of the trail head, which by now was completely invisible of course, I tried to make out the various wildflowers. From my vantage point the nuance was gone. I could still see some yellows, some pinks, some whites and oranges, but the subtle differences were also invisible. Now, the wildflowers created a painted smear across the valley below.
If we can all experience being enveloped by the wildflowers as well as viewing them from afar, maybe our ability to “…show your true colors, delight in simple pleasures, spread seeds of joy, open up, be wild and wonderful!” would increase and we could indulge in the wild beauty that abounds.