Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Winter in Glacier National Park

I've seen Glacier National Park in the summertime. When the sky is so blue you could swim in it and the forest is lush and green.

I've been there in the fall. When the natural world is at its busiest, preparing for the long winter to come. One September night in East Glacier a mountain lion and her two cubs crossed the road in front of us. The lioness stopped to give us a long look, her babies peeking around her, before disappearing into the trees beside the road.

In the winter, the air is sweet and clean and the blanket of snow softens the rugged landscape. There is a quiet that settles on the park and once you step into it it feeds you, like a vitamin you didn't know you needed.

I drove through West Glacier recently, skirting the shores of Lake McDonald. The mirrored surface of the lake reflected the snowy peaks of the mountains and threw back images of the blue sky breaking through the clouds. Even the bare trees, a stark reminder of the fire that swept through the park in 2003, were somehow beautiful.

I was so moved by my time in the park that I drove back to Glacier National Park the following weekend, bringing my husband and two of my daughters along.

Social scientists say one critical element of true happiness is the bond of a shared experience. Perhaps this is why I had to return. And to bring my loved ones with me. I needed to share what I'd seen and felt. To know they had a chance to experience the same wonder. And, they did.

We drove home under the spell of the ancient landscape. Permanently changed.


  1. I used to work in Glacier NP! I was a waitress at the Ptarmigan restaurant at Many Glacier Hotel. I can't say I enjoyed the nature as much as I should or could have because it was so mismanaged at the time, and we would work 10-15 days stretches - double shifts to boot! - w/out a day off. When you did get a day off, you were desperately just trying to get laundry done (which you had to buy special tokens for, woe to the employee that went to do laundry on a day that no one was available to sell you tokens!) and catch up on rest. We would get sick and run down, and we wouldn't feel much like getting out to enjoy the park as we should have. But it was a gorgeous place to be, otherwise!

  2. Experience makes us wiser. Have you been back since then? CAM