I’ve talked before about when the year starts for the Glacier County Honey Company, but my personal year started today, because I took a sunset drive into Many Glacier and saw this:

This is the spot where, ever since fall, I’ve seen the gate to Many Glacier locked.  But today, it was open for the first time this year, and so my season as a hiker begins.  And I’d rather define myself as Hiker than nearly any other way.  And I’d rather begin or end a hike in the Many Glacier valley than anywhere else in the world.

About 500 yards into the Park, I saw this big guy, who is anterless right now:

That’s a bull moose, by the way.

I drove down to the Many Glacier Hotel and saw that the plows have cleared out a path around the hotel ….

but I didn’t see another person.

It’s only in the very early and very late seasons that you get the parking lot at Many Glacier all to yourself.  I scrambled up the rocky knoll above the hotel and soaked up the view.

I wandered down to bridge and did not see ice:

I did see this gorgeous goldenrod-y lichen, and I would like to one day paint my kitchen in this exact shade:

I wandered down the access road to check out the hotel:

Most of the windows are still boarded up.

Sunset behind Mt. Wilbur.  I climbed up to best porch in America and drank it in.  Sat there till it was nearly dark, and then I got to thinking about a great picture I took of a bear wandering down the access road a couple of summers ago – the bear is literally running under the “Authorized Vehicles Only” sign, and it is one of my favorite pictures.  At any rate, armed only with my Canon, I decided to return to my chariot.

Leaving, I nearly missed these folks:

How many sheep can you see in this picture?  I bet you miss a few.  I nearly did.

See how perfectly they blend with the rock?

In Many Glacier, I am met with ghosts of myself at every age from nine to twenty-nine, and memories of peanut butter and honey sandwiches at various spots along the trails and on the high ledges with an array of friends and family.  I’ve filled up many journal pages, with ink and watercolors and tears, on the front porch of the Many Glacier hotel, where I’ve also played with my godson, run relay races, debated politics, drank huckleberry margaritas, and cuddled up with Honeydew.  I learned I could climb mountains in Many Glacier.  I’ve seen more bears there than anywhere.  I once went snorkeling with a friend in Swiftcurrent Lake, and scored a fabulous pair of Chanel sunglasses in the process, which I promptly lost tubing down the St. Mary River the next day.  I’ve sung karaoke in the employee pub, and tracks from the Sound of Music on the Iceberg Lake Trail.  The last beer I ever shared with Howard, in the back of his pickup, was in the Swiftcurrent parking lot.  When I die, scatter my ashes from the red saddle at Altyn and Henkel, so that I can remain there all year.

2010.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.