It is a tragic but unescapable fact that country ham, eggnog, and those ridiculously delightful saltine crackers slathered with chocolate and sea salt will eventually migrate to one’s thighs, despite the fact that the holidays would simply be cancelled without them.

Or at least not very festive.

At any rate, the day after Christmas, Nan, Chuck, and I took ourselves down to Glacier National Park, to the Going-to-the-Sun Road and Rising Sun, to preserve our thighs for hiking season 2013 … not that we’re counting to down it in these dull mid-February days.


On the Rose Creek bridge.


In July, when I hike my favorite trails, my head rings with the glorious cacophony of summer: Clark’s nutcrackers drilling, snow avalanching off Many Glacier’s exquisite hanging cirques, tourists’ bear bells jangling, marmots whistling, the swooshing of my blood through my brain as my lungs try to keep up with my legs.

The day after Christmas, our snowshoe was defined by the utter silence of Glacier in winter. The only constant was my ever present pulse as my lungs again tried to propel my legs as fast as they wished to travel.

In the brilliant sunshine that turned the fresh snow into a fantasy land of diamonds, my eyes strained to understand all the different depths of sapphire and silver, and my mind to give them each a name. I thought about how the Eskimos have a hundred different words for snow, and as I pulled my body through the deep drifts, I challenged myself to think of all Glacier’s shades of blue, the color that defines the park for me.

There is, of course, the world renowned shocking Carribbean cerulean of Glacier’s more famous lakes, like lower Grinnel. But there is also the cobalt of a cloudless October sky that only looks deeper against the cafe au lait tones of a bull elk’s rack, the ultramarine of the fingers cascading off Sperry Glacier, the periwinkle glow as the longest day of the year finally fades to starlight, the indigo of blooming lupine, the violet-blue of luscious huckleberries lining the trail to Ptarmigan Lake, the smoky haze of an August forest fire, and for me, the royal bruises tattooing the legs that carry me up mountains and through the stands of cursed alder.

Glacier, it was good to see you.


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