Tuesday, June 23, 2015

climb every mountain

I'm in Montana this week, the first of several trips training for High Sierra Camp at Yosemite. 

It's a 100-minute flight to Kalispell except my plane had engine trouble and we had to wait for a "rescue flight" to arrive from Las Vegas. So I spent 7 hours at Oakland airport, grateful for free wifi and plenty of outlets and a gaggle of mostly happy kids.

Today I finally made it to Glacier–Waterton National Peace Park, a place I've dreamt about for years. 

The park is a shlep from Whitefish, where I'm staying atop Big Mountain, a ski resort. It's at the very top of Montana, straddling the Canadian border. Most famous for the Going to the Sun road, Glacier is having a surge of tourists and this is the start of peak season. Still, it's a crime just to drive through it.

I wasn't very specific about my itinerary: I have a week, but it's a huge park and even if I spend one whole day in each main section, I'll barely scratch the surface. 
The park is full of lakes and glaciers and the Rockies are particularly rocky here. In other words, the quintessential national park. 
After a few terrible years of drought at home, I can't get enough of the greenery. Tall grass. Full streams. Cataracts in cedar chasms. 
The trails traverse thick forest: cedar and black cottonwood and hemlock, shown here. 
Rich soil and layers of stone support the canopy. 
The amazing thing is how easy it is to commune with nature, even in a crowded park. Usually I travel across an ocean or date line or the equator before I remember how to do this. The secret is most tourists are lazy. You only have to walk a few feet from the parking lot to have the woods practically to yourself.
And you'll discover true peace is close to home, right outside your door.