HIKER COTILLION

Today was our first day of hiking in Glacier. When I say this place is not real, I mean that when you hold a lens up to one of the mountains with the sun glistening off of the sparse snow packs, sprinkled with the most beautiful spruces and pines and you click the shutter, you wonder how what you see with your eyes can’t be translated through a Nikon D500. Or any camera for that matter.

John Mayer’s “3×5” drifts through my mind with the lines: "didn’t have a camera by my side this time. Hoping I could see the world through both my eyes. Maybe I will tell you all about it when I’m in the mood to lose my way with words." I concur. There’s no use trying to capture beauty like this in a 3×5, 5×6 or 8×10.

We hiked the short but steep Akipuni Falls trail near the Many Glacier entrance. The thing about hiking is people have an entirely different set of manners out here. Some kind of informal outdoors cotillion is imprinted in the minds of hikers. Where in the city you’d not even flash a smile, here in the mountains human interaction is an excuse to rest a minute. The shifty eyes in the city is replaced with a warm crinkling of crows feet as a smile wipes across and a “Beautiful day for a hike" slips out in a sing-song tone. The other rule of thumb is to keep the uphill climbers quiet while you tell them what spectacular views are waiting for them when they turn left at the fork. You tell them going right is pretty, but steep. Much better to go left. Keep going to the base of the waterfall. Great place for a Cliffbar.

The downhill climbers are the cheerleaders of the trail. This is the rule.

The falls were beautiful. Tumbling a good 40 feet down between a break in the mountains into a clear and freezing cold pool that cascades daintily down the mountain, fizzling out right before the base.

The fires are still raging along the Going to the Sun road. We saw the big open field that’s serving as the fire-fighters base. Four huge helicopters and countless tents for men and women who aren’t afraid of flames that seem to be crawling towards the sun.

Brave ones.

So here we are. Eating freeze-dried lasagna that’s 100% better than any Lean Cuisine I’ve ever had, from orange bowls with blue forks drinking a beer and singing off-key to “Rocket Man.” We can see straight up a mountain from our dinner table. I’ve been watching the shadows creep up the cliff face indicating the day is almost done. I’ll have a hot chocolate and about 100 more pages of Steinbeck before I wiggle my way into the sleeping bag.

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