Several Dragonfly Transitions students and staff recently traveled to the stunning Glacier National Park in Montana. The following is an excerpt from one of their incredible hikes and includes a student’s insight into how this trip offered an opportunity for self-reflection and realization about his life’s work.
It was a cloudy Saturday morning at St. Mary’s campground. I was looking forward to this day the entire trip, because it was the day we would hike to a glacier. We all packed lunches and hopped in the van, and Heidi drove us to Many Glacier where the wind was blowing like crazy. Before we went on the trail, Elliott reminded us about bear safety and made it clear that we were turning back if the weather was dangerous. The trail began at the Many Glacier Hotel and continued on the shores of Swiftcurrent and Josephine lakes for about the first 2.5 miles.
Once we got to the first ascent, the weather began to hit us. We hiked into a cloud that was pouring icy cold rain, but we were all prepared with our rain gear. The weather changed about 10 times within the first few hours, and we had to swap out some layers every time. After we passed through the cloud, we could see glimpses of Grinnell Glacier and Grinnell Lake. We saw some bighorn sheep and many waterfalls along the trail. The last ascent to the glacier was the steepest, but all of us were determined to make it. At that point it was still cloudy, but it was clear enough to see the entire Many Glacier Valley.
After 3 hours, we finally hit the Grinnell Glacier overlook, but we weren’t done yet. We all wanted to stand on a glacier that will be gone by 2030, so we marched onward towards it. After a little bit of a photo shoot on the Grinnell Glacier, we ate lunch and began to make our way down the mountain. On the way down, we saw a moose and a bighorn sheep, only about 50 feet away from us. I also was able to take the most incredible picture I’ve ever taken.
For a split second, before Grinnell Lake went out of view on my way down, the clouds opened up and the sun shined directly onto the lake, bringing out its true turquoise color. I’d never seen something more majestic in my life. When we made it down, we were treated to huckleberry pie and cheesecakes at the Two Sisters Cafe. This hike was the most beautiful and important hike I’ve ever done. It made me realize that I want to be a park ranger and extend the legacy of the glaciers by educating people about them. The glaciers will all be gone by 2030, but I’ll be back before then.