We heard it rustling in the trees to the right of us, and before I could even look, it was already staring at us with its big brown eyes. I tensed up; every muscle in my body was tightening, preparing for the worst. I was searching her face, wondering what her next move was going to be. She didn’t move, just froze, gazing intently at my eyes, trying to figure out if we were a threat to her. Her massive silhouette terrified me, and I remembered what all of the signs said, walk slowly and do not stare into their eyes, so I quickly looked away, nudging Brad to keep walking.
Hiking these trails, you see signs scattered throughout, “Bear Frequenting Area,” along with warnings for various other species of wildlife, but it’s the bears that they tell you to be most cautious about. I had been begging to see a bear, but I did not want the encounter to be this close. Cautious, we inched foreword, unsure of what type of creature was lurking behind those trees.
At first glance, looking at this big girl, I thought she was a Grizzly, come down through the trail to get some water at the glacier lake. Her fur was thick brown, exactly matching my notion of a Grizzly’s fur. But, with a closer look, I remembered the coloring of the Grizzly and cub we had seen the previous day through a stranger’s telescope, and it didn’t match-up. The bears’ coloring was a lighter brown than this creature, and the cub almost fully blonde. The critter we were faced with now, using the trees as camouflage, was a rich, chestnut brown coloring. It couldn’t be a Grizzly.
My eyes adjusted after the initial shock of seeing this mammoth of an animal, and focusing on her face, I realized she was moose, eating leaves off the trees. I relaxed a little, but this big girl watching my every move still terrified me. Although moose are herbivores, they are still massive creatures that could stomp you into the ground in a second if they wanted to. Especially during mating season, a male moose will do anything in his power to destroy you if you’re between him and his female.
Brad heard another noise, and I feared it was the male. We just kept walking, very slowly and carefully, and they left us alone. But just when we thought our wildlife encounters were done for the day, a big mule deer stepped in our path. We knew, hiking the Grinnell Glacier trail, we’d see some wildlife, but they are literally right there on the trail with you. It was awesome!
Before our encounter with the moose, we bumped into a big horn sheep too. They are way bigger than you’d imagine, purely muscle, with huge horns, curling underneath their ears, giving them their name.
We were definitely in critter country now. But the critters weren’t the only cool aspect of Glacier; the breathtaking landscapes were the real reason we ventured up north after
Yellowstone. And we were spot on. Ten times more breathtaking than Yellowstone, Glacier is filled with icy blue lakes and rivers, naturally fed by the gigantic glaciers that are scattered throughout the park. The running waters were identical to the crystal lakes I had seen a few years back in Interlaken, Switzerland. Even the Many Glacier Hotel we stayed at was modeled after a Swiss Alpine lodge. Fittingly, they named the main lodge the Interlaken Lounge.
The view from our bedroom was breathtaking. I honestly do not think that it is possible to
have a bad view at Glacier. As I said, it is an amazing landscape, that captures you in awe, and hiking up to the glaciers is even more magnificent. Magnificent, that is the perfect word to describe these wondrous glaciers. It is sad to think that, due to global climate change, these glaciers are expected to be completely depleted by 2030. They have already gravely decreased in number; down from the original 150 glaciers in the park during the late 1800’s, now only 25 remain. The glaciers are the main water source that make up those icy blue rivers and lakes, so when they are gone, the ecosystem will be devastated, leaving all of the wondrous wildlife struggling to survive.
Environmental education is necessary if we want to prevent this devastation from happening. It all begins with education, and
then change can take place. Visiting all of these parks and forests has given us knowledge that we were without before; vital knowledge about our world that people need to grasp to fully understand this impending climate change problem. Without education, our world will never change, and it will be over before we even get the chance to see all its beauty. We need to work together to educate one another and make this change possible.
We encourage everyone to visit these amazing parks, not only for the adventure of it, but for all of the awesome experiences and wisdom you gain along the way. Thank you Glacier, for sharing all of your magnificence with us.
Next up: Washington! Check out the SlideShow below for more beautiful images of Glacier!!