I finished my first-ever half marathon. Sitting on the ground, wrapped in a space sheet foil, walking anywhere — even to the bus that would take me back to my car in Browning — seemed nearly impossible. But once I got to my car, drove back to East Glacier, and had a big lunch and a decadent ice-cream, I felt good enough to drive to St Mary and go check out a few places of the Glacier Half Trifecta.
And so it happened that, after taking a nap on the side of the road (I was literally falling asleep while driving) and checking out the first stop of the trifecta, I ended up at Sun Point trailhead, heading out towards Saint Mary Falls.
I was warned right off the bat about the bears in the park, and realized this was probably the only time when my horrible, out-of-tune singing might come in handy. Surely, not even bears would want to listen to it.
Alternating between songs which I only knew half the lyrics of and calling out “hey bear!” I walked the single-trail lined by the most beautiful wildflowers.
Soon, I reached a small wooden pier reaching out into the lake. It was on my way back when I found out that it was regularly used to drop off tourists that took a boat here.
Baring Falls appeared soon after. It was a nice spot, and not too far from the trailhead, so even families with little children could make it there and enjoy it.
I kept following the trail, going up and down along Saint Mary Lake surrounded by majestic mountains. Clouds started to gather in the sky, and soon, the rocky peaks in the west disappeared in them.
The steep walls of the mountains revealed layered sedimentary rock. Most of the rocks in Glacier are from sediments more than half a billion years old. That’s one-eighth the age of Earth! The rocks that are now the beautiful peaks deposited as sediments on the bottom of a basin that was regularly and for extended periods of time submerged with shallow seas.
Soon, I reached the remnants of old wildfires. The contrast between the charred trees and the lush greenery that started to sprout from the ashes was a beautiful reminder of the cycle of life and death and how they depend on each other — the ashes from the trees consumed by the wildfire enrich the soil and help a new generation of plants thrive.
I got lost in my thought for a bit, which happens more than I would like to admit, and forgot to call out “hey bear” or sing.
Luckily for me, it wasn’t a bear that I failed to scare away: this mother stayed near the trail, unafraid, while her little one was frolicking in the greenery further down the slope.
I reached the waterfall. It fell in a series of cascades, taking a sharp turn halfway. It was a very peaceful place, and I found a spot on the wet rock to sit down and let my mind get lost in the rushing water.
There’s just something about waterfalls — the constant loud hum of the water breaking against the rock is the most meditative sound I can imagine. It always helps my mind calm down a travel to places uknnown; it takes me to the deepest seas, where I’m surrounded by the deepest quiet, or to the mountaintops where the wind is as deafening as the falling water, and it takes me inwards, somewhere where “quiet” and “deafeningly loud” neither matters nor makes sense anymore.
Just as I started my way back to the trailhead, the clouds that have been gathering in the west decided it was time to move to the east. Rain was coming, going after me — if I stopped for a minute to take a break, I could feel tiny droplets start falling on my skin. I was literally running away from the rain, the clouds moving at the same pace as I walked. It was very strange, somehow beautiful, and a little funny — I had to smile at the idea the the rain was walking me back like an old friend, making sure that I’d make it back to the car safely.
The moment I saw the trailhead, the rain caught up with me, and first big drops fell on my cheeks, and on all the living around me.
I thanked the rain for walking me back, and the storm for waiting for me to get into the car — the moment I closed the door, the water started to pour from the sky in buckets.
More from Glacier National Park: