I will show you pictures of this place, but know that they are an outline, a shadow.
There are some things that must be seen.
A picture or a word can’t translate what the eye sees.
If you’ve been here before, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, my greatest wish for you is that you experience what it is like to not have words for something.
A man we met at a pullout on the Going to the Sun Road was having the same problem I am having. “I’ve been trying to come up with the words to describe this place,” he said to us. He was retired, had a motor home permanently anchored somewhere near there, and from the way he talked he took his small 200cc motorcycle out on this very road several times a month. He shook his head slowly, a gesture of defeat and awe. “I can’t find a single word that fits.”
The man kept telling us about more motorcycle-worthy roads. I think maybe he saw in us kindred spirits. When you meet someone who sees a place the way you do, who experiences it in much the way you do, it’s hard to let go. You can just look at each other with bewilderment and understanding. We never got his name.
Along the same road we pulled over again, this time with a big red bus full of tourists. I eavesdropped on the tour guide for a while. He described what qualified as a glacier (it must be at least 25 acres), how many glaciers were left (25), and when they’d be gone (2030).
There were more kindred spirits among the tourists. “Good God,” they said. And, “This is just…” But mostly, “Are you seeing this?!”
The glaciers and the landscape they carved are breathtaking, truly. You should go, even if someone accuses you of being a “last-chance tourist.” Go anyway. Go because it will change you whether there are glaciers there or not. Go because after seeing it you will want to save the glaciers and the earth.
Go because you may see something you never thought you’d see. Like a field of wildflowers thriving next to an iceberg-filled lake.
I was broken open by the wildflowers. They line the roads and blanket the hills. They are extravagant and lush, and over and over again Alice Walker’s voice rang in my head:
“I think it pisses God off when someone walks by the color purple in a field and doesn’t notice it. People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.”
That is exactly right.