Sherburne reservoir: how is the second-most beautiful valley in Glacier home to an abomination driven by farming things a hundred miles downstream which shouldn’t be seen west of the 100th meridian? Our first wolverine site was up on Boulder Ridge, south of the Swiftcurrent Valley.
It was hot in the sun.
And cold in the wind. Wind is the east-side speciality.
We thought the low-snow year would make for good biking. In actuality, it made for good windpack. We took the bikes for an optimism-fueled 600 meter walk, then hid them in the aspens.
The lake ice was direct, but a mixture of slate roof sastrugi, glare ice, and sticky wind buff which made for an excellent hip flexor workout. Our outing up to the ridge and misadventure with bikes, combined with certain Canadians being late, meant we were skiing deep past twilight in to the ranger station.
The moon refracted off the dull ice and patchy snow, and lit our way into the teeth of a cold wind without headlamps. Half-darkness, hoods humming against our heads, and the spilled-lumber clatter of skis on ice cocooned each of us against the rest and we made miles vaguely, in the fog of sensory deprivation.
Only moon shadows for company.
It’s been peculiar enough going “backpacking” while staying in cabins. The Many Glacier ranger station, for reasons best left to the peculiar efficiency of a federal agency, is gently heated and electrified year-round. We lamented not bringing brownie mix to bake in the 50s-era electric oven, and celebrated having a slumber party on the carpet in socks and long johns. Sally and the Canadians were, ahem, rather silly, a state of affairs which well complemented the incongruity of our accommodations. I didn’t take photos of the shenanigans; such luxury visually etched for the readership would be bad for my image.
The morning was achingly clear. Once we plunged 10 vertical feet through the creek bottom and up the other side into the dark trees the temp dropped 10 degrees American and my nostrils quickly became crackly.
That didn’t last long. By lunch the sun, low though it still is, had driven night’s cold from all but the deepest corners of the valley.
For at least two hours that afternoon we burned from the reflection on the snow, stripped down to a single shirt, and fought sticky snow in especially well-baked patches.
I brought the 145 Hoks, which were wildly overkill for flat lakes but feeling lonely in the basement. I found some quality meadow skipping on the slopes of Lake Josephine and amongst the aspens heading up toward Red Rock Falls.
Soon the cold night loomed, and we retreated back indoors. Sally and I had felt pretty good about our dinner the first night: red lentils and brown rice with vegetable curry. I prepped 8 different veggies and hauled a full can of coconut milk. But Karen and Coleen beat us soundly with yam and scotch-chedder quesadillas with refried black beans, salsa, and guacamole. For the second night in a row I was last place in the whiskey drinking department.
The last morning clouds moved in, fat flakes, and just to prove foolish our most certain prognostications: an easterly wind. Weather telling us it was time to go back to that other world, the differences between the two making plain the fact that however improbable it might seem, we were the same souls whichever we were in, and thus ought to remember had in each of us the potential to be so many more, diverse, interesting things.