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The Grandest Tour: Glacial Lessons

There are some places which defy even the best of cameras.

These are places where the sheer veracity of color can’t be quantified by a manufactured pallet. Where the scale and magnitude of the landscape is too significant to be downsized.  Places so unique that any fleeting snapshot of moments in time neglects the peripheral context to illustrate the divine profundity of its individuality. These are the places of poems, of songs, and of myths that transcend the visual and can only be truly expressed through the emotions of the most exquisite lyrics.

Then there are places which conjure feelings that words, in all their might and power, can’t even approach.

These are places so sublime that even the most serious of men are reduced to fits of giddy curiosity. Places so grand that even the myriad of creatures that call those expanses home pause their scurrying, scrambling, and scavenging to take in their surroundings. These are the places of the gods; pillars of millennia of sculpting that render the earth unimaginably beautiful.

Even as I scour my mind to find the words that can approach an accurate account of my July day in Glacier National Park, I am left helplessly deft to descriptions worthy of what I witnessed.  Of all the transcendently gorgeous places I visited – many of which defy the photos I have shown you – only one seems to elude my literary musings, only one rendered me truly speechless.

There, on the top of the pass which inspired my very name, as I looked down upon the marbled green of the alpine meadows and the slate grey of the rock faces, my chaotic mind was reduced to a tranquil numbness that had been building as I climb the serpentine Road to the Sun. To my right, a goat, white as the snow which lined the crevasses of the rocks and sprawled out over the mountain tops in patchwork pattern of glacial serendipity, looked on at the same view. For him, this was simply another day of his monotonous alpine grind, yet to me, it was a glimpse at the source of his satisfyingly simple existence.

I could go on and try to conjure up images of the marvelous waterfalls, stone blue lakes, and random wildflowers that detail the multitude of landscapes on offer. But really, all those potential words would be in vain. All I can really say is to seek your own imperfect descriptions of places that transcend comprehension. Find your own stories which cannot be fully told. Hold your own memories that are so sensational they don’t feel like memories as much as they feel like secrets. Not deceptive secrets, but little hidden gems of happiness just for you. For me, one of those gems shines just a little bit brighter than the rest. A gem that is conjured up every time someone utters my name, every time I sign for a debit card, and every time I extract mail from my mailbox. It is simply wonderful.

Yet, I cannot give you that wonder. Not through the photos, not through the words, not through my name. All I can give you is an outline to follow; a stray spark to ignite your own little secret.

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