It is warm for a Montana mountain night. A near full moon over my left shoulder displays my presence, creating a crisp shadow on a slab of white rock. Breaks in the surface offer a place to sit, a place to write. The voice of Feather Woman Falls echoes lightly from a cirque—flowing where a glacier once lived. Its soft sound escorts the waters of Sprague Creek towards Lake McDonald. I am where I want to be, I am alone, it is 3AM.
Nestled on a ledge, 6 miles up this U-shaped valley, Sperry Chalet is one of Glacier’s two remaining backcountry chalets. With no heat, no indoor plumbing, no hot water and paper-thin walls, the structure is Spartan. It does offer amenities unavailable at most park lodges—deeper access to the backcountry and relative seclusion.
Moonlight flows unhindered through clean mountain air, illuminating the night, reflecting off pale rock. Odd shaped shadows loom about me, feeding my imagination, ensuring the grizzly never leaves my thoughts. I hope to find Orion but the constellation is not visible. It is a constant in my life, a childhood memory, an evening moment with Dad. It always reminds me of inner strength, reminds me of him. A distant storm flashes east of the continental divide; I hear no thunder, only the comforting whisper from the waters of Feather Woman.
Rather than follow the path of the glacier to the nocturnal panorama, a memory draws my eyes to the mountains, draws my eyes to a spot where daylight revealed six mountain goats as they lingered in a seemingly impossible location. Unseen, I know they are still there, defying logic that ties most humans to more sensible terrain.
I come here for mountains, for solitude, for inspiration. But I always meet people; learning just enough about their lives to know, given time, I could call them friends. Learning just enough to know their lives have touched mine.