Glacier National Park – Following a Goat Trail to Salvation

This is focus; concentration at its most. I have become a way-finding robot and a relentless thought pulses through my wires; “Must find a way down”. Circuits, transistors and vacuum tubes roar to life with the pump and squish of my heart. Find a way down. Electric and alive, living in lizard brain mode all of me is dedicated to looking for the way, scanning, sensing, feeling and inching forward. Splayed out in front of us is a maze network of cliffs, massive talus slopes incised with fingers of reaching forest that mingle with the headwalls of great peaks looming above. Find a way down.

Step, step, step, crawl, look, peer, “Hey Bear!” Nature has become me and for now getting from where we are to way, way, way down there is all that matters. Testing the edges of discernible features, looking for clues, weaknesses that might reveal the way. Gloom strides in as the edge gives way to an airy view. Find a way down. I’d give anything to fast-forward evolution and sprout wings allowing for an eagles flight off this cliff riddled country. That is not the way of things though. Find a way down.

Despite being totally freaked out by the unknown looming in front of us the impossible beauty of a lone mountain goat descending a thousand foot cliff on the Sentinel jerks me back to my old self. A burst of sunlight peeking through the storm clouds. The part of me that isn’t robot forms a smile, enjoys the moment, watches, waits and feels humbled at the ease with which that goat easily negotiated nearly vertical terrain.

If I were a goat then negotiating what lay in front of us would be a cinch. Closing my eyes, I imagine myself sprouting short white hair from my skin, exchanged hands for black hooves and my long straight muscles for the knotted mass of the goats front end. Blue eyes fade to near black and my dirty brown hair gives way to spiked horns. Reopening my eyes I am disappointed that I’m still a way-finding robot. The way seems clearer now. Lines emerge from the chaotic lay-out of nature. The way of the mountain goat is the wise path and the way through this maze. Tenuous hours pass and soon the cliffs are behind us. Each step forward brings calmer and more friendly terrain. Moving forward allows me to shuck the circuits, transistors, vacuum tubes and goat parts for my old self. For now, I can put the robot away; I’m happy to feel my bones, muscle, blood and to feel the love in my heart for Esther, for nature and for life. Found a way down.


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