Under the light of celestial pin holes my feet wander from the worn path, crossing Cut Bank and then into the trees. Up is the direction and I’m traveling in unknown country; for me this has an allure like the discrete scent of a woman.
Drawing me in closer.
To beauty and to mystery.
To be closer is what I want, but to what? Not to Grizzly Bears, I’ll take them at a distance. Putting thoughts of Grizzly Bears on the shelf, I kept ambling along until I emerged from the tress, brush and grass laying eyes upon a great hanging valley backed with a broken head wall leading to a broad summit; Mad Wolf, a creature of rock and stone. Climbing upon him, I pretended to comb my fingers through it’s proverbial hair.
Joined together with Mad Wolf is Red Eagle Plume an impressive duo blocking the way to Morning Star and Grizzly Medicine. I imagine myself contouring Mad Wolf’s western ridge to steal a feather from Red Eagle Plume.
With Red Eagles feather in hand I hoped to make a hasty escape from Bad Marriage in favor of a gaze upon Morning Star.
Out in the open the scent of distant forest fires became more noticeable.
The weather was warming.
The smoke added a hollowness to the landscape. Instead of the unimaginable distances and the heart sinking depth of the Lewis and Clark Mountain Range of Glacier National Park it had the feel of an intimate room.
Walls made of smoke from distant regions.
Walking the spine of Mad Wolf the rocky vertebrae of the beast stacked and sorted in the most unusual manner. Mosaics of fractured stones gathered in patterns that only nature could conjure. Simple brown flakes of rock peppered with brightly colored lichens.
Upon the tip top of Mad Wolf I looked off to the east. The present day Blackfeet reservation was in plain sight and from here the landscape transitioned from rugged mountains to great plains; once home to immense herds of Bison.
Pressing my thoughts back in time I pondered the theory of historian Donald H. Robinson on how these lands were originally populated. During the last ice age, when much of North America resided under a thick sheet of ice, it is believed that a great tribe of Mongolian origin crossed the Bearing Straits. Archaeological evidence suggests that these first people eventually crossed the Rocky Mountains where the ice sheet terminated onto the plains.
Upon the eastern flanks of Glacier National Park the great nomadic tribe put to camp. Walter McClintock, another historian, recounted the legend told by a Piegan Chief telling of the Old North Trail which was known to traverse the entire east side of the Rocky Mountain Range from Canada to Mexico.
The chief recounted the stories of his own father that the trail had been present beyond current memory and that the Old North Trail was developed by the great tribe.
From my vantage, I imagine a great community of nomadic people encamped upon the roots of this mountain; Mad Wolf. This place and the Old North Trail were akin to a aboriginal diving board from which the great tribe eventually fragmented and dispersed into rich and complex network of tribes from ocean to ocean.
Amused at how soft and luxurious American life is I smiled at my imagined self; dressed in Mongolian furs, crossing great expanses of ice and eating prehistoric backpacking food. The unimaginable hardships, risks and time honed skills needed for that long migration from Asia to North America. Making the plains, actual terra firma, must have felt like pay dirt. Smiling once more I imagined the sight of that great tribe adorned in tattered fur garb all doing their happy dance.
Walking, I thought at that moment, was a celebration of life. Each step connected me to both nature and my intentions. We’re designed to walk and are capable of great physical feats and distances; the Mongolians proved that. I turn, heading west and away from plains for the interior mountains and my mind slips back to the present; on to Red Eagle Plume and with luck a moment or two with Morning Star.