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[Here is the first of several journal entries I wrote in the old fashioned way, with paper and what-da-ya-call-it, pen, while I was in Montana.  This was was written on Sept. 5, about the events of Sept. 5. They’re going to be a little jumbled up, but bear with me…]

Sept. 5th, 2002

What a strange trip!

This afternoon, I am sitting on the shore of Glacier Lake, a triangular body of water resting between ominously sharp peaks and steep slopes on my left, and rounded pin cushion hills on the right.

The hills appear deceptively small, but in fact rise about 800 meters to the crest; the “pins” are pines, 30 meters tall, with dense underbrush giving the whole valley a solid green coat.

I’ve been told it’s a dry year, a dry 5 years in fact, but though it’s August, the lake seems high, the fire warning is moderate today, and must wonderfully of all, the far end of the lake is fed by a gradually cascading waterfall that traces a gentle ? before mixing into the fresh deep green water at my feet.

I’m looking around for an easy but secure place to hang my food for tonight.  This is not only bear country but chipmunk central as well.  I have basic provisions—some bread, some sharp cheddar cheese—and I’d like them to be there in the morning.

Glacier Lake is 2.5 miles west of a parking lot at the end of Forest Route 561, which winds 13.5 miles into the Mission Mountain Range.  FR561 is a right turn off of Montana State Highway 83, which runs north/south very close to the continental divide.  The turnoff is about 5 miles south of Condon, which is a gas station, a general store, a bar, a motel and a post office all in one building.  Condon is an hour north of Missoula. Missoula is about 500 years ahead of Glacier Lake, which seems to me to look exactly like it did when Christopher Columbus was still a little tyke in a bathtub splashing around with a bar of soap saying “Look, Mama, I’m a pirate!”

I am alone.

There is a soft rush of air behind me, where the lake leaves the valley and starts it long ride Down Glacier Creek into Swan River, from there to Flathead lake, and from there through river to river to the Pacific Ocean.  Almost makes me feel guilty for washing my feet.

Ahead of me, muted by distance but still obvious in the sound of power is the water crashing into the lake.  How can it be so angry and forceful entering but so calm and regulated exiting?

It feels good to write.

I’ve been afraid to put pen to paper, afraid of what I might say, and about who I’d be writing.  But Montana has shown me this trip that rough edges and natural lines of stress and age are nothing to hide or be ashamed of.

Self censor self censor self censor.

I keep looking around to see if that noise I hear is a bear, another traveller or just the wind.  So far, wind.

I did see a black bear yesterday.  It was eating apples off a tree in the yard of the house across the road.  I was standing on the road, heading south down to the public access to the lake.  Swan Lakes, that is.

On the way back, I saw the bear again.  It was 3 feet long, 2 feet high at the shoulder, loping and relax, walking the the woods about 100 yards away from the road I was standing on.

(It’s raining on me now, but it was beautiful 15 minutes ago, and will be again in another 15 minutes.)

The bear paused, looked behind it into the brush, then stood up on its hind legs for a better view into the undergrowth, from which a large, stupid, territorial German Shepherd burst.  Bear dives out the side of the glade, followed immediately by the dog.  Dog reappears about 15 minutes later, unharmed.  Bear seems to not have come back.

Overheard

“The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.”

...who said it?

“Almost every American I know does trade large portions of his life for entertainment, hour by weeknight hour, binge by Saturday binge, Facebook check by Facebook check. I’m one of them. In the course of writing this I’ve watched all 13 episodes of House of Cards and who knows how many more West Wing episodes, and I’ve spent any number of blurred hours falling down internet rabbit holes. All instead of reading, or writing, or working, or spending real time with people I love.”

...who said it?

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

...who said it?

“I play with variables constantly.”

...who said it?

“Only the person who has learned Continual Love coming from a heart of Gratitude/Worship can effectively deal with the problem of loneliness.”

...who said it?

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