Yesterday, I hiked to Rocky’s only remaining glacier, Andrews.
We began our day by meandering around a few neighboring lakes: Nymph, Dream, Emerald, and Haiyaha. Then, we headed south towards the Loch, and started the climb up to Andrews. The trail wound its way through forests and alpine tundra, past trees, grasses, and wildflowers, and over rocks and snowpack.
All of the sudden, we were at the summit. The deep emerald of Andrews Tarn lay before us. Our eyes traced the pool to it’s origin, and there it was: the famed glacier.
Andrews has a delicate, yet strong composure. Its power is palpable; it is the reason behind the tarn, the river, and all the life that they support. Yet, it stands alone as the only “true” glacier in Rocky. Its area and depth fluctuate tremendously from season to season. And though it isn’t receding as much as expected, it’s not that large, and it wouldn’t take much for it to recede into an ice patch.
Studying this glacier and others like it this summer has shown me that even the epitomes of permanence are all but. The valleys that have existed as long as the reach of human memory did not exist until the glaciers carved them. And the glaciers may not exist in years to come.
Nothing on this earth is permanent. Yet impermanence shouldn’t lead to hopelessness. Rather, it should lead to an appreciation for the past, the present, and the future, and a consciousness of how our actions today will shape tomorrow.