The hike up to Avalanche Lake in Glacier National Park is mostly wooded until you reach your destination. Then the forest opens up to a body of water settled below the mountains. Winter’s frozen condensation blankets the peaks until summers’ warmth melts it away; creating dozens of waterfalls that feed this mountain lake you’d never know existed if it weren’t for the signs.
It’s a two mile trek through the trees and a 500 foot climb to reach this stunning sight that looks nothing like the trail that meets it.
Then again, things aren’t always what they seem.
“These waterfalls will be dried up a month from now.” Remarks my husband to an onlooker.
“I don’t think they’ll dry up at all.” I say.
Since I can’t see past the small patches of snow left on the few visible peaks I have nothing to base this comment on other than instinct. My memory’s not so sharp and 19 years have come and gone since I’ve seen a real winter; one that leaves traces of itself throughout the summer as a reminder that it is never far off.
Several hours later, while on a helicopter tour the pilot flies directly over the lake. Cradled by peaks on all sides sits a glacier that can’t be seen from below in the summer; its runoff feeds the lake year round.
It creates crevices in the rocks, and provides nutrients for plants and trees. It makes a place for fish to swim, lovers to enjoy a picnic, or a spot to cast a line on a lazy afternoon. If it weren’t for our rare vantage point we’d have never known it was there.
Things aren’t always what they seem.
Had we visited two months earlier it would have been a different scene all together, with avalanche after avalanche roaring down the mountains and covering the earth below.
Sometimes life is like an avalanche. It buries you and you don’t see it coming. Just when you think it’s going to let up, it hits you again. Like a lake in the winter, you feel numb, cold and barley alive; beaten down by an unseen force from above that others tell you only brings love.
But eventually relief starts to come. The warmth of spring slowly begins to melt away the cold inside; giving birth to a new creation. The remnants of winter leave fresh scars. Some are permanent like crevices in a rock. Some fade with time like a creek that dries up. Still others are beautiful like rare wildflowers that only bloom in just the right circumstances. They are delicate yet sturdy. Year after year they re-bloom. Each season more magnificent than the last.
Like creation itself, this new entity will know wisdom and strength. People will come seeking solace, advice and direction.
And you will know how to guide them because you are ready for the winter.
People will wonder how this knowledge could from one such as this. And you will tell them the truth: “things aren’t always what they seem.”