A Haiku Through the Forest

Glacier National Park

We get up early and head to the Park before 8:30 so that we can get a place to park for 2 popular trails that link together.

The Trail of the Cedars is a 1 mile loop on the eastern edge of the Pacific Northwest oceanic climate. This means, if you arrived here blindfolded and looked at your surroundings after you removed the blindfold, you would think you were on the northern Pacific Coast where lush green ferns and velvety mosses grow along the forest floor.

It also marks the extreme  eastern limits for western hemlocks and red cedars. The humidity in the Lake McDonald valley allows the cedars to grow up to 100 feet tall with diameters of 4-7 feet. Some of these trees are estimated to be more than 500 years old.

But another unique feature of the Trail of the Cedars is the poetry written on the plaques describing the boardwalk section of the trail…


Write a short syllabic poem

Count the beats with me                                                                                                                                             

That’s right, this part of the trail is lined in Haiku verse!

Except for this one…

You are among the ancients here. Some of these trees were young when Peter the Great ruled Russia, Mozart dazzled the courts of Europe, Thomas Jefferson crafted the Declaration of Independence, Sacagawea helped guide Lewis and Clark to the Pacific, the United States fought its civil war, and the Wright brothers took to the air above Kitty Hawk.

Throughout time the Kootenai and Salish peoples have revered this as a sacred place with special qualities, qualities that still remain for you to discover, as you walk among these silent titans. What stories these trees could tell. (plaque on Trail of the Cedars)

The Trail of the Cedars crosses Avalanche Creek from the road.

We decide to head out in a counterclockwise direction so we proceed through the edge of the Avalanche Creek Campground.

Suddenly, a snow shoe hare hops by with those long narrow feet. I take his picture when he lands, but unfortunately his feet are hidden.

Tree sculptures adorn this area of open forest.

We take a short spur to the creek bed.

And we arrive at the junction to the Avalanche Lake Trail, an out and back hike of roughly 4 miles.

We interrupt our Trail of the Cedars hike here and take a detour to Avalanche.

Avalanche Lake Trail… Out

We turn right, exit the Trail of the Cedars, and immediately encounter a short, but steep climb into a dense forest on one side and a narrow gorge of rushing glacial waters.

The trail delights us as it runs along Avalanche Creek.

Eventually the trail departs from the Creek but the sound of cascading water lets us know we are still following its course.

Downed trees are the result of recent avalanches.

Right before reaching Avalanche Lake we share the trail with a whitetail deer.

Avalanche Lake Trail… Arriving at the Lake

The lake is surrounded by the Rocky Mountains and borders Bearhat Mountain and Sperry Glacier (not pictured here).

Several cascading waterfalls, meltwater from Sperry Glacier, flow into the lake.

Hikers can continue along the trail as it follows along the western shoreline to the head of the lake.

The next 2 photos are of the eastern cliffs above the lake…

According to hikingglacier.com, this area of Glacier National Park was named by Dr. Lyman Sperry. In June of 1895, while he was exploring the basin, he saw and heard several avalanches thundering down the surrounding mountains. He and his hiking party agreed that Avalanche Basin would be a suitable name for this place. Later that same summer Sperry discovered the glacier that now shares his name.

Avalanche Lake Trail… Back

We ascend up from the beach…

…and back on the trail…

I capture new perspectives in this direction.

Another deer… This one doesn’t flinch as we walk by. He or she is too busy munching on a tasty green leaf.

Lots of new views I missed before…

Some kind of red berries among Devil’s Club

Trail of the Cedars… Resumed

We descend the trail and finish the Trail of the Cedars loop.

A footbridge leads over the creek and provides spectacular views of the lower Avalanche Gorge.

We arrive at the boardwalk portion of the trail and cross another stream. The clear glacier waters appear as a shiny coating of shellac covering a mosaic of colorful rocks.

We hike along reading the rest of the haikus that take us back to where we started.

It’s all up to us

Step lightly on precious ground

Save our Mother Earth

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