Bears, Where They Fought

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from Nature’s Gifts Anthology from Vanilla Heart Publishing

Lake Sherburne from Glacier Road 3 - Photo by Andrew Kalat

When Hudson’s Bay Company agent Hugh Monroe and a Piegan hunting party rode up the Íxikuoyi-yétahtai (Swiftcurrent Creek) into a U-shaped valley that would become part of Glacier National Park a half century later, they saw two male grizzly bears fighting next to two small lakes. They named the place Kyáiyoix ozitáizkahpi (Bears-Where-They-Fought-Lakes) because that’s what happened there and that’s how they would speak of it later when they told their stories.

A hiker following Glacier Route Three west into the valley from the plains along lateral moraines left behind when the valley glaciers melted off 8,000 years ago will hear no residual growls from those fighting bears. No sign marks the spot. The wise aspen, spruce and pine keep their counsel. On a quiet day, however, those walking alongside the relatively recent Lake Sherburne reservoir may hear the voice of grandfather rock whispering a secret: within the scope of geologic time, all rivers are new, and the men and women who follow them are as ephemeral as monarch butterflies on a summer afternoon.

From the perspective of Glacier National Park’s Proterozoic rock born in a great sea 1.6 billion years ago, the immortality man acquires here in the Shining Mountains comes through his stories.

Nature’s Gifts Anthology

My essay “Bears, Where They Fought” about the stories surrounding Glacier National Park’s Swiftcurrent Valley from the days of Hugh Monroe to the short-lived mining boom town of Altyn to the 1975 flood is one of many contributions in Vanilla Heart Publishing’s 2010 Earth Day anthology, “Nature’s Gifts.” You can read the remainder of this 4,500 essay I wrote in commemoration of the park’s 2010 centennial in the e-book in multiple formats or on Amazon as a trade paperback.

The anthology offers readers more than twenty pieces, from haiku to villanelles, from essays to short stories. Take a walk in a garden or hike in a national park. Reflect on the moon. Learn something new. Laugh and cry with our writers as they discover the beauty, the joys, and the raw power of nature.

Nature Conservancy Contribution

The Nature Conservancy will receive a donation of 50 percent of the profits for every book sold in both print and e-book editions for one year. Dedicated to protecting our rapidly vanishing natural environment, The Nature Conservancy has protected more than 117 million acres of land in 28 countries.

Essay copyright (c) 2010 by Vanilla Heart Publishing

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2 responses

  1. It’s a wonderful anthology, and your contribution helped make it that way. “Bears, Where They Fought” is a fascinating history.

    • Thanks, Smoky. I imagine every valley in ever National Park has a similar rich history going back to the first records ever kept about the place.