I am not going to be the parent that was too cheap to purchase bear mace and ended up mauled in a national park. So we spent the $50 at the Many Glacier gift shop and headed out to Grinnell Lake. It was our first day in Glacier National Park so we weren't too optimistic, setting our sights on a flat 6-7 mile round trip walk. Hopefully this would give our lungs a day to adapt and we could shake off yesterday’s flight.
I wouldn’t say that the hike out was anything spectacular, not like the high mountain hikes we would climb later in the week, but snow in July is always exciting for Southerners and we made a little snowman and took pictures by the lake. The ferry across the lake was interesting along with its back story of how the summer workers had to drag it down the creek to launch it originally.
After lunch, we hiked back on the North side of the lake down Berry Picker. Just like the guide at breakfast predicted, that side of the lake was much more scenic, in the sunshine, and filled with wildflowers….and berries. The only problem, which I chose not to verbalize, was that bears love berries. I spent the next hour encouraging my husband and children to sing every camp chant and song they knew. I love to oooot, oooot, ooooot, oooples and banoonoos! and whatever else they could come up with.
As the material started wearing down, my husband launched into show tunes channeling his best Professor Harold Hill he belted out
“76 trombones led the big parade!
With a hundred and ten cornets close at hand!”
as we rounded the corner scaring away any and all wildlife- we hoped.
“They were followed by rows and rows of the finest virtuosos,
the cream of every famous band!”
and there on the bridge ahead, not bears but two male hikers enjoying the latest, greatest McGriff show.
They actually clapped as we apologized for ruining their quiet nature experience and laughing one of the men said,”I love it! I was a band director at the high school where Mr. Holland’s Opus was filmed. I have actually put 76 trombones on a stage to play that song!”
So, it turns out we didn’t need the bear mace, just a good repertoire of camp and show tunes and a happy family hiking in the sunshine. Who knew?
Memories like that cannot be planned. But I do know this, they must be cultivated. Families need a shared history, a set of songs everyone knows the words to-or at least is willing to listen and learn-that takes time. If you haven’t spent time getting to know your children, chances are you will have a sullen teenager staring at a digital device. And we might not all have time for that big trip, but make a little time to walk outside in the fresh air talking to your kids. It can’t be bad, unless you run into a bear…
Sidenote: As we were leaving the park from the Lake McDonald entrance, we felt like being good samaritans and went into the ranger station to donate the bear mace(you will never get that stuff through TSA) The ranger did not bat an eye at our gesture of goodwill, took the mace, pivoted, and set it on the desk behind him- next to about 10 more canisters of the same.