In the center of Glacier National Park, Mount Gould’s rounded ridge cradles Grinnell Glacier. On a September afternoon, Dan Fagre walks over a smooth patch of bedrock toward the ancient slab of ice. Below it, newly splintered icebergs fill an opaque blue lake.
The U.S. Geological Survey research scientist, who studies the retreat of the park’s namesakes, stops at a small boulder and taps it with his trekking pole.
“You can tell that this was only recently uncovered by the retreating ice,” Fagre says, pointing out the dusty rock flour left behind by the slow grinding of the glacier. He’s likely the first person to ever touch the boulder.
Fagre moves forward, climbing up four-foot rock ledges like stairs, making his way to Grinnell Glacier’s melting margin. The glacier and its brethren are the park’s most iconic features. They’re also, Fagre says, “icons of change.”
“The fact that they’re disappearing suggests that even the nastiest weather pockets in Glacier are becoming more benign, they’re warming up,” he says. Continue reading