I first read about Glacier National Park in the first grade. I checked out a book on national parks repeatedly from my tiny school library (two shelves near the secretary’s office). I was enthralled. I dreamed I would get to travel as an adult, and I would go to Glacier National Park. I promised myself if I made it to college (not a given in the area I grew up in, for socioeconomic reasons) and got a really good job, I would make it a priority to visit. I was diagnosed with cancer for the first time in 2013, while in graduate school. I felt a sense of urgency to fulfill the dreams of six-year-old me. I had indeed succeeded more than little me ever imagined possible, but this specific goal had not been fulfilled. My husband and I drove to Montana from D.C. (Flying was difficult while dealing with the effects of surgeries and cancer medication.) We hiked to the lake I remembered from the book, and I took my shoes off, rolled my pants up and walked in, just like I envisioned 25 years earlier. Connecting with wild places gives a sense of completeness like no other.
Photo: Samantha Oester & Justin Henkel
Haiku: Samantha Oester