Leave No Iceberg Unturned

I stood ankle deep in the frigid water, my feet quickly going numb, a welcome feeling after the nearly 5 mile hike here to Iceberg Lake. Wondering why my brother hadn’t done the same, I asked Dinesh if he was going to wade in.

“Nah.”

We’d reached this serene place after a significant trek, starting at a trailhead 5 miles back and about 1,500 feet down near the Many Glacier outpost in Glacier National Park. Like many of these alpine hikes, the early stages were steep, and I was worried that our 4pm start time was too late for a 10 mile round trip. But we made good time, and we were at the Lake before 6pm.

Iceberg Lake stood at the end of this trail, an emerald and blue pool at the foot of a curved granite wall with shelves draped in snow. The snow blended into the end of the lake, forming sheets of ice that even now, in the middle of July, covered an end of the lake. Icebergs had broken off and floated peacefully through the lake.

Too peacefully, thought my brother. Not long after declining to wade in, he’d made his mind up to climb onto an iceberg about 15 feet away from where we were on the shore. The water was shallow and clear here, and we could see smooth rocks covering the lake floor out to the iceberg, making it look like a simple jaunt.

So he tested the water, stepped on a rock. He rolled up his pantlegs and emptied his pockets, in case he managed to get more wet than he expected.

Within a few steps, the lake bottom fell away more steeply than he expected, and within a few feet of the iceberg, he was waist deep. This is my brother, so of course he wasn’t about to turn back now, and seconds later he climbed onto the iceberg, looking back with a gleeful grin and a grimace all at once.

And then he felt the iceberg wobble and it started to list backwards, his weight not exactly evenly distributed. He hesitated, wondering what was happening, and then fell backwards into the frigid lake. Keeping his head above water, he quickly regained composure and swam the short distance to shore, shivering as he climbed back onto a rock and contemplated his accomplishment.

View pictures from Glacier National Park.

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