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I Got Chased by a Ram at Glacier National Park and Understood Forest Protection


(Feature Photo: Weeraya Vichayaprasertkul)

My name is huy (yeah it’s not capitalized), an EcoCupid from Vietnam and a long-time hiker. In August 2022, during my Fall 2022 Academic Fellowship on Environmental Issues at the University of Montana, we got a chance to visit Glacier National Park for a full-day hike. To me, it was a surreal experience.


Words can’t describe the beauty of such pristine nature. The endless overlaps of green and lush valleys pierced mountains upon mountains with tops covered in snow so white and bright that could dazzle the eyes. All covered in the gentle golden sunlight of a fine morning, just like a Levitan painting. Glacier National Park was truly breathtaking, but that’s not what I’m most impressed about. I’ve climbed many mountains in Vietnam and hiked through many forests, so, sadly, this kind of scenery isn’t something new to me. 


Trash is almost non-existent on the trails in Glacier National Park. (Pranav Krishna)

Do you know what’s taken me aback? If you happen to go to Vietnam for some hiking, surely you will encounter a saying that goes “Don’t wanna go astray? Just follow the waste”. Long have I been accustomed to recognizing hiking paths by tracing litter from previous hikers. I was expecting the same, if not even worse when we first came to the National Park. It was so crowded in the parking area that I’m already preparing to get disappointed.


But then, when we started our hike, the first thing that struck me was that I couldn't find any sight of trash at all. If I hadn’t been staying in Montana for almost a month, I would be extremely puzzled by this incident. But if there’s a lesson I most adored when I left this place, it is how people protect and live in harmony with the environment.


Glacier is a very famous and picturesque hiking destination. (Pranav Krishna)

There’re a lot of things people may miss when they aren’t weathered hikers. We can figure out the reason for the cleanliness of a hiking destination by simply looking at the attitudes of the hikers. In Glacier and literally hiking trails around Missoula, people always try to pick up their trash before they leave. It's not unusual for us to see people carrying filled trash bags alongside their backpacks when they are on the way down.


Another thing to notice is the area around the campsites. We did have 2 days of camping on Duck Lake, and the first thing I did when I got there was check out the litter in the area, and as expected, there was none.


Sunset at Duck Lake camping grounds. (Pranav Krishna)

How does the simple act of picking up trash when we hike matter to us? Let me tell you what I experienced at Glacier. A ram chased us up the mountain. Yeah, you heard it right, it wasn’t hostile but a surreal experience for me. When was the last time you saw a big-sized animal out in the wild? Deforestation in Southeast Asia in particular has led to the destruction of habitat for a variety of animals. When this happens, large mammals suffer the most.


About 2 years ago, when I was hiking in a South Vietnam forest under a moonlit night, I encountered a massive deer with the most beautiful antlers I have ever seen looking at me right on the other side of a small spring. Silent and still, we looked at each other as if time had stopped. Majestic and mythical feelings filled my heart. A part of me wished that that moment would never end.


We got chased by this ram, but still had time to take a photo! (Weeraya Vichayaprasertkul)

That incident was a thing that I hold dear as a previous piece of memory. And now I encountered a ram as big as a person and regular hikers in Glacier just took it as an everyday thing. I was awestruck by the abundance of nature here. I was also saddened because, with the vast tropical rain forests, my country could even have more marvellous scenery.


We reached the summit! (Weeraya Vichayaprasertkul)

But we all can have such an enchanting experience with nature right in our home country. From a small act of picking up trash to lobbying for a new regulation on deforestation, we all can create change so that we and our future generations can be witnesses of the true beauty of nature.


This article originally appeared on EcoCupid at www.ecocupid-asean.com, with slight adaptations for the YEP Academy. To see the original article, please visit https://ecocupid-asean.com/eco-stories/64db2a51fa7339ffd8716a2c.




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