By the time we got to the sign that said “ford” we had lost the radio station.
“What’s a ford”? Val asked. “It means a river or stream crossing”, I said. We stopped a car going the other direction – an older couple rolled down the windows. “How’s the road past here”? “Well, it doesn’t get any worse”, he said. “There are about 12 fords though, but nothing you can’t manage”.
We kept going, slowly down the unpaved road. After the radio the phone signal went next. The isolation grows with each minute, but the landscape – the mountains on both sides of the valley, the rushing of water, the green lush grass, the slopes of rock – who needs a radio.
I rolled down the window to let in the fresh, slightly cool, but not cold, mountain air. All around us were thousands of sheep, cows and deer. More sheep than I’ve ever seen. I stopped the car to listen to their sounds – baaaa, baaaa, baaaa. The wind swept up the valley, we pressed on.
There were other cars at the trail head, a good sign I thought, as it was late in the day to start out on a hike to the glacier. We packed up our things and headed out – everyone seemed to be going back to their cars though. “Are we the last on the trail” Val said. Me: It seems like it.
It didn’t matter. The trail winded through the forest and we crossed two swing bridges over rushing melted glacial water, so blue it looked like it was flowing from the sea. I wanted to jump in, wade around, but would have been instantly pushed down stream.
The glacier appeared at the end – our backs were soaked with sweat, the air was chilly, the noise from the river, loud. I pulled out a snack – but we avoided the pictures. “You can’t capture this”, Val said. “It just has to exist in our minds”.
Back in the car, headed towards town, I had a moment where, I wanted to stay remote, stay in the isolation a bit longer. The road back took less time, counting the fords we had done earlier in the day. I was a bit sad, actually, about leaving the valley. Sad about seeing the road become paved, sad that the day couldn’t last longer. The memory will suffice for now – until we see the sheep munching on the grass, not knowing how lucky they are.