Waterfall Chaser #SOL22

I was struck, and not for the first time, by how much easier it is to ruin an ecosystem than to run one.

Elizabeth Kolbert in Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future

When Glacier National Park opened as a national park in 1910, the park had at least 150 glaciers. In 2022 only 26 named glaciers remain in the park Some of these have lost as much as 80% of their mass since the 1970s.

St. Marys falls in Glacier

The first climate report warning the U.S. government of humans’ impact on and degradation of the climate landed on the desk of President Lyndon Johnson in 1965.

My husband and I spent a good chunk of our summer chasing waterfalls, first along the Ring Road in Iceland, then in Glacier National Park. The effect of climate change on our Earths’ magnificent waterfalls haunts me during our travels and as I think about our climate changing. The Weeping Wall in Glacier stretches along part of the Going to the Sun Road; at one time visitors watched water cascade down its rocky face. During our visit in August, parts of the wall remained dry.

Godafoss Waterfall–also known as
Beauty–in Iceland

The two photos I’ve shared here boast bright blue skies. These are the skies I saw on the days I hiked to these falls. But Elizabeth Kolbert offers a vision of a future without blue skies in her book Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future.

I wonder how many waterfalls have dried up in Glacier. I wonder what the future impact on waterfalls in Iceland will be. Chasing waterfalls has morphed from a physical journey for me to a metaphorical one. We have frittered away our opportunity to chase the waterfall solution to climate change since 1965–at least. Now we face a future with fewer waterfalls to chase.

8 thoughts on “Waterfall Chaser #SOL22”

  1. There is joy and despair in your story that mimics my very own thoughts this summer as I traveled around Colorado and saw one reservoir after another significantly lower due to them being drained down to ‘feed’ the Colorado River Basin. I’m intrigued and will find this book to read, which makes me glad I popped over to read your story today. 🙂

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  2. You’ve captured the beauty and tragedy of what is happening to our environment so eloquently here. I worry for my kids—what will be left of the beauty on this planet for them to share with their kids
    someday? I pray we find a way—quickly—to reverse even a fraction of the damage humans have done.

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  3. I know it was/is very sobering to find these waterfalls in such a drying state. I “chased” a few waterfalls, streams, and rivers on our travels out west this summer and I had the very same sense of despair. It is heartbreaking. How appropriately named – “weeping waterfall.”

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  4. Glenda, thank you for always pointing us to the bigger picture. When you saw these beautiful waterfalls it must have taken your breath away. Thanks for sharing them with us.

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