Saturday, August 29, 2009

We're your huckleberries

Glacier is considered by many to be the crown jewel of the American National Park system. But in fact, our Canadian friends share in its glories; Glacier partners with Canada's Waterton Lakes National Park to form the world's first and only International Peace Park, which is also recognized by UNESCO as a particularly glorious part of the world's longest undefended border (our trip brings the grand total of World Heritage Sites we've chronicled here to 27, out of 890). Part of what makes the park(s) so special is that it/they is/are awfully remote. Most of the tourists who make it here are dedicated outdoorspeople, as one must be even to begin exploring the vast, steep, cold, moose-dominated, grizzly-harboring wilderness. The highlight of our visit was a seventeen-mile hike to Iceberg Lake and the Ptarmigan Tunnel, the latter reached by an ascent of nearly 1000 feet in about two miles. We were quite pleased with ourselves for not collapsing into a helpless heap on the side of the mountain to be devoured by ants and buzzards.

The culinary headline in Glacier is the wild huckleberry, a small blueberry-esque berry that is a favorite of grizzlies, especially when the great bears are in hyperphasia in preparation for their winter hibernation. The roads around the park are littered with restaurants and stands selling huckleberry-flavored everything, from jam to beer. After Tam choked down an only-just-mediocre huckleberry milkshake in Missoula, we stuck to snacking on the raw thing along the trail between intermittent grizzly-startling clapping and singing. The aspiring gastronomic etymologist will be interested to note that early American colonists, upon encountering the native American berry, misidentified it as the European berry known as the "hurtleberry," by which name the Yankee fruit was known until, through generations of slightly sloppy pronunciation, it became known as the "huckleberry." So, there you go, Mr. Finn.

More pictures of our exciting adventure are available here:

1 comment:

lovechilde said...

These pictures are gorgeous and your narration makes me as if I'm sitting the back seat.