After a long pause, I opened my eyes again. A panoramic view of the Grinnell Glacier was in front of me. The glacier was melting and had a turquoise pool in which small icebergs floated quietly. In the background, a vertical cliff overlooked the glacier. It appeared as if nature had sculpted a giant Batman logo on the wall, but in reality, it was a hanging glacier clinging to the mountain for its life. Little by little, it perished, albeit in the shape of a beautiful waterfall similar to a bob of hair hanging over the shoulder of a belle.
Earlier I asked a few individuals if they were willing to jump into the melting glacier together with me? They would reply, “are you mad? Have you touched the water?” When I dipped my four fingers into the water for a second or two, I immediately understood what they were talking about. I could barely feel my fingers. It was not a lake after all. It was a freaking glacier!
Yet, I had taken my shirt off and was standing at the edge of the glacier wondering if it was all real. I felt as if I was about to commit a suicide. Everything had turned blurry. I held my breath for a couple of seconds. The cold wind chilled my body. Despite there being many people around, there was a deathly silence of a graveyard. Someone shouted, “come on, you can do it!”
I sprang into the air, like a young seagull jumping off the cliff on his first flight.
A sound of splash echoed in the valley and my brain went shut down instantly as if someone had pulled the plug. It was all dark. Then a second later, a million needles pricked my body and a million volt shock ran through my body and my hands and legs started moving haphazardly like those of a newly born baby. I began floating.
As I took my head out of the water, rays of sunshine reflecting off the ice entered my eyes, and I felt the life running through my veins. I gasped as though I had taken my first breath after coming out of my mom’s womb. It was a familiar world, but with an indescribable serenity. I felt a part of the glacier. I gently swam in the freezing water for a moment and came out shivering. After spending a few minutes in the warm sunshine, I was fine. “It wasn’t too bad at all,” I would tell everyone and encourage them to do the same.
“I am proud of you,” a Russian girl told me. I had now experienced this glacier using all senses. I wasn’t afraid of cold water anymore. Often, our fear is bigger than the danger and the first step is the most difficult to take. If we want to live our life to the fullest, we have to venture forth. We have to put faith in our abilities.
Swimming in the Grinnell Glacier was indeed an unforgettable experience, but this is not what the glaciers are meant for. Glacier National Park in Montana is fast losing its glaciers. Its glaciers have lost 50% of their area in the past 50 years. In fact, the same is happening with glaciers all over the world. If the temperatures keep rising, many glaciers will continue melting.
The rising sea level will change coastlines and wipe out many islands and beaches.
The white snow reflects a lot of sunlight back out to space. With less ice, the earth will become even warmer. Heat waves, severe storms and wild weather patterns will have negative effects on our health, agriculture and on animal species. Our very own existence will be under threat.
But, instead of being driven by the fear of climate change, go stand next to a glacier. Enjoy its pristine beauty, look at the waterfalls, and see how the pieces of a glacier break off with a thundering noise and how glaciers carve out the landscape.
Take the ownership of the planet. Be responsible. Use less energy. Use clean energy. Consume less. Reduce your carbon footprint. Use recycled products. Plant trees.
Otherwise, if carbon dioxide levels continue to increase Grinnell glacier will disappear by the year 2030. Let’s all make sure it doesn’t turn into a lake for swimming.