The First Day of Summer

Peter Brancaccio  |   Saturday Jun. 1st, 2024

It snowed ​last night. On the first day of summer in Montana. So, ​​before dawn ​I made a beeline for the Beehive Basin Trailhead in Big Sky. The Beehive has become a much sought after hike. There is a lot to like about this trek, and I viewed this as an opportunity to have the trail to myself. Halfway up the canyon a thick fog swallowed the mountains. And the trees. And then ​it swallowed me.

It was 33 degrees at the trailhead, and Lone Peak was sticking her head above the fog and into the blue, blue sky like a prima donna at a ​dance recital.

The parking lot was empty as I pulled on my old sweater and skated across the ice and snow-covered log bridge. Crunch-Crunch~~~ The cold had a real bite as the wind began to chase me up into the Spanish Peaks. ​Above the switchbacks, slices of yellow sun finally began to knead some warmth into the land. I walked into a large alpine meadow full of fat white flowers, ​bent heavy and ​just basking in the new sunlight. Except they weren’t flowers. They were round, fluffy balls of snow just beginning to melt​ into the green earth. And right there in the middle of the field was a perfectly gorgeous sapphire flower reaching for the sun. Then it jumped up and flew away. I do not think I have ever seen a bird that blue before. Some gifts you just need to accept humbly. And gratefully.

There was still quite a bit of snow up by the lake, but it was easy enough to work walk? around or across. The lake had thin, antique window panes of ice stretched across her surface, intricately designed with spiderweb fingers of fine silver filigree — all surrounded by those massive 10,000 foot peaks which sit enthroned in blue and ice​ and wonder. No finer cathedral has ever been designed.

I sat on a large boulder listening to the quiet voice of wind and water slipping over smooth rock and ice. Then, the largest coyote​ I’ve ever seen came nosing along the icy stream towards me.​ Well at least, I think it was a coyote....

We both momentarily froze in midframe as our worlds brushed up against one another. I did not move. Or breathe. Or blink. He was so close, and so beautiful. And he didn’t seem to mind me. ​In the heartbeat of a moment, the song of falling water pulled him further downstream.

In Montana,​ everyone enjoys a good view.  

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