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09/20/2012

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children.”

This is third in a series of blog postings about the Climate Reconnaisance Team's visit to Glacier National Park. Cathleen Ephgrave, the author, served in Iraq. 

GNP_VETS_2012-1

I am not a climber. I do not often stray from the beaten path. I like toilets, showers, and other first world amenities. I had not given much thought to climate change. But spending a week in the backcountry of Glacier National Park with the Sierra Club’s Mission Outdoors Climate Reconnaissance Team changed my outlook in many ways (For starters, I have a much greater appreciation for toilets and showers.).

I visited Glacier National Park in 1997 with my family. As a 14 year old, seeing glaciers for the first time, was a neat experience. Going back 15 years later was eye opening. Jim Balog provided our group with a wealth of information about climate change and its effects on the environment. Overlooking Grinnell Glacier, we viewed pictures of the glacier from the 1800s through present day. The change, in a relatively short time period, was astonishing. This trip has made me much more conscious of the far-reaching impacts of climate change. There is an often used proverb, “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children.” For future generations to prosper, I believe climate change must be taken seriously and I have learned that everyone can play a role in safeguarding our planet.

Prior to this trip, my method of transportation up mountains had always been via ski lifts. I had no idea what crampons and ice axes were or why they would be necessary. Thanks to ice climbing lessons from Conrad Anker, I was able to figure it all out and summit Blackfoot Mountain. The climb was physically challenging but incredibly rewarding. The view from the top was stunning. My body was covered in bruises by the time we left the Park but I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

I am extremely grateful to have been given such a unique opportunity to discover the outdoors. Sharing this experience with a group of fellow veterans made it even more amazing. I have been out of the Marine Corps for three years now. While I still keep in touch with many people I served with, I rarely find myself amongst a group that I can truly relate with. Through shared and similar military experiences, veterans tend to have a common understanding and that was certainly the case with this group.

Many thanks to the Sierra Club Mission Outdoors, Veterans Expeditions, Jim Balog, Conrad Anker, and everyone else who made this trip so memorable. The outpouring of support was unbelievable. This was a wonderful opportunity and a truly unforgettable experience.

Cathleen Ephgrave Photo


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