In Ireland, the UK, western europe even, there isn't much climate. Or rather, there's only one so you don't notice it.
As you go south, it gets warmer, as you go north it gets colder and wetter. Easy. Rain in the west of Ireland means rain eventually
everywhere else. Straightforward.
Not America. If there's rain in Seattle, in the western Cascades where Mt. Rainier is? No problem. Drive east. You leave
the Pacific Northwest behind, the temperate rainforests, crest the mountains, and three hours later you're in desert.
No rain, almost never. Very little life at all, just dry, yellow sagebrush. It's the rainshadow effect, caused by 3000m mountains. So we left the green and the
rain of western Washington State behind and stayed a night on the cool desert of the east. And of course, to complete the effect,
we crossed the giant Columbia River, millions of tonnes of water flowing through this parched zone. All that water, but no good to the
desert at all, unless assisted by irrigation: because there's no rain.
Glacier National Park is a northern section of the rockies carved into fantastic colls and knife-edged ridges by the action of glaciers.
We went for a long hike, fifteen miles along ridges and valleys, beside stern mountain teeth gaping at the sky. We climbed over
the Continental Divide, where I ceremoniously poured out some water, half to flow on one side to the Pacific and half to the Atlantic. The air was cool, but the sun blazed down as if
a reward for daring to come here a week before the park closed.
That night my team cooked in camp, the first team meal. I chose to make a beef stew for simple filling nourishment, and we had
Baileys and hot chocolate for desert. As we sat under the stars, enjoying the fruits of our labours, I thought, camping in October, what a good idea.
Fall has come to Montana, in the brilliant yellows of dying aspen leaves, in the reds of shrubs and berry bushes, all contrasted
against the dark green of pines and the slumbering greys of the rocky mountains. The land is vast and lit with glowing, filled with energy.
The energy is in the air, the cold clean air. The people are warm, friendly, polite,
but there's something extra. A hidden reserve of strength, charging up in America, waiting to spring. Energy in fall colours,
gathering, glowing against the dark. When will the winter storm begin?