Rocky Mountain National Park – Tundra Communities Trail, June 7, 2017
One of the areas of Rocky Mountain National Park that constantly surprises is the alpine tundra at 11,000 plus feet. Each season, each day, each hour and even each minute the landscape can change dramatically and show you another facet of itself you never knew was possible. This past week I was given confirmation of that once again.
I did not expect to see much life except fellow human visitors, birds, maybe marmots and perhaps a pika but certainly not insects of any kind. However, as I began to look closely at the snow, I noticed dark specks. Lying atop and buried within the snow crystals, I discovered beetles and bugs. When I would pick one up, sometimes he or she would curl up, pretending to be dead, while others would appreciate the warmth of my hand and wake from their cold slumber to soak up the sun and take a walk.
I know for most people this probably is not or would not be something to be excited about, but to me, it was such a gift. Here in a very difficult and often inhospitable environment, these tiny animals were alive, which if ever one is looking for a sign of hope to persevere this seems fitting.
Given their size, it would appear their chances of surviving are slim, yet here they were; even after being packed under feet of snow for a winter, weeks on end. I wondered, “How did they do it? Had they gone under rocks or plants for shelter? They must have some sort of anti-freeze like chemicals in their body, right? What will happen to them now? Do they find a mate, die, then their young carry on, finding themselves in a winter’s sleep as their parents to repeat the cycle? Or do some of them live for more than a season? I also wondered what goes on inside them. How is it they do not give up? Not survive?….Yet they do and for many generations they have. God willing, they will continue for many more years to come.