GNPVA has added a recap of experiences, including pictures and a video, from David Michalove, Glacier National Park’s first Backcountry Winter Wilderness Intern. David was in the park from mid-February through most of April.

The funding for the Backcountry Ranger Intern Program, which was established in 1996, comes from donations and fundraising by the Glacier National Park Volunteer Associates and the Richard and Sue Schubert family from Portland, OR.

GNPVA and the Schubert’s started the Taggart Schubert Memorial Fund in 1996, to honor their son, Taggart, who was a summer intern in the park and died in a climbing accident on Mount Jackson in 1995.

A summer backcountry ranger intern has been jointly funded since 1996. This is the first year for the winter wilderness intern, whose salary is totally funded by the Schubert’s. Additional funding for training and equipment was allocated by GNPVA.

What David relates through his recap, pictures and video give testament to the incredible value that the Ranger Intern Program brings to Glacier National Park. We hope you enjoy his adventure!


David's letter:

Dear Richard and Sue Schubert,

First and foremost I would like to thank you for your contribution to the Winter Intern program at Glacier National Park that I have participated in this year. Not only has it helped me appreciate the wild spaces even more but inspired me to a lifetime of service to protect them.

My time spent as a Winter Intern at Glacier National Park has revealed the important role wilderness has for me. While on patrol here, I thought to myself time and time again, what it is about wilderness that continues to capture me and continues to pull me into it, yet never causes me to feel consumed by it. What is it about wilderness that has such a great effect on me that the idea has impacted my life and helped put my life into perspective and purpose for so many years? Wilderness has given me the greatest sense of accomplishment, the deepest sense of spirituality, and a vocation I can devote my whole self to without a need to pause to consider whether or not such devotion is rightly placed.

What is it about Wilderness that captures the whole of my being? What is it about wilderness that has allowed my most natural self to be brought forth and unveiled? It is strange to feel this way about wilderness because by definition it is “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” This definition is in “contrast with those areas where man and his works dominate the landscape.” One would suppose that if anything regarding what it means to be human would occur to you, it would happen where one’s work dominates that landscape. What else is so distinctly human than the need to have work? Work in this sense can be thought of as a means for an end and is necessarily a human activity.

Now more than ever in our time of modernity, human work, which is often understood as technology, comes through as the ultimate way that humans understand the world which we occupy. This means that we view the world through a horizon of technology. We are so embedded in the world of technology that for most, there is no world without technology, and people cannot understand the world and themselves without technology as a reference. However, written into law is the idea of Wilderness. Wilderness is a place where technology does not rule and is not the horizon for the way in which we understand ourselves and the world. Wilderness begs us to consider that there is an alternative horizon which we as people can participate in and understand the world.

As a Park Ranger, I experienced Glacier’s mountains, its vastness, its striking beauty, the immense solitude, and the unique remoteness of the park. I experienced this through winter patrols on skis, shadowing avalanche forecasters, through talking to visitors, while working with other Rangers, and working on Preventative Search and Rescue projects. I was so fortunate to be able to complete a Recreational Avalanche Level 2 course during my time here. With that extra knowledge, I patrolled areas such as Mt. Shields, Mt. Brown, the Going-to-the-Sun Road, Snowslip Mountain, and Running Rabbit.

I was immensely lucky to work on Preventative Search and Rescue projects regarding educating visitors about avalanche danger and particularly, making the designs and verbiage for signs to communicate to visitors, regardless of their knowledge of avalanches, that the Going-to-the-Sun Road in the springtime is active avalanche terrain. I also got to shadow and learn about the roles of a Law Enforcement Ranger - this made me realize that I too want to follow the path to become a law enforcement officer for the National Park Service so as to protect Wilderness. I hope this will lead me on the path of lifetime service protecting these very special and rare settings.

My season here has altogether been transformative. I have had the immense privilege of getting to work for Glacier National Park and to be a part of an agency that protects the idea of wilderness and with it, the question of what it means to be human and thus the freedom to ask that of oneself and to contemplate it. If there are no wild spaces to remind us that there is something other than technology, then that freedom to question oneself would be in danger of being lost.

This Ranger Intern program is one of a kind and just like experiencing the park itself, it is ultimately unique, transformative, and will be an experience that I will never forget and will continue to be grateful for. I am confident the internship’s continued efforts will inspire others to a lifetime of service.

Thank you so much for providing for this opportunity and for helping me realize that my vocation is in public lands management.


David Michalove