Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park has been on my list of "must see" places for a long time. The only time I can remember being there I was about 10 years old. I remember being scared to death because I was certain my dad was going to drive over the edge of the Going to the Sun road. A lot of time has transpired since then. The waiting only made it better.
In August of 2006 I spent 7 days in Glacier with Steve Kossack and a bunch of new and old friends on one of his photography workshops. We had great weather; long summer days with early sunrises and late sunsets. The many different locations we shot in required fairly long drives to and from our base at the Glacier Park Lodge. This is one of the grand old Lodges of the National Park System. Staying there was a combination of reliving history and extending our interaction with the park. PBS did a series on some of the lodges and devoted an hour to the Glacier Park lodges. I would recommend the DVD, or at least visit their web site.
The long hours paid off with seeing some fantastic scenery and even bringing home some images of them. Glacier is one of the wonders of our world. I wouldn't miss it, and if you want to give your photographic skills big boost I highly recommend one of Steve's workshops.
Glacier National Park is full of life. Plant and Animal. Our plans were changed twice by trails being closed due to bear activity. In spite of that, the only bear we saw was from about a quarter mile away through binoculars. The crazies at the lodge wanted to chase after her (mama grizzly) until a ranger with a bullhorn convinced them otherwise. Here is just a small sample of what is there.
Glacier National Park is full of lakes. Some next to the road, many accessible only by hiking. Most are beautiful. Here are a few.
With all the glaciers, melting snow, and lakes there had to be plenty of streams. We were not disappointed. We saw big streams, little streams, clear water, blue-green water, streams in daylight, streams in near darkness. They all had two things in common. First, they contained water, and second, they were beautiful. I love being in the outdoors, and the sound of running water is a big part of that enjoyment. Whether it be the gurgle of a small brook, the musical notes of a tumbling stream, or the crashing thunder of falls, it's a heavenly orchestra adding to the experience.
In spite of the many lakes and mountains, it is often difficult to get reflections due to the winds, especially on the east side of the park. We were especially fortunate to have calm sunrises at Two Medicine, Many Glaciers, and even St. Mary Lake. The reflections themselves are beautiful, but even better is the calm serene feeling that penetrates your soul as the sun either brightens it's glow or extinguishes it when there is no wind or waves. Here are some of the reflections that I liked the best.
After 7 days of travel and photography you would think I'd had enough. Not yet! I decided to stop overnight at Yellowstone National Park. It was about a 4 hour drive from Great Falls where I left the rest of the group at the airport. I got to Mammoth early enough to get a campsite. Thanks to the nice ranger who let me choose the one with the most afternoon shade so I could take a nap. I spent the rest of the evening scouting Mammoth Hot Springs for the next day's sunrise and then driving out to the Lamar Valley for sunset. It was the first time I had been there. I was looking for some big Bison or Elk. I saw one big herd of Bison that was actually crossing the road, but all I saw were cows and young bulls. I continued to drive and saw a nice big bull out in a meadow heading toward me. I set up and waited for him. He suddenly stopped and laid down with his back to me in a clump of grass. After 15 minutes, I figured he wasn't moving and packed up. I saw one other nice bull, but it was just after sunset and even though he was only 100 yards away he either stayed behind brush or kept his back to me. It was like he knew I wasn't going to pay him for posing. The next morning I got up early and shot at Mammoth Hot Springs. The full moon set just above the formation about 20 minutes before it was light enough to make a good picture. I stopped at Mesa Falls after leaving the park. There are actually two falls (Upper and Lower) on the Henry's Fork of the Snake River. It was only a few miles out of my way.