August 12, 2013 Glacier National Park

Many Glacier grizzly and a trip over Going to the Sun Road

As always, click on any image to see a full size version.

I have remained on the east side of the park since my arrival, so today I figured I would take a trip over Going to the Sun Road to the west side, then go back east on route 2 and visit the Two Medicine portion of the park and then go back up route 49 and 89 back home to St. Marys.

Sam in the wildflowers
Sam in the wildflowers
Jenny in the wildflowers
Jenny in the wildflowers

 

 

 

 

 

Started out at 7 AM and traffic wasn’t bad at all going up to Logan Pass ( let the dogs out for a stretch at Logan Pass ) but heading down the west side the eastbound traffic soon got heavy, large numbers of vehicles, all bunched up climbing uphill, then nothing for a bit, then another 100 vehicles all in a chain. Must be construction ahead on the west side also. Sure enough, another one way construction area with a pilot car to guide us through, about a 15 minute wait to get through this project, and then you once again are in the midst of a swarm of vehicles for the next ten miles. This really does get old quick.

With a short, probably only 90 days or so, construction season, everyone here, the visitors, the park staff, and the construction outfits are placed in a no win situation. There really is no alternative to having to do the roadwork during peak tourist season, and they certainly do have to do the road work because of the heavy traffic the road gets and the annual punishment Mother Nature surely deals the highway each winter and spring. Guess all one can do is grin ( gripe ) and bear it.

Speaking of bears, I encountered an interesting situation on the way down the west side of Going to the Sun.

Big grizzly Going to the Sun Road
Big grizzly Going to the Sun Road

I had just passed a lone bicyclist on one of the few sections of road were I was not enveloped in vehicles, came around a corner and saw what, at first, looked like maybe another cyclist coming up the wrong side of the road towards me. Turned out to be this grizzly and he didn’t appear to be going to give way as I slowed down hoping I could maybe get a photo. Unfortunately, just as I stopped for him, the start of a caravan of vehicles came round the corner heading uphill and that convinced the bear to exit the road and I got to watch it climb straight up an almost vertical cliff to make his exit.

I wonder what would have happened if the lone cyclist happened on this guy rather than me in my car, he really appeared hesitant to leave the highway until the group of cars scared him off, my one car didn’t seem to phase him, so I wonder how he would have reacted to the lone bike. Guess I’ll never know.

Went back up to Many Glacier around 6 PM and got some more nice shots of the blonde grizzly in the meadow.

Blonde grizzly in the meadow heading for the road
Blonde grizzly in the meadow

Had my first episode of ranger harassment that I had heard serious photographer complaining about. It sometimes seems that some rangers, certainly not all, ( my interactions with park staff, up until this one ranger, had all been positive ) seem to take some satisfaction in making it difficult on a photographer if he happens to be pointing a big lens at a bear.

Blonde grizzly in the meadow heading for the road
Blonde grizzly in the meadow heading for the road

 

In my case, when the bear started grazing towards the road, and had slowly approached to within 100-125 yards of a large group of vehicles and tourists, I retreated to my car to shoot from the vehicle, just in case the bear kept coming closer. I was told to move by this one ranger who had to move past a dozen people and 8 or 10 cars to get to me. How I was a problem and not the vehicles in front and in back of me, I can’t quite figure out.

 

Blonde grizzly in the meadow heading for the road
Blonde grizzly in the meadow heading for the road

My tires were completely off the road, which was not the case for several others around me that he did not ask to move. And I was in my car, while others he passed were out of theirs. Up until now, I had thought the other photographers were maybe exaggerating a bit or might actually have been parked in the road or something like that, but maybe there actually is a little harassment going on. I will continue to be very careful .

Blonde grizzly in the meadow heading for the road
Blonde grizzly in the meadow

 

August 11, 2013 Glacier National Park

More grizzly shots from Many Glacier

Up and out to Many Glacier by 6:30 AM. Patchy fog on the way out, but was clear on arrival at Many Glacier. I did a couple runs up to the end of the road and back before finally spying a black bear up on the scree about a half mile before the lodge entrance road. Too far up to get any real good shots but I stayed and took a few images waiting to see if he would work his way down the slope and get into range. All of a sudden, he stopped grazing, looking very intently to the east.

Glacier N.P. Blonde Grizzly smells food
Glacier N.P. Blonde Grizzly smells food

Then bang! Off in a flash down the hill towards the road and a clump of poplars. This could only mean he had spotted a grizzly coming his way. Sure enough, a blonde grizzly was working it’s way west along the scree.

 

Glacier N.P. Blonde Grizzly heading toward the berry patch
Glacier N.P. Blonde Grizzly heading toward the berry patch
Rock climber
Rock climber

 

 

 

 

 

 

Had planned on going back up to Logan Pass around 7 PM to avoid the crowds and maybe catch some wildlife out and about, but the forecast now calls for severe thunderstorms moving in early this evening ( and I am hearing thunder rumble in the distance as I write this ) so I will stay home and watch the PGA Championship and do some work on the computer.

As always, clicking on a small image will bring the full size version up.

Glacier N.P. Blonde Grizzly grazing
Glacier N.P. Blonde Grizzly grazing
Glacier N.P. Blonde Grizzly
Glacier N.P. Blonde Grizzly
Glacier N.P. Blonde Grizzly
Glacier N.P. Blonde Grizzly

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 10,2013 Glacier National Park

Going to the Sun Road Bighorn Sheep and more

Now that’s more like it!

Entered Glacier NationalPark east entrance just before 7 AM in hopes of avoiding yesterday’s crowds. Had the road all but to myself on the way up, Logan Pass parking lot had only 20 or 30 cars in it and just a small number of people milling about, quite a bit different from yesterday afternoon. That’s it, from now on, before 7AM or after 7 PM only ( just have to remember to get out by 9 PM or the road closes to the east entrance, construction ).

Weather turned out nice also and with the lack of people, the wildlife was out and about.

Sometimes you have to stop and smell the roses
Sometimes you have to stop and smell the roses
Sentry asleep at his post
Sentry asleep at his post

 

 

Got some cute shots of the numerous ground squirrels around the Visitor Center.

 

 

Dueling ground squirrels

Dueling ground squirrels

Had hoped to get dramatic shots of head butting dueling bighorn sheep, but sometimes in life you have to just settle, so how about some dueling ground squirrels?

Logan Pass marmot
Logan Pass marmot

 

 

 

A hoary marmot also was out gathering breakfast greens.

 

 

 

 

Mountain goat and wildflowers
Mountain goat and wildflowers

Since this mountain goat was looking rather haggard, and that is being kind, I decided to go for the wildflower shot instead of a closeup.

And Then I ran into a little bachelor group of four bighorn sheep on the way back down Going to the Sun Road.

Caught with my mouth full
Caught with my mouth full

 

Another Glacier N.P. bighorn sheep
Another Glacier N.P. bighorn sheep
Glacier N.P. bighorn sheep
Glacier N.P. bighorn sheep

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting back to yesterday’s rant, the bighorns are obviously used to people and cars, for they browsed for quite a while by the side of the road and the edge of the parking lot, providing great photo opportunities for myself and several other early risers, and then, the first jackass on a Harley shows up and blasts them off down the slope. Five or six people snapping photos, no problem, a dozen cars stop and go, still ok, one jerk on an illegal noise machine and off they go.

The rangers can stop people for speeding, as they should, and set up check points for DUI, which they should, so how about getting these illegal, eardrum shattering, wildlife spooking, inconsiderate, immature jerks off the park roads so everyone else can have a little better experience.

Got back to camp by 10 AM and worked on the journal and processed photos all the rest of the day and into late at night. Didn’t bother to go back out in the afternoon since a series of rain squalls mixed with hail kept sweeping through all afternoon and into the evening.

Logan Pass wildflower
Logan Pass wildflower
Caught with my mouth full
Caught with my mouth full
Glacier N.P. bighorn sheep
Glacier N.P. bighorn sheep

 

Glacier N.P. bighorn sheep posing for portrait
Glacier N.P. bighorn sheep posing for portrait

 

Bighorn munching
Bighorn munching

 

Bighorn heading down to a stream
Bighorn heading down to a stream

 

A pair of bighorn rams
A pair of bighorn rams

 

August 9, 2013 More Glacier National Park

An early morning run up to Many Glacier for bears

 

Got up early around 5 to catch up on journal work and still be able to get out early and go back up to Many Glacier before the traffic picks up. Unfortunately weather is as bad as predicted, really grey and misty, still can’t see the mountains across the valley.

Grizzly on the run
Grizzly on the run

Well, that was worth getting out early for. Three different bears this morning along the way to Many Glacier, two grizzlies and one reddish black bear.

Grizzly on the run
Grizzly on the run

 

Nervous grizzly
Nervous grizzly

The sun came out and the clouds lifted around noon and I decided to make a run up Going to the Sun Road. Lots of night time construction going on, most of the lower turnouts on the east side are blocked off for equipment and a sign at the gate warns that the road closes from 9 PM until 7 AM. But the big problem is traffic. Crowds. I have never visited here in August, usually early June or after Labor Day, and I have always appreciated the lack of crowds in the Park. Certainly not the case in August. The scenery is still breath taking, but the crowds and the roaring Harleys, literally hundreds of them, kind of completely destroy the atmosphere and certainly make wildlife sightings very scarce.

The Logan Pass parking lot was closed due to overcrowding and as I passed, I thought it looked more like Times Square, than a peaceful National Park. I guess, regardless of the weather, I will be at the gate exactly at 7 AM tomorrow to see if I can recapture some of the magic of Glacier National Park.

Took a scouting trip up to the border going to Waterton just to check it out. About a 30 mile trip from St. Marys and nothing in the way of wildlife or great scenery except this one not very bright ptarmigan.

Ptarmigan auditioning for roadkill career
Ptarmigan auditioning for roadkill career