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.
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.
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.
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.
Got some cute shots of the numerous ground squirrels around the Visitor Center.
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?
A hoary marmot also was out gathering breakfast greens.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Made the final push from Chester to Saint Mary’s this morning.
Sunrise Chester, Montana
Had a dramatic sunrise over the little town of Chester where I had a great night’s rest at their “city park”.
More pleasant rolling fields and expanses of wide open spaces along Route 2 between Chester and Glacier National Park.
In spots the view seems to go on forever. Forgive the quality of most of these shots, they are taken through the window of the motorhome as I zip along the highway, very hard to find a place to pull off when I see something interesting!
A fairly large wind farm appears on the south side of the highway after Cut Bank, I should imagine that it is quite productive.
There is pretty steady stream of railroad traffic on the tracks that parallel Route 2 through Montana. This one is most likely heading east to the Bakken to pick up oil.
The weather continues to be in and out, a little sun, a little rain, but tending more to the latter than the former. Stopped in Cut Bank at an Albertsons to stock up on groceries for my stay in Glacier national Park. Took Route 464 north out of Browning ( a depressing looking town where I had a VERY scary experience one night several years ago with some young methed out natives at a gas station on the edge of town) to 89 south down to the Johnsons of St. Mary Campground, where I have stayed before.
Too expensive for my budget, around $40/night, but the people are nice and the view from your campsite is hard to beat, and it is all but impossible to get a site inside the park. Unfortunately today the view consists of only clouds, fog, and mist, can’t even see the mountains across the valley.
Got set up and headed up to Many Glacier around 4 Pm to look for bears.
Didn’t take long to encounter the first bearjam, watching a small blonde grizzly and and single dark cub in a field above the road.
Only a hundred yards up the road, another blonde, almost white small griz munching through the shrubbery, not 100 feet from the road. After joining the crowd and attempting some not so great shots here, the grass and shrubs were a little too high to get any good unobstructed shots here, I headed up the road to a point just past the intersection to the Lodge where an even bigger bearjam had the road blocked.
Here the people were watching a very large grizzly graze his way up the mountainside. He was a long way from the road, but he was BIG, a nice looking brute. Sure would make me hesitate to want to hike in the area.
It was starting to get dark to be able to shoot, so I turned around and headed back home through two more bear jams on my way out of the park. A much more successful little venture into the park than I had anticipated, can’t wait til tomorrow, only wish the weather would improve.