In Many Glacier by 7 AM looking for bears again. Gorgeous morning, looks like the grey skies may break today. Just before the entrance station, on the right, fifteen feet from the edge of the road in a room size clearing, sits a black bear stripping berries from the single bush in the clearing.As I get my camera ready, unfortunately someone coming out of the park in my direction, sees me pulled off the road,notices the bear, slams on his brakes, comes to a screeching halt, and, of course, scares the bear off before I could get a good shot. Too bad because he was a neat looking black bear with a large white patch on his chest. It is interesting that in a park where black bears out number grizzlies two to one, this is only the third black bear I have seen in a week versus seven grizzlies.
Drove down 89 back to Browning to grocery shop and fill up the car. Checked out the grocery store here in St. Mary yesterday and it was the same case as with gas prices at the two gas stations here…prices are ridiculously high. Regular gas here $4.24/gal, in Browning $3.73/gal, a small can of tomato sauce here $3.29, frozen hamburg $6.00/lb.,so the trip back to Browning is probably worth the gallon of gas it takes me to get there. Plus I wanted to check out just how bad 89 was between Browning and St. Mary since I had been advised to avoid it and take 464 out of Browning instead. I guess I agree that 464 is the better route for an RV.
Went back in to Many Glacier tonight around 6:30 and found just one distant black bear way up the hill down by the lodge and the blonde grizzly in her usual meadow. As you can see from the photos, she grazed up fairly close, until, once again, four jerks on souped up Harleys roared ( blasted ) by and send her flying. These particular idiots, seeing all the people enjoying the bear sighting,very intentionally slowed and then accelerated with an absolutely deafening roar and obviously were taking delight in ruining a special wildlife viewing for probably close to 40 people. Someone should start a petition?
Just to the side of route 89 where the road to Many Glacier turns off, there is an osprey nest on a nesting platform right alongside the road. I had seen a head or two popping up on other days, but this morning there was a young osprey exercising its flight muscles, probably preparing for its first venture from the nest.
The early sunlight was producing some great colors on the mountains as well as this partial rainbow.
Continued into Many Glacier early morning and soon spotted the blonde grizzly from last night in pretty much the same area as before. Still being before 7 AM, there was only one other vehicle stopped and I had a chance for some great shots as she was no more than 20 feet off the road eating berries, and there were not yet enough other vehicles around, or rangers, to drive her off. This really is a very good looking bear.
Did some computer work during the day and then made the mistake of thinking I could venture into the park and up to Logan Pass around 7 PM ( figured the crowds would be gone by then and I might catch some wildlife out ).
Big mistake. It took 45 minutes to go the first eight miles up Going to the Sun Road. Waited almost 15 minutes at the portion of road construction where they had a pilot vehicle guiding one way traffic through a work area. This of course bunches traffic up in both directions and I ended up in the midst of about a 50 vehicle convoy going up the rest of the way to Logan Pass.
One of the convoys coming down in the opposite direction exceeded 100 vehicles. And this was at 8 o’clock at night! Madness! Almost needless to say, I didn’t see anything and really looked forward to getting back to the peace and quiet of the campground.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 .
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.