August 17, 2013 Glacier National Park

There were no posts for the last two days since I had nothing worth posting, no animals, no scenics.

However, that all changed today!

I decided to try Logan Pass again this morning since the road construction closing doesn’t happen on weekends. Got going around 6:15 and only encountered two or three vehicles heading up the mountain at that hour. However, I did not see a thing anywhere and decided to head down the west side a ways to maybe run into some goats or sheep there. No luck.

Went back up to the Logan Pass parking lot and glassed the slopes for sheep or bears, again, nothing. The sky was starting to blue up and the sun beginning to peak over the mountaintops, so I stopped just down the east side a little way past the tunnel and figured I might try some landscape shots.

The kindness of strangers

While turning my car inside out looking for my neutral density filters, a man stopped and asked if I saw the bighorn sheep above us on the uphill side of the road, slowly trudging toward Logan Pass. Immediately I stopped the search for the filters and grabbed the 200-400mm lens and concentrated on the sheep.

Bighorn ram heading up to Logan Pass
Bighorn ram heading up to Logan Pass

 

It was apparent that he was headed towards Logan Pass, so I turned around and drove back to the parking lot to await his arrival.

 

 

 

Bighorn ram and wildflowers
Bighorn ram and wildflowers

 

Within a few minutes, he showed up and three more young rams joined up with him in the parking lot, all of them looking for antifreeze spillovers and/or salt. Not terribly photogenic!

 

 

Soon they tired of this and departed the parking lot and headed up the mountain, posing very nicely along the way.

Three young rams follow the leader
Three young rams follow the leader

 

Bighorn ram posing
Bighorn ram posing

 

Three bighorn rams
Three bighorn ram
Glacier N.P. bighorn sheep along stream
Glacier N.P. bighorn sheep

 

 

 

 

 

 

After spending an hour with them there, I decided to head home, but on the way down ran into another bachelor herd of four browsing their way up a hillside of grass and wildflowers.

Four bighorn rams grazing amongst the wildflowers
Four bighorn rams grazing amongst the wildflowers

Got several more nice shots of mature rams here. I owe a big thank you to that stranger who kindly alerted me to the first big ram that I probably never would have seen without him pointing him out to me. And if I hadn’t seen him, I wouldn’t have reversed direction and gone back up to Logan Pass, and if I hadn’t spent an hour up there taking pictures of those sheep, I would have been too early going home to catch the next batch of sheep. Kindness of a stranger.

Also, because of the extra time I had spent up on the mountain, as I descended and passed the Goose Island observation point, I couldn’t help but notice that finally, the light and sky were right to perhaps get some good shots of this iconic landmark.

Goose Island, Glacier National Park
Goose Island, Glacier National Park

On top of that, while I was taking shots of the Goose Island landscape, I had the opportunity to see, up close, my very first Western Tanager. What a beautiful bird! Unfortunately, no photo though, since I was working with the wrong lens shooting scenics.

Out of the park by 10 AM and back home for some photo processing. Getting in that early led to a great trip and I managed to miss most of the crowd. Around 6 PM I decided to go in to Many Glacier hoping to spot some bears after my recent dry spell. No such luck though.

Reflections on Upper St. Marys, Glacier National Park
Reflections on Upper St. Marys, Glacier National Park

 

Hidden lake Trail, Glacier National Park
Hidden lake Trail, Glacier National Park

 

 

 

 

 

Goose Island, Glacier National Park
Goose Island, Glacier National Park

 

Goose Island, Glacier National Park
Goose Island, Glacier National Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bighorn portrait
Bighorn portrait
Bighorn portrait
Bighorn portrait

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bighorn ram scratching what itches
Bighorn ram scratching what itches
Bighorn ram and wildflowers
Bighorn ram and wildflowers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two bighorn sheep crossing the stream
Two bighorn sheep crossing the stream

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 13, 2013 Glacier National park

Osprey young testing flight muscles
Osprey young testing flight muscles

 

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.

 

Early morning colors on mountainside
Early morning color
Early morning colors on mountainside
Early morning color

 

The early sunlight was producing some great colors on the mountains as well as this partial rainbow.

Rainbow over Many Glacier
Rainbow over Many Glacier

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.

Blonde grizzly getting a better look
Blonde grizzly getting a better look

 

Blonde grizzly on the other side of the berry patch
Blonde grizzly on the other side of the berry patch
Blonde grizzly watching people
Blonde grizzly watching people

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 ).

Going to the Sun traffic
Going to the Sun traffic

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.

Going to the Sun traffic
Going to the Sun traffic

 

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.

 

 

Grizzly searching for berries
Grizzly searching for berries
Blonde grizzly standing
Blonde grizzly standing
Checking me out
Checking me out

 

Blonde grizzly crossing the road
Blonde grizzly crossing the road

 

Blonde grizzly crossing the road
Blonde grizzly crossing the road

 

Blonde grizzly crossing the road
Blonde grizzly crossing the road

 

Blonde grizzly crossing the road
Blonde grizzly crossing the road

 

 

 

 

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 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