Thursday, June 30, 2016

Glacier National Park Montana Day 2

I am already wondering if I booked enough time here.  It is such a beautiful time of year to be here with so much to do and see.  Today's goal was to drive early along the Going-To-The-Sun Road to make sure I get an early start at hiking up to Avalanche Lake.  After that the plan was to head further west than I have ever been and check out Lake McDonald.  By then, it would be a slow long drive back to my home away from home.  

First it was coffee time with a view from my veranda....
.....then time to hit that road.
I only stopped a couple of times along the way which took discipline.  If I had more time, I would stop at every pull off, every view point, every look out.  Along the way early on,  I saw folks standing on top of boulders, I was curious!  This was their sunrise photo op spot.  
Working my way up to Logan Pass, the views were outstanding.  I shared the Road with only a few others and I savoured that because I knew that would not be the case upon my return.
I was surprised at the number of cars at the Avalanche Lake trail head already.  I did realize later though, it would be a wonderful place to be as the sun came up.  I geared up and hit the Trail of the Cedars path that leads to the junction to start the climb to the Lake.
Avalanche Creek near the junction
 just before Avalanche Lake
Many folks were descending as I was ascending. It was very quiet by the time I arrived.  This was my first view of Avalanche Lake. It was so peaceful here and calm.  I was here once before and remembered the best part was at the very back side.
I followed the wet, roots, rocky shore for the first section then got back up on the main trail which took me to the end.  Most people stay at the beginning of the Lake.  They don't realize the treasure back here.
Just a bit further with a small creek crossing and it is the best spot of all.  I opted for this spot to get my destination shot.
view looking at the full length of Avalanche Lake
As I made my descent, loads and loads of hikers were on their way up.  Whew, good timing. This is still early season for Glacier National Park, not even prime time yet.  As I made my way back to The Trail of the Cedars, this guy was coming towards me. He made me nervous so I retreated and retreated and retreated to a small meadow and then let him go on by.
Lake McDonald and the Lodge was a 30 minute drive west.  I had never been before and seeing as it was so close and I had lots of time, I paid it a visit.  For a split second I thought about doing the Lake cruise, then came to my senses, because those cruises are really not my thing.
My thing was to be in the water, which on the edge, was not cold.  It felt so good on my feet.
Then I just sat for a little while and enjoyed the beauty.
The drive back from West Glacier to East Glacier was as I expected so was OK with it.  Now being on the outside lane of the Going-To-The-Sun-Road, it was hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.  The speed was slow enough though  I could still enjoy views.  Back at my home away for home, I enjoyed the local scenery.
I bought treats at the Camp Store then sat on the veranda for a little while to relax.

Glacier National Park is a treasure in a very small part of Montana.  It is packed solid with scenery in every corner and even in between every corner.  It is a photographer's and hiker's dream!  That's why I love it so much!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Glacier National Park Montana Day 1

This trip to Glacier National Park was a last minute decision and I was so fortunate to be able to secure  accommodations for four nights.  I had a plan to visit here the end of July of last year but it got cancelled because a massive wildfire took over this part of the Park.  It seems like this place is worlds away, yet from my home it is three hours to the border and then just short of an hour to Logan Pass.  So, here I stand at 10:45 this morning.
The Going-To-The-Sun Road only opened for the season two weeks ago.  I have never been here this early in the year but it fit perfectly into my schedule.  The big major hiking trails will not be open for at least another couple of weeks but I did my homework and found just enough open trails and things to see to fill my time here.  

I stopped into the Visitor Center first to see if there was anything I should have and of course there was.  After that business was dealt with, I hit the trail to the Hidden Lake Viewpoint.  I knew that would be my destination and not the Lake itself due to the snow slopes on the way to it.   After a little elevation gain, I could see back to the Highline Trail, Garden Wall and the Going-To-The-Sun Road.  
one of those early summer tarns
baby goat at the Viewpoint
The glacier lilies were in abundance.  
glacier lilies
I enjoyed my lunch while admiring Hidden Lake down below. 
I made my way back pretty guickly.  I wanted to get across that snow slope, I could not relax until it was behind me.  On the way in a family from Alabama (Dad, Mom, two teen girls) stuck by me through that section and an elderly man and woman were my confidence upon the return.  They sounded southern too.  I don't know if any of them realized the consequences if they slipped.  I was embarrassed to say where I was from because the roles should be reversed, living in Calgary and being in the mountains every winter weekend, I should be helping them across the snow slope. Enough of that!

On the drive back from Logan Pass to St Mary, I took time to check out where that wildfire was.  You could not miss it. I let myself go to the minds of the visitors for a few minutes, trying to imagine how they must have felt to be driving here last summer with flames on either side of the road,  I was told to expect wide open vistas now, where before they were lacking due to full healthy forests obstructing views.
While the trees are black and look lifeless, the grass is vibrant green and the flowers bloom.
fire scene
 St Mary Lake
I stopped into the St Mary Visitor Center, not to shop, but to inquire about the three hikes I had in mind to complete.  The views from the parking lot are so pretty.
Before checking into my home away from home, I strolled along a trail across the road from my temporary dwelling which followed the shoreline.
her painting looked life-like
View of St Mary Lake
view from my porch
while I sipped Moose Drool
 and before I lay my head on the pillow for the night

I am so happy to be here and to see this beautiful part of Glacier National Park thriving again.  I wish the best for The Park and it's people. It has been a big long day and I am pleasantly depleted enough I can hardly keep my eyes open. On that note...

Monday, June 27, 2016

Plain of Six Glaciers just another classic Monday

The Plain of Six Glaciers trail is my go to place when I am feeling in a classical mood. Seeing as I was overnighting in Lake Louise, this would afford me the opportunity to get to the trail head bright and early and beat the Monday morning crowd.  I last did this classic hike on July 1, 2014 but only went to the teahouse, today I was in fine form to go to The Viewpoint.  I arrived early, but not early enough for the first portion of my day.  

I opted for this reflection shot over the popular shot of the Victoria Glacier reflection because at 7:30am on this Monday, it was elbow to elbow at that front on looking location.  How much more prettier can it be than from this angle! 
Chateau Lake Louise
I worked my way through the crowd making good time to get away from the humanity.  Having so many photos along the lakeshore from previous visits, I passed on those photography opportunities today in favour of a quiet trail further along.  I reached my place of opportunity.  Far along the trail and much higher up, I secured a shot in front of Mount Lefroy and Victoria Glacier.   
This fellow looks familiar!
Could he be that world reknown photo bomber from a few years back?
I could hear folks up at the TeaHouse, they must have started much earlier.  I took a few minutes to have my banana and lather on sunscreen. It was still early morning, yet it was hot already.  I could see no one heading to the Viewpoint and on my way there, only passed one couple who were returing from there.
thunderous roars filled the air
while this avalanche does not look like much, it shook my core
looking back at Lake Louise
I arrived at the Viewpoint and owned it my entire time here.  
I settled down, balanced my camera and captured a close up shot of Abbot Hut up on Abbot Pass.  
my destination shot
it is not the easiest place to set up a tripod
Coming back from the Viewpoint, I did meet a few folks just heading in.  
When I looked back, those wispy clouds were just starting to form and dance.  
It was still no where near noon when I arrived back by near the Teahouse yet I was ready for my lunch.  I picked a bench by the creek and snacked.  Mount LeFroy was front and center for my entire hike today.  Views like this make this hike the classic that it is.
the new boardwalk 
Now back down at Lake Louise and after passing possibly 50, 60, 70 hikers, I was so thankful I had that opportunity for an early start.  The lake level at this end was low enough to venture out for this amazing view.
then one last look back at Mount Lefroy and it was time to head home
This is the google earth map showing my tracks from yesterday and today.  Yesterday I sat at Lake Oesa and looked up at Abbot Pass and today I sat at The Viewpoint on the other side of Abbot Pass looking up.   
My need to acknowledge that classic mood I was feeling, now feels fulfilled.  I always enjoy this hike and understand why it is so popular.  It is everything that the Rocky Mountains and Banff National Park are.  Now being noon as I arrive at my car, I had another snack then hit the highway to home.