Glacier National Park – Weekly Photo Challenge: Summer Lovin
“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”
Those of us on Kiawah recognize that for most of the country summer means relaxing and enjoying your own backyard. Here, where the temperature and humidity can be sweltering, summer means it’s time to travel. While it is actually Kiawah’s most popular season, for those of us born and raised in the northeast, summer on Kiawah can be a bit too warm for our blood :-). So in response to Krista’s Summer Lovin’ challenge, I’ve chosen to feature our recent trip to beautiful Glacier National Park.
“Why is summer mist romantic and autumn mist just sad?”
In July we had a lovely time visiting friends in cooler climes, including Michigan, Oregon and Montana – where we were a mere half-hour’s drive from the park. We spent a long and wonderful day there with our friends, driving the Going-To-The-Sun Road with stops along the way for photography and hiking. We entered the park at its west end , making our first stop at Lake McDonald where I captured the photo above. It was early morning and a beautiful layer of mist was still rising from the extraordinarily calm waters. The serenity of the moment was wonderful as we had the lake all to ourselves – who knows where the rest of the usual tourist crowd was that morning!
“Summertime is always the best of what might be.”
Our timing was perfect. The famous G-T-T-S Road had opened just a week earlier, as the snow plows had finally cleared away the year’s final snowfall. Because the snow was so heavy and so late, we were treated to many rushing streams and waterfalls along the way. I was lusting for my tripod which was doing me absolutely no good sitting in my closet at home 😦
“I love how summer just wraps it’s arms around you like a warm blanket.”
It seemed to me that the more harsh the winter, the more vibrant the spring – especially the flowers. We found many scenes where colorful blooms were everywhere, oftentimes pushing up within inches of the snow, which remained on the ground everywhere we looked.
“Let us dance in the sun, wearing wild flowers in our hair…”
Susan Polis Schutz
Lest I give you the wrong impression, it was NOT cool in Montana, in fact most days the temperatures were in the high 80s and low 90s. There was virtually no humidity however so the air was crisp and clear and we never really broke a sweat. In the park it was even cooler and we had tons of fun hiking through the snow in short sleeves and a sun hat :-). The obligatory snowballs were thrown several times but fortunately there were no serious hits.
“Summer’s lease hath all too short a date.”
The thing about Glacier National Park is that the views and vistas never stop coming. They are literally around every curve and corner. It was all I could do to stay in the car rather than get out and walk the 50-mile road so as not to miss any of it! My friends, especially the one driving, were incredibly tolerant – even pre-planning the route with stops that would take best advantage of the photography opportunities. The shot above captures a scene we found at the end of one of our hikes (which I think was St. Mary Lake, but there are some 700 miles of park trails so I could definitely be wrong!). The couple in the shot are enjoying a well-earned rest after a long, sunny hike. The cool breeze coming off of the crystal clear water was a wonderful respite for us all.
“The summer demands and takes away too much.”
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some of the horrific wildfires that have plagued the west over the past few years, and Glacier is no exception. Here I’ve included a shot of a forest decimated by fire. In 2003, 136,000 acres were destroyed by fire, fully 13% of the entire 1,000,000 acre park. Current thinking is that fires which occur naturally should be allowed to burn, as they clear the dead trees and branches that would be kindling for much larger fires if left in place. Apparently, fires serve as nature’s reset button as new growth springs up in the paths of their destruction.
“Rejoice as summer should…chase away sorrows by living.”
Then of course there is the disappearance of the very glaciers for which the park is named. Of the 150 glaciers known to have existed 150 years ago, only 37 remained as of a 2010 park study. Scientists have predicted that all of the remaining glaciers will have disappeared by the year 2030.
“Summer softens lines that winter cruelly shows.”
Finally, a word about danger. Most of the serious photographers I know are continually on the lookout for that one “magic” shot. We make a point of searching for things that a casual observer might miss. Oftentimes we put ourselves in precarious positions, especially around water, to capture what we see. The week after our visit, a 33-year-old woman slipped and fell into the water while photographing the 30′ high upper falls at Lake McDonald. She was swept 1/2 mile down to the lake. She was rescued there but died later that day. So although I laughed when I saw this sign at the time, clearly the message is not to be taken lightly. Let us all remember not to take unreasonable risks in our quest for excellence – and above all, to stop shooting long enough to absorb the beauty that surrounds us. Life is short, live every moment!