Glacier National Park – Weekly Photo Challenge: Summer Lovin

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”

John Steinbeck



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?”

Dodie Smith

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.”

 Charles Bowden

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.”

Kellie Elmore

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.”

William Shakespeare

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.”

John Ashbery

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.”

Melissa Marr

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.”

John Geddes

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!


130 thoughts on “Glacier National Park – Weekly Photo Challenge: Summer Lovin

  1. Tina, these photos are magnificent! I was out west in July too and got to experience the majesty of Rocky Mountain National Park, the Grand Tetons, and Yellowstone and had experiences much like yours. My husband, bless him, was patient with me as we pulled off on numerous turnouts for me to try to capture the incredible scenery around us and hiked various trails to vista points. But that’s what being in these parks is all about! Someday, before all the glaciers are gone, I’d like to go back and visit Glacier.

    Very, very sad about the woman who died. We’ve all heard stories about people being attacked by the wild animals in the parks, and in fact, I thought about that as I stood on the side of the road with two elk not 20 feet from me and half a dozen others snapping photos. I’ve never heard of anyone being hurt by an elk (bears, yes), so I rationalized I was okay, but in fact, that’s how injuries happen.

  2. Love your scenic vistas – coupled with informative text. I have long wanted to get to Montana. Had a look at Google’s information on the G-T-T-S road. But isn’t it alarming that the landscapes are changing quite radically – glaciers melting, gone by 2030! That’s just around the corner. Hang onto your photos, they’ll document part of the change.

  3. I see signs like that often out here. It’s true what you say – in fact, so many words of wisdom! I’m glad your friends were understanding of your predilection – or obsession – or whatever! 🙂

  4. Stunning landscape shots Tina! The wildflowers, rowboats, rushing waters – all have been captured beautifully. My favorite is the photo of the couple spending a quiet time in the middle of all that beauty 🙂

  5. A beautiful gallery of “summer lovin'” photos Tina. The tragic reminder to be safe when we shoot is so timely as we all set out looking for that perfect summer shot. Warm wishes as always 🙂

  6. Beautiful pictures Tina. Photographing around the sea, on rocks and on beaches I’ve been caught out a few times by that unexpected rogue wave. It really is important to stay safe!

  7. Your Steinbeck quote is perfect, as I was just missing winter yesterday with the heat & sun. And then followed by that awe-inspiring shot of the mountainscape. Beautiful series of photos, and the rowboats at rest may be my favorite…the mist and clouds suck me right in over the lake to the mountains. Mostly love the descriptions and especially the thought of how vistas and scenes are neverending…and I will be sure to bring my tripod 🙂 Cheers!

  8. Another beautiful post Tina. We have seem very few of our Western Parks and obviously we should make the effort. My problem with summer time here is SW Florida is that or is my favorite time to be right here. In spite or because of the heat and humidity I love it here. The population dwindles to about half it’s winter number. Peaceful and quite. No traffic, beaches are nearly empty, fishing is good. What’s not to like.

    • Well Ron, I must admit you’re the first I’ve heard of who actually LIKES Fla summers! We get our crowds coming IN all summer because of our beaches but it’s really too hot for my Bostonian husband so we travel. Fall is the best time to do the western parks tho, after the summer vacationers to home! Thanks for your visit and comment!

  9. 2030? Most of the glaciers gone? devastating!
    I loved my visit to Glacier … thanks for the revisit! It’s such an incredible park and your photos show it off so well!

    • LOL Jane – I’m thinking you meant rowboats and your system autocorrected you to robots!!! Thanks for stopping always appreciate feedback from your artist’s eye. Hope all’s well wherever you are!

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