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. What a magnificent post, T.. The juxtaposition of beauty and danger, snow and summer, caution and adventure…new life and death… Thank you always for sharing your thought provoking photos and comments. Linda

  2. What wonderful photos Tina, some of them are simply breath taking, like the blue water and sky shot. you live in such a beautiful part of the world, and what better way to spend a hot summers day than in the cool mountain breeze 🙂

    • THanks Seonaid 🙂 while we do live in a beautiful part of the world, it’s swelteringly hot here. Sadly our trip to Montana is behind us and we’re now back in South Carolina where it was 98degrees today! Sure could use a cool mountain breeze down here 🙂

  3. So sad to hear of that tragic misstep
    could be so fatal!
    Tina S., your prose and photos are
    brilliant and magnificent ! Thank you
    for taking us there to a wonderful

    • What a lovely compliment Atureaud, thanks so much for your kind words. And yes, the drowning was a VERY sad story. It really brought home how important it is to be aware of the risks we all take.

  4. Beautiful shots and an interesting travelogue. You are really getting into storytelling. Love Rowboats and After the Fire. Glad you had a good time with the gang.

  5. what a FABULOUS post!!! Great shots…Mountainscape & rowboats at rest stand out for me….
    Love going on these journey’s with u…..I feel at peace as i sit here in the POURING rain….

  6. Tina, all of these shots are wonderful, although I especially love the rowboats, the mountainscape, the mountain streams – gosh all of them really! Thanks for sharing your time spent at the park and showing how truly beautiful it is there.

  7. Tripod or no Tina you captured the *essence of icy glacial waters there in the rushing waters . Yes, it pays to take heed of notices .. that was a sad story 😦
    I must be getting more cautious …only last week attempting some stepping stones across a little stream had me turning back only 4 into the row .. mind you I was carrying my camera the tripod .. I know I know … 😉
    What a great post . Your ‘row boats at rest’ is very special .

  8. Just a wonderful post and the rowboat photo is remarkable! Your information about the gradual and now sharp demise of the glaciers is very sad though.

    • Thanks so much Kathryn, glad you enjoyed! Yes, the demise of the glaciers is sad indeed. We’ve seen so many-here, Alaska, South America – all facing the same crisis. Not sure where it all ends 😦

  9. As always these are great!
    I remember being told about fires in Australia and their purpose in renewal .. Was somehow fascinated by that to look at a scorched bit if land and see the tiny green shoots emerging.

    • I agree Susi. Many years ago we went to Mt. St. Helens and we were amazed at the regrowth after 30 years. Interestingly tho, it was FAR more green and lush in the areas that the lumber companies had replanted than it was in the other areas. So maybe we also have to help nature along a bit!!

  10. Your shots are fabulous as always! My husband just got back from a trip out west. He’d wanted to stop at Glacier but it wasn’t open yet. He’ll be so jealous when I send him the link to your blog. Although he did get some incredible shots of the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Tetons & other places. He doesn’t have any of the new stuff posted yet – the printer is acting up and he doesn’t want to put it on the web until he knows he can sell it.

    I hope all is well with you! I did finally start blogging again, albeit slowly. As always, I love coming by to see your work.


    • Hi Nancy – great to “see” you again, welcome back to the blogosphere! I looked again at some of Ken’s work, which is beautiful. It apears there’s a bit of my local Charleston area in there, no? Bummer he didn’t get to do Glacier but he hit some fabulous spots! Will watch for the new stuff too. Thanks for stopping by!

      • Thank you and yes, that’s Charleston in there from our trip several years ago. Ken was likewise impressed with your photography. I was trying to explain to him how we knew each other through our blogs and that your photography was on a par with his. My photos are good and I enjoy them, but yours are spectacular. You and him both do a great job with what you take and how you process them.

  11. So beautiful and refreshing as we’re melting here at Kiawah! I bet there’s some great fly
    fishing somewhere close. Lovely and thoughtful perspectives – as always.

  12. Coincidences like this always flip me out. I was re-reading Dodie Smith’s “I Capture the Castle” (not a household word) this afternoon and took a break and looked at your blog with her quote. Went back to finish the book and there it was on the last page!!! Can’t begin to describe this book, but think you might love it. Diane

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  14. Tina, Glacier is a park that I’d like to add to my other national park visits. Alas, I do believe that your images will have to do. That second photograph of the rowboats is breathtakingly stunning. It has a quality that evokes deep responses from me.

  15. Rowboats at rest gives me goosebumps, Tina! I love it. And then that last Glacier shot, but oh I don’t like snow! Sometimes I itch to have the camera in hand, if for any reason I’ve not got it, but it is beautiful just to let go and live in that moment. How swiftly it is gone! Can we preserve it with a photo? And so the cycle goes…. 🙂

    • A vicious cycle indeed Jo! Thanks for the lovely comment on the rowboats, the serenity was awesome on that one. I think, like you, I just have to have a camera on hand 🙂 . Not worth fighting it, is it?!

  16. I need to get back to Glacier. Your photos reminded me of that. My favorite shot is the early morning by the rowboats on the lake. Last time we were there, the GTTS road was partly closed due to maintenance. We want to get to the top the next time we go.

    • Many thanks John – it seems to be the favorite for sure. It would be heartbreaking to go to Glacier and not be able to do the whole GTTS road. This was my second trip and we were lucky both times. Incredibly, they had 16″ of snow 2 weeks before our arrival.

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  18. Glacier is a beautiful place and your selection of photos captured its multi-faceted personality. Isn’t it wonderful to arrive when the roads have just opened, the rivers are full, and the wildflowers are in brilliant glory? Glad you mentioned the role fire plays in forest health; and showed the contrast between forests. If you go back in a few years, I would predict that you would be awestruck by the changes as the forest transitions back to “life” again.
    Since you mentioned your tripod… please make a recommendation for me. I want to buy one for my Nikon D7100. This is my first serious camera, I want a tripod that suits the equipment… Thanks so much, Tina.

    • Thanks Jane and yes, it is truly wonderful! As for tripods, I use a gitzo which is terrific. Very durable and strong enough to support my heaviest lens but light enough to carry. There are SO many options tho, and the ballhead is as important as the tripod itself. Shoot me an email and I’ll give you my thoughts in a bit more detail. It’s a big expense for sure!

  19. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: SUMMER LOVIN’ | The Adventures of Iñigo Boy

      • Yes, it’s v complimentary actually. I guess I can define it as an ‘Irishism’ for extremely good or a superlative of some sort. Young lads back home will often describe a young lady they fancy to their friends as follows: ‘She’s a cracking bit of stuff’. Joyce, Yeats, and others deserve little credit for their works I’m thinking, they merely copied it down as they heard it spoken! OK, keep up all the cracking good photography and the equally cracking quotes and prose. TC. MB

  20. Loved all these shots! We were there years ago (at Glacier when the news broke about Lady Di’s death). Fantastic memories revisited through your photos ~ thank you! XOX Suz

  21. Beautiful, Tina. Thanks for the reminders about the danger we photographers can get into before we know it. And the other: sometimes you have to put the camera down and take in the moment. When I sightsee I’ve come to adopt a fairly loose rule of either I’m intent on capturing good photos and devote focus to that; or I leave the camera at home and just enjoy. As in all of life, we must strive for balance. Thanks for the reminders. Enjoy your travels!

    • Many thanks Alexandria. I find whenever I try the “leave the camera at home” approach I’m always really frustrated! So instead I do a shoot, step back, absorb approach (or I try to anyway!) I once read that photographers look at the world through a camera frame whether they’re shooting or not. I know I find myself doing it and work hard to overcome it!

      • I very much agree and I do confess that if I were at Glacier National Park the camera would be at my side and I would follow your method!

  22. Tina

    Beautiful pictures as always. When we were there hikers had to wear bear bells and a young woman camper had recently been killed by a grizz. Are bells still mandatory?

    Looks like you had a great visit to Glacier and hopefully lots more of Montana as well. It lives up to its names; Treasure State and Big Sky Country.



    • Thanks so much Andy – saw lots of people with bells but don’t think they’re mandatory. Never did see a bear (that’s the good news) but did manage to see some mountain goats!

  23. Your photographs showcases the spectacular beauty of this place wonderfully, Tina!

    So sorry to hear about the women that died after the fall though. I hope her loved ones could find some solace in knowing that she died in a beautiful place, doing what she enjoyed.

  24. Tina, it’s almost time for us to head to Wyoming for our annual trip and your photos make me even more excited. While they’re all wonderful and I enjoyed your walk through the park, the second is outstanding, at least to my mind. Glacier’s been on our list for some time. You may have bumped it up a bit on the list.


  25. Beautiful captures of our “neighbourhood park”! A truly glorious place that reminds me so often of how minuscule we are in the scheme of life.

  26. Different and beautiful post – a shame that the glaciers are disappearing so fast though. A place to visit sooner rather than later and enjoy those views.

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