Glacier National Park Photography

The magic hour as the sun set on Sunday night.

Waterfalls at Sun Rift Gorge:

Where I Roam, Glacier National Park, Sun Rift Gorge, photography

Where I Roam, Glacier National Park, Sun Rift Gorge, photography

Where I Roam, Glacier National Park, Sun Rift Gorge, photography

Big Horn Sheep on Logan Pass:
Where I Roam, Glacier National Park, Big horn sheep, Logan Pass, photography

Golden mountains on the Going to the Sun Road:
Where I Roam, Glacier National Park, Going to the Sun Road, photography

Sunset on Saint Mary Lake, Wild Goose Island:
Where I Roam, Glacier National Park, Wild Goose Island, photography

Twilight on Wild Goose Island, Saint Mary Lake:
Where I Roam, Glacier National Park, Wild Goose Island, photography

Good Night Moon.
Where I Roam, Glacier National Park, photography

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Ptarmigan Tunnel Hike, Glacier National Park

Our big hike this summer had us back on the Iceberg Lake Trailhead in East Glacier and hiking approximately ten miles round trip to the Ptarmigan Tunnel. Since the Iceberg Lake and Ptarmigan Tunnel trails both share the same trailhead, the hike starting out feeling like deja vu, but once we passed Ptarmigan Falls and made the right hand turn onto the Ptarmigan Trail, we didn’t feel that way any longer.

In fact, we started asking ourselves, “What the hell are we thinking?”

Ptarmigan Trail starts with an elevation climb of around 400 feet over 6/10 of a mile. Let me admit right now, making that climb is a lot of work for people who spend their lives at sea level.

Where I Roam, Ptarmigan Trail, Glacier National Park

In addition to being physically taxing, the Ptarmigan trail is also far less traveled than the Iceberg Lake trail. The lack of other hikers and several blind bends in the trail had us singing, whistling, clapping and talking very loudly–just to make sure any furry creature big or small knew we were there.
Where I Roam, Ptarmigan Trail, Glacier National Park

The elevation continued to climb, taking us through some densely wooded areas, steep-sided stretches of trail, and really beautiful views.
Where I Roam, Ptarmigan Trail, Glacier National Park

After an already long hike on an especially hot day for East Glacier, we asked some other hikers how much further it was until we reached the Ptarmigan Tunnel. They told us that once the trail clears the trees, we would be able to look ahead and see the switchbacks leading up the mountain to the tunnel above.

Yep. That’s what we saw…
Where I Roam, Ptarmigan Trail, Glacier National Park

From that vantage point, we could clearly see the next 1.5 miles of our hike.
And it was going to be a doozey!
Where I Roam, Ptarmigan Trail, Glacier National Park

We did get a gorgeous view of Ptarmigan Lake from the switchback section of the trail. The bright aqua color of the water from the glacial flour was rivaled only by the intensity of the blue, cloudless sky.

Where I Roam, Ptarmigan Trail, Glacier National Park

Where I Roam, Ptarmigan Trail, Glacier National Park

Unexpectedly, the grandeur of this place created a feeling of vertigo. The sides of the trail were very, very steep and very high up. Although it was a wide-enough foot path to walk comfortably, that dizzy feeling persisted and especially affected the kiddo.

He stopped on the trail and refused to go any further.
Where I Roam, Ptarmigan Trail, Glacier National Park

Dad actually had fingernail marks in his hands by the time they made it back to a lower portion of the trail.
Where I Roam, Ptarmigan Trail, Glacier National Park

It was a good idea to turn around when we did.

It would have been nice to see the tunnel, but we got to stick our feet in the lake instead.
Being dizzy while that high up is never a good idea.
Where I Roam, Ptarmigan Trail, Glacier National Park

We’ll catch the tunnel next time.
Where I Roam, Ptarmigan Trail, Glacier National Park

Where I Roam, Ptarmigan Trail, Glacier National Park

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Frozen in a Cabin in Bear Country

A week in the woods just isn’t a week in the woods unless you go camping for part of it.

Last year, we really went camping. This year, we spent the night in a dry cabin at the East Glacier KOA campground. Believe it or not, we were warmer in the tent.

But alas, that wasn’t the KOA’s fault.

Where I Roam, East Glacier KOA
When I booked our cabin over the telephone, we were told it had heat and electricity, but we would be using the campground showers and restrooms and to bring our own linens. In preparation, we stopped at Costco and picked up some pillows and two fleece sleeping bag liners (the kiddo had room in his suitcase to pack his sleeping bag from home). Since the cabin was heated, we figured that was all we would need. 

Where I Roam, East Glacier KOA
Before arriving at the KOA, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’d stayed at campgrounds before, but in a pop-up trailer. This was the first time I’d ever stayed in a dry cabin or at a KOA facility.

It was amazing! I was so pleasantly surprised!

Where I Roam, East Glacier KOA

Our cabin was clean and cute, with a double bed and a set of bunk beds. The mattresses were covered in a plastic material, so there were no weird stains or smells or creepy crawlies waiting for us.
Where I Roam, East Glacier KOA

The cabin was clean and comfortable, and the campground amenities were amazing. The KOA offers pizza delivery directly to your campsite or BBQ dinners for purchase every evening from 5-10 pm. We had a cooler with us and made our own sandwiches, but it was nice to know we wouldn’t go hungry regardless. 

Where I Roam, East Glacier KOA

In addition to an enormous pool, hot tub, and free wifi, the KOA gave us the added bonus of being just outside Glacier National Park. That made it much easier to get over to the St. Mary Visitor Center for the 9:30 pm ranger-led stargazing program.

We got to see the rings of Saturn through a telescope. It was one of the coolest things ever (and looked very similar to the linked photo!)
Where I Roam, East Glacier KOA, deer grazing

Since it doesn’t get dark until really late in Montana in the summer time, it was actually dusk at almost 10 pm while we were driving over to stargaze. On the road leading out of the campground, we found this guy moseying along. What you can’t see in this photo is that just off to the left is the campground. Kids were playing in the pool with a bear strolling by. Wild!

I guess, here in Florida, it’s equally wild that we swim and water ski in lakes and there’s likely an alligator nearby too. All depends on what you’re used to!
Where I Roam, East Glacier KOA, black bear
And I bet you’re wondering why the tent last year was warmer than the heated cabin?

Because hubby left the window open. And nobody remembered to turn the heater on. And just before we went to bed, there was a really big moth buzzing around inside and hubby tried to swat it with his shirt, knocking the only light bulb out of its fixture, so that we couldn’t see the knob to turn the heater on until morning–which also happened to be when we figured out that the window was still open.

Which makes for a good “frozen in a cabin in bear country” story.

*For more information on the St. Mary/East Glacier KOA campground, visit their website: http://koa.com/campgrounds/st-mary/

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Alpine Zone Fauna on Logan’s Pass, Glacier National Park

Logan’s Pass is one of the few places in Glacier National Park where you are nearly guaranteed to see wildlife up close and personal.

It’s one of the few trails where you can drive your car into the
alpine zone to catch the trail head, and then the shorter hike (3 miles round trip) makes the trail accessible to a wider range of visitors.

The animal photos are great because it’s such a busy, popular trail, the animals have grown accustomed to the presence of humans and don’t feel at all shy. In fact, they seldom feel compelled to move out of the way.

It kinda looks like a petting zoo.
With really steep sides.
And no fences.

In fact, we have always found ourselves sharing the trail with mountain goats, big horn sheep, and marmots for sure!

I just love taking animal photos. It’s such a treat.

Unlike a landscape that tends to stay put, your subject has free will and a mind of their own so it’s a special pleasure when you hit the shutter button and get rewarded with an extra cute animal shot.

Where I Roam, Logan's Pass, Glacier National Park, Animal Life

Look maaaa…where my horns will come in!
Where I Roam, Logan's Pass, Glacier National Park, Animal Life

Where I Roam, Logan's Pass, Glacier National Park, Animal Life
Oversized guinea pig? No! It’s a marmot! Last year, I’d never seen one before.
Where I Roam, Logan's Pass, Glacier National Park, Animal Life

Two marmots sitting on a rock, s-u-n-n-i-n-g.
First comes love
Then comes marriage
Then comes…well, you know the rest.
They’re rodents after all.
Where I Roam, Logan's Pass, Glacier National Park, Animal Life

Big horn sheep butting heads on the slope. At least I thought it was his head until I zoomed in on the photo. That’s actually one sheep head butting the other sheep’s ass.

I just report what I see. I never claimed to be an expert.
Where I Roam, Logan's Pass, Glacier National Park, Animal Life

Mama goats and baby goats…
Where I Roam, Logan's Pass, Glacier National Park, Animal Life

And one of the coolest photos of the trip! And officially my new header!
Where I Roam, Logan's Pass, Glacier National Park, Animal Life

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