Day 1, A surprise to start things out

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It started out snowing — hard. I got out at dawn and the idea was to go over to St. Mary and shoot the snow. They had a late spring snowstorm over the past couple of days that dumped anywhere from a few inches to several feet. The weather cleared and it was exceedingly calm. St. Mary is usually windy. I made some good photos, but on the way out I hit it rich. A northern hawk owl was hunting along U.S. Highway 89. The hawk owl is rare in Montana, but in Glacier, it frequents burns. This owl was in the Red Eagle fire of 2006. When forests burn over, sometimes in the years after there is a surge in the vole population. The owls, which hunt during the day, take advantage of it. How and when they find these burns is a mystery. But they found them on the west side of the divide and now on the east side as well. From a naturalist perspective, it was a very cool find. Hawk owls are usually found a good 100-200 miles north of Glacier and they range to Alaska. As their name implies, they look a lot like a hawk.

Day 2, Elk

elk, day 2
Headed up the North Fork with the kid and wandered around a few favorite meadows. Waded out into a beaver pond to get a reflection shot (so-so) and used the 8 by 10 camera as well as the Crown Graflex. Ed Gilliland loaned me his 8 by 10 Horseman, which is a beast of a camera, but surprisingly simple to use (provided you remember the steps). I'll develop the film later today. For now, enjoy this cow elk photo, taken as the day ended. Glacier's elk are extremely wary, as they're range goes outside the Park, where they get shot at regularly. As such, they usually run like hell at first sight of a human. I know this update is a day late, but we got in late last night and all I wanted to do was cuddle up to a bottle of chardonnay.

Day 3, Scouting

varied thrush day 3 use

The weather had to break sometime and it did today. Rather gray and showery and it's supposed to stay that way this week. First thing was greeted by a male varied thrush, one of my favorite birds. In the next few days I'll try to get some audio recordings of them. Scouted out the trail for tomorrow's shoot. With gray weather, you generally can't shoot anything higher than eye level. So I'll head to the deep woods. I have some photos in mind...

Day 4, First film

Day 2, grf-wed tree
Developed the first film yesterday. This is from the Speed Graphic. The photo has an "old" look, but it's way too grainy, which leads me to believe the development time was too long. The film is 33 years old, too. 33 years! It seems to be fine. It's been forever since I developed film and I forgot what it's like to work in the dark. We'll get the kinks worked out. I screwed the pooch on the 8 by 10 film. Something went way wrong on the development. I've consulted the experts. We'll find solutions. I'm really liking the Graflex. It's actually a compact camera for a 4 by 5.

Day 4, Cont.

day 4 deep woods
There's a trail that virtually no one hikes in Glacier that goes into ancient forests with trees 500-plus years old. I went there on Day 4. It was supposed to rain, but never did. Right now, as I write this on Day 5, it's pouring rain. I expect to spend several days in this woods. It's a place for trees. You see little else, but hear woodpeckers way up in the canopy. Few songbirds. I became enamored with this downed tree and finally got under it for this interesting view.

Day 5, Hey, you're not a duck!

day 5, moose
Decided to bike up the Sun Road and look for Harlequin ducks in McDonald Creek (most of the road is closed to cars this time of year, but you can hike and bike on it, which is way more fun.). Harlequins are thusly named because the male has a clownish mask. Got a little panicky after a good hour and a half bike ride and no ducks. Plus it started raining and the wind picked up and I was quickly running out of daylight. Decided to keep riding up the Sun Road and found a mountain goat perched on a ledge about 300 feet above the road. I ditched the bike and started up a gully that would get me to a spot where I could take a picture. A big sign was posted on the road that said "Avalanche danger very high, don't pause or stay in gullies and chutes," or something to that effect. But here I was, right in a gully and nasty one it was. It got steeper and steeper with ugly loose scree and rotten logs. I almost ate it twice. Once the rotten log I was standing on crumbled and I just started sliding downhill. Luckily my fat ass stopped. The other time I almost went face first after I lost my balance. The goat, perched on its ledge, seemed to smile. I got a keeper and then on the ride back saw a bull moose. It's always interesting to watch a 1,400 pound animal just disappear in a few steps. Never did see any of those friggin ducks.

Day 6, Mule deer

Day 6
Bridges aren't just for people.

Day 7, Good things on bad days

day 7, trillium
It simply poured on me today. And when the rain stopped, it began to hail. It was absolutely wretched. I was photographing this trillium blossom, one of the first flowers to bloom in the Park. It was wound tight, like a cigar and as I took photos it slowly unfurled right in front of me and there was a small caterpillar inside. You rarely think of plants in motion.

A short conversation I had with an old man today. I was taking a photo along this dirt road and he pulled up in a huge SUV:

Old man: Who are you?
Me: Chris
Old man: Oh yeah. (Recognition) You should write a story on these beavers. It's a big story.
(The beavers are eating the trees. That's what beavers do.)
I smile.
Old man: You should write a story on that road through the Canyon.
(It's narrow, dangerous)
Me: Maybe I should.
Old man (irritated): Ahhhh.
And then he dismisses me with a wave of his hand and drives off.
Me, grumbling to myself: WTF?

Day 8, Beavers, in love

day 8, beaver love
You smell purty.

Day 9, Situation Normal All, well, you get the picture..

Day 9
The idea was to go into the Belly River for the weekend. An easy hike. Got to the trailhead and there was 4 feet of snow and it was snowing. I had checked the Park's St. Mary web cam the day before and it showed the flat snow clear, which was pretty much true. But the farther north I got, the more snow there was. Even at St. Mary, there was a fair amount of snow in the trees. So I bagged the idea of the Belly River at least for a week. I would have done the trip, but didn't have snowshoes with me. I ended up camping at St. Mary and worked the flats around the lake. I have penchant for lone trees in prairies. This lodgepole shows the scars of many an elk rubbing on it. I also picked up a couple of ticks while taking this photo. You DO NOT want to have a tick from Glacier bite you very long. I got Colorado tick fever from a tick bite a few years ago. I thought, quite seriously, I was going to die. This photo is digital converted to black and white...

Day 10, Birds

Day 10, savannah sparrow
The idea of this project is also to capture as many bird species as possible. There's about 280 species of birds recorded in the Park. I'll be lucky, however, to get good photos of 100. With bird photos, the challenge is to get them doing something other than just sitting on a tree or on a bush or branch. Here, a Savannah Sparrow greets the day. I had to hide behind a bush to get this shot. They like to sing, but not close to humans. Without binoculars or a high powered lens, you would never see the bright yellow in its head.

Day 11 Feeling green

Day 11 green woods
No sooner did I get out of the truck than it started to pour. In fact, I believe I've been rained or snowed on at least a little every day but two since I started. No worries. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. The rain greens things up and fills little streams. This one made a brief appearance on the surface, then vanished underground. Found this one on a little four mile hike in the deep woods.

Day 12, Let it snow, let it snow...

Day 12, snow
A typical day, really. Rain, hail and in the higher elevations, impressive little snow squalls. I'm getting used to lousy weather. The worse, the better. Also saw plenty of warblers — an orange crowned, a yellow-rumped and a Townsend's. The Townsend's is a striking bird, but simply too high in the canopy for a decent photo. Warblers can be exceedingly difficult to photograph, which also makes them very fun. This was taken with a 400mm across a gaping chasm. Mountain goats like gaping chasms.

Day 13, Suppertime

day 13 robin eats worm
While robins are often viewed as city birds, in Glacier they are as at home in the wilderness as they are around people. Glacier's robins, in general, are more shy of people. But worms are worms, whether they're in a garden or a Glacier swamp. The bright orange breast identifies this one as a male. It didn't rain much today, but it wasn't very nice, either. A few sprinkles and cold. Today (day 14) it's raining in earnest. Ode to joy...

Day 14, More rain

Day 14, more storms
A brief break as fog hangs in the Apgar Hills...

The days have been going like this: Signs of sunshine and then dark angry clouds full of snow in higher elevations and rain and hail in lower elevations. I really thought it was going to break today. It didn't. The weekend is supposed to be spectacular. Warm, sunny. Planning a backcountry trip, so this won't be updated again until Sunday night at the earliest.

Day 15, Glacier, the classroom

Day 15, kids in woods
Thousands of schoolchildren visit Glacier each year as part of the Park's ongoing education effort. Blindfolded, a child discovers the woods through smell and touch in a fun exercise.

Day 16, Akokala Creek, the hard way

day 16, akokola creek
Hiked into Akokala Lake via in the inside road, about 19 miles round trip. It was a beautiful weekend. Sunny. Warm. But the hike in had about 300 downed trees and once I got to the lake there was anywhere from one to three feet of snow and (get this) it was cloudy. The clouds hung on the divide like a veil the whole weekend. So I shot the creek, which is idyllic in its own right.

Day 17, Along came a spider

day 17, spider
The marvels of nature. A trillium stays white for only a couple of weeks, then it turns pink or purple as it ages. And yet this spider has adapted to a white hue, blending in perfectly. Be thankful you're not a fly...

Day 18, Little birds in big bushes

day 18, yellow rumped

Yellow-rumped warblers abound in Glacier National Park, but they're flighty, small, and wary as well. I love warblers, despite the photographic challenges they present. I also used the 8 by 10 field camera today. Met three nice ladies who sat on the dock for me. I'll try to get the film souped in the next couple of days and present the images. The shutter on the lens sticks at long exposures, so I did a little improvisation. The 8 by 10 is a "nervous" camera. It's worth a small fortune and it's not mine, so I'm always worried I'll drop it. The ground glass you focus on is one big piece of exposed glass with grid lines — an accident waiting to happen. I've taken to wrapping it in a sleeping bag, which doubles as my dark cloth. I'm pretty sure I nailed the exposure. I just have to hope I don't screw up the developing. We finally had some sun. Tomorrow it's supposed to rain.

Sigh.


Day 19, You're not a duck, either

day 19, black bear

Did another evening bike ride up the Sun Road. Raced some bull elk as they ran through the trees, drank a from spring that sprouted from a rock and biked past two black bears to get home. Black bears are generally shy creatures. Even so, I gave this one a wide berth, as he was much larger than I. Photo was taken with a 600mm equivalent lens and it was nearly dark. And yes, I was looking for harlequin ducks again in the creek. The weather was marked with gray clouds and earlier in the day, heavy thunderstorms. So the water is way up and brown. Never even saw a duck...

Sigh.

Day 20, Details

Day 20, hairymuley
A mule deer itches off its winter coat, and the light catches the falling hair.

Saw the old man again today, driving around in his SUV

Old man: I want to talk you.
Me: (waiting as he rolls his window down further)
Old man: That South Fork Bridge. It's been delayed for years. They got that stimulus money. Get on that story.
Me: (I say nothing).
Old man: Rolls up his window. Drives away.

Day 21, The duck

Day 21 harlequin
Finally, the ducks. Was looking and looking and this harlequin male duck swam under my feet on McDonald Creek. Not the best photo of the 21 days by a long shot. But finally, THE duck. Harlequins are unique in that they migrate from east to west. The males don't stay in Glacier long. They mate, then head back for the west coast. The females stay, raise the young, and then head for the coast as well, usually by September, or earlier. The name harlequin comes from the male's clown-like appearance. The females are drab brown and can disappear in the brush like a ghost.

Day 22, Glacier icons

Day 22, glacier lily
The Glacier lily is the iconic flower of the Park, blooming from the valley floor to mountain passes as the snow melts. I shoot at least one flower a day. I like to work in shape and color with flowers. Flowers are enjoyable. They don't run or fly away. I also had a much better duck day. The ducks were very cooperative and lo and behold the sun shone!

Day 23, Find the eagle

Day 23 baldeagle

I spent a cold morning shooting sparrows and then on the way home, spotted a bald eagle on its nest. Took two photos. This is one. The digital camera is dying on me. The autofocus works when it feels like it. Too much rain, I suppose. Now we're supposed to have a week of sunshine.

Sigh.

Day 24, The big picture

Day 24, frog on log
When photographing critters in Glacier you always like to get the mountains in the background. Ditto with frogs. Nearly had my face in the water to get this photo of a Columbia Spotted Frog. Flip the adult over and it has bright pink legs. The water in this spring-fed pond was so cold the frogs were crawling out on the logs to warm up. Yep, the sun has been shining.

Day 25, The backcountry

Day 25 sunrise,logging lake
On the weekends I like to get into the backcountry. You can relax and shoot a bunch of stuff. Shot several different species of birds, but saw no big mammals, save for a red fox on the trail, which was going rather fast in the opposite direction. Here, the sun rises over Logging Lake.

Day 26, The smallest bird in Glacier

Day 26, calliope hummer
Photographing calliope hummingbirds under ideal conditions is difficult. Sprinkle in mosquitos the size of houseflies, a stiff wind and failing light and I was lucky to get anything at all. Calliopes are the smallest bird in North America — slightly larger than my thumb. They're pretty common in town, but this was the first one I've seen inside the Park boundaries. This year the serviceberry bushes have incredible numbers of flowers, which is a good thing for hummers and if we have some timely rains — bears. Bears love serviceberries. Calliopes do have one habit that makes them somewhat easier to photograph, if they have a perch they like, they'll come back to it over and over again.

Day 27, Take what comes to you

Day 27 western grebe

A shipment of new 4 by 5 film came in today and I shot several frames of it. It should be better than the 33 year old film I was trying, without much success. I worked around the shore of Lake McDonald, trying to take "old time pictures" since it was sunny and warm and people were out and Boy Wonder had been begging to go to the waterslides. The waterslides are closed ( or at least empty) and it's too cold to swim anyway, so I took him to the lake, where he could play in the sand the the water. The bird bug caught me as five western grebes just floated along the dock at Apgar. I've been hanging around Lake McDonald for 12 years and have never seen grebes so less concerned about humans. One guy even jumped off the dock and they didn't flinch ( he made an audible gasp and his friend pulled him out, the water, at best, is 45 degrees). I'm sorry. It's another bird picture. But a bird with red eyes and a graceful long neck and quaint song. Here, one plays with a stick. In the end, you take what comes to you.

Day 28, A different reality

Day 28 forget me nots
Forget-me-nots are small blue flowers common to the Apgar area. When photographing flowers, I try to bring a different reality. These flowers are low to the ground and very small, half the size of a pinky nail, so I use a macro lens — an old Nikon 55 mm I picked up for all of $35. It's a great lens. You would never see these flowers like this. But through a camera lens with a wide open aperture, they look huge and dreamy.

Day 29, Film from Day 28

Day 29 Man and dog at lake

Day 28 was pretty much a disaster. I got to the Park and the battery was dead in the digital backup camera, so I went back to town and grabbed another battery but that battery wouldn't hold a charge so I charged the other battery and while I was waiting I loaded up some new black and white 4 by 5 film. Got back to the Park about an hour later and took several frames with the Speed Graphic, including the man with his dog, above. It's a pain in the ass camera. You take a meter reading. Then focus. Then set the aperture and shutter speed. Then load the film. Then pull the dark slide that covers the film. Then take the picture. Then shove the dark slide back in flipped over (so you know which film you've shot). Then hope you didn't screw things up. Then you have to develop the film. That's the part I'm having problems with. The negs are little too grainy and flat for my liking. They need to be sharp and contrasty. Still, the wife liked this picture of the man and the dog, grain or not. I like it, too.

Day 29 was actually cool. I was at Big Creek working on another assignment and two harlequin ducks splashed down right in front of me and I got the best photos of harlequins yet as the male did a funny little dance for the female. Big Creek is just outside the Park in the North Fork. Then in the evening I went back and located the calliope hummingbird and got much better photos of it, as well as several other cool shots. The weather for the past week has been stellar. Warm days, cool nights. Lots of sun. That's all supposed to change next week as we head into June. June is a wet month.

Day 30, Goodnight, Moon

Day 30, sunset belly river
Sunset on Gable Peak, Belly River.

Day 31, Sunrise, Belly River

Day 31 sunrise belly river

Sunrise was a more subtle affair.

Day 32, Wile E. you're not a chickadee

Day 32 Wile E
The black-capped chickadee is one of the most common birds in North America. As of Day 32, I have yet to successfully photograph one on this journey. There are no bird feeders in Glacier and black caps, for all their charms, refuse to sit still. So last night I was trying to photograph one in a lodgepole pine when this coyote appeared. Never even ran, just looked at me, and sauntered away. Took 15 to 20 frames. By then, the chickadees were gone. Sigh.

Day 33, Not an ordinary woodpecker

Day 33. lewis's woodpecker

The Lewis's woodpecker is different from other woodpeckers in Glacier. It soars like a jay or a crow and actually looks like one from a distance. It has beautiful plumage, but getting close to one is tricky — they're flighty birds and they spend a lot of time in the tallest part of dead trees. I took this photo using a remote control. This is its nesting tree, but the birds actually spent more time on the top of the tree than in the hole. Look for them in old burns up the North Fork.

Day 34, Something moving in the leaves

Day 34, toad

I was in a thicket of hawthorn bushes when I heard something rustling through the leaves. I suspected a squirrel, then a chipmunk, but saw nothing. Then I caught just the glint of its eye. A boreal toad, the size of my hand, sunning itself in a shaft of sunlight. All, on this day at least, is right with the world.

Day 35, An ode to snags

Day 35, the snag

"What good is that dead old tree?" I hear that over and over again from people. Ask the birds and they'll tell a different story. I can't even count the number of birds that nest in old snags. Bluebirds immediately come to mind. Spent the evening with them by complete accident. Was trying to photograph one thing, and the bluebirds were nesting in the snag above my head. There is nothing finer than having mountain bluebirds flying around your head. So here's to snags. This one died more than 20 years ago and still stands.

Day 36, Jackson Creek

Day 36 Jackson creek 2
Finally had some success with the 8 by 10 camera. My friend Ed Gilliland, who loaned it to me, went out with me the other day. I was getting blank film — it was overexposed. He discovered I wasn't putting the film holder in all the way, which resulted in a huge light leak. So on Day 36, I went out and took two more pictures. This is one of them. The print is 35 inches wide.

Day 37, Disregard the Calendar Day 37, Disregard the calendar Day 37, Disregard the calendar

Day 37, sheep in snow

After two weeks of summer-like weather, snow arrived in Two Medicine. I was probably the only guy in camp welcoming it. I like snowy shots. Climbed about 500 feet above the trail to get this photo of a bighorn ram overlooking the valley. Climbing with a 400mm on your back is challenging, even if it's just a scramble up some scree. The snow got so hard it became difficult to see anything. The weather said two to eight inches, but it ended up being a dusting, but frigid. My water bottles froze. The next morning I would completely forget that I left the 400 and the camera and the monopod sitting on the picnic table at camp. When I realized what I had done I almost threw up. Leaving the 400 and the camera behind is like losing a child at a rodeo (which I've done). I raced back to the campsite and it was still there, on the table and a fine lady from the Park Service was yelling into the trees, looking for its owner. Bless her heart.

Day 38, A favorite tree

Day 38, sunrise two med

T. J. Hileman, one of the Park's first photographers, had a couple of birch trees cut down after he took a coveted picture on Lake McDonald. This is my favorite tree at Two Medicine Lake. I have no plans to cut it down.

Day 39, Mr. Follett

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Ranger Doug Follett shows off his purple socks to a crowd of more than 200 as he enters the West Glacier community building for a celebration of his 50th year with the Park Service on June 8, 2009. Purple is his favorite color. "It matches my veins," he joked.

Day 40, Back in the woods

Day 40. rocky mtn. maple
Today turned cold and wet — like June usually is in Glacier. Rocky Mountain Maple, unlike its eastern cousin, which grows into fabulous trees, is no more than a bush in Glacier. But it's an important bush, providing browse for a host of ungulates.

Day 41, The other hummingbird

Day 41, rufous hummingbird
The other species of hummingbird (and more commonly seen) in Glacier is the rufous hummingbird. Here, a female feeds in a flowering bush (I'm working on a ID of said bush, it's not in my flower book). It was just dumb ass luck I got this shot. I was checking on another bird nest (a warbling vireo) when the hummer flew up. Sometimes life works that way. They call them pleasant surprises.

My grandmother never tired of this joke, which, telling it, was a joke in itself.

Why do hummingbirds hum?
Because they don't know the words.

Day 42, 3 wolves, here's one of them

Day 42, wolf
A gray wolf makes its way across a meadow. Wolves inhabit all of Glacier. You see their tracks and kills, but rarely the animal itself. This was one of three that was at least 100 yards away. I don't think it ever noticed me. One of the the three had an injured back leg.

Day 43, Bear grass, a different view

Day 43, bear grass

Today was an especially productive day, from a tree frog to a coyote (I've seen at least 9 coyotes on this journey), to several different species of flowers to cedar waxwings eating blossoms from Glacier's lone apple tree (well, it's the only one I know of, apples aren't native and they draw bears, so the Park has a tendency to cut them down, especially in developed areas). I've been revisiting some favorite places and one of those is blooming with bear grass. I suspect it will be a good year for this favorite plant across the Park. So here it is, bear grass, up close and personal.

Day 44, Stomp your feet

Day 44, buck
This young buck stomped and snorted and stomped and snorted when it found me. I was sitting on a big log across the creek and he was on a small island in the creek in the backcountry. Deer stomp and snort when they encounter something they're not sure of. Then they usually take off. The snort, if you've never heard it before, is quite unique.

Day 45, Moonrise

Day 45, moonrise
The moon rises over the Livingston Range in a blaze of light in this timed exposure of about an hour. Stumbling around setting up a camera at 1 a.m. is always, well, interesting...

Day 46, The Sun Road

Day 46, Heaven's Peak

This week I've decided to bike the Sun Road for a few days, since it's expected to completely open to car traffic soon. Once that happens, Glacier becomes a bit of a zoo. Folks are pleasant enough, but I must admit, I enjoy my solitude. Here, Heaven's Peak is bathed in the evening light. It's a rare day when you can stand on the road and view this sight all alone.

Day 47, The big song

Day 47, ruby crowned kinglet
The ruby crowned kinglet is one of the smallest birds in North America, smaller than some species of hummingbirds. But its song is huge, a multi-noted melody that it belts from the trees and bushes in Glacier National Park. You can find these birds everywhere from forests to brushy marshes. Photographing them is a challenge. The idea is to get the bird in song and at least show its ruby crown, which it normally keeps flat. Here, the crown is raised at least a little.

Day 48, Evening clouds

Day 48, garden wall

This was the last day for me to bike the Sun Road without cars around, so I headed out into a downpour, got soaked, and then the skies cleared and I made this picture. Mount Oberlin is to the right. The Garden Wall and Haystack Butte peek through the clouds.

Day 49, An evening surprise

Day 49, black bear
Black bears aren't always black. Ran into this sow with two cubs (one shown). They weren't aggressive, but I yelled and threw a rock in their direction to get them off the trail and away from me, just in case.

Day 50, Rainbow in the trees

Day 50, western tanager
Virtually every day I'll hear a western tanager. But they're almost always high in the canopy. The neotropical delights winter in Central America and migrate to Montana to raise their young. An absolutely fantastic bird and a great way to get to the halfway point. I haven't had a chance to count the number of bird species I've been able to successfully photograph. But I do know this: I don't have a black capped chickadee. You've got to be kidding me.

Day 51, I never promised you a rose garden, oh wait, yes I did...

Day 51, rose
Wild roses abound in Glacier. The hips make table fare for deer and bears in the fall.

Day 52, Asleep at the wheel? Hardly

Day 52, hawk owl
A northern hawk owl blinks its eyes. In that instant, it looks as if it's asleep. But it's very much awake. Hawk owls hunt during the day, eating everything from voles to starlings to juncos. (They eat the juncos whole.) This is the third hawk owl I've seen since I started this project (the first was on day one) and I was able to spend about an hour photographing it. Hawk owls are fairly rare in Glacier.

Day 53, New hiking apparel

Day 53, yawner
Sometimes you get out in the woods and run into a guy in a suit roaring. It happens. OK, OK, it's a dancer working on a Wolf Trap production for the Park's Centennial. He's yawning. Still not sure why he's in a tux, though. I hope it's a rental. It's not only dirty out in the burns, it was raining.

Day 54, Ghost in the Meadow

Day 54, great gray
Nearly all of the photos in this journey have been cropped to some degree. This one I decided to leave alone. The great gray owl is a magnificent bird, almost three feet tall. I haven't seen one in years. I noticed this lump on the stick and said, "Hey, that looks like a great gray." Looked through the lens. Sure enough, it was.

Day 55, Butterfly evening

Day 55, skippers

I was photographing a species of butterfly called an Admiral, when these two mating checkered skippers plopped down in front of me. Mating butterflies don't fly very well. I can't imagine mating and flying at the same time, but it sounds like fun.

Day 56, Logan Pass opens

Day 56, Logan Pass

So Logan Pass opened for vehicle traffic yesterday and I got up there a little late (about 6 p.m.) and stayed until dark. I expected the place to be a zoo, but there were few people up there and fewer still as the light faded. In fact, I had the entire Hidden Lake overlook to myself, which is a little weird, because there's almost always someone there. I took several nice panoramic shots, but the one I keep coming back to is this VW bug in the parking lot. It was the last car in the lot, save for my truck. Logan Pass can be a surreal place.

Day 57, An evening flight

Day 57, great gray flies

The small meadows of Glacier are my favorite places. They range from 2 to 100 acres in size and if you wait long enough, something interesting almost always happens. Tonight, the great gray owl returned, hunting in the evening light.

Day 58, Meet the vireos

Day 58, warbling vireos
Warbling vireos make an elegant pouch nest. The male and female tend to the young, both will take turns sitting on the nest. Here, the male (presumably, since they're nearly impossible to tell apart) gives the female a little love bite.

Day 59, Good morning

Day 59, yellow warbler
The push is on to photograph at least 100 different species of birds (particularly since I've seen little else, save for some very scruffy bighorn sheep). I'm not really a morning person, but yellow warblers make it worthwhile.

Day 60, To Linnaeus

Day 60, twinflower

Twinflower's Latin name is Linnae borealis and is named after Carl Linnaeus, the Swedish scientist known as the father of taxonomy. Taxonomy is scientific naming of animals and plants. Twinflower grows in mats on the forest floor, with thousands of small flowers no larger than your pinky nail. To really enjoy it, you need to get on your belly, or at least, your knees.

Day 61, The grove

Day 61, ponderosas

On the east flank of Apgar mountain there is a grove of Ponderosa pines that somehow survived the gigantic Robert Fire of 2003. From a distance they look like they're in a straight row, but once you get in them, they are spaced apart. Groves of Ponderosas are some of my favorite places. One of the most impressive groves in Northwest Montana is at White River Park in the heart of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. In Glacier, there are several groves in the North Fork. They often have meadows beneath them and the diversity attracts a wide variety of plant and animal species.

Day 62, Sepia tones

Day 62, wedding tree sepia

The Nikon digital camera I use allows you to do sepia toned prints in camera. You simply convert the file, which is a nicer way than the old sepia toned prints, which were made using harsh chemicals, like ferrous cyanide. Old black and white prints exposed to the sun or ones that are coming "unfixed" will take on the same color. As this project progresses, I find myself going back to places I really like. This is my favorite tree in the Park. It's an old juniper, which lost a limb over the winter. I fear it will die soon. This summer it was home to a family of bluebirds and a ground squirrel has a burrow beneath it. I could spend hours here.

Day 63, The squirrel

Day 63, ground squirrel, logan pass
Ground squirrels are a dime a dozen in Glacier. The idea here was to show one in context and even though I'm not a fan of crowds, Logan Pass is still a pretty special place, particularly when the glacier lilies bloom. I sat down and waited, leaning over toward the squirrel. I'm maybe two or three feet from it when I take the photo.

Day 64, A yellow day

Day 64, arnica blows in wind

It was a yellow day. Several yellow flower species, yellow warblers, and a nice wind to keep the mosquitoes away. the mosquitoes have been horrendous, but somehow you get used to them.

Day 65, A woodland visit

Day 65, pine marten

Today was the first day of a backcountry traverse through the heart of Glacier, from Park Creek to Lake Isabel and then up and over Two Medicine Pass and then to Two Medicine proper. While sitting in the woods taking a drink of water, a pine marten, hunting on the forest floor, almost walked to my feet. Usually you can let out a little bark, like a dog, and they'll scoot up a tree. But when I barked at this one it ran like no tomorrow. Sigh.

Day 66, The Stomach Bug Day 66, The Stomach Bug Day 66, The Stomach Bug Day 66, The Stomach Bug

Day 66, evening light, isabel

For the first time ever in the backcountry I get a stomach bug. I don't have diarrhea or vomiting, it just feels like someone is punching me in the guts. So I pretty much stop eating. The hike to Isabel is just under 10 miles from the lower Park Creek camp. It's not all that difficult, the the last 1,000 feet to the lake are hot because the Rampage Fire of 2003 scorched the place. But the stomach bug saps my strength. A big old thunderstorm rolls in right after I set up my tent. I take a long nap. My tent is wonderfully waterproof. That evening the sun goes down low and red. To the right is Vigil Peak. The mountain in the distance is Grizzly. The mosquitoes are as thick as soup.

Day 67, Well blow me down

day 67 moose swims
At dawn, a bull moose swam the lake. I get out of there and the stomach bug isn't any better. I have to drop 1,000 feet then gain about 3,000 feet to the top of Chief Lodgepole Peak at the top of Two Medicine Pass.The stomach bug has killed my appetite and I've had exactly a half of a bagel and a half of a candy bar.
Just below the Pass I run out of gas and take a nap, right in the middle of the trail. There's no one around anyway. In fact, I haven't seen anyone in two days. It' hot, muggy and the skeeters are relentless.
Off in the distance it looks like rain. So I gain the elevation to the pass and it definitely is going to rain. Crap. I had planned on spending the entire afternoon and evening up here, because camp is just a couple of miles below at Cobalt Lake. At least it's not thundering, I think.
Then crack!
A bolt of lightning and then another and then the wind picks up to a howl. I have to get off this rock. The wind is blowing so hard my pack is pulling off my body and the camera, stuck on a monopod with a 400mm lens, is an expensive 14-pound lightning rod.

Day 68, Cheeseburger, please

Day 68, bear grass

It's been a phenomenal summer for bear grass. Here, it blooms en masse below Painted Teepee Peak. The stomach is feeling better and I'm thinking about a cheeseburger lunch. Mmmmmm chesseburgers. The backcountry trip is over. A nice painful adventure.

Day 69, The Grayest birds have the sweetest songs

Day 69 song sparrow

The song sparrow is one of the first birds to start singing in Glacier in the spring. They can be both secretive and boisterous, one minute deep in the brush, the next minute at the top of a limb, singing their hearts out. The push is on to successfully photograph 100 different bird species.

Day 70, Hope, a reason to turn around

Day 70 rainbow
Tonight I went looking for grasshopper sparrows, their song sounds like grasshoppers — sort of. I found them and got a few pictures and in the meantime thunderstorms were sweeping all around me but not at my exact location, so I stayed put. Then the skies got real dark — too dark to take a picture and I started walking back to the rig, expecting to get swamped. But the shower somehow dissolved and the sun began to come out so I turned around and headed back. A big black cloud now loomed behind me and the skies were swirling and the sun was setting and then a perfect rainbow as the rain fell all around. The blotches are raindrops on the lens — even with a cloth at hand it was raining too hard to keep the lens clear. I shot most of the scene with a film camera that captured the rainbow in its entirety. But this is one of the few I took with the digital.

Day 71, Bear grass sunset

Day 71, bear grass
Bear grass is not really a grass at all, it's a member of the lily family. The heads are made up of hundreds of small flowers. The plant blooms en masse once every three to 10 years. I suspect the blooms are spurred by two things: A solid snowpack and good precipitation in the spring and summer. Snowpack was a little below average, but we've had timely spring and summer rains. This scene is from the Highline Trail, a busy trail during the day, it is almost deserted in the evening.

Day 72, Little Buddha Day 72, Little Buddha

Day 72, squirrel
Glacier, it's a spiritual thing.

Day 73, Frustration

Day 73, yellowthroat
The common yellowthroats have been giving me fits. This one is soft, but I think the spider web makes the picture. They're one of those birds that simply don't sit still and while they are, in fact, common, it always seems like there's a stick in the way when you press the shutter. Sigh.

Day 74, Sunrise, boat dock

day 74, sunrise
Generally, I don't even photograph Lake McDonald in the summer. The best light is the winter — a cold day in December or January being my favorites. But I got up this morning and decided to see what I could see and this is what I saw. Not too shabby.

Day 75, Mr. Grasshopper

Day 75, grasshoppers
If someone had snuck up behind me, or flown a plane over low and slow, they would have thought, "He's lost his mind out there, crawling around on his hands and knees in that meadow."
Perhaps they would have been right.

Day 76, Panorama

Day 76, bighorns
Bighorn sheep, Haystack Butte. What can you say? I think I got everything I could have asked for in this picture. Rams herd up into bachelor groups in the summertime. While they're famous for knocking heads in the fall during the rut, they knock heads frequently in the summer as well. They're always jockeying for rank.

Day 77, Better luck...

Day 77, yellowthroat 2
On Day 73 I lamented my lack of success with common yellowthroats. Changed a few tactics today and did much better. I like the way the leaf frames this male's head. This is how you typically see a yellowthroat, a flash of a bird, hidden in the bushes.

Day 78, Glacier's gift

day 78, huckleberry
Probably not the best photo of the day, but a good sign. The first huckleberries are ripe and the crop looks good. That's good news for bears and other creatures. Huckleberries are a main food source for bears. Good huck years, bears stay out of trouble. Bad huck years, they don't. Off on a five day adventure. See you next week.

Day 79, Journey into the heart of Glacier's wilderness

Day 79, Nyack Gorge 1

This was the first stop on a five day trip doing the Nyack-Coal Creek Loop, which is the heart of the Park, a wilderness area with rushing streams, old growth forests, fire-burned landscapes and mosquitos and flies. The bugs, quite honestly, were relentless. This is the first Nyack Creek Gorge, a vertigo inducing sight that I never tire of. You cross Nyack Creek to get there — right off the bat. It's a bone chilling ford right up to your waist.

Day 80, Looking for goats, finding ducks

Day 80, harlequin with chicks
On this journey I was also doing mountain goat surveys for the Park Service. At the first survey site I found no goats, but I did happen across a harlequin duck and her brood. It looked like a perfect place to be a duck. But not a human. The flies were awful. I grew up on a dairy farm and the barnyard, full of cows, had less flies. They didn't bite, they just crawled all over you. A note: On this trip I lugged the 400mm lens. It weighs an additional 15 pounds (with camera and monopod) but it's the ONLY way to get photos like this.

Day 81, Well that's not a bird

Day 81 black bear
I was heading into Martha's Basin, an idyllic spot thick with towering brush, mountains, lakes and swarms of mosquitos, when I heard a ruckus in a tree. When hiking alone in this terrain I'm constantly yelling "Hey Bear!" just to let them know I'm around. This sow sent herself and her cub up a tree to get a better look at me. She'd been digging in the creek bank, that's why she's all wet and dirty. I took a few frames and then passed. She wasn't exactly in a good mood. At first I thought she was a large bird. Yeah, a 250-pound one.

Day 84, A late nester

Day 84, waxwings
The cedar waxwing is a beautiful and gracious bird, but their young 'uns sure is ugly. Cedars waxwings in Glacier nest later than almost all the other bird species. Their nesting coincides with the ripening of berries — mostly serviceberries.

Day 83, Moose caffeine

day 83, moose

On the trail all of 10 minutes I get a surprise — a big moose. This guy was the largest moose I've seen since I started this project. He was just feeding not far from the trail. Probably weighed 1,400 pounds or more. That will wake you up. I never saw a human on this trip.

Day 82, Mountains I'll never climb

Day 82, st. nick 2
Swinging around into the Coal Creek drainage, I'm heading back closer to home. I spent the better part of the day walking past this mountain — Mount St. Nicholas, an impressive spire coveted by mountaineers. I have no desire to climb it, but the basin below the spire looks interesting. Oh yeah, the mosquitos and flies have reduced dramatically. I think it's the landscape. The Nyack side was brushy, the Coal Creek side was burned by the Rampage Fire of 2003. There's less puddles and pools to breed in. Whatever the case, the lack of bugs is noticeable.

Day 85, Mmmm, berries

Day 85, chipmunk
The other big fan of the Park's serviceberries is the red-tailed chipmunk. They usually eat them before they're ripe, however. Sigh. The serviceberry crop is very good this year. We had a timely thunderstorm today, which gave us a nice shot of rain. Looks like it will probably rain again.

Day 86, Ponderosas at dusk

Day 86, ponderosas
Ponderosa pine groves aren't very common in Glacier, which is maybe why they're one of my favorite places. Spending an evening among 150-year-old plus trees towering 150 feet-plus above you has an undeniable charm. This is a digital conversion print. The original, in color, is pretty cool, too. I just feel simple today.

Day 87, Cooling off

Day 87, deer in creek

Today was hot and muggy and then a big thunderstorm came in and it became too dark to shoot. Such are the hazards of waiting for evening light. Sometimes it works out fabulously. Sometimes it does not.

Day 88, Gloom

Day 88, gloom
The mosquitos have been relentless. The days hot and muggy. And every evening, without fail, just as the light is ripening to a perfect hue, a big black cloud rolls over and things go black. I think I'll gnaw my wrists now.

Day 89, Forest primeval

Day 89 barred owl
I went back into the big cedars of Glacier. It was a dark and gloomy evening with rain threatening. As I was about to leave and it was close to dark I heard songbirds having fits in the trees. The reason? A brood of barred owls. Barred owls have a wide ranging diet that includes songbirds. All told, I saw three owls. Despite the dark, I was able to jam the monopod into the Earth and stabilize the camera next to a tree. Shooting a 400mm at 1/30th of a second without blur is not easy. An owl's main defense is to sit still. If the songbirds weren't chattering at it, I would have never seen it.

Day 90, Looking much better...

Day 90, waxwings
On Day 84, we showed these guys in their nest. Today, they looked a lot more like birds and are on the cusp of leaving the nest for good. The cedar waxwing was actually perched on a limb just outside the nest, the one in the lower left was in it. All told, four survived.

Day 91, Women in trees

Day 91, in trees
Rebecca Lawrence, of Glacier National Park's revegetation crew, peers from the top of a whitebark pine. I went out with the crew as they "caged" the cones of healthy whitebark pines. The idea is to use screens to keep the squirrels and birds off the cones. The cones are then harvested in the fall, the seeds raised in a nursery and then the seedlings are replanted a few years later.

Day 92, Pikas

Day 92 pika
I spent the evening in a talus slope photographing pikas. They are not a rodent — they're related to rabbits and they do not hibernate. They survive in Glacier's harsh environment by making "haypiles" under big rocks which they feed on during the winter. Pikas need deep snow for insulation in the winter months and they need the big rocks to keep cool in the summer months. They're considered a bellwether for climate change. The good news is the Park's pika population is robust. Other populations in the Great Basin have gone extinct. This one was maybe four-five weeks old. It's the smallest pika I've ever photographed. When I first saw it, I thought it was a mouse. Here, it feeds on Penstemon. It reached out as far as it could to feed. It didn't want to fall into the bush (it did once and leapt out, very upset.)

Day 93, The wolf

day 93 wolf
Did a 10-mile hike in the North Fork and on the way out just before dark I was watching a woodpecker when I heard some breathing (that's right breathing, like heavy breath) in the woods below me and some twigs breaking. Then I saw a wolf and then another wolf began barking at me. Just like the neighbor's dog. It was pretty cool. And yes, the mosquitoes are still awful.

Day 94, Preston Park Day 94, Preston Park

Day 94, paintbrush
Alpine paintbrush are a nice way to start a garden.

Day 95, The bee

day 95 bee
A bee pollinates butter and eggs, a noxious, but beautiful, weed.

Day 96, The griz

Day 96 griz
A sow grizzly walks along the Garden Wall well above the Highline Trail. You might ask, well why didn't you get closer? Well, she had two cubs (out of the frame) and a photographer named Gibbs several years ago had the bright idea that he would climb up to a sow with cubs to get better pictures on Elk Mountain. That grizzly killed and ate him. I give grizzlies wide berths. This provided a fun opportunity to watch the bear at a safe distance feed on the slope. What was most impressive was just how quickly she moved — the slope is easily 45 degrees and she went up and down it like it was a sidewalk. I just hope she stays away from people. The Highline is a very busy trail — one of the most hiked in the Park.

Day 97, The Roosevelt Ride

Day 97, Roosevelt

Kate Roosevelt, great granddaughter of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, enjoys a ride in a 1927 Cadillac Touring Car on a tour of the Going-to-the-Sun Road. FDR visited the Park in 1934 and rode across the Sun Road, later giving an address to the nation from the Two Medicine chalets. This event marked the 75th anniversary of FDR's ride in three of the remaining touring cars and a 1925 White bus that carried journalists.

Day 98, The hedgerow

Day 98, robin with serviceberry
Today I spent most of my time in the Lake McDonald Lodge Auditorium listening to scientists and researchers speak about projects they're working on in Waterton or Glacier. But during lunch I noticed a hedgerow between the cabins and the lake was teeming with birds. The warblers were feeding on bugs and the robins and waxwings on serviceberries. I photographed them well into the evening, long after the mics were put away and the researchers went home. It's an interesting place to take photos with a big lens. People stop and chat and one lady even asked me to fix her camera. I obliged. Here, a fledgling robin eats serviceberries.

Day 99 Attack of the Cooper's Hawk

Day 99 coopers hawk
I had hoped to camp at Morning Star Lake and spend the last two days of this journey in the Cut Bank area, but a grizzly bear took up residence in the campground and it was closed. So I day hiked to the lake and on the way back, I was sitting in the trail on my pack overlooking the valley when (and I am not making this up) a wolverine walked within 15 feet of me. I grabbed the camera but it saw me and shot off down the trail and into the brush. Dejected, I began walking to the truck when I heard a racket above me. It was an irate Cooper's Hawk. The hawk dive-bombed me several times and called at me. The reason? It had a fledgling in a nearby tree. The bird continued to dive-bomb me as I walked down the trail until I was no longer what it considered a threat. Cooper's Hawks aren't very big, but look at those talons. Now imagine them stuck in your neck.

Day 100 So long, farewell

Day 100, marmot
Finished up the journey with a classic hike — the Highline Trail to Granite Park. The hope was to get photos of one last high country critter — the hoary marmot. They obliged. I was eating a snack on a rock and this one nearly got on my back to get a better look at me. Unfortunately, no sweeping views. The past few days have been fairly dark and dreary, sort of like the beginning of this project. The entire hike was in the clouds. Never even saw the chalet it was so dense. Still, a pleasant way to end the journey.

As for me, I'll take a day or two off and then it's back to Glacier. More adventures lurk in the woods, sweep across the prairies, course through the trails, shine across the peaks.