Tag Archives: Glacier National Park

Poor Planning at Gunsight Pass

With the government shut down, the research and science programs in Glacier ground to a halt.  Despite being at a critical juncture for the season—the brief, erratic window before the weather makes getting up high difficult and dangerous—, park scientists were forced to set aside their research until Congress could resolve its differences.  When they were allowed to go back to work a week and a half ago, it appeared that the October snows would soon close the season with incomplete data sets.

But the unseasonably-warm weather continued to hold out hope.  So, needing a night out, I volunteered to conduct a field survey at Gunsight Pass.

The plan was simple enough:  Hike into Sperry after work, camp, hike to Gunsight in the morning, and out that afternoon the way I came.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I started an hour later than I had hoped—packing is never as simple as I pretend it is when planning at the last minute.  But the sunset on the way up the Sperry trail made the headlamp-hiking worth it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I got in later than I wanted to—3,400 feet of elevation gained seemed less daunting when I began scheming, and my hasty plan didn’t account for either the gap of nearly two months since my last serious trip or several extra pounds of survey equipment.  But I still managed to get a full nine hours of sleep that night, and I woke refreshed and ready, with frost on the inside of my shelter.

Below me, Lake McDonald was covered in a morning haze thick enough to obscure all but the top of Howe Ridge, and the Apgar Mountains—the entire range in view—rose from the clouds in shades of blue and pink.  I lingered longer than I should have.  But the morning was beautiful, and I needed the opportunity to enjoy it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Continue reading

Summer, Part IV—Red Gap / Ptarmigan

Glacier National Park
late-August 2013

At the beginning of the summer, I began working with the Citizen Science program at Glacier to help the Park Service keep track of loons, pikas, and mountain ungulates. So, on the weekend before school began, I did a big loop in Many Glacier to catch a couple of the less visited sites. We started late in the afternoon on Friday, staying at Poia Lake where I would do a survey in the morning. Then, we went over Red Gap Pass and down to Elizabeth Lake for a simultaneous loon and ungulate survey, coming up and out via Ptarmigan Tunnel.

The loop is an odd one in high summer, combining some of Glacier’s least-visited country with its most-visited. Even so, it is beautiful, and the smoke stayed far away. Only a light haze, typical for this time of year, obscured our vision.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
 
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
 
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
 
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Summer, Part II—Northern Glacier

Glacier National Park
early-August 2013

This was the first year that I had enough time and flexibility to plan ahead for Glacier’s annual lottery, and we scored fantastic backcountry campsites—our top choices across the board. We started in Many Glacier, hiked to Waterton Lake and Goat Haunt, and out via Kintla Lake–a variation on the Northern Traverse. It was fantastic country, made all the more so by big weather up high.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
 
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
 
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
 
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
 
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
 
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Continue reading

The Gladness of the May

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
  The earth, and every common sight,
       To me did seem
  Aparell’d in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
. . . . . . . . . .

    The rainbow comes and goes,
    And lovely is the rose;
    The moon doth with delight
  Look round her when the heavens are bare;
    Waters on a starry night
    Are beautiful and fair;
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Continue reading