Featured Photo: Northern Lights in Tennessee

Featured Photo: Northern Lights in Tennessee

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Glacier Day Six: Photography, Marias Pass, and Relaxation

Our trip in Glacier National Park was definitely getting into the home stretch. After our big hike, we wanted a breather before hitting it hard for a couple more days. We had discussed taking the day completely off from hiking but ultimately decided to not waste any of our vacation with sitting around. However, wanting to make sure we had the energy without too many aching muscles for the last couple of days, we decided to spend more time sight seeing than hiking. 

Our day started off with a relaxing morning of sleeping in, if you can call getting up at 7:00 am sleeping in. Compared to our recent 5:00 am mornings, this was definitely a luxury. Once we finally got ourselves up, both my wife and I were presently surprised to discover we weren't too sore. Our main reason for a slow day is we simply didn't know if we'd be able to move that morning. We were both feeling pretty good and started second guessing whether we should have just done another big hike after all. However, we had some other plans we wanted to see about. That included a big breakfast of huckleberry pancakes which you can read all about HERE.

Hiking the Continental Divide Trail at Marias Pass

After breakfast and doing the dishes, time was already starting to get away from us. We decided to take a drive and see some areas we hadn't visited yet. I wanted to follow the Middle Fork of the Flathead east and see the scenery in that area. After consulting our maps, a short hike was settled upon at Marias Pass. Once we finished all of that, we'd just see what time it was and go from there. 

As we drove up the beautiful canyon, it quickly became apparent that my poor wife was more tired than we originally thought. She was quickly asleep as we drove up towards Marias Pass. It was a long enough drive that she was able to enjoy some rest before our short hike. When we got up to the actual pass, there were a couple of other cars parked at the trailhead which was helpful. It was not obvious where to park for this trailhead. The actual trailhead was not immediately obvious either but a group of hikers coming out helped clear that up as well. 

We grabbed our packs and cameras and headed north across the railroad tracks and were soon enveloped in a beautiful forest full of wildflowers and tranquility. The trail was supposed to approach and pass Three Bears Lake. We were hoping for maybe a good view or some wildlife but otherwise just glad to be out stretching our legs a little. 

Continental Divide Trail at Marias Pass

Soon, the trail approached the lake. As the forest opened up, more wildflowers appeared. We would have spent quite a bit of time here enjoying the flowers blooming in the summer sun, but the lake also provided a perfect breeding ground for mosquitos. They weren't as bad as some spots, but just bad enough that we didn't linger beyond a quick picture or two. The fireweed in particular was eye catching. 

Fireweed along Three Bears Lake

After briefly skirting the lake, the trail returned to the forest. We had hoped to spot a moose or some other interesting critters on the lake, but all we noticed were some waterfowl well off in the distance. Not far beyond the lake, we reached a trail junction. We had already gone a little more than a mile with no real destination in mind beyond the lake. While we were happy to be out walking, we also wanted to see some more things, so we turned around and headed back. 

On the way back, I noticed another flower. This one was much more interesting and was a new one for me. Woodland pinedrops are apparently related to Indian-pipe and is a root parasite and produces minimal chlorophyl. I was intrigued by how tall these were, with several approaching three feet in height. After a few quick pictures, we moved on again.

Woodland Pinedrops near Marias Pass

By the time we got back to the car, the huckleberry pancakes were starting to wear off and we began to consider food. Not wanting to stop our adventures, we decided to see what was across the road. An interesting obelisk was there along with some other markers and statues. Here is what we found.

Theodore Roosevelt and John Stevens Memorial at Marias Pass

The obelisk was a memorial to Theodore Roosevelt for his work on conservation which has greatly benefited this particular area. The statue was of John F. Stevens who, along with a native guide, is responsible for the discovery of Marias Pass which allowed the Great Northern Railway to build a route through the Northern Rockies. Some other interesting signs told about the history of the area, both natural and modern. If you are passing through the area, it is well worth the stop.

Evening in Glacier National Park

We soon turned back towards West Glacier, planning to eat lunch back at camp. By the time all of that was completed, it was getting later than we expected. The evening hours were a prime time for wildlife and we were still looking for that grizzly bear. So, back into Glacier National Park we went. The long drive up the Going to the Sun Road never got old and we enjoyed the evening light as we went. It wasn't until we got all the way to Logan Pass that we found our first creatures of interest. A large group of male bighorn sheep were grazing near the visitor center parking area. We joined everyone else to take some pictures. This was one species we hadn't got any real good pictures of yet. 

Bighorn sheep ram at Logan Pass

Ram bighorn sheep at Logan Pass

Bighorn Sheep Rams at Logan Pass Parking Lot

The herd of rams moved all over the parking lot. They were looking for snacks and other goodies that tourists had dropped. They were mostly unconcerned about everyone standing around taking pictures and that is a good thing. They had some serious headwear that could probably do damage if you were on the wrong end of it. 

As the sun sank lower, the moon began rising in the east, providing still another excellent photo opportunity for us. 

Moonrise in Glacier National Park

Moon over Heavy Runner Mountain

On the other side of Logan Pass, the sun was quickly sinking to the horizon. The light got warmer and warmer, lighting up the Garden Wall as it sank out of sight. We enjoyed the last few moments of that rich evening light before making the long drive back down to camp. We had another longer hike planned for the next day and needed to get to bed. 

Garden Wall panorama at sunset

Clouds over the Garden Wall at Sunset

No comments:

Post a Comment