Friday, June 15, 2007
Glacier National Park. Montana
The first thing you notice stepping into Montana is the sky. It is all around and it is big. If there is a term called city idiot, I would probably have personified it. I couldn't help gape repeatedly at the sky. Montana is called Big Sky country. I now understand why. The next thing you will notice is how friendly the people are. Hello or a Howdy is a customary must! And finally the traffic speed. 70 mph is almost a given and yet driving here is peaceful and even enjoyable!
Glacier National Park (GNP) is only a short drive away from Kalispell airport. The meadows soon give way to winding and climbing roads. Before you know it, you are inside the park. A few miles inside is the small village of Apgar. I stayed at the Village Inn here. Every guest staying here gets this view of Lake McDonald all to themselves!
I am sure there are a million blog posts and travelogues written about GNP. I still feel it is one post too little. So let me add one more!
Designated as a world heritage site and a biosphere reserve, the park is a place hopefully everyone will get a chance to visit and experience at least once. I feel eternally grateful to folks like George Bird Grinnell who had the courage to fight for, set aside and protect GNP from commercial piece meal development we all know today as suburbia.
There is so much to shoot(photograph) and see here. Every turn, every corner here is a potential photo op. I went on a photo snapping spree, worried that I might forget the sights. In retrospect, I should have just taken it easy, absorbed and enjoyed the place a little more! Anyways....bring loads of memory cards!
Photography can be a challenge. Weather changes fast around here. One moment it is sunny, the next it is overcast, windy and rainy. When in doubt, bracket your exposure like crazy. Clear blue skies will make your pictures sweeter. So if you find clear blue sky, you know what to do.
The park is a hiking paradise. The popular ones tend to get crowded. So get up early. Early morning hikes can be the most rewarding. Peace, quiet and wildlife. I ran into a baby black bear, numerous white tail deers, mountain goats, wild sheep, chattering variety of birds and rows upon rows of wildflowers glistening in the morning dew.
The hike that was most memorable was the one headed to Grinnell Lake along Josephine Lake.
Hiking isn't the only activity available. There is biking, boating, kayaking, canoing, fishing, camping and most importantly just chilling! One activity that is a must is going along Going to the Sun road. The road connects the western and eastern ends of the park. Sadly, the road was partially closed when I was there! Parts that I did see, simply blew me away. Pictures from the trip are here
While there are many many great things to say about the park, there are a few sad notes too. I found that park was being made too accessible. Power boats and helicopter tours are annoying and just plain wrong. Just when you think you are snuggled away from civilization you will hear that annoying sound of a helicopter. The biggest problem for the park though is climate change. The glaciers in the park are receding. There are also increased number of wild fires. While the national park service claims forest fires are a good thing, I have a feeling climate change is taking a heavy toll on the park. All the more reason why we need to offset our travel footprint. I am sure this Columbian Ground Squirrel would really appreciate that.