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Backbone of the World

“No words can describe the grandeur and majesty of the mountains, and even photographs seem hopelessly to dwarf and belittle the impressive peaks.”

George Bird Grinnell, 1901

Yup – seems I have found myself in another one of those places of staggering beauty where, like the Grand Canyon and elsewhere, others have struggled – as I will – to capture the place in words and photographs.

Grandeur and Majesty…a land called the “backbone of the world” by native Americans

Very simply, Glacier has been one OMG moment after another – that’s right OMG moments – certainly Grinnell would have described it this way if he had Twitter in 1901 🙂

When the “Reluctant RV’er” and I first drove up to Lake McDonald we were amazed at the stunning beauty that was in front of us. And, as I noted in a previous post, the drive over the Going To The Sun Road and hike to Avalanche Lake and falls were one amazing experience after another.

While S had to leave, I would be here for another few days to explore other parts of the Park and hope for clearer skies – which , unfortunately, never really materialized.

In fact, the smoke situation actually got worse initially – new fires – even one in Avalanche where we had hiked – simply made visibility worse. I extended my stay anyway hoping the winds would shift a bit but was running out of time

Yup – the “Going to the Sun Road” was going to close for the season – Sunday the 16th would be the last day to make that drive. And, elsewhere around the Park, things were shutting down – they aren’t kidding when they say this place has a short season!

So I decided to make the best of it – take an entire day on Sunday to drive the Going to the Sun and stop at virtually every turn out – time to simply enjoy the spectacular beauty from every vantage point – take photographs, have lunch on a ledge overlooking a vast valley below Logan Pass, a short hike, time to watch the mountain goats – simply a leisure day – Glacier had been on my bucket list – I wanted to savor every vista 🙂

And then on Monday, with GTTS Road closed, I woke at 4am to drove the long, but scenic, way around to the East side of the Park – to photograph Wild Goose Island at dawn;

to Many Glacier – an area of the Park teeming with wildlife and rugged peaks – an area that some refer to as the heart of the Park – with glaciers that appear to be right in front of your face – with wildlife virtually on the road

And Grinnell is right – even photographs seem hopelessly to dwarf and belittle the impressive peaks

This place – like others on this journey – is one I will have to return to.

There are over 700 miles of hiking trails and frankly they are the only good way to experience the ruggedness of this amazing landscape of over one million acres– 10 days in the Glacier area are simply not enough….

“Give a month at least to this precious reserve. The time will not be taken from the sum of your life. Instead of shortening, it will indefinitely lengthen it and make you truly immortal. Nevermore will time seem short or long, and cares will never again fall heavily on you, but gently and kindly as gifts from heaven.”

– John Muir, Our National Parks , 1901

But, time to move again – to point the Bunkhouse to the west again – time to head out through parts of Washington and then to head through Oregon to the Oregon Coast – another bucket list destination…

Take care…see you down the road….

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Amazing photos – I should become your student to learn your technique. Have fun and stay safe on the road.

    September 22, 2012
    • Stephen #

      thanks – glad you liked the images – candidly the smoke/haze created a mess for photography but I had lots of fun – as for teaching the technique, in a perfect world I would be a landscape photography instructor – part of the long term plan – you could be one of my first students 🙂 heading for Oregon – aren’t you from the region – any recommendations for seeing/photographing the region?? thanks for following along on my journey and for taking a moment to comment – be safe out there too – take care

      September 22, 2012
      • I traveled for the summer and met you when you “jumped out of a plane” with the WIN’s in Longmont. I broke off and traveled to the Oregon for the month of August.

        I know you’re a self professed “foodie” so you MUST go to the Waterfront Depot restaurant in Florence, OR on the coast. The crab-encrusted Halibut is awesome, and priced very reasonably with a Caesar salad at around $14.00. If you’re alone, don’t make a reservation and sit at the bar – interesting to chat with folks and the bartender. I guarantee you’ll love it!

        You can boondock for a week at the Three Rivers Casino. The Chinook Winds Casino in Lincoln City lets you boondock for an unlimited amount of time and you have a view of the ocean on the “upper tier.” Visit and photograph at the Connie Hansen Gardens – a beautiful meditative site.

        I’m back home for a time in Las Cruces, NM, but I’m going to travel again around Thanksgiving.

        Have fun!

        September 23, 2012
        • Stephen #

          enjoyed meeting you and all the WIN’s while in Longmont – thought you were from OR – you spoke so knowledgeably about the place 🙂 thanks for the add’l info re the coast – definitely will check out your spot – thanks. safe travels

          September 27, 2012
  2. Many Glacier is my favorite area of the park – have been to Iceberg Lake and Grinnell Glacier – both fantastic.

    September 22, 2012
    • Stephen #

      have to agree – the area is fantastic. It’s an impressive drive into Glacier from the east side and the 12 mile run into Many Glacier is especially beautiful. Wished I had planned more time for a hike to the lakes and glaciers like you did – unfortunately most of the facilities were shutting down – amazing how short the season is there – next time!

      September 22, 2012

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