Glacier National Park.

I got up at the crack of dawn this morning to take my first drive to Glacier National Park.  I was rewarded for arriving so ridiculously early (about 6 a.m.) almost immediately...  I saw a group of cyclists riding ahead of me suddenly swerve into the oncoming lane- I thought they were avoiding a giant pothole or something.. Then they started pointing kind of frantically....


Yep there was a black bear right on the side of the road!  I tried to do everything you're NOT supposed to do including slamming on my brakes, rolling down my window, and taking a hundred pictures.  He would not sit up or pick his head up but was still fun to watch.  His chewing noises were crazy as he ate these plants (or bugs on the plants?)


I didn't realize how much my hands were shaking until I looked at all my blurry pictures. Bummer.  But I'm still psyched just to have seen one so close-up.

Further down the road a few minutes were a couple of deer...


The road quickly began gaining elevation and the views were spectacular...


I had just passed the Weeping Wall when I saw some cars pulled over and people taking pictures...


A pair of young bighorn sheep were crossing the road!  They trotted for a bit through the snow, kicking it up quite a bit.


They stopped just a little ways from the road.  The female (I presume she's a female) stopped to turn back and give me the sweetest little sheep look I've ever seen. 


Back on the other side of the road was a big ram.. Maybe papa? 





 If you look in his mouth you can see it's filled with plants.  Funny.

Here are the pair of sheep from another (more scenic) angle:




It just doesn't get much prettier than this.  Mind you I had only been at the park for like an hour and a half at this point.  It wasn't even 8 a.m.!

I decided to stop at Logan Pass even though I couldn't see anything (including the buildings!).





It was a bit disappointing... It was also extremely windy and cold.  At least the bathrooms were open. 

Once I got down from the pass a bit the sky was back and I could see some more beautiful views..




I decided to pull over at the Sunrift Gorge for a short hike along Baring Creek.  




I love the little red rocks in the water... The creek passes under the Going To The Sun Road and there's a little trail alongside it.  Just beneath the bridge was this bird:



I had a good deal of trouble identifying this bird... My best guess is a White-winged Crossbill.  Nope, it's a Pine Grosbeak!  Thanks for the help! 


 The gorge itself was pretty cool looking... 


 Next I stopped at an overlook of St. Mary Lake..

Cute little friend!


Almost to the end of the Going to the Sun Road is a little bridge that crosses the St. Mary River.  Swallows LOVE it. 


The view from the bridge ain't too bad either.


At the St. Mary Visitor Center I noticed an osprey nest... 


One of the osprey suddenly took off away from the nest with a headless fish in his talons...


Not sure why he took off with the fish... Maybe he likes to share as much as I do?


I picked up some stuff in the gift shop then headed north towards Many Glacier.  I stopped to watch a magpie fly by (only because the bald eagle I meant to watch vanished into thin air). 


Once I entered the Many Glacier entrance I decided to take a hike along the Iceberg-Ptarmigan Trail to Iceberg Falls.  It's a 2.5 mile hike (one-way) with a decent elevation gain of 700 feet.  I was a bit nervous to hike alone in grizzly country but the lady at the visitor center mentioned this was more popular trail.  


The trail climbed quickly and led to wonderful views of the mountains... and lots of wildflowers!



There were tons and tons of cool little waterfalls along the trail.. This one looks like something someone would build in their garden:


I was not paying attention to the trail and realized I did something dumb:

Deer poop!   

Eventually I made it to Iceberg Falls...

 

 I managed to not get eaten by a bear or mountain lion too.  That was nice.



Back towards the beginning of the trail I saw this bird land in a tree:



Is it a Gray Jay? 
 
 Yes it is!  (Again, thanks for the help!)

When I returned to my car in the parking area a whole bunch of people were right next to it looking up at the ridge I swear i just came from.. Probably quite a bit east of where I had been, but it sure seemed close.  It took me a long time to see what they were looking at...



Ok these just might be the WORST pictures of a grizzly bear and a mountain goat EVER but I don't care.  I saw 'em and it was cool.   To find the bear look at the left of the photo at the dead tree that almost looks like a "J" shape.  He's just above there- a teeny blonde dot.   To find the mountain goat, look to the right of the photo in the center at the tan dot.  That's him.



Here's the same scene a bit less zoomed-in.  I wish they had been closer but am kind of glad they weren't!  

I decided to head back through the park by way of the Going To The Sun Road but unfortunately it was pouring rain.  No more hikes for me, thanks.  I headed back to Whitefish, picked up a burrito, and called it a day.  Can't wait for more exploring tomorrow! 



Comments

  1. Hey Jen, your trip is getting off to a great start! Your bird in the water looks more like a Pine Grosbeak. That would be a new one for me. And your other bird is indeed a Gray Jay....get used to them. Look for Clark's Nutcrackers too...bigger and noisier that Gray Jays. Have fun and thanks for blogging on the road!
    Laura

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  2. Hi Jen, I can't believe you didn't take me with you! I mean, what could be better than having a gnarly old fart along on such a trip? ;)

    It has been a long time since I was at GNP. Your pictures and stories really make me want to go there again.

    You might want to get some bear mace if you're going to do more hiking in grizzly country.

    Gray Jays are sometimes very tame. If you keep some bread handy you could toss them some small pieces if you see them again. They might even land on your head or hands.

    Hot weather is forecast for this area for the next several days. It should be coming your way soon too. With any luck you'll at least get clearer skies. Be ready for ANY kind of weather in the Rockies. :)

    A family of Virginia rails (8 of them) ran across the road near me today (7-5) at the Ridgefield Refuge. The mosquitoes are way beyond irritating.

    I also came across a sick or injured vole and another vole that was sleeping on the edge of the road. I petted both of them and moved the sick one into the nearby grass. The sleepy one eventually hopped into the grass on its own.

    Will you be going to Yellowstone on your trip?

    The deer poop photo made me chuckle.

    Kris

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  3. Great photos! Nice site. I was at Glacier about 15 years ago during July and nearly every trail was closed due to weather and bears.

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  4. Hi Jen. I really enjoyed your day of exploration. Fabulous mountain views plus the flora and fauna of course. Stay safe from the bears. FAB.

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  5. Hi Jen, great pictures, beautiful place, enchanting landescapes and magnificent animals

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