When did I become so bad at predicting things? My hit rate on this trip has to be below 25%. Pathetic. In Grand Teton National Park I must have said, “I think Oxbow Bend is just up here on the left” about five times before it finally appeared. I don’t think a single one of my attempts to predict which areas of Yellowstone had cell phone coverage ever turned out to be accurate. And let’s not forget my prediction that the Jenny Lake hike would be two miles when it turned out to be more than four times that.
So keep my track record in mind when I tell you I predicted that the highlight of my time in Glacier National Park would be taking photos of the amazing landscapes – steep mountains jutting up at unusual angles, green alpine fields full of wildflowers, waterfalls streaming down over jagged rocks… As I drove through Montana towards the park I saw those scenes so vividly in my mind I could have painted them (if I had any artistic ability, that is). And of course that meant I was destined to get ho-hum, run-of-the-mill landscape photos. The highlight of my time at Glacier – far and away – turned out to be the wildlife.
Even before arriving at Glacier I had some wildlife luck. Passing through Yellowstone again I ran across a black bear foraging around in some tall grass. In one of my shots I was lucky enough to get that little white glint in the eye that seems to help wildlife photos come alive.
It took a while, but I finally decided the mountain goats had put up with me long enough so I started the short hike back to the parking lot. At one point I looked down to navigate through some loose rocks, and when I looked forward again I found myself staring at a group of six Bighorn sheep blocking the trail right in front of me. They weren’t quite as easy-going as the super-goats. I shot as many photos as I could while gradually giving them enough room to continue on the trail without ramming me into a tree.
The mountain goats, meanwhile, had decided to follow me back up the trail, which led to a scene that looked like two gangs crossing paths in the movie The Warriors… Would the Baseball Furies make room for the Rogues to pass, or were we headed towards a cloven-hoofed dust-up?
The outnumbered mountain goats – in the best spirit of non-violent conflict resolution – decided to casually graze in the field next to the trail, allowing the sheep to pass. You have to be impressed when badass super-goats demonstrate that discretion truly is the better part of valor. I think we all learned something that day.
The Bighorn sheep didn’t let me get as close as the goats did, but they were still pretty tolerant. At one point a noise spooked them into a full sprint and I was able to get some shots as they bounded through the snow.
Thanks to roadwork, Logan Pass was closed from 9pm that night until 7am the next morning, which meant I had to head down towards my campsite before sunset or risk getting stuck on the wrong side of the pass. It also meant I couldn’t get back up to the pass before sunrise, so I used that as an excuse to be lazy and sleep in.
The next morning I took a few landscape photos, continued on to the end of Going-to-the-Sun Road, then curved up and back around to the Many Glacier area of the park.