Sunday, July 31, 2016

Glacier NP: Hose Tower at West Glacier

Fighting fires is a fact of life in Western forests, and Glacier has seen some big fires, even in the recent past. Drying fire hose is part of clean-up maintenance. This massive tower is in a ravine at park headquarters next to the park's large fire fighting complex.

A walking tour on PDF includes the tower. It was built by the CCC in 1933 and is still used today

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Glacier NP: Sedimentary Rock Stratification Illustrated Seen Above Avalanche Lake

Most of the rock in Glacier NP is sedimentary, laid down in increments measured by tiny factions of an inch per year at the bottom of an ancient sea. It is hard to describe, and most photos don't do justice to, the depth of the layers and the geologic forces at work here that continue to lift and tip the rock.

This set of tipped shelves illustrates the extreme effects of geologic forces. Seen here is melt water from Sperry Glacier above Avalanche Lake.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Glacier NP: Classic U-shaped Valley

The long valley leading south-west from Logan Pass to Lake McDonald and West Glacier is a perfect illustration of the power of deep glaciers that shaped the modern terrain.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Glacier NP: Historic Boats

Beautiful historic wooden boats take visitors across six major lakes in Glacier NP and Waterton Lakes NP in Canada: Two Medicine Lake, Saint Mary Lake, Swiftcurrent Lake, Lake Josephine, McDonald Lake, and Upper Waterton Lake in Alberta.

This is Sinopah, built in 1926 and the oldest boat of the Glacier Park Boat Company's fleet, on Two Medicine Lake.

Glacier Park Boat Company began in 1938 and has been operated by the Burch family since. They acquired some boats from an earlier builder and entrepreneur, and built others themselves. There are boathouses at each lake where the boats are stored over the winter and receive spring and fall maintenance.

"It is of historic note that most of the boat houses build for these tour boats were designed and constructed with the specific boat in mind. Each fall, these boats are lifted on a cradle and track system and moved into the boat house. The doors are then closed tightly for protection from the winter months. Every spring we come back to do it all over again in the spirit of those boat men and women who got it all started." [From the History section of the highlighted link above.]

Friday, July 15, 2016

Yellowstone NP: An Inundation of Bison

After Glacier, we dropped south to Yellowstone for a day, led by our longing to see the Lamar Valley again.

We stayed overnight in West Glacier, then crossed the park via Mammoth Hot Springs and Blacktail Plateau Drive, and up the valley toward Cooke City with several stops to soak it all in again. Lamar is sometimes described as the Serengeti of North America. Tiny compared to that lush land in Tanzania, nor a one-hundredth so diverse, it is still awesome in its lushness and beauty. Habitat for several hundred bison, and elk, pronghorns, mule and white-tailed deer, moose and many smaller mammals,  and the wolves, coyotes and bears that depend upon them for a livelihood.

We checked into our room in Cooke City, ate dinner and then drove back into the Park to see what the evening would reveal that mid-day hid.

Almost immediately we were rewarded, if that is what one wants to call it, with amazement and horror in equal doses. A substantial group of bison were on the march up the road, and then another close behind the first. One could only wait until they passed. They parted to go by our car. Other motorists were in similar situations up and down the road.

Then for an hour we drove along the valley as the shadows lengthened.

Heading back home for the night, here came those bison again, the groups having turned around, joined and seemed to have located a couple hundred others along the way. We were caught with a long group of vehicles for a long time. No harm was done to the car, though we were imagining what would happen if one of them spooked and came through the windshield. Memories of bisons' great beauty, along with their size and the herd mentality, will last a long, long time.

When we asked about the behavior the next day, someone said, "they do that." Also, we learned that they have occasionally passed the park gates and come into the town en masse. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Glacier NP: Running Eagle Falls or Trick Falls at Two Medicine

During times of greater flow, Running Eagle Falls or Trick Falls flows over the top as well as out through a big hole in the rock. Later on, the top falls will dry up.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Glacier National Park: Indian Paintbrush

The last week of June and into early July delighted us with an ever-expanding bloom. 

The season is short; the desire to flower is strong.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Glacier NP: Columbian Ground Squirrel at Logan Pass

Enjoying the sun after a long, long hibernation at Logan Pass. At high elevations they hibernate for 7 months.