I recently had the opportunity to spend one night in Glacier National Park. Not one to pass up that chance, I made a reservation at the St. Mary Lodge on its last night for the season. In the days leading up to getting there I thought about what I might photograph. My first thought was finding Triple Falls. I had seen some images from it and thought it would be a great location to photograph. Despite not having been there before, I thought I had a pretty good idea where it was.
I knew I would get to the park in mid afternoon and first I was planning on heading to the Park Cafe for some pie, then I was going to go photograph. Not much would make me want to delay getting into the park, but a fantastic piece of pie sure did.
I arrived at the outpost that is St. Mary about 330 in the afternoon and then to my horror, that the Park Cafe was already closed for the season. No pie.......
Undeterred, I checked for other eating options. The one and only one was the lodge and supper was not until 5pm. Hmmmnnn, cannot wait that long. So I ran to the gas station and grabbed a bag of almonds because I was ready to get up the mountain.
I made the drive up toward Logan Pass resisting the lure of images from the road and got to the parking area by the pass. I shouldered the backpack, grabbed the tripod and started walking. The terrain here is mostly open with a few small trees and bushes.
I had a spot picked out that I thought would lead me to the falls. I was nearing that spot when suddenly a grizzly bear pops up about 30 yards ahead of me.
Gulp. Stand still. Be alert.
Camera is in backpack.
Dang! No picture.
Luckily the bear is more interested in berries and wanders off down the hill.....in exactly the direction I think the falls are.
I wait and watch him go. Then I decide that discretion is the better part of valor and the bear can have the falls, no need to be down there after dark with a grizzly.
So, I change plans and hike up to Logan Pass and the view in toward Hidden Lake. I arrive in a strong cold wind.
I start making a few images and then layer up the lightweight down parka I have under my Gore-Tex jacket. That cuts the wind and keeps me warm as the sun slowly sinks into the fast moving clouds.
I photograph on the pass for an hour or so and catch a nice sunset. I may have missed the falls but I have a great afternoon on the pass.
Then in the gathering gloom I start my walk back down the trail, wary of bears. I talk loudly and do not use my headlamp figuring I will have better vision for movement.
The full moon rises in the east and peaks in and out of the clouds. I stop to take one last image.
Then I shoulder the pack and finish the hike and it is DARK. No bears seen on the way down.
As I make my way slowly down the pass, I eat the last few almonds from supper and think that for only one night here, I have already done pretty good (despite missing the world famous pie) with seeing a bear and a great sunset on the pass.