Aug 052010

Sunday, August 1, 2010

I woke today to the sun streaming through the passenger window. I checked to make sure it wasn’t a photographic sunrise, then I checked the time….6:10am. Ugh, too early still. I fell back asleep and was soon awakened by the sun right in my face! Only 7:30am, but it’s too sunny and now warm to stay in the car.
I took advantage of the wifi here at Beaver Meadows Visitor’s Center and at 8:00am I was inside inquiring about campground status’s. They were just getting the report and luckily there were “some” spots open at the Glacier Basin Campground. Woohoo!

Entering the park proved to be time consuming with the lines of cars at the 4 entry booths. This reminded me of Six Flags or Disney Land. I know the place is popular! Then at Glacier Basin Campground there was another line of cars to get in. We waited there for more than 10 minutes and I’m guessing the ranger was not at the booth. Finally I secured my campsite for the next 4 nights.
The campsite is very roomy and quite nice for a first-come, first-serve site. I was able to get one in the shade, even. I noted in passing that most people had those multi-room walk in tents and pop-up shelters next to it over the picnic bench, but I only had my 2-person tent. After setting up and getting the car organized again, I started down the road just planning to stop when I felt like it.

I found a stream alongside the road that was littered with rocks, boulders, fallen trees, and all kinds of natural debris to create rapids. I walked along with my tripod and took advantage of the cloudy weather to get photos of the moving water.
I also stopped at Hollowell Park area which was pretty much deserted. I had a peaceful lunch and watched the birds in the trees and admired the meadow in front of me.

At the Moraine Visitor’s Center I got some advice on waterfall locations and learned about the Rocky Mountains in their museum displays. The museum was just the upper floor of the ranger center with several displays, but was informative and not swarming with kids. I also looked around their artist area and got some inspiration for photography in the park. One photo was of the moraine area just across the way. As it started drizzling I walked along the creek looking for good photo opportunities to make note of to come back when it wasn’t so wet.
While walking I looked up and saw a herd of animals a little distance away. I thought, elk! Then I remembered there was a stable nearby and those were probably just horses. I watched and this was definitely a herd of animals not horses guiding people. I debated hiking towards them along the creek to get a closer view or driving to a road I saw in the distance. I decided to drive over and found a good place to pull over for a good view. This was indeed a herd of elk, cows to be exact. I watched and took pictures and slowly the whole road filled up with cars all parked on the side of the road. People were streaming from their cars and holding cameras just walking out across the meadow towards the elk. I believe the park has a policy about staying on the trail, and this act of pure tourism at its worst took away from my moment with the elk. We had an all out “elk jam” on the road much like the “bear jams” in Yellowstone Park. I marked the spot to see if they were here later and I decided to head back out to the Beaver Meadow Visitor’s Center for some wifi.

Having secured a campsite already, I planned to be lazy today. Plus the threatening rain made sitting at the Visitor’s Center with my laptop sound like a good plan. I was able to talk to Mark for awhile and upload my photos to the computer.

My only real plan for today was to find a good spot for sunset photos and the Bear Lake area was recommended. So, up the windy road, through the rain I went.
At Bear Lake the parking lot was nearly empty as everything had left due to the rains. It was raining pretty hard and not really worth getting out, so I read my book and listened to the rain. Finally, I decided that it was time to go hiking in the rain. It’s been a while since I’ve worn full rain gear and I’m glad I have it.

Bear Lake has a short nature trail that loops around the lake and I meandered around it. I felt free with no bag, no tripod, nothing in my hands. However, I also kept stopping at wonderful photo opportunities and wishing I had brought my gear.

I watched the rain falling in a puddle and though about what settings I would use on my camera to capture the ripples. I watched the clouds flow over the surrounding mountain peaks and thought about how great those would look in a photo. I saw the section of trees that was multi-colored looking almost like fall because the Mountain Pine Beetles have killed so many trees in the area. I sat for a while in a most beautiful scene of dripping water, droplets holding stubbornly onto pine needles, and grasses stretched like long fingers across the edges of the lake underwater. At one point I even considered going back for gear, but instead I sat and just watched. I saw a weasel of some sort dart down the trail. I watched chipmunks play. I looked at the beautiful panorama even through the rain. The grass that was stretched just under the surface of the water reminded me of the inferi in the Harry Potter books. I just finished Book 6 on audio book over the thousand miles up here and I’m sure that’s why I was reminded.

I emerged from the lake trail and noted that the temperature was 52 at the ranger station. Brr, no wonder I’m comfortable in 3 layers. =)
I couldn’t think of anything else to do in the rain at the moment and still had hopes that it would stop before sunset. So, now I’m typing up my journal under an overhang as it rains while a chipmunk races around my feet hoping for food.
The rain slowed down, but there was no hit of clouds clearing for sunset. So, I headed back to camp early to make dinner and head to bed. I was very disappointed that my camp stove would not light tonight. I don’t know if it’s broken or if it’s just me. I’ll take it into town tomorrow.

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