Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Series of Short Stories

I would like to share with you a few short stories. Each story has at least one photograph that relates to the story. My no means have I planned which stories to share's by chance. A chance of actually capturing these photographs in the first place. A chance to share the short stories of how I was lucky enough to get the photographs. And a chance to share them both with you.

1.) The first story is one of pure magnificence. As I traveled to catch a flight in Kalispell, I hurried along Highway 2. I speedily passed cars and zoomed around them...silly slow drivers. After passing Essex, I came upon a section with Lodgepole Pines lining the roadsides. I saw a swoop of white dip down and then back up again. Oh my god! That was an Eagle! SCREECH! I stomped on the breaks and even backed up a little bit to get a view. The majestic Bald Eagle sat on the top of a pine. It looked around, as if oblivious to my presence. I decided to take a risk. I got out, grabbed my camera (all while still on the side of the road), and changed out my lenses. At that time, the cars (I had previously passed) came zooming by. I crossed my fingers, hoping that the Eagle would stay perched. It did. I snapped. And I snapped. And I snapped. Oh what pure luck. I watch him through my camera lens and soaked it in. And then swoop--I snapped.

Thee most majestic photo I've ever taken!
Bald Eagle near the Middle Fork of the Flathead River

Bald Eagle perched near the Middle Fork of the Flathead River.

2.) The next story brings out the wild north if the Bald Eagle didn't. I was paddling on the Swiftcurrent Lake in the Many Glacier Valley. A cool day, a light breeze passing by, and the sun peaking through the peaks and passing clouds. I took my time paddling across the lake, knowing that it might not be possible to go beyond the stream outlet and up to Lake Josephine (it wasn't). Not paying attention to the main part of the lake, I paddled along the shoreline, exploring every nook and cranny. I noticed a few small flowers in the shoreline grass. I noticed moose tracks in the sand and rocks. And finally, as I turned my boat towards the Many Glacier Hotel, I noticed a black bird floating on the water. It was a LOON! No, not a crazy person. A Common of the most iconic north country waterfowl. CRAZY! I have to say, I love Loons. They are so amazing. I also have to say, I had NO idea it was Loon Day in Glacier. But, my luck, I saw a loon on Loon Day...unplanned. It dove down and I'd paddle a little closer. It surfaced and I sat still. This process repeated itself over and over. At one moment, the Loon dove down and I thought for SURE I was going to surprise it or something. When it resurfaced, I was almost 25-30 feet away---eeek! I was also surprised. So much that I didn't even take a photo. I looked at him/her, and it looked back at me. I felt like I was looking into the soul of an ancient, wise creature. And I was.

The Many Glacier Valley on May 15th
The beautiful Common Loon, seen on "Loon Day" in Glacier!

Everyone gets a little Loony! I love Loons!

Even the Barrow's Golden Eye looks a bit Loony!

3.) This story begins with text messages.
EB: "2 Dog Flats. u k now ur welcome 2 join me on lake if u want u can find somewhere out there..." Meaning: Wanna paddle, meet you there, somewhere!
Me: "Where do u think u will paddle?"
EB: "Thru narrows then follow shoreline round n right."
Me: "Cool, I think you've inspired me. I'll pack up quickly & c u out there!"
I quickly packed up the car, and headed west up the Going-to-the-Sun Road. The St. Mary Lake was calm and clear. I paddled out and I soon saw a long yellow kayak paddling my way. It was EB! We met and headed towards Wild Goose Island, one of the best paddles in the whole park! We decided to paddle around and then dock on some rocks. As we looped around---HONK, HONK, HONK! A Canada Goose comes rushing out, honking. And what do ya know, it came off of a nest! Geese are nesting on Wild Goose Island! AWESOME! We cheer out loud and continue paddling around the island. We dock up, get out and head for the "special" place to snack on the FIRST Glacier Lilies of the season. As we walk up the rocks---HONK, HONK, HONK!! Oh My! ANOTHER Canada Goose! And what do ya know, there was a ANOTHER nest! Not only are there Canada Geese nesting on Wild Goose Island--There are TWO nests! We snuck by and snatched up a few Glacier Lilies, enjoying the sweet goodness for the first time this year. It's gonna be a good year.

Paddling at Wild Goose Island at Sunset, Priceless.

4.) AP and I decided to go into Kalispell early Saturday morning. We even got up early so that we could catch Ironman 2 at it's first showing, 12:15pm. It was great. We went to the grocery store, McKenzie River Pizza, and then to the movie. Thoroughly enjoyed the "city" life. Then we turned our attention to the wilderness. The great wide open Glacier National Park. We headed to the North Fork area of the park. Complete with a back roads drive down the North Fork Road from Columbia Falls. The dust kicked up and luckily the rocks stayed away from my windshield! We made it up to the Polebridge Mercantile. Our eyes were set on the gooey goodness of Polebridge cookies! We went inside and got the usual, Baker's dozen, random choice of the attendant...with special emphasis on the Mocha white chocolate cookies! We added a tasty beverage to the order and we were golden. With a long road ahead of us, we decided to enjoy the classic river's edge and then head back home for the night. We savored the flavors while the wild river rushed by!

The Polebridge Mercantile with my Subbie out front!
She Christened the North Fork road!

The North Fork of the Flathead River and a Waxing Gibbous Moon

5.) A bit of freezing ice crystals can build up rather quickly, in these parts.
And so it did, last night.
Snowfall in the Springtime

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Hit the Ground Running

I was able to enjoy the beauty and power of Glacier today. Partaking in the second hike of the season (I know, I haven't been out much...I blame the weather), Sun Point to Virginia Falls, in the St. Mary Valley. It was breath taking and full of it's own breath--wind!

Sun Point
The weather was in the 50's, partly sunny and winds gusting to 25 mph. Sun Point was amazing with clouds and squalls moving through the valley.

St. Mary Falls

Myself and four other rangers hit the trail early afternoon and enjoyed several wildflower species blooming: Arrowleaf Balsamroot, Mouse-eared Chickweed, Shooting Star, Glacier Lilies, Indian Paintbrush, Clematis vine, Oregon Grape, Serviceberry, Red Twinberry, Calypso Orchid and several others.

Glacier Lily

Virginia Falls

Arrowleaf Balsamroot

I let Glacier soak into my stressed body and it relieved me. I was relieved of my worries, stresses, and lack of hiking lately. When I returned home I actually forgot my worries. It only took one phone call to bring back reality. Reality that the season is starting in FULL force!

Next week our new staff members arrive and I will get to meet the people that I hired. It's very interesting to see the process in action: resumes, reference checks, paperwork, and finally meeting the person! I hoping there will be a great sense of relief when my thoughts are redeemed: These people will be awesome interpreters and rangers!

Almost everyone will be arriving for their new job on Thursday morning. We'll have an exciting "orientation" of the administrative area and then hike to St. Mary Falls in the afternoon. Friday will be more of the same. In fact, hiking is planned for several of our training days. I'm happy to see that!

Baring Falls

Soon our returning staff members will arrive and help us staff our busy (ha!) Visitor Center. We did get over 200 visitors on Saturday! So, it goes without saying, I'm hitting the ground running. Here goes! The 2010 CENTENNIAL Season is starting!

Best of luck to everyone and Here's to a great Interpretive Season! Be Careful out there, Everyone!