First Trek of the Year

I'm feeling a little bit guilty. I live in photographer heaven, a place I am constantly in awe of, and yet I've let two and a half months go by before I finally got around to going up to Glacier.

I have plenty of excuses if I want them. Glacier is mostly snowbound at this time of year — and you know how much disdain the snow. The roads are closed, the temperatures are unwelcoming at best, and the skies are often a dismal shade of overcast. But those are all excuses. And lame ones at that.

Yesterday was one of those perfect days. Warmer than it's been in months, the sun shining, the skies big and blue. It was gorgeous. Too good to waste. And Glacier has been calling my name. So I made my first trek of the year up to the park.

I actually went with a plan. I knew exactly where I wanted to go. I set off with plenty of time and headed for a park that I had first found when my friends JP and Nicole came out to visit me. We got there via canoe. But after their visit I went exploring and found you could also get there in your vehicle. Well, that park is where I wanted to go. Did I mention the roads being closed by snow? Yeah. Well, the road to my park. Closed. And after last week's misadventure with the Jeep and the snow and dumb luck of my salvation (Thank you God for sending people to rescue me) I didn't even contemplate attempting that road. Nope. I decided to walk.

For as much as I dislike snow there is something calming about walking in it. It's the sound. The sound of boots crunching the snow. On the trail I took I ran into no other soul so it was just me making noise out there. Me and the wind in the trees. And in all that stillness I felt such peace. That's one of the reasons I love Glacier.

As I walked I could catch the occasional glimpse of the peaks through the trees. Not enough of a view to make a picture but enough to let me know I was missing the the light. I don't know how far I walked but I came to realize that I was going to have to go too far to get to the park I wanted. And if I stayed for sunset that would mean a long hike back in the dark. I had not come prepared for that kind of hiking. So, rather than push on to the photos I wanted I decided to cut my losses and head back. Even though I had given up on photos for the day, I was not disappointed, just being out in the sunlight and fresh air had done wonders for me.

When I finally made it back to my car one of the other vehicles had pulled out. That's when I saw a promising little trail through the snow. The day was coming to a close but it wasn't over yet so I thought, why not? I grabbed my camera and two lens and took off again through the snow.

Note to self: next time thoroughly examine the parking area before deciding which trail to take. Less than a minute on that trail and I had a gorgeous view of Lake McDonald. Most of the lake is frozen over but from the run off creek I had a glassy reflecting pool that made for some lovely images. And I even managed to catch the last of the sunlight to hit the peaks. I couldn't have asked for better.

Well, sunset could have been more colorful. That would have been nice. But sunset was a rather subdued affair last night. The light simply faded away without much drama. Not ideal for a photographer, but you never know what you are going to get, that's part of the challenge to this game.

I went back to my jeep and decided to head for home. But when I got to the fork where you can either go up toward Lake McDonald Lodge, or exit, I went toward the lodge. And I'm glad I did. Because that is when I caught the only color I would see that night and got my last shots of the day. So here it is, the wrap up shot, all in all, it was the perfect end and the perfect beginning. You see, my plan is to spend a lot more time in Glacier this year. I have a ton more to explore up there. So in spite of the fact that I feel guilty about not going sooner, I am also feeling blessed that I had such a wonderful first trip of the year. I take it as a good omen for days and treks yet to come.