Monday, July 27, 2009

Glacier National Park - Day 3

The Day of Lightning and the Bears!!!

Today we had a long hike planned from Many Glacier Lodge, 6.6 miles to Swiftcurrent Pass, an area known for its high grizzly bear population. I really had no illusions that we would make it all the way to the top of the Pass, especially after our hike the day before, but we were just going to head that direction and see what the day brought. The trail was absolutely beautiful, with fairly easy hiking for about the first four miles.

The drive to Many Glacier Campground and the trail head for Swiftcurrent Pass

Swiftcurrent Pass is in the top right of the photo

Our view when we stopped for lunch...

Someone else was stopping for some lunch also!

Stopping for a break at Bullhead Lake before starting the climb up to the Pass

We had been watching the sky slowing turning white up on the threatening clouds, just a white sky, but having grown up in the mountains, we both knew you didn't need storm clouds for an afternoon thunderstorm. While Tom was fishing, two groups of hikers had passed us, heading up onto the rocks climbing up to the pass, and now they were just small specks about halfway up the wall. We were about 15 minutes up when we decided we didn't like the looks of the sky and we turned around and practically ran back down, and not a moment too soon. We had no sooner hit the trees, when the loudest thunder I have ever heard let loose, followed by incredible cloud to ground lightning all along the ridge of the pass. We hustled to get on our rain gear, as the rain came pelting down within a matter of seconds. All I could think of was those people out in the open on the side of that ridge, on slick rocks, and more than likely with no rain gear, as they had just been out for an afternoon hike on a beautiful sunny afternoon! I knew at least one of the groups was grandparents with two 10 to 12-year-old grandsons, as they had scared our moose away earlier when we were eating lunch when they ran up yelling "Look grandpa, moose", at the top of their lungs, and then were surprised when the moose ran away. DUH!!!

Anyway, by this time it was getting toward evening, and it was so hard for me to not stop and take lightning pictures! It was the most incredible lightning I have ever seen, as we were in a cirque, and we were surrounded on three sides by lightning, with the thunder in stereo and so loud it was actually hurting our eardrums. However, it was also pouring rain, and we both knew that as soon as the rain let up, the bears would be out in full force, and probably NOT happy! So we headed down the trail, which was already running with water about 4 - 5" inches deep in places! After about 20 minutes, the rain let up, the sun came out, and it was absolutely beautiful!

Three guys came jogging past us, soaking wet, no rain gear, and in a BIG hurry to get to the end of the trail. They had come across from Logan Pass, about 13 miles, and were ready to call it a day. However, they were from Chicago, and were not bear smart. They were going fast, and quiet. All of a sudden, they stop and come back our direction, and ask if we know how to get a moose out of the trail. I just tell them, "You don' just wait for her to move", which she eventually did, and we all went on our way...for about 30 yards. Then all of a sudden they come back even faster..."There is a grizzly in the trail!!!" And they are totally panicking. Now my husband, being the total supportive guy that he is, pushes me to the front and says, "Get up there". Gee, thanks honey! So I get my camera ready and head up to the front, around the corner, and there is a big black bear off on the side of the trail. I have to give my husband credit...he was right BEHIND me with the bear spray! I tried to explain to the guys from Chicago that these were black bears (there was a mama and a yearling cub), but they insisted they were grizzlies...yeah whatever. Smallest grizzlies I have ever seen!!!

They were minding their own business, doing some grubbing and looking for ants and such, so we took some pictures and went on our way!

More pictures from our trip to Glacier National Park can be viewed and purchased at Thompson Photography !

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Eva and Bill ~ July 18, 2009

As a beginner to wedding photography, I still get relatively nervous when the day of a scheduled wedding rolls around, but I don't have anything on the excitement and nervousness Eva felt as her big moment drew near! She was absolutely gorgeous, and her excitement was contagious and made my job so fun and easy...definitely no "bridezilla" here!!!!

The guys are calm and cool before the ceremony...ready for the pages of GQ!

A heartfelt "Thank You" to Eva and Bill for allowing me to share your special day with you and your family and friends!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Trip to Glacier National Park ~ Day 2

This was actually our first full day in the park, and we had plans for a full-day hike to Hidden Lake to fish for some Yellowstone cutthroat trout. The day started out with a drive up to Logan Pass Visitor Center, where we found a family of mountain goats lounging on the side of the road, so of course we had to take a detour and get some pictures! Since it was about 7:00 AM, we had them pretty much to ourselves, which was kind of nice!

The baby and mama kept going out in the road and licking antifreeze up off of the road. There were also several areas in the parking lot where gravel had been spread over antifreeze leaks to prevent the goats from licking it off of the pavement

Nap time!

The trail to Hidden Lake takes off from behind the Visitor Center at Logan Pass. By the time we finally got going, several early morning skiers had headed up onto a glacier behind the center and we spent some time watching them celebrating 4th of July by skiing and snowboarding down the glacier, with me wishing I had a 600mm lens...or a snowboard! It sure looked like a lot of fun!!!

The first mile and a half of the hike consisted of slipping and sliding across snow bridges and glacier fields, through slush and across ice...definitely not easy walking! But it was well worth it for the views (and to be able to shake our heads at the people we saw in their sandals and flip-flops!!!).

Tom needing to see what was on the other side!

Looking down on Hidden Lake...still frozen over!

It was about a mile and a half to the observation deck looking down on Hidden Lake, and then another mile and a half to hike down to the shore of Hidden Lake, but the last half of the hike was much better hiking as it was more open trail and rocks instead of snow and slush, although it was straight down (and back up!). This was where we saw the majority of the wildlife.

This guy was a character! He was hanging out at the observation deck.

Taking time to smell the flowers...and eat them!

The Columbia ground squirrels were thicker than squirrels in the city park!

We didn't get in any fishing, as the lake was still froze, but we had a great day of hiking, saw some beautiful scenery, and took a few hundred pictures!It was dark by the time we got back to the tent, totally exhausted, so we had a full day, but definitely ready to do it all over again the next day!

Storm Chasing in the Black Hills

All afternoon on Monday I had been listening to the weather forecasts calling for a high chance of thunderstorms and rain. I had an appointment to shoot a softball game in Rapid City at 7:00 PM, so on the chance that the game was canceled due to the developing storms, I invited a couple of storm fanatical friends, Kym and Gail, along with the hopes that we could get some good lightning or cloud shots in after the game. Luck was on our side, and we had storm cells developing all around us. The hardest part was deciding which way to go! We headed towards Hermosa, which was promising for some spectacular lightning, and sounded safer than the high winds and baseball-sized hail that was being reported towards the Wyoming border, which we heard later turned into a tornado that destroyed three homes.

I do tend to get sidetracked easily...we had some time to kill before the softball game so we went for a stroll by Canyon Lake Park looking for a pair of Kingfishers we had seen there earlier, but found this beautiful lily instead!

North of Hermosa
The storm was dissipating towards Hermosa, but the radar was showing red north and west of Rapid again, so we turned and headed back into Rapid and decided to check the view from Skyline Drive.

The skies are clearing and the stars are coming out!
I think we spent more time dodging the rain and running for the Denali than we did shooting (or at least the two of us who were out in the rain did!)...but it was a great time! Our "driver" chose to observe the storm from the safety and dryness of the inside of the vehicle! It was a great time, and I anxiously await our next excursion!

All fun aside, my sincere condolences go out to the families that lost their homes and their possessions in the Wyoming tornado. Although the first thought that comes to mind when seeing stories like this on the news is, "Thank God no one was hurt", it still brings tears to my eyes to think of the loss and devastation these families suffered in a matter of seconds. Although I have always been fascinated by the weather, it definitely has my utmost respect and I am fully aware of the total devastation it can cause, and I don't ever take any weather events lightly.