Photos of the Week: 8/23/2018: Come visit now with us: Glacier National Park in Montana !
Glacier’s geography, straddling the Continental Divide, sets the stage for clashes between warm, wet Pacific air from the west, and cold, dry Arctic air from the northeast. The Continental Divide separates watersheds in North America. In Glacier National Park, there is even a location called Triple Divide Peak, where water falling onto the summit can potentially flow into three different drainages
and eventually reach either the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean or the Hudson Bay. Come with us now as we take a look at one of the most beautiful places in the world: Glacier National Park and Montana, home of Big Sky Country, in the United States of America!
Mountain goats will travel miles to seek out the salts and minerals they crave. Thanks to some interesting geology in the park, the goats can satisfy their craving at a place called the Goat Lick. Located along the southern boundary of the park, the Goat Lick features an exposure of gray clay that contains minerals sought after by mountain goats and other animals. Calcium, potassium, and magnesium plus lesser quantities of sodium and phosphorus found in the lick may help replace the elements goats typically lose from their bones during the winter.
magine a future where going to your favorite rock-skipping beach, you find the shoreline matted with tens of thousands of small mussel shells, with everything cemented together in a sharp, smelly mess. Imagine once productive fisheries wiped out by these new invaders. It’s not science fiction, impacts are already occurring in waters in the Great Lakes, eastern provinces and states, the prairies a nd plains, and more recently in the Southwestern United States. Since the 1980s freshwater zebra and quagga mussels have steadily advanced westward, transported on trailered boats. Very recently, a mussel-carrying boat was intercepted at a marina on Flathead Lake. The boat had come from the Southwest. Flathead Lake is just downstream from Glacier.
During the Pleistocene Ice Age, Glacier National Park’s valleys were filled with massive valley glaciers. The abrasive action of these glaciers carved the landscape below the ice, leaving behind massive U-shaped valleys. Have you ever seen a U-shaped valley on the side of a mountain? What happened? Just like how rivers have tributary streams, valley glaciers can have smaller tributary glaciers tha t feed into the main valley glacier. These smaller tributary glaciers may not carve as deeply as the main glacier they are feeding into. If that’s the case, as the tributary glaciers recede, they can leave behind a U-shaped valley that appears to hang on the side of the mountain. This feature is called a hanging valley. This photo shows a beautiful hanging valley with clouds draped over the U-shaped terrain. This hanging valley was carved by a smaller tributary glacier that fed into a much bigger glacier that carved deeper into the valley below. Today Bird Woman Falls can be seen flowing out of the hanging valley. A great place to see this view is from the Bird Woman Falls Overlook located on the Going-to-the-Sun Road.
Image: Sunrise through smokey skies, framed by trees and leaves, from the 2017 Sprague Fire.
Many people know about the American Dipper’s nictitating membrane that allows it to see underwater. So when they get a close look at these birds and see a white eyelid, they think that is the nictitating membrane. But the flash of white is actually white feathers on the eyelid. Why do Dippers have these white eyelids? We don’t know for sure. It may help them communicate in noisy stream environments. Kind of like winking at someone at a party.
The 7th Leave No Trace Principle is Be Considerate of Other Visitors.
Glacier National Park’s scenery dramatically illustrates what it looks like when glaciers carve a landscape. Mount Saint Nicholas is a beautiful example of a glacially carved horn. Horns form when three or more glaciers sitting on a mountain, pluck away and move rock. The end result is a pyramidal peak.
“…[A] man who keeps company with glaciers comes to feel tolerably insignificant by and by. The Alps and the glaciers together are able to take every bit of conceit out of a man and reduce his self-importance to zero if he will only remain within the influence of their sublime presence long enough to give it a fair and reasonable chance to do its work.” – Mark Twain, from “A Tramp Abroad.” Have you spent time with a glacier? One of the easiest places to see a glacier in Glacier National Park is from the Jackson Glacier Overlook. The Jackson Glacier Overlook is a roadside pullout located 13.5 miles west of St. Mary, on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. From this pullout you will get a great view of Jackson Glacier, which is located approximately 5 miles away, as the crow flies.
Summer days are long in Glacier. (Around 16 hours long at the solstice!) Still, you should probably plan a place to sleep for when you visit
The best hikers are also the best advocates for the Seven Leave No Trace Principles:
Highway 2 is a familiar road for those who live or work near Glacier National Park. During the majority of the year, when the Going-to-the-Sun Road is closed, it’s the route we take to get between West Glacier and East Glacier. Before 1930, however, options were a bit more limited
Have you seen a glacier? How about a landscape carved by one? The Park’s modern glaciers can be hard to spot but glacial formations can be hard to miss! The Garden Wall, pictured here, is an arete carved by prehistoric glaciers more than 10,000 years ago. Aretes mark places where two glaciers carved on each side of a ridge. There were over 100 modern glaciers in the park when it was established in 1910 but by 1966 only 35 active glaciers remained. Today, rising temperatures are shrinking every glacier in the park. In 2015, only 26 met the size criteria to be active glaciers.
“The English language uses nouns as its touchstones to reality. The Algonquin languages (Blackfoot and Cree, for example), with their emphasis on flowing movement, find their touchstones in verbs. These are two very different paradigms for the universe: one imperial, the other evolutionary… Is the world we are naming in stasis or in flux?” – Jack Holterman Heavy Runner Peak, seen here greeting the sunrise, is a mountain along the Continental Divide named for a Blackfoot leader in the 19th century who was killed in the Marias Massacre.
What birds have you seen today? Here’s one we saw, White-Crowned Sparrow. 🦅 Today birders from all over the world are working together to see how many birds can be seen in one #GlobalBigDay. More than 260 species of birds are found in the varied habitats of Glacier National Park.
Could this be a photographers paradise? Image description: Sunset light fades on Mount. Vaught and Stanton Mountain and reflects on Lake McDonald
What a day it turned out to be. Lake McDonald around noon looked spectacular. It was below zero this morning and when it’s this cold we often get asked why the lake is not frozen over. Winds keep the surface choppy many days and natural convection currents in the lake slowly stir up the water as well. Some years it freezes over and some years not. There is a lot of snow and ice along the shore however.
All photos here are courtesy of NPS (National Park Service). To see and enjoy more of these fantastic photos of Glacier National Park, please go to their website here: