When I initially arrived at Saint Mary Lake in Glacier National Park my soul was rejoicing. It was so beautiful that I can scarce describe it. It wasn’t until I was beneath the night sky though, that my lens could begin to take in its magic. The first evening I just caught my friend Orion moving behind Otokomi Mountain.
The following image was made at 4:37am. It was cold and still and the heart of the Milky Way revealed itself to me. At 5:17am the sky was turning blue and mountains seemed colder.
You’ve heard that it’s darkest just before the dawn, it’s also the coldest right before the sun breaks over the ridge lines. I was still out at seven and rejoiced when the sun finally began to bring some warmth. It was another gorgeous early spring morning.
I figured I was about through for the morning when I decided to walk to the lakeshore. To my right I heard some loud crashing. Initially startled, I decided to explore and find out what was making the sound. A thin sheet of ice had formed on the lake overnight and in the morning, as the sun warmed the waters, the ice began to expand and crash into the shore and then recede. It was one of the most beautiful moments that I’ve encountered in nature.
I was so enamored that I decided to shoot a short video, which you can view here.
As the sun grew more harsh in the sky I turned my attention towards a few of the smaller details like this shore ice.
During the day I photographed some of the local flora and fauna and some of the creatures big and small that live near the lakes.
The following evening I went to the lake shore to gain a view of Wild Goose Island. There were some young grizzlies in the area so I was going to be back before dusk, but as good fortune would have it I ran across another photographer and we decided that with safety in numbers, and making our presence known, we could walk out together after photographing the night sky. I shot the rising full moon as I waited for the night.
I made another of my favorite images from the trip looking down lake as Orion stood proudly above Fusillade Peak. Sirius is the bright star resting on the mountain.
I made a quick return trip early in the morning to take it all in one more time.
This next image caught a favorite moment. An older couple were sitting along the lakeshore watching for birds. Besides my brief visit, they were all alone that morning.
As I type this in a small cafe in West Yellowstone, MT after being delayed by 45 minutes because of a few elk sitting along the road leaving Yellowstone, I’m reminded of the words of Edward Abbey, written in Desert Solitaire, “…I find that in contemplating the natural world my pleasure is greater if there are not too many others contemplating it with me, at the same time.”
As I laid in my tent, looking up at the stars, I gave thanks to the Maker of the mountains. I marveled in it all and gave praise. I could have sworn that along with me I heard the trees clap their hands. With that the road trip came to an end and it was time to begin a second season in Yellowstone…