Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Glacier National Park

I knew it would be an interesting weekend when the white Chevy blazer pulled up in front of my house playing jazz music. I soon met Ryan and Amanda, my escorts north to Glacier. Lucas, my roommate Cora's brother, had invited me along to go hiking with him and his friends. I wasn't quite sure what I was getting into because I knew that I wasn't anywhere near as active or in shape they were. We spent Friday evening at Lucas' summer place on a Biological Station on Flathead Lake where he cooked dinner for us and several other friends.

Saturday we drove to Glacier and straight to the top of the Going to the Sun Road. I hadn't paid much attention to the plan for the day as I was just tagging along as the poky photo geek. I was just hoping I didn't slow them down too much.

I was feeling pretty good about keeping up with them for the first 4 miles. And what an amazing 4 miles of trail it was! I had a hard time watching my feet I was so distracted by the view and the mountain goats that just looked at you when you passed by a few feet away from them... less skittish than cows.

We stopped for lunch here where the guys are leaning against the rock wall. And if you look up above them... yes this is where things get interesting. We basically left the trail at this point and started climbing up this , shall we say ... cliff, toward the top. Fortunately they gave me a few pointers about rock climbing as we went. Sometimes I was wishing I had longer legs to make the next foot hold, but I managed to scramble up the rocks somehow.

This is where the scree and chimneys come in to play. Scree is loose rock that you have to get across at different points to find solid rocks... very tricky and my least favorite part of the climb. Chimneys are kind of like corners with hand holds that you have to climb up.

Eventually we made it up to a saddle where a glacier had once been. I came over the ridge and sighed, "we made it" and Ryan just looked to our left and said "we still have to go up there"... so I amended my comment to "we made it this far".

I decided the saddle was as far as I needed to go in one day as I was most concerned about getting down and I had never attempted this type of a hike before. So my three hiking buddies started up the next section of the peak and I leaned back on a nice sloped rock with moss perfectly situated under me and watched them disappear over the rocks. I had a beautiful afternoon on top of a mountain waiting for them to return. Once they came back down we headed down the to the main trail. It was slow going as we tried not to knock rocks down on top of each other. The photo of them laughing is just after we got back down to the main trail to hike back 4 miles to our car.

The last photo I put red arrows to show where we climbed. The lowest arrow is part of the main trail we hiked in on . The middle arrow is the saddle where I spent my afternoon at 8500 feet and the top arrow is Mt Gould about 9500 feet... they climbed to the highest part... I am just not sure where that is along this ridge.

That night we slept out under the stars in a nearby campground. And woke to the hum of motor home generators. But we were off again and my body was reminding me of my age. I did my best to ignore it but when we started hiking on Sunday I had a hard time ignoring the protesting. There was a plan to climb another peak and the guys did climb one, but Amanda and I opted for a 6 mile hike down to Hidden Lake near the top of Logan's Pass. We had lunch on the rocky beach with more mountain goats. Once back from the hike, we sat on the board walk near the visitor's center to watch big horn sheep and people as we waited for the guys to get back. It is amazing what footwear people will attempt to hike in...

Once the guys got back we drove back down to Flathead Lake and went swimming before Ryan, Amanda and I hopped back in the white blazer and drove back to Missoula.

Today is Wednesday and my body finally feels normal again. But what an introduction to Glacier... definitely an adventure I will never forget.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Week 8

This week I spent a lot of time on my computer working in Adobe CS3 and printing some of my favorite photos. There was a class on photojournalism and more still life studio photography. We also had a couple of guest lecturers, one on weddings and the other a newspaper photojournalists. Things are beginning to wind down for Summer Intensive (the first 11 weeks of the 5 1/2 months I am here) so we are working on final projects that will be due the first two weeks of August.

My best stories are from this weekend. I have a lot of photos, but need to do a bit of processing before I write my complete blog. I had my first taste of Glacier National Park... and oh what a taste. There was a road to the sun, new friends, mountain goats, vertical climbs, chimneys, scree, stars, people watching, seeing the fingerprints of God and another amazing adventure.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Week 7

Week seven already? This week I printed a bunch of my photos, learned about still life photography, heard Peter Reid Miller - famous Sports Illustrated photographer - speak, learned about matting and framing and started scratching the surface on learning Adobe CS3.

But this weekend Cora insisted that I come with her family to a cabin about 2 hours north of here. It turned out to be several families of close friends. I knew I was going to fit in when someone started giving me a hard time and I had only been there 30 minutes. I even included a group shot of my new friends.

Cora's mom and brother took me with them on a hike in the afternoon. It was hot but beautiful and we found huckleberries, which seem to be quite a valuable prize here. I told them that I didn't think I had ever tried them before so we had to photograph the momentous event.

But I had the most fun on the hike when we found this little waterfall and I lingered taking pictures as they went on ahead in search of huckleberries. When we got back from the hike we jumped in the river, that was much more like a lake, and lingered in the sun to dry off. After a fantastic dinner of grilled fish, Cora's dad took me out on the river to take sunset pictures. As it got dark we build a campfire and I started playing with flashlights, long exposures and painting with light. Here a couple of my favorite. Around midnight as everyone went to bed I set up my camera to take a very long exposure of start trails. Then a couple of us took a canoe out to paddle under the amazing full moon. A couple of hours later we finally got back and my camera battery had died at 74.5 minutes. Here is that cool photo.

Today we went for boat rides, went swimming, sat in the sunshine, had a beautifully simple church service and soaked up every minute. It was such an wonderful summer weekend it was hard to see it end, but I am so glad that I got to be a part of it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


So I thought that putting the link in my blog posts would get everyone to my school site. But I guess it wasn't very obvious. So there are two ways that you can get there. is the actual address and there is a link on I will also put it on my links on the right.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Week 6 in Pictures

I must start with the bride and groom. This is one of the shots I snapped at the wedding in SD last weekend. I have many more, but just thought I would share this one for now. If you want to see more SD pictures. All of the pictures I put into my slide show project are now up on my class web site under Ranch Photos.

Earlier in the week there was a fire on the hillside above Missoula. The daylight shot is from my front yard looking over the condo's in front. The night shot was taken from a park about a block from my house (both with my telephoto lens).

This week was a little stressful overall, especially with the slideshow project. I am glad it is over and can move on this week.

On Saturday I took some time to just wander around the local farmer's market. It was a lot of fun to walk around talking to vendors and snapping a few shots just for fun. These are a few of my favorites from the morning as well as a few reflection shots of myself.

This morning I got up a little early and went downtown to shoot my first marathon. It was a lot of fun and I can't believe I have never followed my racing friends down to an event before. Here are a couple shots from this morning.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Week 5

This will be short and sweet as my plate is rather full. I had 3 days of class before I took off to South Dakota for the holiday weekend. It was so fun to spend some time with my grandparents, brothers and their families, cousins, aunts and uncles, but the best was celebrating a cousin's wedding.

I also attempted to shoot a major project at the ranch in 2 days... 1000+ photos. And if you add in the 200 I took at the wedding and reception, I got a lot of practice in. That major project is the reason that this will be short. I have just 3 short days to complete it and all my spare time will be devoted to it. But this is good news for you, my readers, as I will have A LOT of new material to put up next weekend.

And, as I promised, I do have a web site set up for class. It is still in process, but I have a few photos up... so enjoy.