In early May we were walking along what appears to be (in season) a horse trail, along the Middle Fork of the Flathead in Glacier, from the parking lot at the beginning of the road to the Apgar Lookout Trailhead toward the east... and in a bit of a ditch, or a trench or something, we almost walked by it, and then I turned my head and saw it looking at us.
At which point I chasticed D... he was in the lead, he was supposed to be on Dangerous Wildlife Patrol. Yet I was the first to see it.
The second and third bears of the year were Black bears at the National Bison Range near Moiese, MT. We were in the car, one was far off, one is below. We watched him scratch around and nibble something for a few minutes.
The Forth Bear of the Year was The First Grizzly of the Year.
Last Sunday D and I had parked the car at the Avalanche Campground (the most easterly point you can currently reach from the West on Going to the Sun Road) then got on our bikes. We had seperate destinations, so D quickly outpaced me. He parked at The Loop and took the trail toward Granite Park Chalet, then summited Swiftcurrent mountain and skied as long as he could back down. I saw his bike when I rounded The Loop and kept going up Sun Road.
I then strapped on my snow shoes and kept going. Not long after the snow quality led me to remove my snow shoes and just walk, though it was still difficult it was easier in regular footwear. There were no recent tracts through the huge avalanche snow drifts across the road, which I'd been hoping for. Just very faint and melted out ski tracks. I turned around far shy of my plan and took a few pictures on the way back to my bike.
Looking down McDonald Creek, the road where I started is just visible on the left side of the river.My mission for the day had been to see what I could find growing in the seeps along Sun Road. I also walked a bit out the Granite Park trail to a large stream that crosses the trail to see what might be out there.
Things up there are still just starting to peek out, it was hard to find fully open flowers, but lots of little buds trying to make a go of it.
This little guy had about four inches on either side before a snow bank started again. I wish I could take a GPS coordinate and then go back once a week for a month to watch it grow and bloom... too bad it's a two-three hour bike ride to reach it, and once the road opens to cars will be in a spot you wouldn't easily be able to stop at.I took my time on the return. I find out and back hikes are great for flower foraging, as you can search seperate sides of the road on the way out/up and back/down and find flowers you never noticed the first time.
D quickly caught back up with me as we both rode back to Josey at Avalanche. While recounting our days as we rode along beside each other (one of the joys of having an entire road free of cars) we rounded a corner and I quickly alerted D to the friend who wanted to meet us.
It just kept walking down the road toward us, and we started backing up and softly but firmly calling out to it. Forgive the pictures, as my priority at the time wasn't on adjusting camera settings...
after it crossed the road it continued walking toward us...
but finally turned off down the embankment to the river. At which point several cyclist going both up and down the road, caught up to us and we related our story, and then we all rode down the road a hundred yards to a break in the trees where we could better watch it swim the river and completely and totally disappear into the dense brush on the far side.
The rest of the ride was uneventful. It was a good day. And I have another 6 or 8 (still sorting through) species for my Glacier Flora Photo Project. And a nice sense for how the flowers are slowly making their way into the higher elevations. One week can make such a huge difference for one species, and no difference at all for another. Watching the timeline unfold may end up being the most interesting aspect of this whole thing.
I should not forget the forest for the trees... (or the larger geographical-biological trends for the close up shots of flower petals...)
now to sort through more photos.