Glacier National Park Part 2 - LightPhonics Photography

Glacier National Park Part 2

If you haven't already, read part 1.


Cam and I stumbled into Avalanche campground, our clothes still sodden from our swim. Wandering around the site aimlessly, we found one of the hike/bike camps that we had been told about.  We pitched up on some rocky ground next to another tent, which appeared abandoned. 


We were famished by now, so we poured out our food onto one of the park benches. We made ourselves another processed sandwich - permitting ourselves two slices of bread, 1 slice of ham and 1 slice of cheese each. To boost up the calories, we had a jar of peanut butter to put on some bread. I twisted open the cap, and promptly realised we had nothing to spread it with.  We piled through every thing in our rucksacks to find something we could use in place of a knife, and found nothing even semi-suitable. Desperate for that peanut butter, I became more creative in finding a make shift utensil. Really scraping the barrel, I decided to pop out one of my camera's SD cards to spread the peanut butter with. It worked pretty well, so if you're ever in that situation you now know what to do!

We made another each, wrapped it in the loaf bag and chucked it in a backpack. This was to be our dinner.

We knew roughly that there should be a trail following the gushing creek up to Avalanche Lake, so after some exploring around the river, we picked up the trail.

After trundling through dimly lit forest for an hour, the trees gave way to open water. Cam and I stepped out onto the rocky shoreline, and looked at each other, screaming out 'Awww Yeahhh, that's what we came for!'.  

The wildfire smoke was still thick, and the mountains at the end of the lake were drifting in and out of view.

We walked closer to the water, seeing all the fallen trees beached in the shallows, like a giant game of pick up sticks. These trees were crying out to be walked along, so we dumped our bags and slowly balanced our way along them, jumping from log to log.

As we got further out into the lake on our precarious logs, we were both waiting for the ineluctable moment one of us lost our balance. I was the first to go, leaping onto a submerged trunk that sunk as I landed. My feet slipped into the icy water, to discover that the bottom of the lake was several feet deep in sediment. I had mud up to my knees, but slowly managed to crawl my way out of it. Cam of course found this hysterical, and laughed so much that he too lost his balance and followed me into the lake. At least we could share the mutual soggy cold feet feeling!


We sat on boulders for an hour, waiting for the sunset colours to emerge and remaining hopeful the smoke might clear. I had my speaker out, giving us some vibes as we sat on the rocks watching the shifts in the light as it sweeped across the landscape. 

At some point I decided the light was right, so I skirted the edge of the lake, trying to use the fallen timber as a foreground. I wedged my tripod into the sediment, composed and left the camera taking a long exposure. I ran back over to our gear to put on a different song. As I was flicking through my playlist, a sudden gust of wind hit hard, Cam and I both instinctively turned around, staring at the tripod. It was on two legs, and painfully slowly carried on falling until there was a splash and a seemingly earth shattering thud as it fell on the rocks. 


I sprinted over, gritting my teeth and anticipating a shattered LCD and lens. To my amazement, I picked it up and nothing had broken - despite a couple of severe scuffs to the screen and body the camera was unharmed. Just for the hell of it, I thought I'd check what the camera had taken whilst I left it. This is what I saw:

Still recovering, we settled back onto our cosy rocks, and picked out our sandwiches. We were starting to realise that these were really not sufficient enough to constitute a meal, and that we were undoubtedly living off uncomfortably small rations. 


Another jagged area, I thought this would be a perfect spot to photograph the adventure proof SunGod shades I had been given for the trip.

Avalanche lake at sunset, Glacier national park
Avalanche lake at sunset, Glacier national park

The sun shying away behind the peaks signalled our time to head back to camp. We took in one last, lingering look at the majestic landscape, and trudged back into the murky woods.

Cam had been avid to walk back before dark, as he had been spooked by the man-eating bear propaganda that is thoroughly spread across the park. Despite his efforts, we still found ourselves stumbling over roots an rocks, destitute of vision. We heard a swooshing noise and something brushed against Cam's arm. He squealed and scampered down the path, I followed him and we looked back to see what the hell just happened. We saw the fuzzy outline of a bat as it swooped back in for round two. 'I don't want Ebola!' I yelled and we sprinted down the hard packed path, the bat circling us. 10 minutes later we stopped running, finally reassured the bat had given up it's aerial pursuit. Another 30 minutes on and we had found our way back to our tent. The tent next to ours still seemed deserted, however another tent had appeared. It took us a while in the gloomy light, to realise that the owner of this tent was sitting at the bench next to it. We called out 'Hey!' at the man shaped blob, and recieved a reassuring 'Good Evening Gents' in a hearty Welsh accent.

The campsite had seriously heavy duty, bear proof food lockers, so we decided to offload our edibles into these just in case. 


We clambered inside our tent, the sound of the tent zipper signifying the end of day two. Looking at each other we nodded and smiled, "Still alive". We cocooned ourselves in our sleeping bags, to warm up a bit. I fished out the peanut butter jar, desperate for more food. I scooped it out with my fingers until I was shamed into stopping by Cam, who thought I looked impoverished. We screwed the lid on that for the night and tried to sleep. The craggy ground was pressing into every part of our body, and no amount of wriggling could solve it; but by about 4 am we were tired enough not to notice.


We woke up  late the next morning, with every inch of our body feeling like it had been systematically and repeatedly punched. Dreary eyed, we crawled out of the tent and shoveled out our pitiful food supply from the bear container. As I placed the bits on our bench, I realised there were pieces out of the wrapping around our sacred sliced cheese. I thought nothing of it. I picked up our lone snickers bar, shouting to Cam ' Look what we get to have today!', turning round, he said 'What the hell happened to that thing?'. Confused, I swiveled the snickers around. The other side had been comprehensively gnawed, with the tiny tooth marks visible in the chocolate. Heartbroken to be losing the sole source of joy in our gastronomical lives, we had to throw away the snickers.


We came to the conclusion that chipmunks had squirmed their way into the food box, and helped themselves as though we had stocked up their fridge. We made breakfast, trying to ignore  the bite-marks out of the cheese, as we layered up yet another wafer thin ham and cheese sandwich. 


We headed off to the bus, on route for our next adventure.


Read Part 3.

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