Story and photos by FITZ Maurice
I arrived at Glacier National Park in Montana and saw that it is a monumental park rich in beauty and wildlife. Incredible hiking along trails that are reminiscent of what I believe Nirvana might be. Waterfalls are gushing in all their glory. Around me, all is emerald green, velvety, with thick woven woods. Mountains admire themselves in their crystal-lake reflection. Glacier itself is a true Eden, lush with life and teeming with wildlife.
Mountain ranges, woods, lakes and open fields are sprinkled with yellow and violet flowers, enough to hold any viewer’s attention. When you add the wildlife experiences that are possible as well, it’s thrilling.
Fitz Maurice at The Garden Wall, Glacier National Park
Never before have I had the privilege to see so many animals walking freely around in their environment. No wonder so many artists and photographers are lured to this rare beauty. It’s a photographer’s dream come true because you can get some incredible shots while just hiking along on a gorgeous sunny day. I was lucky – it was the ideal time to be there because the highest pass on the Going-To-The-Sun Road had just opened.
It was the end of June, and the snow had only just retreated enough that I could drive up to the snow-covered peaks. The timing also meant that the wildlife was busily going about their lives. I got a great photo of a mountain goat with her vulnerable baby in tow while they were crossing a vast and frozen landscape. It looked as if it was the first journey out in the open for that tiny baby goat.
Mountain goat leads her baby out into the open
I also saw and photographed bighorn sheep as they lay comfortably snuggled up in snow while basking their backs in the hot sun. I was tempted to do the same – that looked inviting.
One of the surprises for me was how hot it was. Logan Pass is 10,000 feet in altitude and there was lots of snow on the ground. Yet the temperature was 84 degrees.
I was in a dream state as I explored. I felt cozy in heavy-duty socks and hiking boots, but I needed only a T-shirt on because it was so hot my skin was tanning.
In Montana at this time of year, this far north, it remains light until 10 p.m. or so. I was shocked when I paddled in from kayaking at Lake McDonald and realized it was 9:45 p.m.
There is so much fun to be found in Glacier Park. Kayaking the crystal clear lakes is inspiring, and rafting the rapids is a rush. People can choose horseback riding through the fragrant woods, or take a helicopter up and ride the ridge of the Continental Divide, or swim down in the Hidden Lake. There are wonders to marvel at and secrets to discover in the Treasure State of Montana.
I have to mention that it is likely that the longest-lasting glaciers at Glacier National Park, Montana will only survive until 2030 – maybe. Then they’ll be gone. Support our National Parks, which should be easy to do since it is now summer.
Go to your nearest park now and be outside!
In 2016, I first visited Glacier National Park to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of our National Park Service . Onward with my QUEST, to paint ‘live’ in every national park in America. Having totally committed my life and talents to help promote and protect the parks, I was traveling by truck and trailer to each park. Then I went hiking, kayaking and horseback riding in search of the ultimate scene. Finally I set up with portable easel and oil paints, to capture in paint the wonders that make each National Park a treasure to Americans and all the people of the world.