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December 2, 2009

100 days in Glacier National Park

This summer, Glacier Park Magazine editor Chris Peterson undertook a photographic project to take photos of Montana's Glacier National Park over 100 consecutive days, starting on May 1, 2009, for a traveling photo show in 2010 to commemorate Glacier's Centennial. He used a mix of film and digital cameras, including an 8 by 10 field camera, a Kodak Pocket Vest camera, circa 1909, and a Speed Graphic, among others. His idea was to use the cameras that would have been used over the course of the Park's 100 years. While Chris was kind enough to share some of his photos below, you really should check out his whole set of 100. All photos and captions are from Chris Peterson. (24 photos total)

Day 38, A favorite tree, June 7th, 2009. T. J. Hileman, one of the Park's first photographers, had a couple of birch trees cut down after he took a coveted picture on Lake McDonald. This is my favorite tree at Two Medicine Lake. I have no plans to cut it down. (© Chris Peterson)

Day 6, Mule deer, May 7th, 2009. Bridges aren't just for people. (© Chris Peterson) #

Day 8, Beavers, in love, May 8th, 2009 (© Chris Peterson) #

Day 11, Feeling green, May 11th, 2009. No sooner did I get out of the truck than it started to pour. In fact, I believe I've been rained or snowed on at least a little every day but two since I started. No worries. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. The rain greens things up and fills little streams. This one made a brief appearance on the surface, then vanished underground. Found this one on a little four mile hike in the deep woods. (© Chris Peterson) #

Day 14, More rain, May 15th, 2009. A brief break as fog hangs in the Apgar Hills... The days have been going like this: Signs of sunshine and then dark angry clouds full of snow in higher elevations and rain and hail in lower elevations. I really thought it was going to break today. It didn't. The weekend is supposed to be spectacular. Warm, sunny. (© Chris Peterson) #

Day 17, Along came a spider, May 18th, 2009. The marvels of nature. A trillium stays white for only a couple of weeks, then it turns pink or purple as it ages. And yet this spider has adapted to a white hue, blending in perfectly. Be thankful you're not a fly. (© Chris Peterson) #

Day 21, The duck, May 21st, 2009. Finally, the ducks. Was looking and looking and this harlequin male duck swam under my feet on McDonald Creek. Not the best photo of the 21 days by a long shot. But finally, THE duck. Harlequins are unique in that they migrate from east to west. The males don't stay in Glacier long. They mate, then head back for the west coast. The females stay, raise the young, and then head for the coast as well, usually by September, or earlier. The name harlequin comes from the male's clown-like appearance. the females are drab brown and can disappear in the brush like a ghost. (© Chris Peterson) #

Day 26, The smallest bird in N. America, May 27th, 2009. Photographing calliope hummingbirds under ideal conditions is difficult. Sprinkle in mosquitos the size of houseflies, a stiff wind and failing light and I was lucky to get anything at all. Calliopes are the smallest bird in North America - slightly larger than my thumb. They're pretty common in town, but this was the first one I've seen inside the Park boundaries. This year the serviceberry bushes have incredible numbers of flowers, which is a good thing for hummers and if we have some timely rains - bears. Bears love serviceberries. Calliopes do have one habit that makes them somewhat easier to photograph, if they have a perch they like, they'll come back to it over and over again. (© Chris Peterson) #

Day 28, A different reality, May 29th, 2009. Forget-me-nots are small blue flowers common to the Apgar area. When photographing flowers, I try to bring a different reality. These flowers are low to the ground and very small, half the size of a pinky nail, so I use a macro lens - an old Nikon 55 mm I picked up for all of $35. It's a great lens. You would never see these flowers like this. But through a camera lens with a wide open aperture, they look huge and dreamy. (© Chris Peterson) #

Day 30, Goodnight Moon, May 31st, 2009. Sunset on Gable Peak, Belly River. (© Chris Peterson) #

Day 32, Wile E. you're not a chickadee, June 2nd, 2009. The black-capped chickadee is one of the most common birds in North America. As of Day 32, I have yet to successfully photograph one on this journey. There are no bird feeders in Glacier and black caps, for all their charms, refuse to sit still. So last night I was trying to photograph one in a lodgepole pine when this coyote appeared. Never even ran, just looked at me, and sauntered away. Took 15 to 20 frames. By then, the chickadees were gone. Sigh. (© Chris Peterson) #

Day 34, Something moving in the leaves, June 4th, 2009. I was in a thicket of hawthorn bushes when I heard something rustling through the leaves. I suspected a squirrel, then a chipmunk, but saw nothing. Then I caught just the glint of its eye. A boreal toad, the size of my hand, sunning itself in a shaft of sunlight. All, on this day at least, is right with the world. (© Chris Peterson) #

Day 37, Disregard the calendar, June 7th, 2009. After two weeks of summer-like weather, snow arrived in Two Medicine. I was probably the only guy in camp welcoming it. I like snowy shots. Climbed about 500 feet above the trail to get this photo of a bighorn ram overlooking the valley. Climbing with a 400mm on your back is challenging, even if it's just a scramble up some scree. The snow got so hard it became difficult to see anything. The weather said two to eight inches, but it ended up being a dusting, but frigid. My water bottles froze. The next morning I would completely forget that I left the 400 and the camera and the monopod sitting on the picnic table at camp. When I realized what I had done I almost threw up. Leaving the 400 and the camera behind is like losing a child at a rodeo (which I've done). I raced back to the campsite and it was still there, on the table and a fine lady from the Park Service was yelling into the trees, looking for its owner. Bless her heart. (© Chris Peterson) #

Day 40, Back in the woods, June 9th, 2009. Today turned cold and wet - like June usually is in Glacier. Rocky Mountain Maple, unlike its eastern cousin, which grows into fabulous trees, is no more than a bush in Glacier. But it's an important bush, providing browse for a host of ungulates. (© Chris Peterson) #

Day 49, An evening surprise, June 20th, 2009. Black bears aren't always black. Ran into this sow with two cubs (one shown). They weren't aggressive, but I yelled and threw a rock in their direction to get them off the trail and away from me, just in case. (© Chris Peterson) #

Day 50, Rainbow in the trees, June 20th, 2009. Virtually every day I'll hear a western tanager. But they're almost always high in the canopy. The neotropical delights winter in Central America and migrate to Montana to raise their young. An absolutely fantastic bird and a great way to get to the halfway point. I haven't had a chance to count the number of bird species I've been able to successfully photograph. But I do know this: I don't have a black capped chickadee. You've got to be kidding me. (© Chris Peterson) #

Day 53, New hiking apparel, June 23rd, 2009. Sometimes you get out in the woods and run into a guy in a suit roaring. It happens. OK, OK, it's a dancer working on a Wolf Trap production for the Park's Centennial. He's yawning. Still not sure why he's in a tux, though. I hope it's a rental. It's not only dirty out in the burns, it was raining. (© Chris Peterson) #

Day 54, Ghost in the Meadow, June 24th, 2009. Nearly all of the photos in this journey have been cropped to some degree. This one I decided to leave alone. The great gray owl is a magnificent bird, almost three feet tall. I haven't seen one in years. I noticed this lump on the stick and said, "Hey, that looks like a great gray." Looked through the lens. Sure enough, it was. (© Chris Peterson) #

Day 63, The squirrel, July 4th, 2009. Ground squirrels are a dime a dozen in Glacier. The idea here was to show one in context and even though I'm not a fan of crowds, Logan Pass is still a pretty special place, particularly when the glacier lilies bloom. I sat down and waited, leaning over toward the squirrel. I'm maybe two or three feet from it when I take the photo. (© Chris Peterson) #

Day 71, Bear grass sunset, July 11th, 2009. Bear grass is not really a grass at all, it's a member of the lily family. The heads are made up of hundreds of small flowers. The plant blooms en masse once every three to 10 years. I suspect the blooms are spurred by two things: A solid snowpack and good precipitation in the spring and summer. Snowpack was a little below average, but we've had timely spring and summer rains. This scene is from the Highline Trail, a busy trail during the day, it is almost deserted in the evening. (© Chris Peterson) #

Day 72, Little Buddha, July 12th, 2009. Glacier, it's a spiritual thing. (© Chris Peterson) #

Day 76, Panorama, July 17th, 2009. Bighorn sheep, Haystack Butte. What can you say? I think I got everything I could have asked for in this picture. Rams herd up into bachelor groups in the summertime. While they're famous for knocking heads in the fall during the rut, they knock heads frequently in the summer as well. They're always jockeying for rank. (© Chris Peterson) #

Day 91, Women in trees, July 31st, 2009. Rebecca Lawrence, of Glacier National Park's revegetation crew, peers from the top of a whitebark pine. I went out with the crew as they "caged" the cones of healthy whitebark pines. The idea is to use screens to keep the squirrels and birds off the cones. The cones are then harvested in the fall, the seeds raised in a nursery and then the seedlings are replanted a few years later. (© Chris Peterson) #

Day 96, The griz, August 5th, 2009. A sow grizzly walks along the Garden Wall well above the Highline Trail. You might ask, well why didn't you get closer? Well, she had two cubs (out of the frame) and a photographer named Gibbs several years ago had the bright idea that he would climb up to a sow with cubs to get better pictures on Elk Mountain. That grizzly killed and ate him. I give grizzlies wide berths. This provided a fun opportunity to watch the bear at a safe distance feed on the slope. What was most impressive was just how quickly she moved - the slope is easily 45 degrees and she went up and down it like it was a sidewalk. I just hope she stays away from people. The Highline is a very busy trail - one of the most hiked in the Park. (© Chris Peterson) #