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Thread: Glacier National Park, need help

  1. #1
    teokf's Avatar
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    Glacier National Park, need help

    Hi

    I am from hot tropical South-East Asia and I will be going to the above in mid-May after my son's graduation for a week. We will be staying in the West and East part of the Park and we would be driving there from Fargo which is where my son is studying.

    I would like any help that could be offered as to the weather, camera care and etc, etc that a tropical photographer would have no experience or what to expect shooting in a colder climatic condition

    Thanking you all in advance for the generous help

    Steven

  2. #2

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    Re: Glacier National Park, need help

    Steven: an extra battery, just keep camera and gear in trunk of car, replace battery each eveing and recharge the removed one each night. That will do it for the camera, now you, light long sleeve under shirt, sweater, jacket that will turn rain and cut the wind, hat best is wool and light gloves again wool is good also a couple pair of light weight wool hiking socks. Your son should be able to best give you an idea.

    Cheers:

    Allan

  3. #3
    Wayland's Avatar
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    Re: Glacier National Park, need help

    The biggest danger is bringing a cold camera into a warm, humid building or vehicle. This will attract condensation not just to the outside of your camera but inside too if it is not sealed.

    I wrap my kit in microfibre towel bags and then put them into small commercial dry bags before coming in doors and so far I've never had a problem. the same could be done with a dry tea towel and a ziplock plastic bag for economy I guess. Allow the camera to thoroughly warm up before opening the bag.

    Glacier National Park, need help

    As mentioned above, batteries are a problem because they drop in power a lot when cold but if you put them into a warm pocket or drop them into your mittens to warm up they soon revive.

    I usually alternate between a battery in use that is cooling and a spare battery in my left mitten which is warming back up.

    Glacier National Park, need help

    In extreme conditions external power packs can be carried inside your clothing with a fly lead running to a dummy battery in the camera but I would be surprised if you would need that in mid May.

  4. #4
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Glacier National Park, need help

    Hi Steven - think of the problems that you would have at home when you step out of a nice air conditioned building into the tropical humidity. All of the cold parts of your gear have atmospheric moisture condensing on them making the optical elements rather useless until they warm up and the humidity evaporates. If moist air gets inside a zoom lens (non-pro zoom lens do a great job as "air pumps" and suck humid air in from the outside and when this gets onto internal elements, it can take a long time to dry out.

    Up here in the colder climates, we get the opposite affect as we head in from the cold outdoors to the warmer (and more humid) interiors.

    I've never been to Glacier NP, but have been to the Rockies (Banff, Jasper. Yoho and Kootnay NPs in Canada) at various times of the year. Yes; you will be in the mountains, and it will be cooler, but in May the temperatures won't be as extreme, although there will still be snow on the ground and temperatures will vary with altitude. I've never had any particular problems with my camera / lenses during mountains during visits in May and October; the biggest problems I ran into were secondary road closures and trails blocked by snow. Even though there was snow on the ground, the air temperature was not too far below freezing and the gear did not cool down all that much for the hour or so at a time that I was outside of my car shooting.

    As others have mentioned, camera batteries are affected by temperature. They use chemical reactions to generate electricity and the colder the battery is, the lower its ability to generate electricity. Chemical activity halves for every 10C drop in temperature. Internal resistance will cause heating in the battery when electriciy is flowing, so keeping your camera turned on and shooting means your battery will stay warmer and have power when you need it.

    Like the others, I do carry a spare battery, usually in an inner pocket against my body to keep it warm. If the battery power does drop, I will swap out the batteries and warm up the one I removed from the camera. I've definitely do this for winter shooting, but would not be at all surprised if you are okay. Just keep your batteries topped up at the end of the day and I would expect you to be fine.

    I think the biggest issue will be keeping you warm. Glacier NP is near the 49th parallel; not a few degrees off the equator. A wam wind-proof jacket, wind-proof pants, gloves and a hat will be important to keep you warm and comfortable. Mountains, especially as your altitiude increases, will tend to get colder AND windier.

  5. #5
    Dr Bob's Avatar
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    Re: Glacier National Park, need help

    You will need to check with the park at that time of year to determine what roads are open or not due to snow. It is not uncommon for Glacier and Yellowstone Park to have roads closed in mid May. One time we visited Yellowstone in mid June and it snowed each night for 3 nights.

    Dr Bob

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    Re: Glacier National Park, need help

    I don't see much reason for concern. Check here for typical weather at that time of year: http://www.glaciertrails.com/best_time_visit.php. There is no condensation going from a warm setting to cold air. Condensation happens when the camera is colder than the dew point of the air around you, which generally happens either when you go from cold to warm (glasses fogging up when you come indoors in the winter) or if you stay out in the evening as the temperature cools below the dew point. So the one time it might happen is if you are out shooting when it is cold, say, in the early morning, and walk into a warm building. To take care of that possibility, just carry a plastic back to wrap the camera in.

    Given the impact of declining temperature on batteries, I would carry at least one charged spare, and keep it warm, e.g., in a pocket under your jacket.

  7. #7

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    Re: Glacier National Park, need help

    Mid May will be warm enough you won't have to worry about temperature changes. Even in the areas of snow at higher altitudes it is usually quite warm during the day and melting very fast. T-shirt weather. Usually, but not always. You'll be in the mountains and weather changes very fast. Check the weather and be prepared.

    Depending on the year many facilities may not even be open by mid-May. Usually, but not always. Also, don't make firm plans for a trip on Highway to the Sun and the high mountain pass on the highway from St Mary's to West Glacier. That road can have 30 feet of snow on it into June. It's quite the drive if you happen to get there just after the crews open the road. You are going through vertical walls of snow on both sides. That road is your best opportunity for some amazing views but if it's not open you still may be able to go part of the way. If the first gates are closed you won't be able to. Alternatively the road from West Glacier to Browning also presents lots of opportunities for photography as does the highway south to Kalispell. Just keep your eyes open and watch for waterfalls and places to safely pull over.

    I really hope Highway to the Sun is open for you. It's one of the most amazing roads for scenery and if it's sunny, will take your breath away. Not for the faint of heart though as it is very steep and many times on one side of the narrow two lane road there is a rock wall on one side and on the other is just atmosphere.

    PS Take a extra battery and charger as others have suggested but not because of the temperature. Because you'll be taking so many photo's.
    PPS. Don't be like a lot of other yokels and get out of your vehicle to take photos of the bears, elk, etc. You may end up a statistic.
    PPPS If you have the time and the inclination, check out Great Northern Float Trips.
    Last edited by Andrew1; 25th March 2013 at 07:56 PM.

  8. #8
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    Re: Glacier National Park, need help

    Although I am not terribly familiar with the conditions in Glacier in mid May, I suspect daytime temps will be near 60 F in the lower elevations where you are likely to stay. I would not be concerned with condensation, but conditions are likely to be wet. Pack a raincoat for yourself and your camera.

    Also note you will be in Fargo, A really good mid trip stop would be Medora, North Dakota and Theodore Roosevelt National Park with colorful Badlands and abundant wildlife.

    Watch the weather prior to your visit to Fargo, forecasts are for a lot of flooding this Spring

  9. #9
    teokf's Avatar
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    Re: Glacier National Park, need help

    that's odd, my reply isn't showing except the "Like"

    Thank you all for the advice and what to look out for. It would definitely be an interesting adventure, but most importantly getting some amazing photos which I am already anticipating. This is the other part of CiC that I like; it's the international community helping each other when the need arises.

    Thank you.

  10. #10
    Harpo's Avatar
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    Re: Glacier National Park, need help

    Ive been there on my motorcycle some time ago. One of my favorite photo locations. Your biggest challenge in May as you stated you will be on the East and West sides of the park is this… "The earliest the Going-to-the-Sun Road could be accessible for its entire length is June 21, 2013. The actual date of opening will depend on whether Spring plowing is complete." Going-to-the-Sun road is the main east/west road through the park. Otherwise you have to take the long route south, then back north to the other side. Check out their road conditions page here

    If you don't plan to travel on GTTS road, getting to Lake MacDonald at the lower elevations from the west side provides plenty of photo opportunities for stunning landscape photography.

    Like Dan stated above, even if there is a mountain of snow on the ground, the temperatures are more spring like- sweatshirt weather at higher elevations. No worries for your camera gear.

  11. #11
    teokf's Avatar
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    Re: Glacier National Park, need help

    I thought it is a good idea to let you all who helped me in my planning know that I am back home. We enjoyed our trip and met some great people. Below is the link to some of the photos of my trip. There was a change in the itinerary. We included National Bison Park, Yellowstone and was at Mt Rushmore on the eve of Memorial day.

    around NW US

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