Glacier National Park 2010 ~ Sidebar!
As I sat in a field of wildflowers at Glacier National Park Many Glaciers district, I realized I was about to shoot my 10,000 shot on a camera I purchased a little more than a year ago. I was aware of how close I was to this milestone before leaving for Glacier but I didn’t want to keep track as the camera, one-by-one, counted towards that 10,000th image. But there I sat, in the field of wildflowers blown by gusts of cold wind, blue sky filling with dark threatening clouds, and rain drops beginning to fall all around me…shoot number 10,000 or wait? I stood up to look for something that would give me reason to press the shutter button one more time in these deteriorating conditions risking a very poor shot and…there it was.
My mother has hiked the High Sierra most of her life and many of her stories have included lessons about wildflowers of the region. Along many of the trails we traveled together, she’d pause along the path and point out blossoms and name each of them—her favorite being Lupine.
For the past several years, my daughter Emily and I have celebrated my mother’s birthday with her in California. We’ve driven from Utah and Colorado, we’ve flown in and last year we met my mother on the California coast in Aptos to mark her 85th birthday. On November 6, 2009, we walked along the cliffs of Año Nuevo State Park where herds of Elephant Seals spend their time mating and birthing pups. As I followed her, as I always have while hiking, she began identifying the coastal wildflowers growing in the sand. Just as we crested a dune, bush like clusters of yellow lupine stood before us.
I'd heard stories about fields and hillsides filled with Bluebonnets (lupine) blooming in spring, "a carpet of blue" they said…a gift from Lady Bird Johnson. While in Texas I wanted to see them for myself. On an afternoon in April 2010, I spent some time walking through Old Town Lewisville and I was fortunate enough to meet Linda England, a lifelong resident of Lewisville, whose rock planter in her front yard was filled with Texas Bluebonnets. We visited a while--I took several shots of her beautiful batch of wildflowers as she told me stories of acres and acres of flowers she'd seen near Austin and before I went on my way, she presented me with a tiny bottle of Bluebonnet seeds which I'll try planting in Utah...a long way from their native home.
A few weeks passed and on May 28, 2010, we found ourselves at Dead Horse Point State Park in Utah. One of our favorite hikes is from the Kayenta Campground to Dead Horse Point. Never before have I ever seen the desert as beautiful as it was this year. Wildflowers filled the campground and all the surrounding desert cliffs and canyons. As we walked, we found Mormon Tea, Sego Lily, Penstemon, Cactus, Common Paint Brush, Thrifty Goldenweed, Evening Primrose and Dwarf Lupine all in bloom. I was surprised to find Dwarf Lupine as I had never seen it in the desert before, but lupine it was and similar to the beautiful Bluebonnets I'd seen in Texas.
On June 17, 2010, my mother arrived from California for a 10-day visit. My mother, now halfway to 86 years of age, had slowed somewhat and seemed a bit more frail, but we jumped in the jeep and drove to Moab, Utah to hike. I followed my mother, more slowly now, through the ruins of Hovenweep and the paths at Dead Horse Point and she spoke of High Sierra Camps and wildflowers. She talked about the color of lupine—blue, violet, purple, and yellow and at what elevations you might find them. Yellow lupine is a coastal flower, while violet and purple are found at higher spots along mountain roads and in alpine meadows. And then she mentioned she’d seen white lupine while trekking along a trail in the high Sierra.
I stood up in a meadow of yellow, orange, purple, and white wildflowers, most of them lavender lupine. The darkening sky brought twilight and gusting wind brought raindrops. Nothing around me was still. Take my 10,000th shot or wait? And then I saw it…there among all the lavender lupine…a single white lupine. Click! It was done! My 10,000th shot taken in dim light, rain and wind.
Even after 10,000 shots I am no great photographer, but I have improved and learned many lessons. I’d hoped for the “perfect” shot to mark this milestone of 10,000 shots, but I am happy to settle for one that has great meaning to me; one that will remind me of walking behind my mother along mountain and desert paths beginning when I was a child and being taught lessons about life and wildflowers.