Late Summer thunderstorm approaching Avalanche Lake
Glacier National Park - Summer, 2009
Located on the west side of Glacier National Park, the trailhead is about 5.5 miles east of McDonald Lodge. Avalanche Lake Trail is about 2.25 miles one-way with an 730-foot elevation gain from the roadside trailhead to the foot of this spectacular alpine lake. Wear your good hiking boots; you'll thank me later.
This image is an object lesson in the mercurial nature of Rocky Mountain weather. 30 minutes before this photograph was taken, the sky was clear and brilliant blue. The thunderstorm coalesced in minutes; this was one of the last exposures made before began loading gear back into the pack for the return trek. About the time gear was stowed and the pack was harnessed onto my back, I realized that the source of the peculiar roaring noise and the reason the far end of the lake looked like it was starting to boil was that the storm was dropping lots of hail.
Suffice to say that the trip back down the mountain took considerably less time than the climb up. The forest provides a fairly thick canopy of mixed hemlock and cedar, but a 1-inch hailstone still makes an impressive "thud!" when it collides with the top of your head.
Worth. Every. Second.