Guest post: 111.5 miles through Glacier National Park with a 200-400mm Nikon lens and a Leica M9

I’m Chris Peterson, editor and publisher of Glacier Park Magazine, an ad-free quarterly magazine of Glacier National Park, a million-acre wildlife preserve in Northwest Montana. The Park celebrated its 100th birthday in 2010 and in commemoration of that birthday I did a 100-mile hike in the Park, from the southern end to the north end (111.5 miles to be exact).


On the journey I lugged two cameras and several lenses. For wildlife and birds I carried a Nikon D300 and 200-400 AFS lens at all times on a monopod (it was like a 10-pound cherry on top of a bulging 45-pound pack).

I also carried my coveted Leica M9 with a 50 mm summicron and 21 mm elmarit aspherical. The 21 is a fantastically sharp lens and perfect for the Park’s tight glacier-carved valleys. The 50 mm is a wonderful all-around lens, but alas, I set it down on the very first day and forgot to pick it up. It sat there for 14 days before I swung around later and found it sitting along the trail right where I left it. Despite being rained on several times, the lens was no worse for the wear (try that with an autofocus slr lens).

My journey took me up and over numerous mountain passes, through gigantic thunderstorms and torrential rains and there were hordes of mosquitoes and flies.

I ran into moose, mountain goats, several black bears, a grizzly bear and 41 bighorn sheep.

The Nikon did the heavy lifting for the wildlife photos, while the Leica was perfect for landscape shots. I use the M9 for several reasons. For one, it is lightweight (compared to a pro slr) and yet rugged. Its brass top and bottom plates hold up well to miles of abuse. The files are stunningly sharp and 30-inch prints from project have virtually no grain. The camera also renders the subtle colors of Glacier’s skies perfectly. I shot both jpeg and raw files together. I use the jpg files as a reference shot and the raw files to make final adjustments, if necessary.



The rangefinder design also makes it easy to hand-hold at shutter speeds down to a quarter of a second. I carried just a small lightweight “Gorilla Pod” to take some night shots and to take self-timed photos of myself. The M9 is also compact — the 21 mm fits in the palm of your hand as does the 50 mm. By contrast, Nikon’s 14-24 mm alone is a beast.

The only downside is the Leica batteries don’t last long. I took three with me and fortunately, they don’t weigh much.

You can view the journey (and several others) at Photo diary of the 100 days project can be seen here.

Thanks to Chris for sharing his journey with us. If you want to be a guest blogger on LeicaRumors, please contact me with your post suggestion.

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  • AB

    Great images.

  • Dan Chip

    Great images indeed. Do it take it they’re all output from the M9 and not the Nikon?

    • Philip Warrender

      Yup – The exif data says they’re all M9 with 21mm lens.

  • Jorgen

    Great images? I can’t see anything…

    • Djonah Inc.

      I see some images, but it’s not realy my taste…a bit dark imho…

  • Wesley

    Thanks for the post. Love the images It would be nice to have the camera, lens and the settings besides each photo in the magazine. I know it is not a photography magazine but I’m sure you may get more subscriptions.


  • Slow Gin

    Great images? Omg, it’s sheer crap.

    • Slow Gin

      BTW, I don’t understand why here, in this post, you have published such crappy dark photographs if under the link one can find something interesting.

      • because those are the images taken with a Leica camera, the rest were taken with Nikon

  • Man De Labrat

    Great post! The photo essay is amazing. Perhaps a link to the photo essay could also be posted in Nikon Rumors?

    • yes, I will link to it in the weekly links section

    • LGO

      Great photos, great essay.

      You are on the right track Admin.

  • preston

    Thank you very much for sharing. Glacier NP just earned a spot on my bucket list (I did Yosemite and Hawaii this year)!

  • Nice images. Glacier NP will be on my next to visit list.
    I visited Glacier Bay NP in Alaska though lol. Another out of this world destination with stunning landscapes and wildlife. Strongly recommend this place too 🙂

  • Went through all the photos from Day 1 to Day 100 and all I can say is fantastic images! I especially like the one taken on Day 76 where there were a few big horn sheep on the mountain side overlooking some valleys. Wonderful 🙂

  • Great set of images

  • Ronan

    Crappy images… Good read though.

  • enesunkie

    Well I also enjoyed looking at all 100 days. Looked like a lot of nice photos to me. Just not sure if I came across a black bear, if I would throw stones at it! 🙂

  • The photos above are not my favorites, but the collection is actually fairly stunning and well worth a look.

    Slowgin: That’s a pretty rude statement from someone who won’t link to their own photos with their avatar. Heck, that’s a pretty rude statement even if you had the talent to back it up.

  • gov

    STUNNING images and thanks for sharing.

    as for the people who say it’s crap, jealousy can be an all too consuming foe sometimes.

  • noss

    “Despite being rained on several times, the lens was no worse for the wear (try that with an autofocus slr lens).”
    What about Pentax WR (weather-resistant) srl lenses? 🙂

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