Every month or two I have to visit “The City” for supplies. In my case that is Missoula, a town with a population of around 70,000, and it’s about 80 miles from where I live. While I typically hate going there, it seems that on every trip at least one thing of interest presents itself, be it a photogenic scene, a close look at some of western Montana’s wildlife or, as on yesterday’s trip, a brief glimpse into a bit of the area’s past.
There are two main routes of travel between here and Missoula, one by a state highway and the other by a combination of Interstate and state highways. On the way there I chose the state Highway: on the way back I chose a third route.
After driving west on I90 for about 23 miles from Missoula one will find a turn off to a Forest Service highway that runs past the historic Ninemile Ranger Station, on up through the beautiful Ninemile valley and over the very scenic Siegel Pass. It’s a dirt road all of the way and not suited for passenger cars, but in all it is 20 miles shorter than either of the other routes and replaces about 60 miles of highway driving.
Yesterday after I took the Ninemile turn off and drove about 18 miles up Forest Service road 412 in a nicely forested area far from any habitations, my sharp-eyed daughter who was with me exclaimed that she thought she saw a tombstone on the mountainside above the road. I turned around and returned to the spot and, upon a little investigation we found a short, steep trail that did indeed lead to a headstone (in this case, a wooden one) that marked an old and lonesome grave.
Some research today showed that the grave was not far from the location of an old mining camp called Martina at the site of what was, in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, a gold mine called “San Martina”. The forest has long since reclaimed the camp of Martina and the mine site, and that Grand Old Man is now peacefully at rest in a beautiful and wild part of the Lolo National Forest.
This photo was taken today on a hike with some folks from American Wildlands on Munson Creek in the TeePee/Spring Creek roadless area here in western Montana. Because of where it lives, this pretty little thing will not become a decoration on the radiator of someone’s motor vehicle.
Because there were so many projects that had to be done this summer, we decided that it would be good to buy a little firewood instead of spending the time going out and getting it ourselves. We bought a truck load of lodgepole pine from a guy who was thinning some of his timberland 25 miles down river and it will heat our home for about the next four years.
While I am performing the task of cutting these 25 tons of logs to 17 inch lengths to fit our wood stove, splitting and stacking them, this will probably be known as the “exercise room”. You know, with all of the ballyhoo now about health care, this might just be one of the best health care plans going.
On a walk this morning I came across a scene with a pond upon which the light was just right for a reasonably good photograph, but what came immediately to mind was the image I saw when I looked at just the pond itself. The reflected image then became the predominate scene and it was one that appeared upside down.
The second photo is a duplicate of the first, only rotated 180°, but the mind wants to say that it is the correct view because the predominate scene appears right side up.
The third photo is the complete scene and of course the mind has no quarrel with it at all.
(Welcome to the combined fellowship of The Easily Amused and The Easily Confused.)
The blossoms and fruit of Climbing Nightshade remind me of some of the lyrics to one of Peter, Paul and Mary’s old songs,
“Lemon tree very pretty and the lemon flower is sweet But the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat.”
The flower of the Nightshade is indeed very pretty, but it and the pretty fruit as well are quite poisonous. They can also be hazardous to shoot: these were growing right next to the water in a small stream that was running through some large jagged rocks, the kind of place where, to get the right close-up, you place your right foot in the water and your left foot on a sharp rock just above your left ear.