Nearly all of my photos result from my frequent wanderings in the mountains and forests of western Montana. The wildflowers in my previous post were encountered on the way to a hike to view the peaks of the Cherry Peak roadless area, something I choose to do at least once every year. After a ten mile drive from the valley to a starting point at 5000 feet and a two mile hike from there up an old road to 6000 feet I arrive at my preferred viewing spot with an open view of the north side of the peaks. Mountains are always viewed best from high places.
The road at 6000 feet
Wood violets (Viola glabella) in bloom just below the snow level.
View to the northwest over the Clark Fork River.
View of Koo-Koo Sint Ridge north of the river from the access road.
Here in the southeastern part of the Cabinet Mountains of western Montana a small stream flows down from the TeePee – Spring Creek Roadless Area at the end of KooKooSint Ridge below Big Hole Peak for about ten miles through tall old-growth cedars in a deep, steep and narrow canyon to where, in spring, it enters the Clark Fork River. In late summer, fall and winter, the stream disappears below ground several miles before it reaches the river.
This time of year however the stream is swollen with snow-melt and instead of simply flowing, it plunges, roaring, through several miles of steep cascades on its downward journey.
Here are a series of photos that were taken on the tenth of May of this year from the trail (USFS Trail 370) in the lower several miles of the canyon. The very first one though is from April of 2010 before the annual spring run-off when the stream flow was at a much lower level and was flowing at a much slower rate. It is posted by way of comparison.
I usually refrain from posting so many photos in a single post, but this is an attempt to provide the viewer with a visual feel for what it is like to walk the trail through the canyon.
Not far from here, nature conducts a trillium celebration that I have attended for several years and intend to continue attending as long as I am able. It takes place at exactly this time of year a couple of miles up a very steep and narrow trail that is perpendicular to the traffic flow through these parts, along a creek that flows down its canyon from Koo Koo Sint Ridge through the TeePee – Spring Creek Roadless area.
In a small area of some fifty yards in length and perhaps forty in width, hidden among (and protected by) thick brush in the canyon, thousands of trilliums begin their bloom all at once. Few folks ever venture there to see them.
Western White Trillium or Pacific Trillium, Trillium Ovatum:
This is the last set of photos from this trip, perhaps a few too many, but after all it was a fairly long distance and a good day for scenery; also hopefully a feeling for the kind of scenery one comes across in an area like that.
This is a zoom shot taken from the same place as the previous photo, done to show the lookout cabin on Eddy Peak about ten miles away, across the Clark Fork valley and in an entirely different mountain range.
Oh, and the Beargrass are starting to bloom already in that area.
This set of photos was taken in the middle section of the trip, eight to nine miles from the gate. There were all kinds of signs of wildlife here. It’s quite wild country.
These are bear tracks that were made in some mud which has now dried. There was bear scat all over the whole extent of the road, especially after the first three miles from the gate. Upon arriving back home I thought it was pretty cool to have bear scat on my bike tires: that doesn’t happen every day!
It was here where I left the bike to hike the rest of the way. I just didn’t feel right running my tires over that beautiful green carpet!
The ridge top above the road just before the road ended. Not surprisingly, there was an animal trail going up the side of the clearing. I will revisit here come elk season!
In western Montana there are many miles of Forest Service roads that are no longer in normal service. Most of them began their lives for logging use many years ago and they have been kept in reasonably usable condition for emergencies and access for Forest Service projects but they have been closed to public motorized use. Some have many usable miles for hiking, mountain bike or horse access, as does Road 5587 which runs for about nine miles along the eastern border of the TeePee – Spring Creek Roadless area and KooKooSint Ridge.
My birthday present this year was a mountain bike. Its purpose is to expand my hiking capability by allowing me to use some of these old roads as access to back country areas far beyond the gates. After a little over a hundred miles of conditioning and familiarity runs during the last several weeks, today I gave it (and me) the first real test, riding eight miles out on road 5587 and hiking the remaining mile to its end. With the elevation of the road varying from 5000 feet to 5600 feet, the 18 miles included about 3000 feet of vertical climb. I’m glad I did some training before the trip!
Diamondback ~ Response
Getting into Montana’s back country is a pleasure that not everyone has a chance to experience and therefore I will post a series of photos that I took along the way, in three separate posts, hoping to show the scenery as it appeared to me today.
Looking out over the Clark Fork Valley.
Still a little snow on the lee side of the ridge.
The Coeur d’Alene Mountains in the background are still snow-capped.
The headwaters of Spring Creek.
Wildflowers in abundance on the ridges. These species have long finished blooming at the valley level.