Montana Outdoors

September 18, 2018

Sheep Gap fire; one year after

Filed under: wildfire — Tags: , , — montucky @ 9:58 pm

It has been a very hot and dry summer in these parts but now the weather has finally cooled off and it feels like the start of fall. After several months without a good hike because of the heat I decided yesterday to visit the area of the Sheep Gap fire which, during August and September of last year, consumed thirty eight square miles of heavy timber on steep mountainsides in the Coeur d’ Alene Mountains just south of here above the Clark Fork River. It was possible to drive on a Forest Service road for about four miles up into the burned area at which point it is closed to motorized vehicles. I then hiked for about four more miles past the barricade to get roughly into the center of the fire area to see what it looks like now. (This first picture was taken of that area last year when it was on fire:)

Sheep Gap Fire at night

The following pictures were taken yesterday during that hike and in them you can see the progress of the colonizing plants as they have begun to rejuvenate the land, the patches of grasses that somehow were able to survive, the sections of timber within the boundary of the fire that were relatively untouched, and wonderfully, the flowers that have been able to bloom already despite the devastation in the burn. The resilience of the forest is incredible!

Clark Fork Valley

Mullein

Sheep Gap fire

Asters

Arnica

Sheep Gap fire

Fireweed

Sheep Gap fire

Indian Paintgrush

Sheep Gap fire

Yarrow

Sheep Gap fire

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September 7, 2018

Happy dog

Filed under: Animals — Tags: , — montucky @ 8:35 pm

Happy dog

At Corona Lake. Buster is loading up his feet with black mud so he can redecorate the Jeep.

August 19, 2018

Fire season, 2018

Filed under: Wildland fires — Tags: , , , — montucky @ 11:31 am

Until August 10 the 2018 wildfire season had not brought any fires to the local area here in northwest Montana but at about 2:30 on Friday afternoon that changed with a fire start in a small house trailer that quickly spread, burning it, two vehicles, a shed, and a propane tank before proceeding into the timber and running uphill toward other homes. Fortunately there were considerable resources available from many different fire agencies and with their hard work and amazing cooperation this fire was gotten under control fairly quickly without the loss of other homes in the fire perimeter.

Some day I would like to get some pictures (or better yet, video) of an initial attack on a fire, but there’s always so many urgent and critical things to do that there’s no time to take pictures. On this fire I responded with our local Rural Fire Department and drove a water tender. Once the fire was mostly under control after the second day I took a few pictures of the tender. The last one was not one of my pictures, but it showed the tender while I was waiting for a road to be cleared up to one of the homes to provide structure protection not long after the fire started.

The truck in the photos is a type 1 tactical water tender, which means that in addition to delivering water, it has the capacity to perform direct attack on a fire, including pump and roll ability. This one is very maneuverable while still carrying 3,000 gallons (12 tons) of water. It is 10 feet high and about 26 feet in length.

Water tender at Weeksville Fire

Water tender at Weeksville Fire

Weeksville fire

Water tender at Weeksville Fire

Water tender at Weeksville Fire

Water tender at Weeksville Fire

Water tender at Weeksville Fire

Water tender at Weeksville Fire

July 26, 2018

Spring Creek in late summer

Spring Creek

Spring Creek

Spring Creek

As usual for this time of year, the bed of Spring Creek in the TeePee/Spring Creek Roadless Area is dry at the trail head, but cold, robust and cascading down it’s canyon just a mile up the trail.

July 25, 2018

Pipsissewa

Filed under: Wildflowers — Tags: , , — montucky @ 7:52 pm

Pipsissewa

Pipsissewa

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Pisissewa, Prince-of-Pine ~ chimaphilia umbellata

Blooming in July and August, Pipsissewa flowers are in clusters of 3 to 10 at the top of its stem, but the flowers always face down toward the earth. It is common across most of the northern US and Canada, but because the flowers always face down I suspect they are often overlooked.

July 22, 2018

Porcupine

Filed under: Animals, Montana — Tags: , , — montucky @ 3:02 pm

Porcupine

Porcupine ~ erethizon dorsatum

While they used to be plentiful in this region, Porcupines are pretty scarce now. This is one of my favorite pictures from back in 2008. He was hiding pretty well, wasn’t he!

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