Montana Outdoors

July 11, 2006

Where they live

Filed under: Animals, Montana, Outdoors, Photos, Pictures — montucky @ 3:19 pm

Mid July through late August is huckleberry season in northwestern Montana and the folks who live here spend a lot of quality time in their pursuit, so I’ve spent the last few days doing just that. As with most outdoor activities around here, there are side benefits to everything one starts out to do.

Sunday afternoon as I was headed up a little road toward a trail head leading to a lookout I had to stop the Jeep to allow mother Ruffed grouse to clear her seven new chicks off the road. As I waited and watched, it occurred to me that I hadn’t run across a bear yet this summer. So many times the thought precedes the event, and this was another one of those times. Another few miles, another three thousand feet of elevation, and a big black bear boar entered the road just ahead, ambling down from the slope on the right. What a beautiful critter: his coat was jet black and the rubbed areas from his winter den had completely been replaced with long shiny black hair. There was a tinge of brown along the ridge of his back, giving it a “halo” effect from the angle of the sun.

Most days I can stalk to within camera range of the flora around here, but usually not the fauna. This guy was adamant about not having his picture taken, and loped up the road ahead causing little puffs of dust to rise from Forest Service road 875 as he slapped his big feet down. The best I could do was to snap a picture from his front porch. This is the view from his home that he sees every day:

Bear's front porch

Yesterday I left the bear in peace and entered some high country about twenty miles away from that encounter. This time there were two missions: pick some berries, which I did, and get a picture of some kinnikinnik. The side benefit this time was getting a good look at the largest Cougar I’ve ever seen. I’d estimate him and over 150 lbs and just the length of his tail was close to four feet. How beautiful! While he was very close, he was also too shy for a photo, but here’s what he looks each day at from his picture window:

Home of the cat

Every time I go out it seems something takes me back to the natural setting of The Sun Singer. This time it was Kinninnick, and I captured a picture of a large representative clump of it growing at an elevation of about 6500 feet. The bright red berries won’t appear for another few weeks, but the leaves are a beautiful shiny green.

Kinnikinnik

Lodgepole pines are mentioned many times in The Sun Singer, and Seth also used them as a setting in Song of an Untamed Land. For those not familiar with lodgepole pines, here’s a picture of a stand of them:

Lodgepole pine

Finally, just because I thought they were pretty, here are some Harebells Campanula rotundifolia growing at the edge of some Kinnikinnik:

Harebells

Would anyone like to go pick some huckleberries?

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