Montana Outdoors

January 15, 2007

A River of Ice

Filed under: Montana, Nature, Outdoors, Photography, Photos, Pictures — montucky @ 9:06 pm

The Clark Fork River flowing just below where I live doesn’t freeze over, but the Flathead River does; in a way. Here are some photos taken this morning of a section of it about 160 miles downstream from its headwaters in Glacier Park. At this point, the river narrows and provides the potential of forming an ice dam which covers its entire width.

Flathead in winter 1

Several miles upstream, there are large sections where the river spreads out and the surface is calmer, allowing ice to form. Then pieces like this break loose and float on down into the narrow section.

Flathead in winter 2

Here, a half mile below where the first photo was taken, the ice chunks ram together and bridge across the entire width of the river.

Flathead in winter 3

One often hears of “whitecaps” created on a body of water by the wind. Here are some created by the cold:

Flathead in winter 4

Some of these blocks of ice are fairly good size. The nearly vertical one in the next photo is roughly 5 feet long and 4 inches thick. While trying to get close enough to take this picture, I stepped out onto the ice and my left foot inadvertently found a thin pocket of ice and broke through. I pulled my foot back out of the water and, while saying a soft “Thank you!” to the inventor of Gore-Tex, watched the water on my boot freeze almost instantly upon contact with the air.

Flathead in winter 5
For the next section of about a mile in length, the Flathead literally becomes a river of ice.

Flathead in winter 6

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