Montana Outdoors

May 7, 2007

Mountains from afar

Sometimes we seem to be prone to overlooking the obvious. While waiting for enough snow to melt in the high country that I could get up there to take some photos from within some of the existing roadless areas, I’ve largely ignored the fact that sometimes it may be just as well to see them from afar.

With that thought in mind, here are a few photos of the mountains inside two of those areas in the Cabinet Mountains of Montana taken from a distance. These mountains and these areas would receive wilderness designation with the passage of the Wilderness bill H.R. 1975.

This is Mount Baldy (7,464 ft) in the Baldy Mountain roadless area looking just about due east from Weeksville Divide. This is a fairly small area of 6,482 acres (10.1 square miles) and it starts about 1 ½ miles to the left of the peak, and extends roughly 2 ½ miles to the right, 1 mile below and 2 miles on the far side.

Mt Baldy

From the same place, looking north-north east, Thompson Peak (7,460 ft) in the south half of the McGregor – Thompson roadless area can be seen in this photo:

Thompson Peak

This area consists of 27,210 acres, or 42.5 square miles. The slopes below it have already been pretty heavily logged, as can be seen in the white patches of snow in the foreground.

A wider view also shows Little Thompson Peak (7,029 ft) slightly to the left of Thompson Peak. Just below these peaks, there is a beautiful spring that gushes out of the mountainside and gives birth to the north fork of the Little Thompson River.

Thompson Peak and Little Thompson Peak

Locating and understanding the outlines of these areas is possible thanks to what has become one of my favorite websites, the Roadless Area Database. This site was created by Nelson Guda who is a photographer, biologist, scientific film-maker, and the associate director of the Environmental Science Institute at the University of Texas at Austin.

It‘s an incredible piece of work and allows the viewer to locate roadless areas by state, by National Forest, and by area, and allows the data to be displayed in a road map format, a topographic map format or a satellite image format.

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