Montana Outdoors

June 25, 2007

Baldy Mountain roadless area

Hot day? Here’s what the trail up Mount Baldy looked like this morning at about 7,000 feet:

Mount Baldy

Mount Baldy FS road

Mount Baldy trail

From Mount Baldy trail

Mount Baldy trail

Mount Baldy trail

Photographed from within the Baldy Mountain roadless area on USFS trail 340, Cabinet Mountains, Western Montana. (This area would be protected under the Wilderness Bill HR 1975.)

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June 24, 2007

A special design

Nature has even designed a special tree for the high country where the winter brings large amounts of snow. The design helps it to easily shed snow without breaking branches. This one is growing in the Cherry Peak roadless area at about 6,500 feet.

Subalpine fir (abies lasiocarpa)
Subalpine fir abies lasiocarpa

June 23, 2007

Views from the top

Here are a few views from the Sacajawea Peak area. These were taken from Sacajawea’s sister, Sunset Peak, because Sacajawea is heavily timbered all the way to the top on its West side.

It seems that the path to a castle is always guarded by a dragon, and Sunset has its own dragon perpetually on duty:

The Dragon

For those who conquer the dragon, it’s still another hundred feet or so to the top and its 360º views. (Yes, I did add one more small rock to the top of the pile. It is interesting to note that there was no trace of writing or initials or anything not completely natural anywhere in the area, nor did I see even one piece of litter on the entire trail.)

the top

The view to the Northwest: These are the Northern slopes of the West half of the Cherry Peak roadless area.

Cherry Peak roadless area, North slope

Essentially the same photo but with zoom to show the Eddy Mountain Lookout (6,957 ft) at the West end of the area. (6 miles)

Eddy Mountain Lookout

North: The Teepee-Spring Creek roadless area and Big Hole Peak (6,922 ft) past the Clark Fork River valley. (9 miles)

Teepee-Spring Creek roadless area

Northeast: Baldy Mountain (7,464 ft) in the Baldy Mountain roadless area. (15 miles)

Mount Baldy in the Baldy roadless area

East: The small town of Plains in the distance (10 miles). On the right side, Patrick’s Knob (6,837 ft) in the Patricks Knob roadless area can be seen. (13 miles)

Plains Montana

South-southwest: Sacajawea Peak(6,679 ft) on the right side (1 mile), Bitterroot Mountains in the distance, center (25 miles)

Sacajawea Peak

West: East half of Cherry Peak roadless area, Penrose Peak (7,231 ft) and Cherry Peak (7,226 ft)

Cherry Peak roadless area

June 22, 2007

Sacajawea Peak trail

Sacajawea Peak, elevation 6,619 ft., sits at the Southeast corner of the Cherry Peak roadless area in the Coeur d’Alene Mountains in Western Montana. The Cherry Peak area has been closed to motorized vehicles for a long time, but the great guardian of our wild country, the U.S. Forest Service, now has plans to open all of it to snowmobile use and to open two of the ten creeks whose headwaters are in the area to new logging ventures, thus destroying the wilderness characteristics of the entire 35 square mile area. Utilizing the same damned poor logging techniques now being used just East of this area, in a year or so there will be a myriad of new road scars and bare mountainsides in this area which is now covered with lush forest and one more piece of wilderness will be gone forever. The Wilderness Bill, HR 1975, is designed to protect areas like this. It is now in committee in the House of Representatives.

My hike to Sacajawea Peak began here at the start of F.S. trail 385 at an elevation of 5,000 ft. (What the sign doesn’t mention is that trail 398 begins after about 7 to 8 miles of tough hiking.)

Sacajawea Peak trailhead

Half a mile and nearly a thousand feet higher up the trail is a rest spot. Apparently a few years ago one of the guys who cleared the trail also had a sense of humor.

Rest stop

The beargrass blossoms are exceptionally large in this area for some reason.

Common beargrass blossom

Common beargrass blossom

This is what the trail looks like winding up through an old-growth forest. (If you choose to go to Flickr and view this photo in its original size, it will give you a glimpse of what a tremendous feeling it is to hike here. Just click on the photo and that will take you to Flickr. Then click on “all sizes” just above the photo. Select “Original size”.)

Trail 385 to Sacajawea Peak

In heavily wooded areas like this it isn’t always easy to see out of the trees, It usually takes a major feature in the terrain to make the long views available. At 5,900 feet I found a large outcrop and a cliff about 300 feet high that looked out toward the North and East, making these views available. (That’s the edge of the cliff in the immediate foreground.)

Scene from Sacajawea Peak area

Clark Fork Valley

The valley floor is 3,500 feet below.

Clark Fork Valley

The peak is another couple of miles and 700 feet farther up. The next post will include photos from its top.

June 21, 2007

Coyote

On a hike today, as I was nearing Sacajawea Peak I caught a glimpse of motion quite a distance ahead of me on the trail and just had time to get the camera into action to catch this guy. I sure wish I could have gotten closer, but he didn’t get that big by not being alert and cautious.

I got three shots of him, all hand-held at 12X, then cropped them to give a good look at one truly beautiful coyote. It was obvious from the scat he left laying around that he has been eating mostly rabbits (I have seen quite a few Showshoes in the area), and he’s in an area remote enough (about 5 miles from the nearest road) to be quite safe from humans. He has a good life.

The first photo I’ve posted is the original size at 12X. The next is a crop of it, then the next two are just cropped versions of the other two shots. My wife was a little spooked by the last one: that is an intense look!

Coyote

Coyote

Coyote

Coyote

June 20, 2007

Firewood perk

One of the many things I like about heating our home with a wood burning stove is that I get to go to places like this to cut firewood.

Nine Mile Canyon
Nine Mile Canyon. Photo taken from upper Siegel Creek.

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