Montana Outdoors

August 31, 2007


Looks pretty enough: who’d know it’s poisonous? Tanacetum vulgare


It’s also non-native, having come from Europe. Now, exactly how this one made it all the way to the high ridge near the top of Patrick’s Knob is a mystery to me!

August 30, 2007

Fall colors

The leaves are beginning to turn color already in the high country of Western Montana. These photos were taken just over a ridge north of the Patrick’s Knob roadless area where the color change seems to be more advanced than in most other areas. Lots of reds and oranges, but the yellows haven’t really started yet. It’s a great time to be outdoors!

Fall colors

Fall colors

Fall colors

Fall colors

August 29, 2007

Weeksville Divide: views from the high country

In the wild setting of the East slope of Bighole Peak, spending six hours on the trail is well worthwhile, at least for me.

My companion to the East was my old friend Mount Baldy:

Mount Baldy

To the Northeast and across a small valley was the one hundred and fifty square miles of the Chippy Creek fire. As you look at the mountains against the skyline, all but the one to the far right were burned in the fire.

Chippy creek fire area

To the Southeast lies the valley in which the small town of Plains is located.


Also to the Southeast the red hillside in the distance is an open ridge covered with huckleberry bushes which have already turned color.


This photo looks back down the divide itself, where the trail is hidden in the trees.

Big Hole mountains

August 28, 2007

Trail 345W, the trail itself

Trail 345W is a U.S. Forest Service primitive foot trail which runs from the point where U.S.F.S. road 887 crosses the Weeksville Divide, follows up the divide itself to just below the old lookout atop Bighole Peak, a distance of four to five miles with an increase in altitude of about two thousand feet. It is within the TeePee-Spring Creek roadless area in western Montana’s Cabinet Mountains.

It’s a beautiful route for someone experienced in the back country, but I wouldn’t recommend it for a novice because there are several places where it would be very easy to lose the trail. Most of the route is well blazed (though some of the blazes are very old and difficult to see), but there are gaps that I don’t understand. At one place it took me about twenty minutes to figure out where the real trail was.

Here’s what a new blaze looks like:

Blaze marks

An older blaze (several years):

Blaze marks, old

And a very old blaze (maybe 50 years):

Blaze marks, very old

The trail looks quite flat on a map and fairly flat in these photos, but has a tendency to stand right up on end in several sections.

Along Trail 345W

Along Trail 345W

Along Trail 345W

At a later time I’ll post some photos of the views from the higher reaches of T345W.

Let the colors begin

The colors of fall are just beginning to show now in Montana’s high country. Reds are getting an early start.

Fall colors

(Photo taken along F.S. Trail 345 near the top of Bighole Peak in the Teepee-Spring Creek roadless area in the Cabinet Mountains of western Montana. Mount Baldy in the background.)



August 27, 2007

Nature’s leaf garden

Across a canyon from the blackened mountain sides of the Chippy Creek fire scene, and four thousand feet up the other side this leaf garden is going through a normal season’s change of colors. Life goes on as usual in the wild country.

Nature's leaf garden

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