Montana Outdoors

January 27, 2008

A contrast

In the middle of winter, while it’s nice to contemplate the beauty of all the snow and ice, it’s also enjoyable to occasionally reflect on what this cold world will be like once summer returns again.

The first two photos that follow were taken last Thursday, of Mount Baldy, a 7,464 foot high mountain near here with its cold cap of deep snow. As much as I’d like to be up there right now, I can’t be: for the time being, it’s prime avalanche country.

Mount Baldy

Mount Baldy

Last June, the mountain looked quite different than now and here are a few photos taken then, on the 26th to be exact, when, instead of longingly looking at it from below, I was able to view it from the top.

At the very peak the stack of rocks still remains which formed the base of a lookout tower, built not long after the turn of the century and replaced by a newer one years later. Both are now long gone, having been replaced by aircraft surveillance flights throughout the fire season. During the last year’s fire season, three temporary communications towers were in place near the ruins.

Mount Baldy, top

In fact, the trail to the top was created so pack strings of horses and mules could take the necessary material up for the tower’s construction and maintenance. Now it’s maintained by the Forest Service as a primitive hiking trail through the Baldy Mountain roadless area. (The mountains at the horizon are part of the Bitterroot range, 40-some miles to the south.)

Mount Baldy trail

Southeast of the peak, the trail winds past Baldy Lake. How I’d love to visit there this time of year, but that will have to wait until spring, probably mid to late May. In the mean time, the memories and the photos will have to suffice.

Baldy Lake

14 Comments »

  1. Always nice to look at pictures of your backyard, Montucky!

    Regardless of season!

    Like

    Comment by Pinhole — January 27, 2008 @ 6:11 pm

  2. Thanks, Pinhole! The old back yard is a mess today though. Temps in the single digits and below were forecast, but what we got was freezing rain and tonight, heavy fog. Not much good for getting out or taking pictures. Today was just stay inside, hope my pager doesn’t go off again and reminisce about the days with much better weather.

    Like

    Comment by montucky — January 27, 2008 @ 7:16 pm

  3. Wonderful photos. Makes me long for summer hiking.
    Was -9 here this morning and only warmed up to 7 degrees. Brrr.

    Like

    Comment by ak_adventurer — January 27, 2008 @ 7:38 pm

  4. Yes, I’m longing for summer hiking again too. These conditions make it very difficult, especially getting to a trail head. Around here in winter it’s nearly impossible to get to the trails, or most of them anyway. I don’t like the sub-zero stuff, but I’d rather have the single digit temps than the freezing rain.

    Like

    Comment by montucky — January 27, 2008 @ 8:14 pm

  5. Handsome images, especially the last. Nice writing as well. I wish it were colder here around Boston – instead it’s slushy. And no beautiful mountains like these!

    Like

    Comment by tomwhelan — January 27, 2008 @ 9:44 pm

  6. Thank you for the visit and the kind words, tomwhelan! I agree that colder trumps slushy, except in the late spring.

    Like

    Comment by montucky — January 27, 2008 @ 10:14 pm

  7. Beautiful images as always, montucky. I see that Mt. Baldy is about 2000 ft. taller than New England’s tallest mountain (Mt. Washington). I can also see why you’re not hiking up there, I believe I see that avalanche just waiting to happen! Normally, I’d prefer less slush too, like tomwhelan but, today, I’m taking my mother to Mass General’s Eye and Ear in Boston. She has lost some vision in one eye in particular and she’s an artist. It’s always devastating to lose vision but I think that is particularly so as a person who depends so much on observation! Wish us luck! And, again, I so enjoy your photos.

    Like

    Comment by Janet Wilkins — January 28, 2008 @ 6:33 am

  8. itchy feet eh?

    I heard on the news that montana is going to be 30 below, is that really possible???!!!

    Like

    Comment by silken — January 28, 2008 @ 8:00 am

  9. Janet,

    I certainly do wish your mother the best of luck! She will be in my thoughts!

    Like

    Comment by montucky — January 28, 2008 @ 12:27 pm

  10. silken,

    Yes, it can get that cold. I remember getting to work one morning about 10 years ago and there was a thermometer outside one of the windows in our production area: it read -33º.

    The current cold front here will probably come down through the eastern part of the state, so it’s around 400 – 500 miles from here.

    While those temperatures are uncomfortable, they are quite necessary in these parts to help keep the natural balance. We need a number of days at those low temperatures to control the populations of many of the insects, for example the pine beetles which, because of many recent mild winters, are killing huge numbers of trees, and which, in turn, increases the severity of wild fires.

    Like

    Comment by montucky — January 28, 2008 @ 12:33 pm

  11. OK… I REALLY want to go hiking there. Your photos are so beautiful.

    Like

    Comment by winterwoman — January 29, 2008 @ 7:15 am

  12. You would especially like this hike. From the top the view is 360º and the horizon, defined by the next tall mountain range is somewhere around 40 miles away. From the trail head to the top is about 3 miles and starts at 6,000 feet, and it’s beautiful all the way. I’ve often thought that if each person in the world could spend a day there completely alone as I do, this would soon be a very different world!

    Like

    Comment by montucky — January 29, 2008 @ 10:26 am

  13. Beautiful images Terry 🙂

    Like

    Comment by Bernie Kasper — January 30, 2008 @ 4:32 pm

  14. Thanks, Bernie! They are of places I really love!

    Like

    Comment by montucky — January 30, 2008 @ 4:37 pm


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