Early in May I first visited Burgess Lake and it seemed like a good place to visit again today to perhaps see what spring was doing up there.
For some reason I had forgotten just how steep the little trail was and felt pretty happy that it was short. It’s not a great hike for those who have an aversion to “up”. It occurred to me that if you were to go into the main floor of a 40 story building, find the stairs and then climb them to the top you would find the exertion similar, although you’d need some very loose rock on the stairs and a few downed trees strewn across them to create a more accurate effect.
Today the ice that completely covered the lake in March was gone and the signs of spring were everywhere. This first view at the top of the trail
seemed like an invitation to visit the opposite end, which turned out to be serendipitous because on the way I encountered a Serviceberry which had just begun to show its first blossoms of the new spring.
Once at the other end, the view of the lake from there was also quite pleasant
and the high country above the lake still has not forgotten what winter is all about.
In my visit in March I discovered the first buttercups of this spring, and it seemed to fit that on today’s trip I would discover the first Shooting Stars of this year there too
including this unusual five-headed one.
I have to admit that I had another reason to visit the lake today and that was to find a Diamondback or two, but seeing the new flowers in bloom made up for the disappointment of finding out that the rattlers have not come out of their winter dens yet.
(Burgess Lake is located just above the lower Flathead River in western Montana about a hundred miles south of Glacier Park and is on the Flathead Indian Reservation.)
After a day in the 70’s yesterday, today was in the 40’s and a poncho was in order for hiking the trails, but this little Trillium didn’t mind the rain
and these (unknown) blossoms seemed to be doing just fine.
With warmer temperatures now and most of the snow off the roads, it again becomes ‘Wing time and so today the bike was on the road again for its 27th summer and believe me, the pilot’s seat never felt better! It was a short ride of only a hundred miles today, just for checking everything out and getting used to handling the big bike again.
The weather was great along the Clark Fork and the temperature finally reached the 70’s for the first time in seven months.
I would have ridden a little longer but I discovered that the road was closed. This is a minor highway that crosses a fairly low pass into the Idaho panhandle, and although the pass is only about 4,800 feet high, it receives a lot of snow. When they say the road is closed up there, they really mean it! Here is what it was like at about 3,900 feet, 3 or 4 miles short of the pass. You can imagine what Going to the Sun road in Glacier is like now!
While these machines were about to be worked hard to get the road open,
thousands of these little guys were starting their short summer lives in the high country. I was surprised to see them in an area where there was still 5 feet of snow on the ground.
The ‘Wing seemed to like the cooler temperatures near the pass, but maybe I could have used a jacket. There’s a lot of beautiful scenery to see from Montana’s highways and no better way to see that part of the state than from a big bike!
The members of the plant world aren’t the only ones displaying new blossoms this time of year. Here are a pair of proud parents parading with their new spring “buds” too.
These are the tulips that were stomped on by the snow six days ago when they were still buds. Nature’s resilience can be amazing!
These are mystery flowers. Each spring since we moved back here 15 years ago, these two little blue flowers bloom in the same spot, but only the two, the only ones I’ve ever seen anywhere. I have no idea what they are, although in some ways they look similar to Siberian squill, which is not native to Montana. They are not in a flower bed or a place where to my knowledge any flowers were ever planted, indeed it’s a place that would normally get foot traffic (a lawn area near the house). They are a little bit smaller than the spring yellowbells.
The Oregon Grape, mahonia repens, AKA creeping barberry, has begun to bloom here in western Montana despite the snow we’ve had nearly every night this week.
Its fruit consists of tiny light blue berries that can be made into great wine or delicious jelly. If you taste the berries right off the plant though, you will discover a brand new standard for the concept of sour!
More information is available by visiting the USDA Plants Profile and doing a search for it. This site doesn’t refer to it as Oregon Grape though: I guess the USDA doesn’t know it’s the state flower of Oregon.