Montana Outdoors

April 19, 2008

Bighorns and Dog-toothed Violets

With a severe spring snow storm moving in, the temperature sitting steady at 34 degrees and a light drizzle going on outside, today looked like a great day to sit in the living room by the fire.

So, as I placed my camera and pack in the Jeep, I wondered what Mother Nature would show me today in Her back country in the snow: I was sure that whatever it was would be infinitely better than whatever would be on TV. I chose an old familiar trail that started out just a few miles from home, drove to the trailhead and started hiking.

After about an hour and a half on the trail I had climbed above the rain and into the snow zone and took this photo. Most folks would say it is a terrible photo, and perhaps they’re right. It’s nearly monotone, one can barely make out the subject, and there are white spots in front of everything; just terrible. But there’s also the matter of how you look at it. Now if what you really wanted was a photo of a full-curl Rocky Mountain Bighorn ram standing in a heavy spring snowstorm on a cliff 300 feet above you looking down and watching you photograph Glacier Lilies, then it becomes a very beautiful photo indeed!

Bighorn ram in a spring snowstorm

Oh, and the Glacier Lilies (AKA Dog-toothed Violets)? Well, here’s how they looked today with a few melted snowflakes adorning their petals:

Glacier Lily

Glacier Lily

Glacier Lily


  1. the pictures are nice; I really like the ones of the glacier lily! I have to tell you though that the neighborhood kids were in the pool today! (though they did admit it was pretty cold!) I think if I was your way, I would have to sit by the fire and wait for these beautiful picts to be brought back by some brave soul who loves to hike in the snow! ๐Ÿ™‚


    Comment by silken — April 19, 2008 @ 9:53 pm

  2. There wasn’t much swimming going on in Montana today, silken. At the moment it’s 31ยบ and snowing hard, building up on the ground and trees. My son was about 90 miles west of here today and returned early so he didn’t get caught in the snow. It snowed 4 inches in 2 hours there and was still going strong when he left.


    Comment by montucky — April 19, 2008 @ 10:03 pm

  3. Now I really liked the ram photo right of the bat – I thought all the snow actually highlighted the subject beautifully!


    Comment by Sandy — April 19, 2008 @ 11:21 pm

  4. the last two are simply gorgeous…


    Comment by Sumedh — April 20, 2008 @ 4:38 am

  5. The lilies are marvelous, but it still amazes me how many of your photos, the sheep most recently, look like post-impressionist paintings. I think the snow adds to the effect.


    Comment by Pinhole — April 20, 2008 @ 7:46 am

  6. Sandy,

    I liked the snow too. Of course, the zoom caught lots of snowflakes, but that’s what I wanted. A few more and there wouldn’t have been anything but snow!


    Comment by montucky — April 20, 2008 @ 8:21 am

  7. Sumedh,

    Those are really pretty spring flowers which grow only in the mountains of 11 western states. They are about 3/4 inch across. They were quite unexpected in that spot.


    Comment by montucky — April 20, 2008 @ 8:23 am

  8. Mother Nature created the painting effect, Pinhole. The photo did capture exactly the essence of what I wanted though. It was difficult to get because I had to retreat right up next to the trunk of a fir tree to get enough shelter to keep the snow off my lens and even with the 2.5 inch LCD I didn’t know for sure what I had until I got home. Then I almost deleted it when it occurred to me that it was exactly what I had tried for.


    Comment by montucky — April 20, 2008 @ 8:31 am

  9. I think it’s a pretty fine monotone photo. Captures a great mood.


    Comment by Bo — April 20, 2008 @ 9:33 am

  10. Yes, I think it does capture the mood. I only wish it could show the rest of the cliff and the small stream below. There’s only so much one can do with a camera.


    Comment by montucky — April 20, 2008 @ 9:41 am

  11. While I’m kind of “in to” color right now, meaning of course, that I really LOVE the photos of the flowers, I must admit that the photo of the ram is quite beautiful too. The snow gives the impression that the photo is “etched” or “embossed” in some way. I think, too, that to have seen this ram so curious about what you were doing to the point of not taking off must have “felt” wonderful. I’m not sure what word to use … humble, excited … ?

    Great photos!

    Just to let you know too, your hiking and your photos have truly inspired me to “get out there!” I realize how much I miss all the hiking I used to do, well, I’m proud to say, I’ve started in again! Thanks for setting up your blog!


    Comment by Janet Wilkins — April 20, 2008 @ 9:43 am

  12. It sure is difficult to express the feeling of seeing wild critters like the ram. They are awesome to watch and I have a special feeling anyway about the Bighorns. Most of all it makes me determined to do everything I can to help make sure there there will always be a place for them to live wild.

    I’m so glad to hear you’ve started getting out there again! I almost always find that there is a pleasant reward for getting out, even in the worst weather, and it can be done so simply and at one’s own pace. I guess that’s why I tend to go out alone nearly all of the time: I don’t have to keep to a schedule or a plan and can do as much or little as I want. There’s always something fascinating waiting.


    Comment by montucky — April 20, 2008 @ 10:29 am

  13. I love the picture of the ram, it tells a story all its own. The dog toothed violets are beautiful as well. But it is the expression the ram has that I really like. “What is that crazy human doing?!” *smile*


    Comment by katkmeanders — April 20, 2008 @ 11:25 pm

  14. That’s probably about what he was thinking all right. He wasn’t too concerned though because a little later I saw him lie down and settle in to wait for the snow to stop.


    Comment by montucky — April 21, 2008 @ 8:04 am

  15. Really pretty shots – I ran into a a few of these lilies myself but the stamens were red… hum… (same species tho cuz I looked it up and they can vary from white to red) meanwhile, I loved the ram shot. I heard rumors of an area that they are located around here however, each time I go to the area I just run into bald eagles & redtailed hawks. (Which are a cool find as well.) Maybe I look up too much? ๐Ÿ™‚ Brilliant work!


    Comment by aullori — April 21, 2008 @ 12:56 pm

  16. There are usually lots of the Glacier Lilies around here but I’ve only seen these few so far this year. They must be just starting. There are plenty of sheep in this area for some reason and I’ll never get tired of seeing them. An area with eagles and hawks is pretty darn good too! I’d take it!


    Comment by montucky — April 21, 2008 @ 1:25 pm

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