Montana Outdoors

April 22, 2008

A mile apart

Spring Creek trail (USFS trail 370), April 22nd.

Spring Creek

Where Spring Creek flows through the deep shade from the ridges just to the south and the cedars overhead, the look of winter remains as the spray from a small cascade coats the overhanging branches with ice.

Ice on Spring Creek

Yup, those are my snowshoe tracks made today on this section of trail. It doesn’t look like it in the photo, but the snow is still four feet deep on the sides of the canyon.

Snowshoe tracks

Yet, a mile downstream where the canyon opens up a little, letting in what little sun there has been this spring, this shrub is sending up its bright new buds toward the light, full of hope for the new spring

Spring buds

and the Glacier Lilies are reaching the summer of their short lives in their homes along the south slopes.

Glacier Lily

Somehow, Nature has it all figured out.

(Spring Creek originates in the TeePee-Spring Creek roadless area in the Cabinet Mountains of western Montana and flows in a southerly direction toward the Clark Fork River. Shortly below where these photos were taken however, the stream goes underground and disappears. It’s a rather eerie sensation while hiking down after being accustomed to the sound of the gurgling water to suddenly encounter complete silence near the mouth of the canyon.)


  1. I think it’s fabulous you pulled out your snowshoes again! (Tho you may not be happy about it) However, the contrast, and isn’t nature so full of them, really is shown through such a journey. Amazing. The part that is wild is I will finally be able to get up about fifty more feet above where the snow line was yesterday and things are already growing. Really mind blowing stuff. Great shots!


    Comment by aullori — April 23, 2008 @ 12:33 am

  2. I am always amazed by the contrasts that you show us, from winter to spring then back to winter. This also reveals the contrast from mid-country mountains to east, low level coastal country.

    It appears to me at least, that winter is just not quite ready to “let go” in your area whereas in mine, our temperatures are already reaching upper 70s and, on occasion, low 80s! This is a “phenomenon” of spring in New England, that is, we rarely get a “full” spring, instead jumping from winter to summer in a matter of a couple of weeks!

    (That’s why we New Englanders complain about the weather all the time. Have you heard our saying? “If you don’t like the weather, just wait a minute!”) 😀


    Comment by Janet Wilkins — April 23, 2008 @ 5:35 am

  3. Lori,

    I know what you mean about plants growing at the snow line. Yesterday it was remarkable to see tiny plants (most noticeable yesterday Glacier Lilies) maybe a couple of inches tall right next to the snow banks as though they were pushing the snow away. There’s another plant there that looks like it will just explode soon and I don’t know what it is, so I’ll have to keep checking. We need about six more hours of daylight this time of year!


    Comment by montucky — April 23, 2008 @ 8:54 am

  4. Quite the contrast between the snowshoe shot and the flowers, which you captured beautifully.


    Comment by Adam R. Paul — April 23, 2008 @ 8:58 am

  5. Janet,

    Yes, the mountains certainly do create a diverse climate zone during the changing of seasons. The upper 70’s and 80’s doesn’t even sound good to us here: that would be far too hot!

    I do love the changes. One day last week the sun came out for a bit and it was so warm I took off my jacket: about 10 minutes later a breeze blew in from a snowfield across the river and I put it back on in a hurry!

    Sounds like you have summer already!


    Comment by montucky — April 23, 2008 @ 9:00 am

  6. Adam,

    Yes, I found that interesting too: the photos were about an hour apart.


    Comment by montucky — April 23, 2008 @ 9:01 am

  7. These are beautiful pictures. I’ve only ever seen forest like it in the Otway National Park, Victoria, Australia. As for the icicles – they’re great. I’ve seen similar ones in the northern English countryside around waterfalls. One thing I want to know as a Briton though – are there any bears in the area which you photographed here?


    Comment by Linda — April 24, 2008 @ 11:45 am

  8. Thanks for visiting, Linda!

    Yes, black bears are plentiful in this area: I’ve seen them there many times. There are also a few grizzlies living a few miles away in the higher country. As a matter of fact, on this trip, there were scratch marks from a bear’s claws on a big Ponderosa pine along the trail (they will often scratch certain trees as a message to other bears in the area) that I measured at 9 feet 1 inch from the ground which is too tall for a black bear.


    Comment by montucky — April 24, 2008 @ 12:00 pm

  9. Those first to shots are really cool. Nature is truly resilient and despite all of the carp we do, it will survive (to a point of course).


    Comment by scienceguy288 — April 24, 2008 @ 4:09 pm

  10. That is really a beautiful little canyon, and receives very few visitors each year. It’s part of the wild country that we desperately need to protect and save for future generations. Besides oxygen from the plant life and pure water, there is so much more we receive from such places.


    Comment by montucky — April 24, 2008 @ 5:31 pm

  11. These are just too beautiful. I love the Spring Creek trail photo.


    Comment by nouveaufauves — April 25, 2008 @ 10:23 pm

  12. You would love that trail, or at least the first part of it. It is sheltered under a canopy formed by cedars and firs with a few big pines and the sound of the stream is wonderful to hear. I haven’t hiked the whole trail yet, but I will if the snow ever melts. It starts out at a little less that 3,000 feet and after 5 or 6 miles meets another trail that I have been on at about 6,500 feet, then proceeds on up to a place I visit every year, the Big Hole Lookout. I’m really looking forward to hiking the length of it in late may or June, probably a two day trip. It’s great country, seldom visited, and full of wildlife.


    Comment by montucky — April 26, 2008 @ 8:27 am

  13. […] Glacier Lily Before A Departure in Spring […]


    Pingback by april, come she will « seeking spirit — April 30, 2008 @ 7:15 pm

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