Montana Outdoors

April 23, 2008

Maybe there’s too much food at the feeder!

Filed under: Birds, Montana, Nature, Outdoors, Photography, Photos, Pictures — Tags: — montucky @ 7:06 pm

Junco

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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.)

Technical difficulties

Filed under: Flowers, Montana, Spring — montucky @ 1:02 am

Spring here in western Montana has been delayed due to technical difficulties.

Tulips in snow

Tulip bud in snow

April 20, 2008

Crazy about Trilliums!

Trillium ovatum; Wake Robin; Birthroot.

These were photographed on April 18th. at about the 3,500 foot level along Munson Creek in western Montana’s Cabinet Mountains, inside the TeePee-Spring Creek roadless area. (As usual when I’m around wildflowers, I got carried away with the camera.)

Trillium ovatum

Trillium ovatum

Trillium ovatum

Trillium ovatum

Trillium ovatum

Trillium ovatum

Trillium ovatum

Trillium ovatum

It just didn’t seem right that these little flowers would live out their lives with no one at all to see them and appreciate their beauty!

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

April 18, 2008

Today’s surprise

The weather forecast for today called for rain and snow showers early and snow moving in after noon. Just the kind of day for a hike into Munson Creek in the eastern edge of the TeePee-Spring Creek roadless area!

At nine o’clock when I crossed footbridge over Munson Creek not far from the trailhead it started to sprinkle, then changed to light snow; maybe a little earlier than expected.

Munson Creek trail

A half mile up the trail and I just had to shoot one more buttercup. Actually I was thinking that farther on up the trail there would be no more flowers this early in the year.

Buttercup and Oregon grape leaves

Another mile and this yellowbell was growing along the trail. Those at the river level are past their prime now, their petals turning orange and falling off but this little guy is still green. What a difference altitude makes!

Yellowbell ready to bloom

The Munson Creek trail is quite aggressive during its first three miles and also during its last two. It starts at under 2,500 feet and ends at just under 7,000. The makers of my altimeter chose to display, just above the numbers, what they call a “graphic representation of altitude changes”. Here’s what it showed at mile three (a little over a thousand feet above the trailhead):

Altimeter

Between the third and fourth mile the trail rambles along through a beautiful grove of tall cedars, their leaves producing deep shade beneath. It’s good to know that in this roadless area they will be around for awhile!

Munson Creek cedars

Then, in this short section of trail where the canopy was missing overhead and the sun was able to penetrate

Munson Creek trail mile four

was today’s surprise: Trilliums! Out of three miles of trail, in this short 100 foot section only, several hundred were in full bloom! One more reminder that the only way to know what’s going on in the wild country is to get out there!

Trillium

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