Montana Outdoors

August 14, 2008

Reservation Divide 2

The sights and tastes of the wild country. (One often hears the phrase “the sights and sounds“, but as autumn approaches, emphasis can shift.)

For several hundred years this old tree has looked out over the Nine Mile valley from Reservation Divide. I wonder about all of the sights it has seen; and also wonder if it would consider all that has changed to be progress.

Reservation Divide

As it passes through some of the more open areas along the ridge, trail 98 is nearly covered by huckleberry bushes, one reason why this area is a favorite of the bears. In places, the bushes are waist high allowing the berries to be picked without even bending over. (The bears aren’t the only ones gaining weight from eating huckleberries this summer.)

Reservation Divide trail No. 98

This year’s huckleberry crop is one of the very best. They are very large and numerous: many are 3/8 inch across. These berries are perhaps the most popular fruit that grows in Montana: currently they sell for $40 a gallon. Here are a few on the bush

Huckleberries

and here are some I brought home in a container I always have in my pack. This is just over a pound. There are several varieties of berries. One is dark purple when ripe and red when not quite ripe yet. The red ones in my container are ripe, but just belong to another variety which is red when ripe.

Huckleberries

Back in May and June, Oregon grapes were in bloom, providing bright yellow blossoms to brighten up the landscape.

Oregon grape blossoms

Now that they are ripe, the tiny berries are blue and certainly one of the most sour tastes in all of nature.

Oregon grapes

In the spring along streams springs or small seeps of water in the narrow canyons of the high country, the Thimbleberry blossoms, because of their size as well as the size and shape of the leaves, could be seen at long distances.

Thimbleberry blossoms

Now they are ripening and provide a real taste treat for the traveler.

Thimbleberries

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