Montana Outdoors

February 12, 2009

In search of a trail

Today I spent a few hours searching for the lower end of the Fourteen Mile trail (USFS trail 1714), with little luck except to find several great locations where it isn’t.

This icefall along the highway was rather pretty though


and I enjoyed seeing an eagle soaring above a sharp ridge in the Patrick’s Knob roadless area,


jumping a dozen head of elk on this rocky hillside above the river,

Rocky ridge

and admiring the winter-green water of the Clark Fork flowing between its ice-caked banks.

 Clark Fork River

I’ll find that trail yet before spring: it’s still going to be a long winter.



  1. I’m surprised that the rocky hillside isn’t snow covered. We don’t have a square foot of land here in the Adirondacks that isn’t carrying a lot of snow this year. The open water on the river is especially welcome sight to see!


    Comment by Cedar — February 13, 2009 @ 5:49 am

  2. Cedar,

    You have had much more snow than we have this winter, although we have a pretty good snow pack above 6,000 feet.

    That is a south-facing slope at a fairly low elevation (2,600 feet) and is nearly perpendicular to the sun in late winter, letting what sun we have melt the snow. The deer and elk will be found on those slopes where they can find food: that mechanism is about the only thing that saves them during heavy winters. The snow is still deep on the north slopes and in the draws, and gets deeper at the higher elevations.


    Comment by montucky — February 13, 2009 @ 9:13 am

  3. That icefall is amazing!!!


    Comment by Sumedh Prasad — February 13, 2009 @ 9:27 am

  4. Sumedh,

    It’s there every winter and can be seen for miles. It’s 60 – 80 feet tall.


    Comment by montucky — February 13, 2009 @ 10:26 am

  5. Sometimes you find more in the searching than you do in the finding.

    Wow – got all philosophical there, didn’t I?


    Comment by wolf — February 13, 2009 @ 10:30 am

  6. Wolf, I wish you were someone famous: that would be a great quote! (And to think you’re frittering away your time studying robotics!)


    Comment by montucky — February 13, 2009 @ 11:02 am

  7. Ooooo!! What a gorgeous gorgeous day you had!! The ice falls are spectacular, just wonderful. And elk! That picture of the river is just gorgeous. I love all the different colors the Clark Fork can be.

    You’ll have to show me on the map where this trail supposed to be. (And where that ice falls is. :D)


    Comment by gradschoolsara — February 13, 2009 @ 12:24 pm

  8. Looks like a great place for some ice climbing.

    Also what is that debris near you in the third picture?


    Comment by scienceguy288 — February 13, 2009 @ 12:49 pm

  9. looks like a successful trip after all! that icefall is a beautiful picture! something refreshing to look at as I take a break from house cleaning on this warm humid day!


    Comment by silken — February 13, 2009 @ 4:01 pm

  10. Sara,

    Yes, I’ll show you where the trail is on an older F.S. map. I hiked about three miles at the top of it last summer, but would like to find the bottom before I commit to the hike down from the top. That slope is full of cliffs and I understand the trail is almost lost in places.


    Comment by montucky — February 13, 2009 @ 4:33 pm

  11. Scienceguy,

    I don’t know it that’s climbable or not, although it appears quite substantial. The debris in the foreground is just surface rock that was turned up fifty or sixty years ago when someone tried to build a road there to get at some big slabs of rock. They weren’t very successful.


    Comment by montucky — February 13, 2009 @ 4:35 pm

  12. Silken,

    A stroll along that section of the river would cool you off nicely!


    Comment by montucky — February 13, 2009 @ 4:36 pm

  13. It is difficult to pick out a favorite here; I can only say that all shots are wonderful. The first and last totally blow me away tho; both speak of a clean – pure – and almost pristine aspect of nature that many miss. This is why I spend hours daily in the wild… to catch those views. Great work!


    Comment by aullori — February 14, 2009 @ 12:46 am

  14. Lori,

    You’re right, it takes time outdoors. I know that if I’m in the back country often enough and long enough there will be something spectacular to see there.


    Comment by montucky — February 14, 2009 @ 9:02 am

  15. I can hardly wait until I’m bellyaching about the heat.

    These shots, however, tempt me to miss winter before it’s gone.


    Comment by Pinhole — February 14, 2009 @ 2:16 pm

  16. I still like it a little on the cool side, Pinhole, vs the really high temps. What I am really anxious for is when the ice gets off the trails.


    Comment by montucky — February 14, 2009 @ 4:37 pm

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