Montana Outdoors

June 17, 2009

The trail

Filed under: Flowers, Montana, Nature, Outdoors, Photography, Photos, Pictures, Reflections, Wildflowers — montucky @ 9:19 am

As I walked on the trail in the early spring, the cold rain remaining on the grasses and brush wet my boots: this evening the afternoon’s warm summer rain on the same grasses and the same brush wet my clothing ten inches above my waist. Ah, the magnificent abundance of summer!

Spring Creek

The stream is dry now through the last mile of its canyon, hiding from the never-quenched thirst of “the civilized”, choosing to go to the relative safety of underground rather than continue its journey to the river and to the sea; a poignant reminder of the fragility of the wild country and a warning to those who would read it that the high country snow pack has now been depleted. The bounty of the forest is not without limits.


The procession of blossoms continues. Someone said that I live in a paradise of wildflowers and that is true, but to a point. I choose to frequent the wild places where they grow, the last few places remaining that have not seen the plow, the woodsman’s axe and the road-building dozers of the timber barons or the earth moving/nature destroying machines of the energy companies and developers. In Montana there are a few such places left: in many of these United States there are none.

Queen's Cup

As the traveler enters the forest on this trail the plant growth is very thick as though the forest seeks to deny entry. The lush growth at the interface of the trail and the road covers the trail like a thick scar over a severe wound. Perhaps the wild country has had a glimpse of the city where “progress” has buried the earth in an eternal tomb of asphalt and where men continually build new edifices of sparkling glass and brick and mortar and large public buildings of polished stone; the ghettos of tomorrow and the ruins of the next millennium.

Lance-leaved Stonecrop

Once under the forest canopy a transformation occurs. A huge weight is lifted from my shoulders and magically dissipates among the needles of the pines and the firs and the leaves of the cedars. Despite the efforts of those who would oppress, there are still a few hours of freedom available in this world for those who will seek it.

Red clover

A mile or so up the canyon the trail has changed. Its tread has become wider and well worn from the hard soled shoes of the ungulates, the soft pads of the large carnivores and omnivores, the tiny feet of the timid ones, and the scaly feet of the fowl. This is the land of a million years ago, the land that is about to be sacrificed to the gods of progress, and power, and greed. The fools that we call “leaders” are causing it to be so.

Mallow ninebark

I try, as I have so many times now, to bring back pictures of what I see in the wild country to show to those who have not been there or who cannot go there but even the best photo presents but a small glimpse of the reality. A camera captures only a small image of a small scene, and an even smaller image of a very large one. There is nothing that can capture the encompassing smell of the roses that grow, not at your feet but overhead as well, the feel of the forest air, the deafening chorus of the birds and the water and the exhilaration of a thunderstorm booming overhead in the high country. No stage, real or virtual, can ever display the experience of being at home on a trail in the natural world, the wild world, the real world.



  1. Beautiful images Terry, you do an incredible job in conveying the wonder of your home, thanks for sharing !!


    Comment by Bernie Kasper — June 17, 2009 @ 9:51 am

  2. Gorgeous — the photos and the words.

    This place is going to be developed? Say it isn’t so. That would be heartbreaking.


    Comment by Patia — June 17, 2009 @ 11:09 am

    • Not this place specifically, Patia, although it is completely unprotected. At this point I don’t know where the Forest Service land sales ever ended up, but it’s clearly a possibility, fully dependent on the next “leader” who takes power.


      Comment by montucky — June 17, 2009 @ 8:41 pm

  3. Montucky, I know what you mean when you say that the wild world is the real world. Edward Abbey wrote: “Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit.”
    Beautiful photographs and writing.


    Comment by Maureen — June 17, 2009 @ 12:03 pm

    • Thank you, Maureen. So many people today look at the short world of their brief lives and perceive it to be the only one.


      Comment by montucky — June 17, 2009 @ 8:43 pm

  4. What a magnificent post. You can really transport us to another beautiful world. Would that it could stay that way forever. I love the photo of the clover bloom.


    Comment by SuzieQ — June 17, 2009 @ 12:21 pm

    • Thank you, SuzieQ. Now is the time that we must be setting aside and protecting many of the remaining natural places, not simply for the aesthetics but because those are the places that make life on the whole planet possible.


      Comment by montucky — June 17, 2009 @ 8:46 pm

  5. Beautiful, artful images, and the creek photo looks like a painting. Your writing is poetic sharing of the real world in which is Nature. I very much enjoyed this post.


    Comment by Anna Surface — June 17, 2009 @ 12:34 pm

    • Anna, I’m very glad that you enjoyed the scenes and thoughts.


      Comment by montucky — June 17, 2009 @ 8:52 pm

  6. Great post, Terry. I love the wilderness and always was a bit amazed at people fearing it. But on my recent trip to NYC, I could see the tables turned. I was hesitant in that teeming city, where the people who live there are casual about it’s kind of “wild-ness.’ And there certainly is a lot to see and do in a large city. I especially love the art museums. That said, give me trees and tumbling rivers and wildflowers ANY day of the year. And I’ll make my own personal museum!


    Comment by Bo — June 17, 2009 @ 2:15 pm

    • I have spent time in big cities too Bo and I do appreciate the culture and history that they represent. In a way I’m thankful that they are home to so many of the people: that’s a necessity of having such a large population. It’s not for me though and I think it’s sad that so many of those who live in the big cities know nothing else. A few years ago I spent a fair amount of time in Philadelphia and got to know quite a few who lived in the inner city and found their perspective of the world so different from mine.


      Comment by montucky — June 17, 2009 @ 8:58 pm

  7. like a poem. very nice


    Comment by silken — June 17, 2009 @ 4:01 pm

  8. I love the colours on that second flower. Sorry about the rain. There is nothing less confortable than walking in puddles in your shoes.


    Comment by scienceguy288 — June 17, 2009 @ 6:56 pm

    • I love the rain, Scienceguy and never consider it the slightest imposition. I expect it, look forward to it and am always prepared for it.


      Comment by montucky — June 17, 2009 @ 9:01 pm

  9. i would like to be wading in that beautiful stream right now. it’s 95 here with about 90% humidity. thanks for taking me to a cool, beautiful place!!!


    Comment by kcjewel — June 17, 2009 @ 7:44 pm

    • Jewel, it’s too bad you couldn’t pay a quick visit to that little canyon when you wished. The shade is deep and the stream is pure and cold.

      We have a few days in late summer when the temperature gets into the high 90’s and even 100’s and I definitely don’t like that. Here though it is possible to retreat into the high places and deep canyons and stay reasonably cool.


      Comment by montucky — June 17, 2009 @ 9:05 pm

  10. Hi Terry. We’re back from our Maine vacation. This is an absolutely beautiful series of flower images and the spring creek image is just over the top beautiful. Very well captured!


    Comment by edvatza — June 18, 2009 @ 4:18 am

    • It’s always good to get home, but leaving all of the beautiful scenery in Maine must have been a little hard!


      Comment by montucky — June 18, 2009 @ 8:28 am

  11. oooh…such silky water! Lovely!


    Comment by Stacey — June 18, 2009 @ 6:13 am

    • Most of the little back country streams are very pretty and the water is ice cold even in summer.


      Comment by montucky — June 18, 2009 @ 8:30 am

  12. So true,… a walk in nature replenishes, and renews. The views, as well as the scents and touches of the branches, and leaves,… all good medicine for me. You portrayed it well.


    Comment by Cedar — June 18, 2009 @ 7:26 am

  13. You have captured the perfect image of clover in the fifth photograph.


    Comment by Tabbie — June 18, 2009 @ 10:03 am

    • Yes, isn’t it pretty? The plant version of a peacock fanning his tail. It was in tall grass, but I could see it from 30 feet away.


      Comment by montucky — June 18, 2009 @ 10:13 am

  14. Beautiful photos all, even if I don’t quite share your sentiments about cities – you’re quite right that without cities there would be even less wilderness than there is. And I certainly agree that it’s sad that so many folks don’t take advantage of the nature that is around them. It’s especially sad here in SF, as we are blessed with a LOT of open space, state parks, and national parks within an hour’s drive.


    Comment by Adam R. Paul — June 18, 2009 @ 10:29 am

    • I know I come down pretty hard on the cities, but I object so much to their sprawl. It’s not only the cities though, those who are building huge second homes in the woodlands are even more blatant. I object to the destruction of so much farm land and even more to the development of wooded areas which are part of the earth’s watershed.

      Simple contemplation tells me that it has to stop some place or there will no longer be enough watershed left to sustain the level of population we have. No one has said just how much that requires; perhaps no one knows; maybe we’ve already stepped over that threshold.

      The water wars have already begun and it’s getting scary!


      Comment by montucky — June 18, 2009 @ 7:39 pm

  15. Your shutter speed in the stream photo makes it almost look like a painting.



    Comment by knightofswords — June 19, 2009 @ 8:36 am

    • I like the slow shutter speeds for water although not everyone does. The photos show me things about water dynamics that can’t be seen otherwise.

      The place where this was taken was a hike of only a little over a mile, but in more remote areas I don’t always go to the bother of taking a tripod and sometimes I miss a good opportunity.


      Comment by montucky — June 19, 2009 @ 9:40 am

  16. Your writing is very eloquent (and heart-breaking) and your photos are gorgeous. This is a beautiful piece, it should be published.


    Comment by Candace — June 20, 2009 @ 2:24 pm

    • Thank you, Candace. The wild country is a place of peace, but also of reflexion perspective. It always helps me focus on the things that are really important.


      Comment by montucky — June 20, 2009 @ 9:09 pm

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