Montana Outdoors

May 24, 2011

High water

Filed under: Montana — montucky @ 11:33 pm

We are fortunate here in western Montana, at least for the most part, to not be threatened by flooding because this part of the country is not flat, thereby greatly reducing the temptation to conduct our businesses and our lives at the same elevation as the rivers which go through major changes each year when the mountain snow begins to melt.

Just down stream from where I live, there is a small section of rapids on the Clark Fork River, and in the middle of the river at the head of the rapids is a huge boulder, placed there by Mother Nature about 12,000 years ago so I can gauge the relative depth of the river at that point. The first of these two photos was taken during a time of low water, and the top of the boulder is eight to ten feet above the water. The second was taken today at about the peak of our spring run-off and the top of the boulder is just below the turbulence seen in the middle of the river. (The perspective of the two photos is somewhat different because today the water level would not permit me to access the location from which the first photo was taken.)

Clark Fork River

Clark Fork River


  1. I’ve always been fortunate enought to live on the tops of hills-either small or large so have never had to deal with flooding. Really neat way to gauge the depth of the river!


    Comment by kateri — May 25, 2011 @ 4:39 am

    • We have too. We’ve always taken water and flooding into consideration when we bought our houses.


      Comment by montucky — May 25, 2011 @ 8:01 am

  2. Boy that likes like a good place to catch super right behind that big rock in the top photo!


    Comment by Jim — May 25, 2011 @ 6:18 am

    • It is. This winter a fish ladder was completed in a dam about 20 miles down stream and now the fishing here should get even better! The initial results indicate that there are some big trout using the ladder.


      Comment by montucky — May 25, 2011 @ 8:03 am

  3. Terry:

    I’ve been anxiously awaiting that set of photos, just to see the comparison. Thanks for the “Noah” photos.



    Comment by Chad — May 25, 2011 @ 8:24 am

    • It’s always interesting to see that rock submerged, but it sure messes up the fishing!


      Comment by montucky — May 25, 2011 @ 8:35 am

  4. Looks like you have about five feet more water in the second picture! Pretty impressive.


    Comment by Wild_Bill — May 25, 2011 @ 9:14 am

    • Actually it’s probably more than ten feet. There are a series of three rapids there and in summer they are very scenic, with large boulders lining the banks and some out in the water: now it is one sheet of fast-moving water.


      Comment by montucky — May 25, 2011 @ 9:05 pm

  5. High and fast. Come on, Terry, grab your hip waders. đŸ™‚


    Comment by Scott Thomas Photography — May 25, 2011 @ 9:27 am

    • As an uncle of mine once said about the high water: “too thick to swim, too deep to wade, too thin to plow”.


      Comment by montucky — May 25, 2011 @ 9:07 pm

      • Wise man that uncle of yours.


        Comment by Scott Thomas Photography — May 26, 2011 @ 12:02 pm

        • Yes, he was. He was the one who built a little home in the place where we now live on a piece of land no one else had much use for. However, this location is warmer in winter and cooler in summer than the surrounding area and protected from the wind. We rebuilt the house and love the location he chose very much.


          Comment by montucky — May 26, 2011 @ 8:40 pm

  6. Nice comparison, my trip out west showed the Colorado R. is in a similar state, although we are still seeing the snowpack get adds in almost weekly snow dumps up near the divide. It’s gonna be a short summer in the high country of Colorado.


    Comment by Daveabirding — May 25, 2011 @ 11:00 am

    • It will be a short summer in our high country too. One of our passes between here and Idaho is forecast to get another 6 inches of snow tonight.


      Comment by montucky — May 25, 2011 @ 9:08 pm

  7. A good illustration for reminding people why it’s not a good idea to build structures in a 100-year (or less) floodplain.


    Comment by knightofswords — May 25, 2011 @ 11:29 am

  8. How fortunate there isn’t flooding in your area. Where we are it is either drought or flood. Nice comparison photos and my, that water is swift! The countryside is so beautiful!


    Comment by Anna — May 25, 2011 @ 2:31 pm

    • There is a section in eastern Montana that is flooding pretty badly because besides the snow melt they also received about 8 inches of rain in four days.


      Comment by montucky — May 25, 2011 @ 9:18 pm

  9. Growing up, my family always bought on the side of a mountain or on the top. Maybe that is why. Where I live now is probably 10 feet above sea level. High water from rivers is not a threat, but too much rain can end up in the cellar, especially in winter.

    That is a powerful looking river.


    Comment by sandy — May 25, 2011 @ 3:04 pm

    • I’m sure that’s at least one of their reasons. I really respect the old-timers because most of the time they knew what they were doing (back before using common sense was discontinued).

      It’s very powerful and more dangerous than many people treat it. There are far too many deaths in it.


      Comment by montucky — May 25, 2011 @ 9:20 pm

  10. Please send as much of that wet stuff as you can to Texas. Was that really liquid water? I’d forgotten how nice it looks.


    Comment by Jeff Lynch — May 25, 2011 @ 5:18 pm

    • We could sure spare some of this, Jeff! Even during the ten year drought that we recently went through, this river maintained a pretty good flow.


      Comment by montucky — May 25, 2011 @ 9:22 pm

  11. Nice way to put it all into perspective. That bottom photo looks about like it is here… dark, gloomy and wet. However, without it we wouldn’t survive I guess!!


    Comment by kcjewel — May 25, 2011 @ 5:37 pm

    • That’s how I look at it! We go through periods in late July and August when we just wish we would have some cool, wet days.


      Comment by montucky — May 25, 2011 @ 9:23 pm

  12. That’s a big difference as well as a difference between clear and muddy water.


    Comment by Candace — May 25, 2011 @ 10:04 pm

    • Looks like two different rivers, doesn’t it! I’m already anxious for it to clear up and go back down so I can go fishing!


      Comment by montucky — May 25, 2011 @ 10:35 pm

  13. Now, that’s deep! YiKeS! =)

    That’s yet another reason to live in MONTANA!!! I’d love love love love love love love love love to!!! Seriously… I don’t think you understand the seriousness of the love =)… no tornadoes, flooding, & I’ve always heard that Montana is less known for all the crimes that go on everywhere else… where is it that I don’t hear about in the news? MONTANA!!!
    Maybe when my parents have gone to meet their maker, I’ll finally fulfill a lifelong dream & venture out of my safe circle here in SeMo! LoL! =)


    Comment by Tricia — May 26, 2011 @ 7:48 am

    • Montana is a wonderful place for those who love the outdoors, but it is far from being utopia. We are reasonable safe from most natural disasters (although there are forest fires) but there are problems here too. Crime exists but doesn’t make the news much because we still have less than a million people in the whole state. Our general economy is not good and our politics are a big mess.

      Worst of all in my opinion, because the effects of it will be eternal, the natural environment is under constant attack by those who are bent on exploitation and development and they have acquired the ears if not the souls of those in power.

      I love Montana for the memories that I have here and for the wild country that still exists here. Sadly though, both are fading.


      Comment by montucky — May 26, 2011 @ 8:43 am

      • Like National Parks, there could be states set aside, too… no development inside these state lines… if only, right?!


        Comment by Tricia — May 27, 2011 @ 7:17 am

        • We will be much better off as a species if we leave most of the remaining wild and natural country alone. We never improve it.


          Comment by montucky — May 27, 2011 @ 10:13 pm

  14. I always love comparisons. They complete the view and give more versatile idea of the place.

    This is the site where I would like to enjoy the scenery and fresh air.


    Comment by sartenada — May 27, 2011 @ 12:01 am

    • That is a place that I visit often. It is only a half mile from my house and I love the rapids and the wildlife that happens by. There is also a favorite big pine tree there that provides an excellent place to stay dry and watch a rain storm over the river.


      Comment by montucky — May 27, 2011 @ 10:09 pm

  15. pretty! I am guessing that water is pretty cold too.


    Comment by silken — May 27, 2011 @ 12:27 pm

    • It sure is! Most of it comes from snow melt, and the weather isn’t hot enough to warm the water much yet.


      Comment by montucky — May 27, 2011 @ 10:10 pm

  16. I’ve read about the flooding in Billings and on the roads around there (have friends in Red Lodge and get news via Facebook… digital age). It seems Montana has had LOTS of rain to add to the snow melt.

    The sunny skies in the first image really make it pop! And having the comparison is an excellent reminder of nature’s changing ways.


    Comment by Victoria — May 30, 2011 @ 6:16 am

    • Yes, they had a lot of rain over east. Things on this side of the Divide are fairly normal.


      Comment by montucky — May 30, 2011 @ 8:33 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: