Montana Outdoors

June 17, 2011

Almost summer?

Filed under: Outdoors — montucky @ 11:26 pm

With just a few days left before summer the snow is gone from the valleys of western Montana, but some still remains on the mountains. Yesterday despite some rain in the air I tested one of my favorite trails that leads to the old lookout on the top of Big Hole peak. At the trail head the ground was bare but the breeze was quite cold. A mile up the trail and about 700 feet higher in elevation the sky was spitting a little snow along with the light drizzle and the remaining snowbanks started to make hiking difficult. I turned around there, knowing that the snow would only get deeper farther up the trail and it was still a mile and a half to the top. Another week, perhaps…

Clark Fork from trail 368

The Clark Fork Valley through the clouds, photo taken from near the start of the trail.

Trail 368

Winter was a little unkind to trail 368.

Trail 368

At the 6,200 foot level the snowbanks began to block the trail and the weather was closing in.

Wildflower species that finished their bloom over a month ago at the valley level (Glacier Lilies and Spring Beauties) are beginning their springtime bloom now just below the snow line. For the visitor from the valley it is a step back one season, while at TeePee Creek, where the road to the trail head starts its climb out of the valley, Queen’s Cup is beginning to bloom.

Queen's Cup

Queen’s Cup ~ Clintonia uniflora


  1. I didn’t know about Clintonia uniflora. We have C. borealis here, and it has just finished blooming. For some reason, I thought it was the only Clintonia.


    Comment by jomegat — June 18, 2011 @ 6:05 am

    • It has a very limited distribution, found only in: USA (AK, CA, ID, MT, OR, WA), CAN (AB, BC).


      Comment by montucky — June 18, 2011 @ 9:23 pm

  2. If that is the start of the trail I think I would need to be left behind. : / Beautiful shots of your hike though!


    Comment by kcjewel — June 18, 2011 @ 6:54 am

    • You might not like the road up to it either, Jewel. The trail is actually pretty good once the snow melts down a little more.


      Comment by montucky — June 18, 2011 @ 9:27 pm

  3. What a great view you had in the first photo!
    It’s so hard to imagine SNOW in other parts of the country, when it’s 100 degrees here… I would trade in a heartbeat, though!


    Comment by thedailyclick — June 18, 2011 @ 8:01 am

    • One of the many things I like about living here is that when it does finally get hot in the valley you can still cool off up high.


      Comment by montucky — June 18, 2011 @ 9:29 pm

  4. Hikers and tourists heading for the mountains in June learn one thing quite quickly. While it may be summer on the prairie, it may not yet be summer in the high country. Nice to see some more great pictures of snow as Georgia gets too warm for me.


    Comment by knightofswords — June 18, 2011 @ 10:59 am

    • Yep. I remember a couple years ago turning back near the top of a trail because of a sudden snow and icy cold wind at the end of June.


      Comment by montucky — June 18, 2011 @ 9:31 pm

  5. Hi Montucky, Snow sounds refreshingly cool. No it is not blazing hot here in TN – just stormy. You have taken great pictures. The trail shots are so good it makes me feel as though I am hiking there. Have a great day!


    Comment by wildlifewatcher — June 18, 2011 @ 11:28 am

    • Thanks wildlifewatcher. I hope to show a lot of trail shots starting soon now that much of the snow is melting.


      Comment by montucky — June 18, 2011 @ 9:34 pm

  6. The view in that first photo is awesome! Sounds so nice to be able to go back a season. I would like that right now.


    Comment by Candace — June 18, 2011 @ 1:06 pm

    • I remember the Valley of the Sun this time of year. We spent a lot of weekends above the rim between Payson and Flag. Also made quite a few trips into the real high country in southern Utah.


      Comment by montucky — June 18, 2011 @ 9:36 pm

  7. I feel like I was there looking at your photographs. Thanks for the hint of snow in hot weather here!


    Comment by Watching Seasons — June 18, 2011 @ 5:03 pm

    • Each year we have several days when the temp reaches a hundred and I don’t relish them even though it does cool off at night. It’s strange how one acclimates. We spent over twenty years in the Phoenix area, yet now temperatures above sixty seem very hot.


      Comment by montucky — June 18, 2011 @ 9:41 pm

  8. The scene in the first photo is gorgeous! Wow! I think it is neat to be able to still experience the cold and snow in this time of year. Beautiful Montana.


    Comment by Anna — June 19, 2011 @ 5:59 am

  9. In closeup it is much more obvious that Clintonia is a lily – look at those stamens!


    Comment by Kim — June 19, 2011 @ 6:14 am

    • The lily family is well represented in western Montana, isn’t it!


      Comment by montucky — June 19, 2011 @ 9:32 am

  10. I thought for a second that the first photo was a view of a lake through the trees. What a beauitful view and the mist adds a nice touch.


    Comment by kateri — June 19, 2011 @ 9:24 pm

    • The river is about 3,000 feet below that part of the trail. I had hoped to get above the clouds, but it wasn’t the case.


      Comment by montucky — June 19, 2011 @ 10:00 pm

  11. Wonderful to see the river from this other perspective. Your photos remind me that this dweller on the coastal plain needs to get serious about getting in shape, just in case an opportunity to climb a mountainside might come along!


    Comment by shoreacres — June 20, 2011 @ 6:41 am

    • This little region in which I live has a nice small valley and steep mountains on both sides. There are lots of trails and very few roads going up. I try to stay in good enough shape to be able to reach the high country often. They seem to get steeper every year and I know my time is becoming limited, so I get out as often as I possibly can.


      Comment by montucky — June 20, 2011 @ 10:19 pm

  12. can’t imagine! my son told me yesterday that he wants to move to colorado after college!


    Comment by silken — June 20, 2011 @ 7:52 pm

    • That will be quite a change for him, but I’d think very good at least for awhile. I lived in Denver for three years and although I liked the mountains, I really didn’t like the city.


      Comment by montucky — June 20, 2011 @ 10:21 pm

  13. I saw snow in June/July one time… I was in The Rockies in Colorado! =)

    I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but I bookmarked a web cam in the mountains at Glacier National Park & on the south summit cam it shows feet of snow still on the ground, but there’s actually a huge clear spot now where it’s melted… so hard for a Missourian to comprehend!!! =)


    Comment by Tricia — June 22, 2011 @ 12:05 pm

    • There are lots of interesting things associated with higher elevations and also with the mountain forests.


      Comment by montucky — June 22, 2011 @ 9:39 pm

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