Montana Outdoors

July 4, 2011

Road 5587 (1)

In western Montana there are many miles of Forest Service roads that are no longer in normal service. Most of them began their lives for logging use many years ago and they have been kept in reasonably usable condition for emergencies and access for Forest Service projects but they have been closed to public motorized use. Some have many usable miles for hiking, mountain bike or horse access, as does Road 5587 which runs for about nine miles along the eastern border of the TeePee – Spring Creek Roadless area and KooKooSint Ridge.

My birthday present this year was a mountain bike. Its purpose is to expand my hiking capability by allowing me to use some of these old roads as access to back country areas far beyond the gates. After a little over a hundred miles of conditioning and familiarity runs during the last several weeks, today I gave it (and me) the first real test, riding eight miles out on road 5587 and hiking the remaining mile to its end. With the elevation of the road varying from 5000 feet to 5600 feet, the 18 miles included about 3000 feet of vertical climb. I’m glad I did some training before the trip!

Diamondback "Response"

Diamondback ~ Response

Getting into Montana’s back country is a pleasure that not everyone has a chance to experience and therefore I will post a series of photos that I took along the way, in three separate posts, hoping to show the scenery as it appeared to me today.

KooKooSint Ridge

Clark Fork Valley

Looking out over the Clark Fork Valley.

KooKooSint Ridge

Still a little snow on the lee side of the ridge.

KooKooSint Ridge

The Coeur d’Alene Mountains in the background are still snow-capped.

Spring Creek headwaters

The headwaters of Spring Creek.

KooKooSint Ridge

Wildflowers in abundance on the ridges. These species have long finished blooming at the valley level.


  1. Wow… I can’t wait for the next edition! What a beautiful oasis!! I’ll be waiting for some close ups of those wildflowers too. ๐Ÿ˜‰


    Comment by kcjewel — July 5, 2011 @ 6:38 am

    • This is a very good year for the forests. They are very green and there is lots of lush grass for the animals. The flowers unique to the high country haven’t begun to bloom yet, but the ones that bloomed in April and May in the valley are now blooming up there.


      Comment by montucky — July 5, 2011 @ 8:41 pm

  2. This is great. A ride through the mountains and I don’t have to do anything but enjoy the view. Thank you!


    Comment by anniespickns — July 5, 2011 @ 6:46 am

    • I hope there will be many more rides this summer as well as some hikes that are planned.


      Comment by montucky — July 5, 2011 @ 8:42 pm

  3. As always your photos are amazing. They bring to mind mountain men riding along with a pack animal behind. I was born 150 years too late! Thanks as always, Montucky!


    Comment by Cedar — July 5, 2011 @ 7:06 am

    • Thanks Cedar! I know I was born 150 years late too, and every trip out I wish that I had a good trail horse and a pack horse along.


      Comment by montucky — July 5, 2011 @ 8:43 pm

  4. Those are some gorgeous views!


    Comment by thedailyclick — July 5, 2011 @ 7:26 am

  5. Thank you for sharing your ride with us. And I compliment you on your ability to ride and hike and still be able to function. ๐Ÿ™‚ I truly do enjoy your photos, they make me homesick for a place I’ve never even been to before.


    Comment by Homestead Ramblings — July 5, 2011 @ 7:54 am

    • I’m so glad that you enjoy seeing some of the beauty that I love so much! I work every day of the year on physical conditioning so I can keep getting out into the back country and to me it’s worth every bit of it. As I grow older, I have a heightened sense of my mortality and it’s my desire to spend as much of the time I have left in the wild country and roadless areas.


      Comment by montucky — July 5, 2011 @ 8:48 pm

  6. I’ve been dreaming all spring about doing the same thing, so this is great to see. I switched from mountain to road biking several years ago but have been longing for a low-key way to get back into mountain biking, and there are so many closed roads out there on FS land they may as well get used! I’m excited to see the results of your birthday gift.


    Comment by Aaron — July 5, 2011 @ 9:58 am

    • So far so good, Aaron. I think it will only get better, and just this trip told me that the combination of biking and hiking will be a big winner for me! Those gated roads are a treasure for someone with a mountain bike and a urge to see more country. At about the 4 mile point on this trip there is a trail that I will investigate a little later: I know it is rather long, but the bike will let me get to the start of it without being tired, and much quicker than hiking too.


      Comment by montucky — July 5, 2011 @ 8:52 pm

  7. Such beauty! I can almost hear that mountainside stream. You know though, that the field of wildflowers is my favorite.
    Does you wife ever hike with you?


    Comment by sandy — July 5, 2011 @ 12:23 pm

    • I could hear that stream for about a mile. It is ice cold, pure and comes out of a roadless area where it is still being fed by melting snow.

      Unfortunately, my wife has a health problem that does not permit her go with me. That’s why, several years ago, I started taking a camera along on all of my treks, so she can at least see pictures of the things things that I see out there.


      Comment by montucky — July 5, 2011 @ 8:57 pm

      • That is really neat! I am sure she apreciates your thoughtfulness.


        Comment by sandy — July 7, 2011 @ 10:43 am

  8. Hi Montucky, So glad you had fun, were safe, took excellent pictures, and got your exercise all in one fell-swoop! I love the picture of the stream. I enjoy water and can just virtually feel the coolness of the rushing stream. Have a super nice Tuesday!


    Comment by wildlifewatcher — July 5, 2011 @ 2:55 pm

    • You would love that stream, wildlifewatcher! It’s pretty and the sound travels for miles and it provides precious water for the wildlife and just before it gets down to the valley level, it goes down into the ground to replenish the aquifer.


      Comment by montucky — July 5, 2011 @ 8:59 pm

  9. I have never read anything that made me want to take up mountain biking more than this did.


    Comment by jomegat — July 5, 2011 @ 5:49 pm

    • I’m glad to hear that! If there are such roads around, it should be a terrific activity. I’m very optimistic about it and although I was pretty tired after this trip I’m already really looking forward to the next one: there are several on my list. Now if only the saddles they put on those things weren’t designed by Al-Qaeda!


      Comment by montucky — July 5, 2011 @ 9:09 pm

  10. What a great idea, to use your bike to bring us all into the mountains with you! How do you cushion your camera equipment from the shock of bouncing over rocks and ruts?
    Another option the mountain bike opens up – through hikes, where you leave your bike at one end and the car at the other, then use the bike to go get the car after the hike.
    Looking forward to more bike excursions.


    Comment by Kim — July 5, 2011 @ 6:07 pm

    • I will probably use the Jeep/bike idea sometimes: I can think of a couple hikes where that will work.

      My camera is always in a case that hangs from a carabiner attached to my left pack strap where it rides right by my shoulder (I use that arrangement with every pack I own). My best guess is that I’ve carried the D80 about 2000 miles that way so far in temperatures from 100F to -20F, which is a real testament to the not-very-expensive case that I use. The 18-135mm lens is usually on the camera and the macro and the 70-300mm are wrapped in extra clothing in my pack’s main compartment. The camera and lenses weigh 7 lbs and I was pleased to discover the pack seemed much lighter when I was on the bike!


      Comment by montucky — July 5, 2011 @ 9:19 pm

  11. Thank you for sharing your amazing wilderness with us … I don’t think I could make that hike/bike myself and it is a gorgeous place I know I would love. Did you come across any wildlife on this trip?


    Comment by bearyweather — July 5, 2011 @ 9:09 pm

    • I know you would love that place. I didn’t get on the bike until 7AM, so I was a little late to see much wildlife although I did get to within about 10 yards from a beautiful mule deer doe. The road was literally covered with bear scat, especially after the first three miles, and I also saw coyote, wolf, deer, elk and moose scat on the road and possibly cougar. Several blue grouse flushed as I went by too: I love seeing them! I will surely spend more time in that area and probably a few nights in another month or so.


      Comment by montucky — July 5, 2011 @ 9:24 pm

  12. A wonderful gift and bike, montucky ๐Ÿ™‚ Montana nature is another unique gift and it is a real pleasure to visit it with you without my joints suffering at all. Beautiful pictures and breathtaking landscape.


    Comment by isathreadsoflife — July 6, 2011 @ 1:42 am

    • I began bringing back photos from my trips into the mountains for my wife to see and she enjoys them I’m glad that you do too!


      Comment by montucky — July 6, 2011 @ 10:48 pm

  13. That bike’s going to serve you very well. And, from the look of these photographs, the bike’s also going to serve the readers of your blog very well!



    Comment by knightofswords — July 6, 2011 @ 8:20 pm

    • I wanted the bike to expand my hiking range and as a bonus I’ve found it to be a great conditioning tool as well, and I don’t have to drive anywhere to use it.


      Comment by montucky — July 6, 2011 @ 10:50 pm

  14. Just gorgeous! I am in awe of your constant physical conditioning.


    Comment by Candace — July 6, 2011 @ 9:44 pm

    • I’ve found that in order to be able to hike in the high country I have to keep in reasonable shape, something much more important at my age than when I was younger. It requires some discipline, but I am rewarded every time I get out into the forest.


      Comment by montucky — July 6, 2011 @ 10:55 pm

  15. What an incredible experience it must be to get out there see all that beauty! And also to be in such good shape that you’re able to ride & hike in such terrain, too! =)

    I’m so glad I found your blog!!!


    Comment by Tricia — July 7, 2011 @ 8:00 am

    • It really is incredible Tricia. It’s an experience that I wish everyone could enjoy!


      Comment by montucky — July 7, 2011 @ 8:47 pm

  16. Beautiful, beautiful country. Can’t imagine a better place to ride! Looks like a wonderful bike! Be careful, keep your eyes on the road when peddling!


    Comment by Wild_Bill — July 7, 2011 @ 5:16 pm

    • Yes, I think the bike will open up a lot more beautiful country. It’s really quite a good bike, certainly the best I’ve ever ridden. You know, there are elements of technology that aren’t all that bad!


      Comment by montucky — July 7, 2011 @ 8:50 pm

  17. Cool bike!

    I am so glad that I had possibility to check Your photos and admire the beauty of Montana. The second photo from the top is awesome. I expect in future to see Your “biking reports”.


    Comment by sartenada — July 7, 2011 @ 10:59 pm

    • I hope to be able to post photos from many more trips with the bike: I already have several more planned, one in particular that should have some great scenery. The second photo is the start of that road. It looked so inviting: who could resist it?


      Comment by montucky — July 7, 2011 @ 11:28 pm

  18. Stunning scenery- truly amazing!


    Comment by Watching Seasons — July 8, 2011 @ 3:10 pm

    • One of the many things I like about this particular area is that it’s possible to get up into the higher places where you can see more of the landscape and get a better perspective of the land.


      Comment by montucky — July 8, 2011 @ 9:21 pm

  19. Absolutely gorgeous photos.

    Biking is nice, I started again lately too. I have to do that because of health reasons, trying to get back into life. But I could not climb that much, even if I used my electric bicycle. I use it in our mountainuous area, it is quite handy, because I have asthma and probs to climb even the flattest climbing. In our cabin I used a mountainbike too, because the area is flat there. So I have less time for wool and more time for taking photos when we discover our area. My blog slightly changed the topic, lol.



    Comment by beyenburgerin — July 9, 2011 @ 1:29 pm

    • Thank you Brigitte! My wife and both kids have asthma too and I know how difficult it can be. I’m sure the bike helps though to get what exercise you can. THe climbing is indeed hard!


      Comment by montucky — July 9, 2011 @ 9:31 pm

  20. That is some real mountain biking! I’m glad that it enables you to share more of the beauty of Montana’s mountains with us.


    Comment by kateri — July 11, 2011 @ 9:23 pm

    • The bike is turning out well on the mountain roads and as a result of the daily training I’ve been doing with it I’ve seen remarkable progress with my fitness level too!


      Comment by Montucky — July 11, 2011 @ 10:01 pm

  21. how absolutely amazing and beautiful!! and you make a triathlon seem like a small event!!! have fun on your bike! sounds like you are getting some real expeditions of your own!


    Comment by silken — July 13, 2011 @ 9:12 pm

    • It is a scenic place and this year the plant life is extraordinary. No, I wouldn’t even make it through a triathlon, but working with the bike has been enjoyable and the results so far have been very gratifying.


      Comment by Montucky — July 13, 2011 @ 9:39 pm

  22. I am impressed! Mountain biking PLUS hiking at higher elevations… And what a reward… thanks so much for sharing these beautiful images of Montana! I’ll be heading out to Red Lodge in September and hope to get some hiking in nearby if I can find a hiking partner! I’m going to save the rest of your posts for another time… it’s early (in terms of dinner hour) here but I’m starving so it’s time for my apple snack and a break from the computer!


    Comment by Victoria — July 22, 2011 @ 3:13 pm

    • This should be a good year for spending time in Red Lodge. Hopefully no fire problems, and the plant life is very lush this year (I assume it will be there too).


      Comment by Montucky — July 22, 2011 @ 11:49 pm

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