Montana Outdoors

September 12, 2011

A hazy hike to the mountain

Filed under: Baldy Mountain roadless area, Hiking — Tags: — montucky @ 7:34 pm

For weeks now there have been wildfires burning in western Montana and Idaho, creating hazy and smoke-filled skies. Despite the smoke, on August 30th my daughter and I hiked the trail to the top of Mount Baldy. The smoke is very obvious in the photos, although there is a little clear sky in the third and fourth photos which were taken toward the north.

East of Mount Baldy in the smoke

View to the east of Mount Baldy

Baldy Lake in the smoke

Baldy Lake

Mount Baldy at the end of August

My daughter photographing the last of this year’s bear grass blossoms

Snowbank at the end of August

Playing in a snowbank on the lee side of the ridge

After our descent from the mountain we drove past our house about three miles to watch the action on another new wildfire. Fortunately, this one was near an old road that was still drivable and the State, U.S.F.S. and Rural Fire Departments were able to get engines up to it and along with two helicopters dropping water and a small tanker dropping slurry, it was out in about 12 hours.

Wetting down a wildfire


  1. Your daughter looks so at home on the mountain side. The 3rd photo is my favorite of these.


    Comment by kateri — September 12, 2011 @ 9:12 pm

    • She was very much at home there: she is a very good hiker! I like that photo best too.


      Comment by montucky — September 12, 2011 @ 10:02 pm

  2. You consistently provide us with great photos! Thank you..


    Comment by Roberta — September 12, 2011 @ 9:46 pm

    • Thank you Roberta. I’m glad that you enjoy seeing scenes of the wild country that I love so much!


      Comment by montucky — September 12, 2011 @ 10:32 pm

  3. These are great and I really love the helicopter and getting to see your daughter. Do you think every wilderness area has a Mount Baldy? I think the popularity is a toss up between that and Devil’s Thumb.


    Comment by Tammy — September 12, 2011 @ 11:44 pm

    • Many, many years ago, when the world was still a very large place, there was only one Mount Baldy; later then, just a few. Now that the world has become a very small world, there are so many.


      Comment by montucky — September 13, 2011 @ 9:02 pm

  4. SNOW!! Yeah, that gets me excited every time, especially when we’re back in the triple digits.
    I’m so sorry to hear about the wildfires. But even with all the smoke, the pictures are still amazing.
    Love the picture of your daughter, photographing the flowers.


    Comment by thedailyclick — September 13, 2011 @ 4:35 am

    • We haven’t reached the triple digits here this year, but we’ve been lingering in the mid-nineties. Encountering snowbanks is very refreshing! I like that photo a lot too, for many reasons.


      Comment by montucky — September 13, 2011 @ 9:05 pm

  5. Those snowbanks will be growing again soon! Nice shots in each of the past two posts.


    Comment by daveabirding — September 13, 2011 @ 9:07 am

    • Yes, they will be. I’ve already started carrying several warm layers of clothing in my pack for the tall hikes. Our local weatherman is predicting another La Nina winter this year, which will be very cold here with (again) lots of snow. Bring it on!


      Comment by montucky — September 13, 2011 @ 9:07 pm

  6. Amazing photos! You’re daughter’s a redhead! Myself, my oldest daughter and 2 grandkids are redheaded! Love them redheads! ๐Ÿ˜€


    Comment by Barbara — September 13, 2011 @ 10:09 am

    • Well my daughter is a California redhead. Still beautiful though!


      Comment by montucky — September 13, 2011 @ 9:08 pm

  7. Great photos! I see your daughter is a chip off the old block, as far as photography and hiking goes. Is that gravel in the thrid and fourth shot?


    Comment by sandy — September 13, 2011 @ 3:32 pm

    • I am really happy that my little girl is a very good hiker and an excellent photographer!

      The background in those shots is rocks, like the ones in the foreground of the second shot. The top 800 feet of the mountain is covered with them and they are all but impossible to walk on. The trail up through them was made by just moving them enough to create a roughly flat tread through the larger rocks. When you descend the trail there comes an urge to kiss the dirt when you again get below the rock level.


      Comment by montucky — September 13, 2011 @ 9:13 pm

  8. I love your daughter’s photo as a photographer. How great you had a companion for a few mountain hikes.


    Comment by Bo Mackison — September 13, 2011 @ 7:37 pm

    • She is a great companion and I enjoyed our trips immeasurably! I hike alone about 98% of the time, but I cherish those few who will hike with me!


      Comment by montucky — September 13, 2011 @ 9:15 pm

  9. That first shot reminds me of the way the Smoky Mountains look year around–thanks to TVA’s coal-fired plants. I hope the helo didn’t mistake you daugher’s flaming red hair as a new spark.



    Comment by knightofswords — September 13, 2011 @ 8:30 pm

    • Thankfully, our skies look this way only during the late summer fire season. I prefer dark storm clouds or the dark blue sky of deep winter.


      Comment by montucky — September 13, 2011 @ 9:19 pm

  10. Lovely shots, pretty girl with that gorgeous red hair. Looks like you both had a great time.


    Comment by Candace — September 13, 2011 @ 9:34 pm

    • We did have a great time. It was her first time up on that mountain. I was sorry that the smoke was there, but later it cleared up a bit and we went on other hikes.


      Comment by montucky — September 13, 2011 @ 9:53 pm

  11. Hi Montucky, I am still on blog break so I am just checking in with blog friends from time to time. I sure like your pictures. Fires can do good for the forest if properly managed. Don’t like fires that endanger people or structures, though. Have a wonderful rest of the week!


    Comment by wildlifewatcher — September 13, 2011 @ 11:11 pm

    • Thanks for stopping by, wildlifewatcher! I hope you are having a pleasant and relaxing break!


      Comment by Montucky — September 13, 2011 @ 11:26 pm

  12. I haven’t heard anything from the media about these fires in Montana. Wow… hope no homes are affected by these. Nice shot of your daughter, easy to see the acorn didn’t fall too far away from it’s tree.


    Comment by Preston Surface — September 14, 2011 @ 4:03 am

    • Fortunately this year our fires have not been of the huge variety and therefore don’t get much attention outside of Montana.

      Yes, I’m very happy that both of our kids took to the wild country very early in life and still enjoy it very much. I can think of nothing better than treking with them!


      Comment by montucky — September 14, 2011 @ 8:22 pm

  13. Beautiful hike! I’ll have to head over there with the family sometime soon. Thanks for the great photos!


    Comment by columbiahighlands — September 14, 2011 @ 3:21 pm

    • This trail does get some traffic, but the views are great on clear days. I prefer it in early summer on after the first light snowfall in Autumn.


      Comment by montucky — September 14, 2011 @ 8:23 pm

  14. Wow! What fantastic views, though, in spite of the smoky haze, and still a beautiful hike—gorgeous, rugged, and awe-inspiring. Playing in the snow looked like fun.


    Comment by Anna — September 14, 2011 @ 3:29 pm

    • I hike up there at least once each summer. I tried several months ago but was stopped by snow after about a mile. I’ve often thought that everyone ought to hike up there about once a year. It sure changes one’s perspective! Having snow this late in the summer is a real plus!


      Comment by montucky — September 14, 2011 @ 8:25 pm

  15. I’d actually heard about your fires through the wonderful blog, Wildfire Today. I began following it when the 10Tanker showed up here to fight one of our fires – the DC10 crew referenced it. The photo of Baldy Lake is wonderful – the lake seems able to “see” through the smoke and reflect the blue of the sky despite it all.


    Comment by shoreacres — September 14, 2011 @ 9:35 pm

    • That little lake seems to exist in its own small world, sheltered on all sides by the ridges and seen only by those who hike the trail to the top.

      I think two of our fires will probably burn now until the first snowfall puts them out.


      Comment by montucky — September 14, 2011 @ 11:10 pm

  16. it would be so much fun to go hiking out there… she looks like she’s having fun, but so sorry about the wildfires… we don’t have them here, so I can’t relate – must be horrible!


    Comment by Tricia — September 15, 2011 @ 9:29 am

    • That’s a favorite hike, but I like it better with clear skies… or storms. Wildfires are a part of the natural world here, and we are used to them for the most part. Unfortunately though many new people have moved here and built their big homes in precarious places and are therefore in danger from the fires. It’s uncomfortable for them and very expensive to fight the fires that threaten the homes.


      Comment by montucky — September 15, 2011 @ 10:55 pm

  17. Awesome photos. Most impressive photos to me were those photos #3 and #4 in which Your daughter was. Snow during summer was great surprise also to me. This summer I saw snow also in Norway when we passed our vacation beyond the Arctic Circle.


    Comment by sartenada — September 15, 2011 @ 10:50 pm

    • It has been many years since snowbanks have remained this late in the year. We had deep snow last winter though and through the melt/freeze cycles in spring, it compressed some of them. Those that remain are largely composed of ice and they are very hard. They will now survive and be covered by the new snows of winter.


      Comment by montucky — September 15, 2011 @ 10:59 pm

  18. Beautiful scenery in spite of the smoke haze… it was smoky here in Red Lodge when I arrived Tuesday… but the rain we got on Wednesday cleared the air somewhat and I expect the rain from today will have cleared away the last of it as long as there are no fresh fires. I’m looking forward to seeing the sun again so I can get out and shoot some more with that filter. The distant ridges blurred by smoke from the fires are reminiscent of scenes in the eastern mountains that have nothing to do with forest fires but are hazy due to air pollution. It seems your daughter shares your passion for photography. ๐Ÿ™‚


    Comment by Victoria — September 16, 2011 @ 10:31 pm

    • The haze has cleared from the skies here and we have had some very pretty clouds too after not seeing any for months! I hope the weather stays good for you!


      Comment by montucky — September 17, 2011 @ 10:44 pm

  19. with all our fires burning down here I had thought of your photos of those great firefighters you have up there putting out fires so quickly.

    glad you had such a wonderful time hiking w/ your daughter!


    Comment by silken — September 17, 2011 @ 9:18 pm

    • I think the fire conditions are much different between there and here. Your grass fires can sweep so far so fast! The fires we have had have mostly been lightning caused and have been detected before they had a chance to grow really big.

      Yes, we had a great time! Hiking with her was a real treat for me, and the memories will be cherished!


      Comment by montucky — September 17, 2011 @ 10:49 pm

  20. Wow! Love the helicopter photo!


    Comment by Kim — September 18, 2011 @ 2:09 pm

    • Considering that was only three miles from my house, I was glad to see that chopper!


      Comment by montucky — September 18, 2011 @ 8:20 pm

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