Montana Outdoors

December 8, 2011

Buttercup Ridge

Filed under: Winter — Tags: — montucky @ 11:51 pm

Buttercup ridge

Every winter in the first few days of February I pay a visit to this small, tall and sharp little ridge that’s not easy to approach but not very far off the beaten path, to see the first wildflowers of the new year start to bloom, Sagebrush Buttercups. Why they bloom so early there I don’t know, but they are sleeping now beneath a soft blanket of snow.

(The tall ridge to the right is in the Patrick’s Knob roadless area: the one in the distance is in the Reservation Divide roadless area: in between flows the Clark Fork if the Columbia. The tracks in the snow were made by coyotes and Big Horn sheep.)



  1. i’ve missed you *<=o)


    Comment by Sandy — December 9, 2011 @ 12:05 am

    • Hi Sandy! Just haven’t been getting out as much for a variety of reasons, but I’m looking forward to a lot of snow yet to come and a beautiful winter!


      Comment by montucky — December 10, 2011 @ 12:01 am

  2. Wow, so wild looking. Your photo has “special” colors, gorgeous bluish. That is interesting that wildflowers start to bloom first.

    Thank You presenting this beautiful and interesting place.


    Comment by sartenada — December 9, 2011 @ 12:31 am

    • The low sun angles we get here in winter create some interesting colors on the mountains and some challenges for photography, but I keep trying!


      Comment by montucky — December 10, 2011 @ 12:03 am

  3. It looks amazing. I can almost feel the cold!


    Comment by Jo Woolf — December 9, 2011 @ 1:06 am

    • Those mountains are cold places to be now. Earlier that day I hiked for a ways in the shady side of the mountains where the sun hasn’t touched for a month. It looked and felt very cold there!


      Comment by montucky — December 10, 2011 @ 12:05 am

  4. The idea of buttercups asleep under a layer of snow makes me smile as well as the idea you know that place so well. There is a lot to be said for knowing a place so well (and loving that place as well). Glad you are back!


    Comment by Maureen — December 9, 2011 @ 4:59 am

    • Yes, there is a lot to be said about knowing a place well. Among the attraction for me to this particular place is that in a little saddle near the end of the ridge a large Douglas Fir tree grows right out of the rock and under its branches the ground is completely covered with the dropping of Big Horn sheep. I often sit in the shade of that tree as they do and admire the view over the river.


      Comment by montucky — December 10, 2011 @ 12:08 am

  5. Everytime I see these photos of yours I am amazed at the beauty that surrounds you! Stunning!


    Comment by Roberta — December 9, 2011 @ 7:11 am

    • This certainly is a beautiful part of the world. I’m fortunate to be here where there is still wild country that remains in its natural state. I fervently hope that it will remain so for future generations! In those mountains it is possible to feel a part of this wonderful world.


      Comment by montucky — December 10, 2011 @ 12:14 am

  6. Wonderful composition of the ridge and the far range, along with your words.


    Comment by C.C. — December 9, 2011 @ 8:26 am

  7. So spell-binding, this picture looks like a painting. I love it! And I love the thought of the Sagebrush Buttercups sleeping so peacefully under the snow, waiting for that first bursting forth of spring.


    Comment by Mama's Empty Nest — December 9, 2011 @ 8:29 am

    • When I hike I always carry a pack, and my camera is attached to the left pack strap so that when scenes appear I can fairly easily capture them. It’s satisfying and comforting to me to understand at least a little about what is taking place in nature. It is amazingly consistant when the world of the headlines is so chaotic.


      Comment by montucky — December 10, 2011 @ 12:20 am

  8. Spectacular photo! I will have to check out the area sometime. I’ve been hearing good things lately about Burke Canyon between Blossom Lake and Wallace, so I believe a Montana trip is in order :).


    Comment by columbiahighlands — December 9, 2011 @ 9:39 am

    • I want to explore that area a bit more when I have the chance too. There is some really nice wild country around Blossom Lake and I’ve only touched on exploring it. Next summer I plan to get in some trips into the Cabinet Wilderness also.


      Comment by montucky — December 10, 2011 @ 12:22 am

  9. The first words that came to mind when I looked at the photo were seasonal: “silent night, holy night”. When I read your words about the buttercups sleeping under the snow, they seemed just right. There’s a vacant lot near me where the wild amaryllis appear first, sometimes weeks before the others. Perhaps some of the “micro-climates” are smaller than we imagine!


    Comment by shoreacres — December 9, 2011 @ 9:48 am

    • Nature has many secrets hidden in those micro-climates, I think. One of the advantages of living in such close proximity to such areas is getting to know them well. About 20 miles aways from this place there is a small area of just several hundred feet (fortunately along a trail) where there is the most beautiful bloom of trilliums every spring; a micro-climate that for some reason is perfect for trilliums.


      Comment by montucky — December 10, 2011 @ 12:27 am

  10. I can see why you would want to go back each time..Simply beautiful!


    Comment by Roberta — December 9, 2011 @ 10:59 am

    • It’s a simple place and not remote, yet no one else ever goes there. I’m glad there are still places like that!


      Comment by montucky — December 10, 2011 @ 12:28 am

  11. I Love the idea of buttercups sleeping under the snow, waiting for spring. Buttercups hold a special place in my heart from childhood…. The light lying across the small streak of snow lying across the rock on the right is so beautiful, just exquisite, as is the light on the rocks in the middle. It actually is bringing tears to my eyes. Such beauty. Stunning. It has the look of a perfectly rendered painting. Oh, to be standing there, in that very spot. It would be as close to heaven as I could wish for in this realm.


    Comment by Teresa Evangeline — December 9, 2011 @ 11:20 am

    • This is a strange little place, yet one to which I return many times a year. When it’s not possible to venture into those roadless areas across the river, they can be seen from there and I’m comforted that the Big Horns seem to do the same.


      Comment by montucky — December 10, 2011 @ 12:37 am

  12. I wanted to mention, the “snow” falling gently across the screen is magical, especially with this shot.


    Comment by Teresa Evangeline — December 9, 2011 @ 11:21 am

    • That snow is courtesy of WordPress this time of year. I think it adds something to winter scenes!


      Comment by montucky — December 10, 2011 @ 12:38 am

  13. splendid lighting!


    Comment by Anonymous — December 9, 2011 @ 1:27 pm

    • Thanks! The light wasn’t especially friendly that day, but I liked what it created in this scene. It’s so hard to catch just right!


      Comment by montucky — December 10, 2011 @ 12:41 am

  14. I would like this view even without the buttercups.



    Comment by knightofswords — December 9, 2011 @ 1:36 pm

    • You would love this little place, Malcolm. You could sit for hours under a big Douglas Fir there and read or write as you wish completely undisturbed.


      Comment by montucky — December 10, 2011 @ 12:43 am

  15. That is just what a person needs to get through a long winter.
    I have seen wild pansies in February, but that is about all.


    Comment by sandy — December 9, 2011 @ 2:58 pm

    • Several years ago I was astounded to see flower buds there in what is usually the middle of winter. I have returned every year since to see them and I still wonder how they are able to do that.


      Comment by montucky — December 10, 2011 @ 12:46 am

  16. Gorgeous! Not too much snow — yet!


    Comment by Barbara — December 9, 2011 @ 3:51 pm

    • I’ve been there where there was much more snow. There will be much more to come before spring, at least I hope so!


      Comment by montucky — December 10, 2011 @ 12:47 am

  17. Beautiful, how the foreground curves are almost exactly like the background curves.


    Comment by TheDailyClick — December 9, 2011 @ 4:12 pm

    • I found that interesting too. Perhaps that is what attracted me to that particular shot.


      Comment by montucky — December 10, 2011 @ 12:49 am

  18. I love all your photographs. I appreciate that you are willing to share the results of the effort you put into capturing the wide, wild world of Montana!


    Comment by Margie — December 9, 2011 @ 4:23 pm

    • Thank you, Margie! I think it would be wonderful if everyone could see this wild world as I do, but I know that so many times the photographs will have to do. One of the things I like best is that nearly all of my photos are taken in or of one of our National Forests. These scenes belong to all of us in America!


      Comment by montucky — December 10, 2011 @ 12:52 am

  19. Very beautiful, as usual! I agree that it looks like a painting.


    Comment by jomegat — December 9, 2011 @ 5:48 pm

    • Thanks! Were I a painter, I would likely paint a scene from there, but the I would be spending all of my time out there instead of just most of it.


      Comment by montucky — December 10, 2011 @ 12:55 am

  20. You have a very scenic neighborhood 🙂 Look forward to seeing pictures of the early spring flowers!


    Comment by Watching Seasons — December 9, 2011 @ 9:59 pm

    • By the time the wildflowers start to bloom I will be more than ready to be out there photographing them!


      Comment by montucky — December 10, 2011 @ 12:56 am

  21. Hi Montucky, Great picture. The scenery is gorgeous. I like seeing Coyotes and Big Horn Sheep but have not seen many (the sheep I saw were in the Southern California desert mountains and I have seen Coyotes in Calif. in many places but none here in TN (I have however, heard them at night). Have a fantastic weekend!


    Comment by wildlifewatcher — December 9, 2011 @ 10:13 pm

    • I actually see few coyotes although they are abundant here. Lots of Big Horns though. Just a few weeks ago I stopped to chase a big ram off the highway before he got into trouble and at one point I was only a few feet from him. What a thrill that was!


      Comment by montucky — December 10, 2011 @ 12:59 am

  22. I love this photo with the layers of clouds and the taller mountains in the background. Looking forward as well to your photos of the first buttercups next spring.


    Comment by kateri — December 10, 2011 @ 7:07 pm

    • I’m already looking forward to the wildflowers too, but still expecting some great winter weather before long. If we don’t get a lot of snow here this year, I’m only a hundred miles from Glacier and I’ll make a trip there for it.


      Comment by montucky — December 10, 2011 @ 11:35 pm

  23. What a beautiful spot! I suspect the area that yields wildflowers in February is south facing? What is the elevation of the ridge?


    Comment by WildBill — December 11, 2011 @ 6:13 am

    • Yes, it is on the north side of the valley kind of nestled between several ridges. The river is at 2,400 feet, this ridge is a couple hundred feet higher. THe tall ridge to the south is about 7,000.


      Comment by montucky — December 11, 2011 @ 7:38 pm

  24. I can nearly feel the “spirit” there.


    Comment by kcjewel — December 11, 2011 @ 8:22 am

    • Yes, it does have a special feel to it. Each time I visit I think about the Big Horns that spend time there: it’s almost a bond.


      Comment by montucky — December 11, 2011 @ 7:39 pm

  25. Absolutely gorgeous in its winter starkness. Love it!


    Comment by Marcie — December 11, 2011 @ 10:39 am

    • There is a little snow on the near ridge but it’s serious winter on the far ones. It will be winter there until June.


      Comment by montucky — December 11, 2011 @ 7:40 pm

  26. That’s a beautiful shot, the way the sunlight is hitting just that one small area. And so crisp. Awesome.


    Comment by Candace — December 11, 2011 @ 4:11 pm

    • Thanks Candace! That would be a good shot for your 50mm: this photo was at 40mm.


      Comment by montucky — December 11, 2011 @ 7:42 pm

  27. I like the diagonal “flow” of the photograph. Curiously, with WordPress’s snow turned on, I have the impression that snow is falling on the scene as I look at it.

    Steve Schwartzman


    Comment by Steve Schwartzman — December 14, 2011 @ 6:02 pm

    • There has been a little more snow on the ridge since the photo, but hopefully there will be much more soon.


      Comment by montucky — December 14, 2011 @ 11:38 pm

  28. Do you have email Montucky?


    Comment by Ron Mangels — December 15, 2011 @ 8:47 pm

  29. Lovely light hitting the top of the ridge… gorgeous composition!


    Comment by Victoria — December 28, 2011 @ 12:33 pm

    • It’s an interesting spot, Tory. I look forward to hiking up there when we get a real snowfall!


      Comment by montucky — December 29, 2011 @ 12:25 am

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