Montana Outdoors

June 30, 2012

Reservation Divide

Filed under: Reservation Divide Roadless area — Tags: — montucky @ 10:23 pm

Yesterday a friend and I hiked about 4 miles of USFS trail #98 in the Reservation Divide Roadless Area, which is in the southeastern end of the Coeur d’Alene Mountains in northwest Montana and part of the Lolo National Forest. This roadless area consists of 16,970 acres (26 square miles), is about 20 miles in length, varies in elevation from about 6000 ft to 8000 ft, and its northern boundary is also part of the southern boundary of the Flathead Indian Reservation. The trail head for USFS trail 98 is at 5900 ft and is accessed by about 9 miles of Forest Service roads after taking off of Montana Highway 135. The following photos provide a sample of the views from the trail looking out over the Nine Mile Valley. Note: This area was the site of a very large wildfire in 2002 and it is in the long process of recovery.

USFS Trail 98, Reservation Divide

USFS Trail 98, Reservation Divide

USFS Trail 98, Reservation Divide

USFS Trail 98, Reservation Divide

USFS Trail 98, Reservation Divide

In Reservation Divide Roadless area

USFS Trail 98, Reservation Divide

USFS Trail 98, Reservation Divide

A few words about Roadless Areas:
Simply put, roadless areas are natural areas without roads, but such lands in the US are covered by a term that is more specific and refers to Forest Service lands that are called “Inventoried roadless areas”.
Inventoried roadless areas can be roughly defined as undeveloped areas typically exceeding 5,000 acres that met the minimum criteria for wilderness consideration under the Wilderness Act and that were inventoried during the Forest Service’s Roadless Area Review and Evaluation process, subsequent assessments, or forest planning. They total to approximately 60 million acres of land, most of which is in the western US, Puerto Rico and Alaska. (The state of Montana for example contains approximately 6.4 million acres, or 10,000 square miles, of Inventoried Roadless land.) I am happy to live fairly close to 15 of Montana’s roadless areas and I spend as much time in them as I can. Roughly half of the photos I post on this blog have been taken in or next to roadless areas.

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43 Comments »

  1. Even though you can see and feel the scars on the land, there still is that breathtaking beauty that is magnified just by the vastness of it all. Way cool.

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    Comment by Homestead Ramblings — July 1, 2012 @ 5:12 am

    • It is fascinating to hike through the site of a fire like that and see just how much and where the vegetation was spared from the flames. Some small areas right in the middle of it all escaped and of course are there to start the renewal. Other areas were totally burned to where the heat sterilized the soil and recovery there will take many years to even start. All of this is part of the cycle of the natural forest. Heavily logged areas take much longer to recover, if they ever do.

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      Comment by montucky — July 1, 2012 @ 9:18 am

  2. Just beautiful… It’s amazing how nature rejuvenates.

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    Comment by FeyGirl — July 1, 2012 @ 6:14 am

    • It’s truly amazing. I wish more people could walk through areas like this and see how nature recovers. The wildlife there was abundant, with elk, moose and deer tracks on the trail, grouse, Columbian ground squirrels and all kinds of birds having apparently made a nearly full recovery in ten years. There was one patch of huckleberries about a mile across right in the middle of a badly burned area that is just luxuriant with a huge crop of green berries (it’s on my list to visit again in two weeks).

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      Comment by montucky — July 1, 2012 @ 9:23 am

  3. Did you see any evidence of mountain pine beetle? The fire scars heal so much nicer if the area isn’t logged, like the beetle-killed forests are being logged.
    BTW, is that pointy peak in the first 2 shots a named mountain? Could it be the peak formerly known as “Squaw”? We can see that one from Missoula.

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    Comment by Kim — July 1, 2012 @ 6:24 am

    • No evidence there at all. As I recall there wasn’t too much before it burned and of course the fire took care of whatever there was. From the ridge you can see the remains of old clear cuts down lower on the mountains , much older than the burn, that have hardly begun to recover compared to the burn area.

      Yes, that is Squaw Peak you see. It is about at the eastern end of the roadless area nearly 20 miles away from where the photo was taken. It’s now called Ch-paa-qn (pronounced “cha-pock-qwin”), which has caused it to lose a lot of its history and makes it impossible to remember.

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      Comment by montucky — July 1, 2012 @ 9:29 am

  4. Wonderful to see snow even at midsummer, and I just love the amazing views. Superb country!

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    Comment by Jo Woolf — July 1, 2012 @ 8:34 am

    • The elevation of the ridge is around 7000 feet most of its length and below it just a few miles to the north flows the Flathead River at an elevation of around 2600 feet. to the left side of photos two and three at the sky line you can dimly see part of the Mission Mountain range nearly 50 miles away, which has peaks around 10000 feet high. In photo six at the sky line to the far right part of the Bitterroot Mountains show up on the Montana/Idaho border.

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      Comment by montucky — July 1, 2012 @ 9:42 am

      • You know how much I love looking at mountains! 🙂 10,000 feet – that is amazing.

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        Comment by Jo Woolf — July 1, 2012 @ 11:35 am

  5. Wow these photos just brought back great memories of one of the areas we visited (the Nine Mile Valley). This was so cool to see the Missions and the Bitterroots. Super shots of a beautiful part of the world. You are a lucky man to live there!!!

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    Comment by dhphotosite — July 1, 2012 @ 10:00 am

    • The Nine Mile is a beautiful place. I have often wished that I could have lived there perhaps 80 years ago. I agree that I’m very lucky to live here and glad that I came back to this area when I did.

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      Comment by montucky — July 1, 2012 @ 9:11 pm

  6. Hi Montucky, Lovely photographs of the wilderness. That are is regrowing its trees and plants. Nice to see areas without roads. Have a great coming week! I am back to blogging after a nice two weeks off.

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    Comment by wildlifewatcher — July 1, 2012 @ 10:53 am

  7. What an amazingly beautiful place. I want to say alpine wilderness but I’m not sure that’s accurate. It’s going to be interesting to watch how the forest heals itself after the fire. We pay attention to the fires but forget about the healing process, which is really fascinating. There are many plants that are quick to colonize burned areas-fireweed is a good example.

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    Comment by New Hampshire Gardener — July 1, 2012 @ 11:58 am

    • It will take hundreds of years to fully recover, but that’s OK. Nature has the time. When I visited there in 2008 it was later in the summer and fireweed was in bloom. There were huge patches of it. I did notice this trip that there are a few pine trees spread around about three feet tall and looking quite healthy, and you can see in the photos that the bear grass is abundant and luxurious this year.

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      Comment by montucky — July 1, 2012 @ 9:30 pm

  8. That must have been a nice day. I can see right off that I would be stopping for photos about every twenty feet. It is hot here today, that snow looks really good.

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    Comment by sandy — July 1, 2012 @ 1:39 pm

    • The snow banks up there have a high ice content and they are very hard. They will last nearly until the new snows of fall.

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      Comment by montucky — July 1, 2012 @ 9:31 pm

  9. There are some amazing youtube videos of Hiroshima and surrounding areas – filled with spring wildflowers. Healing does take place, even from the most terrible events. I was curious – Texas has 4,093 acres! We don’t even make up one normal plot! Interestingly, the four sites all are in Sam Houston National Forest, two or three hours north of me. So I wouldn’t have to come to Montana to find a roadless area!

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    Comment by shoreacres — July 1, 2012 @ 2:17 pm

    • Sadly enough, most of the roadless areas left here are that way only because they exist in extreme terrain where it would be very difficult and enormously expensive to build roads there. Most of the lower, flatter mountainsides have been logged. At least it’s a good thing that so much of the wild areas have protection because of their terrain and location which isn’t subject to the whims of politics.

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      Comment by montucky — July 1, 2012 @ 9:40 pm

  10. Stunning photos! What are the high peaks in the background of the third photo?

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    Comment by Wild_Bill — July 1, 2012 @ 4:55 pm

    • That is part of the Mission Mountain Range that runs north and south just to the east of the Flathead and Mission valleys. It has several tall peaks, the tallest of which is McDonald Peak at nearly 10000 feet (9820), and contains he Mission Mountain Wilderness.

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      Comment by montucky — July 1, 2012 @ 9:59 pm

  11. 10 years of recovery after a wild fire…wow!

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    Comment by Bo Mackison — July 1, 2012 @ 7:32 pm

    • Fire areas like this are very interesting places. In some parts where the flames were especially intense, the ground was actually sterilized from the heat and practically nothing has started to grow yet. Other places, like oasis in a desert, were hardly scathed by the fire and help to provide seeds for the regrowth of the other areas. And there is a large variety in between. I have visited many such places and one of the most amazing things to me is how quickly the wildlife recovers and how soon even the large animals move back in. I was fascinated to see in this location an area where all the trees were gone, but it is already the home of large numbers of Columbian ground squirrels (and the hawks and others that prey on them). THere were lots of moose, elk and deer tracks including the tracks of a fawn that I thought was very early in an area like this.

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      Comment by montucky — July 1, 2012 @ 10:09 pm

  12. …and there’s your snow. We drove through TN today and are holed up in Wythville, VA listening to a rather violent thunderstorm right now. At least the temperature dropped.

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    Comment by jomegat — July 1, 2012 @ 10:08 pm

    • I bet it’s good to get out of the heat! We had a heavy storm here last night too with lots of lightning and heavy rain. Just a wonderful storm!

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      Comment by montucky — July 1, 2012 @ 10:11 pm

  13. Lovely images… that snow makes me chilly looking at it! haha

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    Comment by Stacey Dawn — July 1, 2012 @ 10:09 pm

    • I’ve gotten to the point where I like the snow up there in summer a lot better than the snow down here in the winter.

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      Comment by montucky — July 1, 2012 @ 10:13 pm

  14. It is amazing how nature heals herself and there’s a certain beauty as the forest comes back to life but sad, too, to think of all that land in Colorado (and other places right now) that will just be beginning the rejuvenation process as soon as the fires are out.

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    Comment by Candace — July 1, 2012 @ 11:29 pm

    • The forests have eternity to recover, and they will. The people have only very short life spans relative to the forests. They will most likely have to start over in other places. One of those who lost his home said that the houses could be rebuilt in a year, but their surroundings wouldn’t be the same for hundreds of years.

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      Comment by montucky — July 2, 2012 @ 8:58 pm

  15. I think there is so much beauty in the regrowth of previously demolished life. So beautifully captured.

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    Comment by Patty — July 3, 2012 @ 6:25 pm

    • There sure is. Mother Nature is the eternal optimist, never reluctant to start over.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — July 3, 2012 @ 8:59 pm

  16. Those little trees are standing proud like they are saying to the skeletons… I’m going to make you proud and grow as big and strong as you one day!

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    Comment by kcjewel — July 3, 2012 @ 9:57 pm

    • And they will! It will be a couple of centuries later though.

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      Comment by montucky — July 3, 2012 @ 10:09 pm

  17. So beautiful…so beautiful……. 🙂

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    Comment by seekraz — July 4, 2012 @ 11:45 am

  18. This is a striking series of images, the green and fresh growth in stark contrast to the black and scorched. I really like picture number 6. Are wild fires a normal part of the regeneration cycle of the forests in Montana?

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    Comment by Finn Holding — July 5, 2012 @ 1:16 am

    • Yes, they are. Fire has always been an important part of the forest life. In 1910 though a huge (3 million acres) fire swept through the northwest and soon after the US Forest Service was formed and ever since the government has attempted to suppress all fires. This has created an immense backlog of forest fuels that ordinarily would have naturally burned and thinned out the forests. Coupled with this has been an influx of mostly wealthy people who build their homes right in or near the forests, making fires a human tragedy and extremely costly to fight as well. Now there is no good answer to it, and people still refuse to learn.

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      Comment by montucky — July 5, 2012 @ 8:43 pm

  19. I enjoyed myself the hiking trip with You thru Your photos. I think that 4 miles would take me for hours, because had to stop every time and then to admire the beauty of landscape.

    Like

    Comment by Sartenada — July 5, 2012 @ 10:49 pm

    • I do admire it too, and usually get to photograph a few flowers. I am a slow hiker most of the time.

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      Comment by Montucky — July 6, 2012 @ 8:40 pm

  20. what an amazing hike!! sure wish I could have taken my nephews hiking someplace even sort of like this! I think I’ve asked you before but on a hike like this do you encounter snakes? (no need to post photos if you do!)

    Like

    Comment by skouba — July 7, 2012 @ 6:28 pm

    • There are several places I bet they would like to hike to here! I never see a snake on the higher trails. I think it’s just too cold for them up there. I’ve seen perhaps a dozen so far this summer at valley level, only one poisonous.

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      Comment by montucky — July 7, 2012 @ 8:51 pm

  21. Hello, after reading this awesome article i am too happy to share
    my experience here with mates.

    Like

    Comment by how2getyourgirlfriendback.com — January 1, 2013 @ 11:14 pm


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