Montana Outdoors

August 23, 2012

Little Thompson Peak (3)

The trail to the Thompson Peaks was all but completely obscured by the fire and seeing it, it’s impossible to know if the Forest Service will attempt to save it or whether it has been lost forever, which would be a shame. From the trail head that I chose to use at the gate that closes off USFS road 5582 on the North Fork of the Little Thompson River drainage, trail 310 meets trail 1309 after about a mile and from there to Little Thompson Peak is another mile or so. Had I not been there before and if I hadn’t had a bit of experience with forest trails I could not have found it. An old blaze mark on a burned tree, the charred remains of some old down timber that had been sawed from the trail in the past, a dim picture of the trail corridor through fire-killed trees in places and a few sections where the tread of the trail could still be seen were enough clues to follow what was the old trail. The following photos were taken along that trail to the place where one must leave the trail to follow a short ridge to the peak.

Thompson Peak trail

Thompson Peak trail

Thompson Peak trail

Thompson Peak trail

Thompson Peak trail

Thompson Peak trail

Thompson Peak trail

Thompson Peak trail

Thompson Peak trail

Thompson Peak trail

Thompson Peak trail

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50 Comments »

  1. Only two photos showed up. The videos didn’t display.

    Like

    Comment by wordsfromanneli — August 23, 2012 @ 9:06 pm

    • I had some problems posting this time, but now things look normal from here. I wonder what’s going on!

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      Comment by montucky — August 23, 2012 @ 9:27 pm

      • Maybe next time the problem will be cleared up. I know another blogger who has had problems like this and it almost seems as if the Internet has to hiccup sometimes.

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        Comment by wordsfromanneli — August 23, 2012 @ 9:29 pm

        • I just renewed the photo links to Flickr and I hope that was the problem. Tonight I’m working with a new iMac including new versions of the operating system and most of the software, so I hope the problem is with the Flickr links.

          Like

          Comment by montucky — August 23, 2012 @ 9:46 pm

  2. I suspect the problem is with WordPress. They were having some server issues tonight, and only two photos showed up in the email I received. Everything is fine here and on Flickr.

    My favorite photo, I think, is the last, with the flowers blooming. It was fun to recognize some fireweed, too. I’m curious about the rocks in the 4th photo. Is it freezing that splits them like that? I’d think the fire would pass too quickly for them to be affected by heat. Or is it a rock that naturally flakes?

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    Comment by shoreacres — August 23, 2012 @ 9:49 pm

    • Next post I will include more of the flowers. It’s amazing to see them on a peak that was right in the middle of the inferno! Most of the rocks that make up these mountains are sedimentary and they are relatively fragile (for rocks). They break for many reasons, but the heat of the fire probably didn’t break them. Freezing water in cracks breaks many in winter I’m sure.

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      Comment by montucky — August 23, 2012 @ 10:33 pm

  3. I tried it again and it came through fine. Beautiful, clear photos!

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    Comment by wordsfromanneli — August 23, 2012 @ 10:05 pm

    • I’m glad it is straightened out! I think I know now how to avoid that problem!

      Like

      Comment by montucky — August 23, 2012 @ 10:34 pm

  4. It’s wonderful to see the new life blooming amid the destruction. Does the Forest Service come in and re-seed these areas, or just let them come back on their own, do you know?

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    Comment by seekraz — August 23, 2012 @ 10:15 pm

    • I don’t know of a consistent plan by the Forest Service. I know they do some seeding but I don’t know if they did any in the burn or if they did, where. The good news is though that I saw what must have been thousands of small firs and pines a foot to a foot and a half tall and they are doing very well! It will still be centuries before it’s a forest again though.

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      Comment by montucky — August 23, 2012 @ 10:38 pm

      • Well that is good news, Terry. I love seeing those little ones thriving…they give such hope. 🙂

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        Comment by seekraz — August 23, 2012 @ 10:43 pm

  5. In principle, the outlook is desolate, but the flowers and plants prove the beginning of a new life. In some photos the sky is deep blue, my favorite color. In fourth photo “broken rocks” might cause trekking very difficult. Great photos again which I enjoyed. Thank You.

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    Comment by Sartenada — August 23, 2012 @ 10:49 pm

    • Yes, those rocks make it tough hiking. I was in a different area today where the trail crossed many such rock slides. I was glad for a pair of very tough hiking boots!

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      Comment by montucky — August 24, 2012 @ 9:33 pm

  6. NPR had a time lapse of some managed forests today. http://www.npr.org/blogs/pictureshow/2012/08/23/159614784/our-changing-forests-an-88-year-time-lapse From this, it’s pretty clear why the fires are so much worse than they were 88 years ago.

    Like

    Comment by jomegat — August 23, 2012 @ 10:52 pm

    • Those photos are a real treasure! They really do show the progress of a harvested area. I did not like the article though. The Bitterroot National Forest is not a “managed” forest. It is far too large and the “managed” part must be around 1% of its 1.5 million acres. Of that, over half is wilderness where no tree cutting is permitted.

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      Comment by montucky — August 24, 2012 @ 9:36 pm

  7. It’s always brutal to see so many ravaged trees — but like others have said, it’s wonderful to see the natural course of renewal underlying the burn. One can only hope that we’ll do something about managing the cause of these fires (interesting NPR article!)…

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    Comment by FeyGirl — August 24, 2012 @ 6:00 am

    • There is really nothing we will ever be able to do about “managing” for fires. The scope of the western forests is far too great. The Bitterroot Forest is about 2,300 square miles, half of it wilderness. Our attempts at fire suppression have done nothing but make the situation more dangerous. What we can and should manage is the development taking place at the forest interfaces. Unless and until we do, the loss of structures and homes and the financial costs will continue to escalate. Fires will continue to happen as the ecology keeps in natural balance.

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      Comment by montucky — August 24, 2012 @ 9:44 pm

      • Very well said… And completely true. I was just talking about this very issue recently, with regards to our Everglades. How much more concrete jungle / devastation of the natural world will occur — wayward development, lack of controls — before realization is reached? Perspective must change.

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        Comment by FeyGirl — August 25, 2012 @ 5:20 pm

  8. I never thought of that-when a forest burns, so do the trails. It’s sad to see such damage but it is something that has been happening for thousands of years and is nature’s way. Unless of course, it was caused by man.

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    Comment by New Hampshire Gardener — August 24, 2012 @ 6:43 am

    • Fire has always been one of nature’s forest management tools. We think of it differently perhaps because of our short life cycle.
      interesting to think about it!

      Like

      Comment by montucky — August 24, 2012 @ 9:54 pm

  9. Little bits of wild flowers at the end to soothe the soul and eyes. Fire, sometimes a neccessary thing, but hurts the eyes, doesn’t it. Where you sad as you walked what was once a familiar path?

    Like

    Comment by Homestead Ramblings — August 24, 2012 @ 7:23 am

    • I would be sad if that trail were to be lost or decommissioned, although I personally will be able to find the old trail and I don’t know how many other people used it.

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      Comment by montucky — August 24, 2012 @ 10:00 pm

  10. Destruction like that is so raw, isn’t it? But as your last photo shows, there’s always hope after devastation.

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    Comment by Mama's Empty Nest — August 24, 2012 @ 8:08 am

    • It’s a very rewarding experience to witness the renewal of a burned area and see an example of the awesomeness of nature’s process.

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      Comment by montucky — August 24, 2012 @ 10:06 pm

  11. It is the strangest thing! When I look at these photographs,(which I love) I feel like I am high in the mountains.

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    Comment by sandy — August 24, 2012 @ 8:24 am

    • That’s what I hope for when I post many of these photos, Sandy. I wish you and others could experience them first hand!

      Like

      Comment by montucky — August 24, 2012 @ 10:07 pm

  12. Gosh, that’s really desolate and sad. I’ve see burned forest here many times but I’ve not been in the midst of such a large area as you were here.

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    Comment by Candace — August 24, 2012 @ 8:26 am

    • When I lived in Arizona I used to hunt in some of the 50-year-old burns north of the rim. The forage that they provided for the wildlife at that stage of renewal, especially elk, was magnificent!

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      Comment by montucky — August 24, 2012 @ 10:09 pm

  13. The forest fires are natures way…sad to see but it’s part of the life and death circle. The regeneration process is truly amazing. Wonderful photos and the blue sky of Montana is a sight to behold!

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    Comment by dhphotosite — August 24, 2012 @ 11:37 am

    • Our skies have been filled with smoke a lot for the last couple months, from big fires in Idaho and eastern Washington and even from Oregon. Last night and today a cold front from Canada has been moving through and in between the clouds the sky is deep blue again for awhile.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — August 24, 2012 @ 10:12 pm

  14. Hi Montucky, I like the views. Even seemingly burned and dead-looking trees often regrow if there is enough core alive and living roots. Time will tell. If not, the area will maybe get new seedlings sprout or be planted with young seedlings. Have a great day!

    Like

    Comment by wildlifewatcher — August 24, 2012 @ 1:22 pm

    • Some trees, like the Lodgepole Pine, actually need fire to reproduce from their cones. There are thousands of small Lodgepole seedlings growing already in that area. The wildlife has also started to return.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — August 24, 2012 @ 10:14 pm

  15. Despite the devastation, oddly beautiful. Forest recovery in this type of climate will take decades but it will recover. Initially there will be a complement of different trees eventually whittling down to whatever is deemed appropriate by mother earth (and that’s changing rapidly with climate change). A wonderful expose on a natural process.

    Like

    Comment by Wild_Bill — August 24, 2012 @ 3:27 pm

    • It actually comforts me to see the resiliency of the process. These western forests are much more robust in their abilities than we usually understand them to be. I wish everyone could see it and understand it!

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      Comment by montucky — August 24, 2012 @ 10:17 pm

  16. It is very strange to see nature like this, Montucky. I am sure nature will recover, if otherwise undisturbed..

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    Comment by bentehaarstad — August 24, 2012 @ 6:25 pm

    • Yes, it will recover and in fact it has already begun to recover. I was in a part of the forest that has not had a major burn for hundreds of years, but even there I saw traces of smaller fires that are a normal part of the whole process. Nature’s renewal cycles are awesome and fascinating!

      Like

      Comment by montucky — August 24, 2012 @ 10:20 pm

  17. It’s all a part of nature’s long-term rhythms- I know it’s hard to see it this way…it’ll be interesting to see how this terrain changes over the coming months and years!

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    Comment by Watching Seasons — August 25, 2012 @ 6:52 am

    • There are several such places in this area. I visit them every year of so to see the changes but I know I will not live long enough to see everything completed.

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      Comment by montucky — August 25, 2012 @ 8:03 am

  18. You have the memory of the trail and of when the trees were alive – your knowledge is an asset for the governmental keepers of that land. This blog is a good way to maintain the knowledge for future generations. Wish the government would link your site to theirs.

    Like

    Comment by C.C. — August 25, 2012 @ 12:04 pm

    • There must be thousands of people around who have knowledge that government departments could use but they take advantage of very little of it. Perhaps some day.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — August 25, 2012 @ 4:05 pm

  19. Hiking in that area has got to be very challenging, what with all the dead and down trees across the trail and missing signage and blazes. And the rewards of the hike are much reduced by the devastation of the fires. At least for another lifetime. At least there are still some areas that haven’t yet burned to hike in!

    Like

    Comment by Kim — August 27, 2012 @ 9:20 pm

    • Hiking there is interesting though, and seeing the resilience of nature makes a trip there well worthwhile for me, at least every couple of years.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — August 27, 2012 @ 9:27 pm

  20. Who knew that dead trees could be so stunning–this is a very dramatic set of photos! Enjoyed finally catching up on your blog and photos after a recent trip back East.

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    Comment by kateri — August 28, 2012 @ 4:15 pm

    • I’ve found the area interesting and after watching the fire when it was burning I’m amazed at how much actually survived.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — August 28, 2012 @ 9:09 pm

  21. Did you upgrade to Lion or Mountain Lion? I’m still on Snow Leopard and kind of afraid I won’t like Lion or Mountain Lion but I don’t want to become obsolete:)

    Like

    Comment by Candace — August 31, 2012 @ 10:02 am

    • Lion came with the new Mac. The jury is still out on whether like it or not. It seems to have some strange things going on. I really liked Snow Leopard and so far I haven’t yet found anything that is better with Lion.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — August 31, 2012 @ 8:10 pm

  22. Evokes lots of emotion… love the second photo with the spot of pink! Is the Montana fire anywhere close to you right now?

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    Comment by kcjewel — August 31, 2012 @ 6:49 pm

    • We have been fortunate here this year so far. No big fires close to us. Lots of smoke in the air though, mostly from Idaho fires.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — August 31, 2012 @ 8:07 pm


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