Montana Outdoors

September 17, 2012

Cougar Peak Lookout

About three weeks ago I visited Cougar Peak and the Cougar Peak lookout on the way to a trail head that leads beyond it. The lookout cabin there has recently been restored and is part of the Forest Service Lookout rental program I understand. Although there is a good single track road up to the peak, the lookout sits right at the edge of the Cataract Roadless area about 22 miles northwest of Thompson Falls, Montana in the Lolo National Forest at an elevation of 6694 feet and has nice views of the Clark Fork River valley and the surrounding Lolo National Forest.

The current lookout cabin is an L4 model, built in 1952 to replace an older one from the 1930’s. It is in very nice shape now and I’m glad it has been restored to provide an insight into what those old L4’s were like.

Cougar Peak Lookout

Cougar Peak Lookout

Cougar Peak Lookout

Cougar Peak Lookout

Cougar Peak Lookout

Cougar Peak Lookout

Cougar Peak Lookout

Restroom with a view!

Cougar Peak Lookout road

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September 15, 2012

Evans Lake (3) – The Flowers

Somewhat unusual for that part of the Coeur d’Alene Mountains in summer, there were only a few flowers in bloom, perhaps because of the hot, dry conditions this summer.

Indian-Pipe

Indian-Pipe, Monotropa uniflora, a Saprophytic perennial

Update:

In a comment, I mentioned the thought that due to the rather mysterious aura of the Indian Pipes, there must be some Indian legends about them. Linda from The Task at Hand has given me permission to include the following legend which she received from a friend:

“According to legend, a long time ago, before selfishness came into the world, the Cherokee people were happy sharing the hunting and fishing places with their neighbors. All this changed when Selfishness came into the world and man began to quarrel. The Cherokee Indians quarreled with tribes on the east. Finally the chiefs of several tribes met in council to try to settle the dispute. They smoked the pipe and continued to quarrel for seven days and seven nights. This displeased the Great Spirit because people are not supposed to smoke the pipe until they make peace. As he looked upon the old men with heads bowed, he decided to do something to remind people to smoke the pipe only at the time they make peace.

The Great Spirit turned the old men into greyish flowers now called ~Indian Pipes~ and he made them grow where friends and relatives had quarreled. He made the smoke hang over these mountains until all the people all over the world learn to live together in peace.”

Thanks Linda!

Western Rattlesnake Plantain

Rattlesnake Plantain, Goodyera oblongifolia, an Orchid

Indian Hellebore

Indian Hellebore, Veratrum viride, a member of the Lily family

Scouler's St. Johnswort, Norton's St. Johnswort

Scouler's St. Johnswort, Norton's St. Johnswort

Scouler’s St. Johnswort, Norton’s St. Johnswort, Hypericum scouleri

Self-Heal

Self-Heal, Prunella vulgaris, Mint family

Hooded Ladies'-tresses

Hooded Ladies'-tresses

Hooded Ladies’-tresses, Spiranthes romanzoffiana, an Orchid

September 14, 2012

Evans Lake (2) – The Lake

While studying the USFS map prior to a previous hike to Blossom Lakes and Pear Lake in the Evans Gulch Roadless Area, I also studied the area around Evans Lake which sits just below the high ridge separating Idaho and Montana a few miles east of Pear Lake and made a mental note that I would like to go there some time. Not long after, a hiking friend mentioned it as a possible trip and I jumped at it.

Evans Lake Trail head

August 15, 2012 USFS Trail 696. Elevation at trail head ~ 3500 ft. Elevation at Evans Lake 5500 ft.

For the most part the day was dark and the forest was dark and therefore I didn’t take pictures along the trail even though it is a beautiful trail with some very nice switchbacks just before the lake. I had been cleared recently, but I think by an outfitter because he cut his initials on some of the larger cuts with his chain saw.

Like so many of the mountain lakes in this area the first views of them from the trail are from above.

Evans Lake

Evans Lake

Evans Lake

Evans Lake

Untitled

Evans Lake

Evans Lake

Evans Lake

Evans Lake

September 13, 2012

Evans Lake (1)

On August 15th a friend and I hiked to Evans Lake in the Evans Lake Roadless Area, and a half mile or so above the trail head came across this old Cedar stump which still stands as a lonely and rather obscure piece of the history of the area. Its girth is around four feet and the springboard notches in it can still easily be seen. (Loggers in those days cut springboard notches into which they could insert springboards which then could be used as platforms, allowing the loggers to stand and use their cross-cut saws to cut higher-up the base of the tree where the trunk is narrower.)

Cedar stump

In the later part of the 1800’s gold strikes in the Coeur d’Alene Mountains of eastern Idaho were attracting miners from all over the west. In 1883-1884 a road was built up Prospect Creek from the present day town of Thompson Falls Montana which sits beside the Clark Fork of the Columbia River to the foot of the Montana-Idaho divide as access to those Idaho mines. Along that road at Evans Creek, a way-station called Mountain House was built to accommodate those who travelled that road, but it burned in the late 1880s and was not rebuilt. My guess is that this tree was cut and used in the building of that house.

September 2, 2012

It will probably be called the “Combest Creek” fire.

Filed under: Wildland fires — Tags: , , — montucky @ 9:31 pm

This afternoon a wildfire started up just to the south of the town of Plains Montana in the area of Combest Creek. It has been aided by some pretty good winds.

Just before dark there were several helicopters working the fire with water drops and two fixed wing aircraft, the yellow one dropping water and the silver and red one dropping fire retardant slurry.

Combest (?) fire

The Combest Creek (?) fire

Water plane

This plane was making water drops: see next photo.

Water drop

Slurry plane

This is a small slurry bomber and the following series shows one slurry run just before it became too dark to fly. (And take pictures)

Slurry drop

Slurry drop

Slurry drop

Slurry drop

Note: Here is some information on the yellow plane, a Model 415 SuperScooper.

Update: InciWeb has just started tracking this fire and have named it the “Blacktail Ridge” fire. It is now 250 acres.

September 1, 2012

Hello there!

Filed under: Elk — Tags: , — montucky @ 10:03 pm

Bull elk

Bull elk

Photos taken at about four miles into the Cataract roadless area.

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