Well, the snow has already melted except for the higher places. The valleys are all clear as are the highways. Areas like are still available though for anyone who wants to work to see them! Today was the first day that I have been able to get that high and I loved it!
I just glanced through my photo library, and it is about where it is this time of the year in the past several years. I always try to hike up there before the snow all melts. Fortunately, the mountains in this locale received about their usual amount of snow last winter. The Bitterroots to the south of here received far less than normal.
I still remember our family vacation to Colorado when I was in grade school. Somewhere – maybe around the Continental Divide – we found enough residual snow for me to make a snowball. I still have a pic of my dad and I there. It was part of a set I took to school for show and tell, since I didn’t have a way to get the snowball back home.
Perhaps because of the sharp contrasts of temperature and seasons, seeing snow in what one normally considers “summer” is quite memorable. It’s one of the very wonderful things about the mountains of the northwest. I also love the late snowfalls that happen in late June or even July. On June 23, 2007 I hiked up to just below where this photo was taken and there was about 2 inches of new snow. Three days later I returned and that was gone but when I got to the top there were still snow banks up there.
Yes they do look like sand dunes. I imagine at times during the winter when the snow is very cold and almost granular, the continual wind at the mountain top makes it swirl and drift randomly much as sand does.
I love that diversity too and it’s one reason why I like this particular location. 80 miles to the west of here is one of the wettest places in Montana and 20 miles to the north is one of the driest. The elevation of the Clark Fork Valley is just over 2,000 feet but the mountains on either side are over 7,000. There can be lots of surprises here!