Montana Outdoors

December 6, 2013

A short meander on a cold day

Filed under: Winter — Tags: , — montucky @ 9:27 pm

Montana, like most of the northwest is in the middle of a cold snap. We are having the coldest temperatures in the past ten years, most notably tonight and tomorrow night with lows expected in the mid teens below zero. (At the moment the outside thermometer is showing – 0º.)

The meteorologist at one of the area TV stations mentioned this morning that yesterday in Great Falls (about 200 miles east of here) the temperature reached -26º and at the same time the temperature at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica was only at -20°.

Today I made a short and very painful meander down along the river to get a few photos of its icy conditions. Painful because I have a problem with one knee (that thankfully can be repaired) that causes me to walk somewhat like one of Dr. Frankenstein’s creations. The temperature was 9º and with a 20mph wind, the chill factor was -20º. Inside my goose down parka it was as warm as toast, but I could sure feel the cold on my fingers when I was snapping pictures! The moisture from my breath iced up my mustache, but I love to breathe that cold fresh air!

Here are a few scenes of the river:

Ice on the Clark Fork

Ice on the Clark Fork

Ice on the Clark Fork

Ice on the Clark Fork

Ice on the Clark Fork



  1. Beautiful! But makes me shiver just looking at them..I think I need a down parka..


    Comment by Roberta — December 6, 2013 @ 9:32 pm

  2. One of my knees was giving me a fit when we were in Glacier. Hope you get yours working up to speed. For those of us sitting in our warm GA houses, your cold hike was well worth the pain. 🙂



    Comment by knightofswords — December 6, 2013 @ 9:37 pm

    • Knees can be really pesky! I will have to tough this one out until some time in January I’ve been told.
      We won’t see temperatures like yours for at least another 6 months.
      The U of M has a playoff tomorrow with a team from South Carolina. It was 61 degrees when they boarded the plane there and below zero when they arrived here. The wind chill temps at game time will be between -15 and -30.


      Comment by montucky — December 6, 2013 @ 9:59 pm

      • Love those wind chills. I lived in Illinois for six years in a small town on the Wisconsin border. Great wind chills there. However, nothing to match Logan Pass. Lesa’s knee has gotten so bad, she’s wearing one of those velcro braces on it. Yes, knees are pesky sometimes.



        Comment by knightofswords — December 6, 2013 @ 11:37 pm

        • Logan Pass is supposed to have wind chill of -50 tonight.
          Please tell Lesa I sympathize with her! It’s no fun! They should be able to fix mine with arthroscopic surgery: I have high hopes and will keep you posted about that!


          Comment by montucky — December 6, 2013 @ 11:56 pm

  3. Stunning photos! That looks COLD. What is going on with your weather? I’m guessing we might get the same in two weeks’ time, which is usually the case!


    Comment by Jo Woolf — December 7, 2013 @ 12:55 am

    • We are in the middle of a cold air mass that has come down from Canada. It has extended as far south as Texas. We usually get this at least once a winter here but this is colder than usual. It seems to be about 5 days of sub-zero cold and by about next Thursday we should see snow coming in and the clouds that bring it will keep daytime temps about 30F again. Personally I don’t mind it so much but it is so dangerous for those who are not well prepared, especially if there are any power outages.


      Comment by montucky — December 7, 2013 @ 1:03 am

  4. I meant to say also, I hope you can get your knee fixed soon! That must be very painful, and not nice if you want to get out on a walk!


    Comment by Jo Woolf — December 7, 2013 @ 12:59 am

    • Thanks for your concern Jo. It has been a devastating problem for me, not being able to walk much. I’ve walked 1600 miles year to date and seen some wonderful scenes because of that. This should be correctible with a little surgery as soon as that can be arranged. Much worse things have been overcome by folks who have the will.


      Comment by montucky — December 7, 2013 @ 1:07 am

  5. These photos were well worth getting frozen fingers for. I think the Clark Fork is one of the most beautiful rivers I’ve seen.


    Comment by wordsfromanneli — December 7, 2013 @ 2:34 am

  6. Absolutely beautiful spot once again, well done for braving the cold and your painful knee to get the pics for us to see. I hope the knee gets better soon, I’m not a big fan of knee surgery but if that’s what the doc says you need….keep hobbling in the meantime to get photos of amazing places for us 🙂


    Comment by Mike Howe — December 7, 2013 @ 4:58 am

    • At least the knee is fixable. In the mean time my range will be very limited.


      Comment by montucky — December 7, 2013 @ 10:07 am

  7. Love the stark beauty of these photos. You are very brave, venturing out to take these! Brrrrr!


    Comment by Sue — December 7, 2013 @ 7:02 am

    • The river has its own winter look to it. Upstream about a dozen miles, the Flathead river enters, and a few miles up it there will be ice jams that are pretty impressive. I’ll try to get up there too, while the cold weather lasts.


      Comment by montucky — December 7, 2013 @ 10:09 am

  8. So very pretty, Terry…and I do love, love, love the icy cold air out there while I’m bundled up warmly…I find it truly invigorating, especially when out among scenes like these. And take care of that knee…you still need it!!


    Comment by seekraz — December 7, 2013 @ 7:57 am

    • There are few things that feel like that icy air. It’s so refreshing! As each spring breaks, I lament the passing of those cold breezes that feel so goo on my face.


      Comment by montucky — December 7, 2013 @ 10:11 am

      • I’m right there with you, Terry…my thoughts exactly. 🙂


        Comment by seekraz — December 7, 2013 @ 11:21 am

  9. Mighty cold! Mighty nice light in those pix.


    Comment by C.C. — December 7, 2013 @ 8:24 am

    • There should be some good light today too, with a cold sun. Then we will welcome some clouds and some snow that will warm things up.


      Comment by montucky — December 7, 2013 @ 10:12 am

  10. Thanks for getting out and capturing these beautiful scenes. They are stunning.


    Comment by anniespickns — December 7, 2013 @ 8:51 am

    • I have always found the ice fascinating and beautiful. There are few things like a Montana winter.


      Comment by montucky — December 7, 2013 @ 10:13 am

  11. It looks cold for sure, and with temperatures like that it will be probably frozen over in no time. I’ve seen 35 below twice in my life and both times the water pipes in the different houses I was living in froze solid. I’m hoping that there isn’t a third time. Take care of that knee!


    Comment by New Hampshire Gardener — December 7, 2013 @ 9:10 am

    • In this stretch of water, the river will not freeze over: it is too fast moving and turbulent, but there are a few places where the ice cakes that float down will lodge themselves together and span the river. There are some smoother places in the river about 20 miles downstream where I’m sure it has frozen across by now.

      I’ve seen below -30 a few times too. There are quite a few locations in the eastern part of Montana that are in those ranges right now. There are always a few folks around who get frozen pipes. That’s a nasty situation that I’m very careful to avoid!


      Comment by montucky — December 7, 2013 @ 10:21 am

  12. Sharp intake of breath here! Both by the beauty and the cold! Thanks for sharing! Glad I can enjoy the Clark Fork in Texas AND in warmth! Hope you can get that knee fixed soon. Know the cold weather is hard on it. warm hugs


    Comment by Elizabeth — December 7, 2013 @ 11:18 am

    • Thanks Elizabeth! The cold spell is harsh, but so beautiful too. Tonight the stars and moon are so bright it’s hard to stop looking at them. I love these bright, cold nights, but just not too many of them!


      Comment by montucky — December 7, 2013 @ 10:52 pm

  13. That ice is really pretty…especially in a photo! Gorgeous. I’m sorry about your knee, I know how much hiking means to you. I’ve known many people who have had arthroscopic knee surgery and they’re good as new!


    Comment by Candace — December 7, 2013 @ 12:28 pm

    • Thanks for the encouragement, Candace! I was very concerned and very happy when I was told that it is fixable!


      Comment by montucky — December 7, 2013 @ 10:53 pm

  14. I laughed when I saw you mention that your cold has reached all the way to Texas. It surely has – even to the coastal bend and southward. The wind chills in Brownsville this a.m. were forecast to be from 27F-37F. Nothing for you, but for the Rio Grande Valley? A bit much.

    I just love the starkness of winter, and your photos are so fine. Did you happen across reports of the spinning ice disk in North Dakota? I’ve never heard of such a thing, but it apparently is more common than I realized. Just not REALLY common!


    Comment by shoreacres — December 7, 2013 @ 1:22 pm

    • I’ve been concerned for all of those in Texas and other southern places who are getting the cold weather. It’s much harder there than it is here. I remember in about 1970 or there abouts driving in to Dallas from Phoenix and arriving in a big ice storm, about a quarter inch of ice everywhere. No traffic on the streets so we went out and had a great dinner with lots of attention because we were the only ones in the restaurant!

      Tonight we’re still heading for -13 and it’s -5 right now. I’m very thankful for a warm, safe home!

      Yes, I saw that ice disk. Every winter there’s one like that on the river not far from my house. It is still forming now. It’s where the river current forms an eddy causing anything that floats by to circle for a time. In winter it’s cakes of ice and they weld themselves together. I will try to remember to check on it in the morning. It is fascinating!


      Comment by montucky — December 7, 2013 @ 11:00 pm

  15. It was -29 here last night , not windchill, the temp! Brrrr. Not much outside time right now … I appreciate your intrepid spirit. 🙂


    Comment by Teresa Evangeline — December 7, 2013 @ 8:57 pm

    • Now that’s very cold! I’ve seen -30 only several times here and that was in the mid 90’s. Our coldest weather occurs east of the Continental Divide and over on this side we usually escape most of it.


      Comment by montucky — December 7, 2013 @ 11:01 pm

  16. ….and here’s me complaining about another rainy day today – lol.

    It sure does look cold over your way.


    Comment by Vicki (from Victoria A Photography) — December 8, 2013 @ 7:17 pm

    • Once or twice a year a cold air mass from the Arctic will flow south into this area and bring us very cold temperatures for about a week. The present one is very large and has travelled as far as some of the southern states. In will start warming again in the next few days.


      Comment by montucky — December 8, 2013 @ 9:19 pm

  17. Take care of that poor knee. Thanks for enduring the pain and the wintry deep freeze to bring us these beautiful pictures. We still have just enough snow to cover the ground and had some icy conditions yesterday but we haven’t had bitter cold yet. Temps in the 20’s yesterday but warming up to high 30’s today.


    Comment by Mama's Empty Nest — December 9, 2013 @ 10:48 am

    • Thank you for your concern! Looks like maybe the cold front is moving on your way. It’s warming a bit here now. -2 last night and +9 at the moment with a few inches of snow. I’m glad for the snow: it warms things up a lot.


      Comment by montucky — December 9, 2013 @ 11:22 am

  18. This mountain stream does look freezing cold but what a beautiful shade of blue ! Wonderful pictures. I hope you are taking good care of your knee ?


    Comment by isathreadsoflife — December 10, 2013 @ 6:47 am

  19. Oh Montucky, the photos are gorgeous, so sorry your knee made it a more difficult excursion. Hope you are soon back in good standing! ( My hubby has a similar thing going on, just his last week, looking at Total Knee and wondering how long we will have to curtail our desert hikes, I’ll be back to solo wanderings for a few months…) Thinking of you, and hope there is improvement soon. My best to you.


    Comment by Bo Mackison — December 23, 2013 @ 7:03 am

    • Thanks for you concern, Bo. I found out today that I will need a total knee replacement too. I’m looking forward to having it done as soon as possible! We are fortunate that the procedure has become as refined as it in now! Best wishes to your hubby for his procedure and recovery!

      Merry Christmas to you and your family!


      Comment by montucky — December 23, 2013 @ 8:17 pm

  20. So beautiful!


    Comment by Sandra Wells — December 28, 2013 @ 10:34 pm

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