Montana Outdoors

January 30, 2015

Annual visit to the cliff ice at Buffalo Bill Creek

Filed under: ice art, Winter — Tags: , , — montucky @ 10:57 pm

Each year I make a short winter hike up into the Buffalo Bill Creek canyon to see the icicles that form on the canyon walls. This time last year I was just starting to learn to walk with a brand new titanium knee and hiking into the canyon was out of the question. Today, after hundreds of hours of working with the knee (including walking/hiking for over 1400 miles) the trip up into the canyon was extra sweet!

In past years the weather was more fitting for the formation of the icicles than this warm winter, and the icicles were larger and more beautiful and photos of them can be seen in older blog posts, but I brought back some photos of them today to show them from a slightly different perspective and because the story written in the snow told me that no on else has been there this winter; aside from this post they would be completely unseen. The first photo shows a little perspective of the cliffs on which the icicles grow. It is sheer in most places, perhaps 200 feet tall and a bout a quarter of a mile long, and difficult to photograph because the canyon bottom is so very narrow. Anyway, here are a few photos.

Buffalo Bill Creek ice

Buffalo Bill Creek ice

Buffalo Bill Creek ice

Buffalo Bill Creek ice

Buffalo Bill Creek ice

Buffalo Bill Creek ice

Buffalo Bill Creek ice

Buffalo Bill Creek ice

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30 Comments »

  1. The icicles are lovely but those lichens are spectacular!

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    Comment by Jessica — January 31, 2015 @ 6:51 am

    • Yes they are! The cliff at the end of that canyon is taller than the rest and has a huge single rock at its peak that has a face probably 50 feet on a side. It has huge patches of lichens that are the color of yellow mustard. Lichens have very long lifetimes, some growing as slowly as a millimeter a year and some are thought to be among the oldest living organisms on earth. Because these cliffs as so sheer and quite isolated, whatever grows on them cannot be destroyed by the feet of animals and this gives them the time they need to flourish and mature.

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      Comment by montucky — January 31, 2015 @ 10:08 am

  2. I’m glad to hear that the new knee is working well. I could be looking at a new hip in the future.
    Interesting how the mosses and lichens grow in the same places the ice does. That must mean that groundwater seeps through those rocks all year long.
    It looks like a great place to explore!

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    Comment by New Hampshire Garden Solutions — January 31, 2015 @ 8:21 am

    • Yes there are seeps there all year, some noticeable in summer, most not. I noticed yesterday, near the side of the narrow canyon a spring bubbling out of the ground with a considerable flow that fed into the creek. I’m sure that so some extent that happens all along the cliff area.

      Don’t hesitate to have a hip replacement if it is necessary. I’ve read that the recovery period for them is much shorter than for knees. I have had a huge success with my new knee. If you calculate it out, walking the 1400 miles that I walked in the past year equated to over 1.5 million steps taken with that knee, and the doc showed me the new x-rays taken last week in my annual check and said the knee is perfect. That’s an amazing feat of durability for any kind of mechanical device!

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      Comment by montucky — January 31, 2015 @ 10:15 am

  3. for whatever reason, I became convinced early that algaes, lichens, and mosses were warm weather plants. I know now that “it ain’t necessarily so,” but it still startles me to see ice combined with any of them. Even though the masses of icicles from years past are impressive, there’s a different kind of beauty with these shots. Most beautiful of all, of course, is that you were able to get there to show us this hidden spot. That’s pretty inspirational, all on its own.

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    Comment by shoreacres — January 31, 2015 @ 9:03 am

    • Moss and lichen are incredible organisms. I’m in awe of where they can exist and of the long lifetimes of the lichens. I’m always careful around them so that my boots don’t destroy a life form that is thousands of years old! I used to think mosses needed warm weather to flourish too, and I’m sure many varieties do, but many of the mosses here are most beautiful in the coldest part of winter. They dry out in the heat of summer and look dark and dry an lifeless, but when winter comes they turn bright green and vibrant. We really understand so little of what makes up life on our planet, don’t we.

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      Comment by montucky — January 31, 2015 @ 10:23 am

  4. Simply beautifully! I do like the race down the cliff between the moss and the ice. Wonderful area to explore in the winter OR the summer. Makes that new knee all the better! Thanks for going and posting. hugs

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    Comment by Beth — January 31, 2015 @ 9:26 am

    • There are incredible thing to see in any of the undisturbed areas. In places like those cliffs, you can see far back into time. It is at once comforting to witness living things hat have been a live that long, and very uncomfortable that our species in general pays them so little respect and is so willing to destroy them and their environment just to make a little money from creating “progress” and the development that it necessitates.

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      Comment by montucky — January 31, 2015 @ 10:27 am

  5. Nature has a beauty that man could never recreate artificially.

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    Comment by wordsfromanneli — January 31, 2015 @ 10:19 am

    • That’s so true. I wish those who live only in urban surroundings could have the feel for that! Perhaps then more folks would support protecting the environment and some of the fragile things therein that are vital to the well-being of our world.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — January 31, 2015 @ 10:30 am

      • I know. It’s shocking how many urbanites are totally unaware of nature’s beauty. Sometimes their only experience with it is what they see on TV.

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        Comment by wordsfromanneli — January 31, 2015 @ 10:41 am

        • And unfortunately that includes so many of our political and business leaders whose policies and activities have so much impact on the natural world. Much of the leadership even here in Montana, I’m sorry to say, is actually anti-environment, of all things. They hate and fight anyone who stands in the way of their extracting every bit of natural resources that exist with no thought about future generations.

          Liked by 1 person

          Comment by montucky — January 31, 2015 @ 10:48 am

  6. Fantastic and beautiful, Terry.

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    Comment by seekraz — January 31, 2015 @ 11:24 am

    • It’s pretty and ever-changing, and its own structure serves to give it a degree of protection from development…. I hope.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — January 31, 2015 @ 6:04 pm

  7. It’s nice to see some green in the winter! Nothing like that here but spring is coming. Our primary color is white if you know what I mean.

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    Comment by WildBill — January 31, 2015 @ 6:46 pm

    • Our snow has mostly melted in the lower areas where it does get a little sun, and the cliffs don’t hold much snow. The canyon floor had about half a foot of heavily crusted snow though because the sun hardly ever reaches there. I wish we had a lot more white!

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      Comment by montucky — January 31, 2015 @ 10:27 pm

  8. Wonderful series of the icicles. All the more beautiful because i never see this sort of thing. As someone else commented, the colourful lichens are interesting too – so many different colours.

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    Comment by Vicki — January 31, 2015 @ 6:54 pm

  9. Wow – I remember this from previous years, and it would be wrong if it looked the same every year! But even so, how beautiful! That must have felt good, to be able to hike up there easily this time.

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    Comment by Jo Woolf — February 1, 2015 @ 3:48 am

    • It’s always worth the hike just to see what that cliff is doing. This year the crusted snow under foot wasn’t as nice as walking on dirt, but the thrill of getting up there made that completely acceptable. I’ve always enjoyed the back country hikes, but after being without the ability to do it and then to have that ability restored makes the feeling wonderful! I’m so thankful!

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — February 1, 2015 @ 10:03 am

  10. And I thought the frozen waterfalls on their own were fantastic. The added lichen adds even more wonder to the scene! So amazing to me. πŸ™‚

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    Comment by Jane — February 1, 2015 @ 4:24 am

    • Before I discovered the displays of ice on that cliff I hiked there just to see the cliffs and the lichens that decorate them. The icicles have been a plus, and there is a beaver dam to see along the way up.

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      Comment by montucky — February 1, 2015 @ 10:05 am

  11. Hi Montucky, Beautiful icicles. We are wearing shorts and short sleeved blouses here in FL today. Have a happy Monday!

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    Comment by wildlifewatcher — February 2, 2015 @ 12:19 am

    • It snowed lightly here all day today. It was beautiful!

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      Comment by montucky — February 2, 2015 @ 1:07 am

  12. Beautiful! So glad you and the knee have finally made the return πŸ™‚

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    Comment by zannyro — February 4, 2015 @ 7:58 am

  13. Rough nature, but Your photos make it so beautiful.

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    Comment by Sartenada — February 13, 2015 @ 12:58 am

    • Yes, our natural scenery is very rough and that keeps a lot of people from seeing it. Both good, and bad.

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      Comment by montucky — February 13, 2015 @ 9:47 am


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