Montana Outdoors

September 27, 2016

And yet the stream still flows

Yesterday the large area that has been closed for nearly two months because of the thirty square mile Copper King fire was re-opened and all access restrictions have been removed. Today I was able to hike into the Spring Creek canyon and found that the stream is still flowing just five miles downstream from the fire area and the water is still clear and cold. It was so good to see the stream and its canyon again! In the next week or so I will hike into the burned area and see what it now looks like there.

Spring Creek

Spring Creek


  1. Such fires are the God’s way of reprimand for the misdeeds of living beings. Yet HIS grace flows. U r back with a bang.
    Congrats. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by nvsubbaraman — September 27, 2016 @ 9:33 pm

    • I don’t perceive of fire as any kind of reprimand, rather as an integral part of the natural order of the forests and the plains. In fact, some trees like the Lodgepole Pine actually require fire to be able to relese their seeds from the resin that holds them in their cones.


      Comment by montucky — September 28, 2016 @ 8:29 pm

  2. Do you have any photos of the lake-Big Hole ??


    Comment by Anonymous — September 27, 2016 @ 10:17 pm

    • I am not aware of a “lake” Big Hole. There is a stream named that flowing from the area.


      Comment by montucky — September 28, 2016 @ 8:30 pm

  3. I’ve read that there is evidence that forest fires predate the dinosaurs. Then, as now, fire is a natural part of the forest’s regeneration system. I expect you will do a great job of documenting that regeneration!


    Comment by Margie — September 28, 2016 @ 8:13 am

    • Yes, fire has always been a vital part of the forest ecosystem. I do plan to photograph at least some of the fire effects and the regeneration that will begin early next spring.


      Comment by montucky — September 28, 2016 @ 8:33 pm

  4. Hopefully it will grow back in that area. The creek will help.


    Comment by wordsfromanneli — September 28, 2016 @ 9:07 am

    • I haven’t seen much of the burn area yet, but they are typically surprising to see, with small areas severe,t burned, others hardly touched and trees that survive where you wouldn’t think they would. Hopefully I will be able to photograph some of it.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — September 28, 2016 @ 8:35 pm

  5. Gorgeous photos. There’s a depth to the colors I love, and that bit of purple in the second one is perfect.


    Comment by Teresa Evangeline — September 28, 2016 @ 3:28 pm

    • Thanks Teresa! It was very dark in the canyon when I was there and I was impressed with how well the camera was able to show the scenes with so little light.


      Comment by montucky — September 28, 2016 @ 8:39 pm

  6. I wonder if you’ll see a lot of fireweed there next spring. They’re such beautiful flowers they almost make a fire worth having.
    I’m glad the stream is still flowing!


    Comment by New Hampshire Garden Solutions — September 28, 2016 @ 3:35 pm

    • I’m sure there will be fireweed growing early in the spring. It was also quite prevalent in that area anyway. By late July or early August, I expect to see large areas of its blossoms. And there will be many other wildflowers in bloom by then in the places within the borders of the fire that were not badly burned.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — September 28, 2016 @ 8:46 pm

  7. The stream sure is still pretty. It will be interesting/sad to see what the fire caused.


    Comment by Candace — September 28, 2016 @ 5:32 pm

    • I will try to take some photos representative of the effects of the fire. I already know what to expect, and it will be a long hard hike to get into the middle of the fire area, which was about 4,000 feet higher than here in the valley and accessed only by trail.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — September 28, 2016 @ 8:51 pm

  8. I agree with you that fires are a natural part of the forest’s life — as well as part of the cycle of the plains. Strangely, the attempt to control or even eliminate fire seems to have caused as many problems as it’s solved. Nature recovers, although on her own schedule. It’s good to see the water flowing clear, and it will be good to see the land regenerate. Later this year, I may have a chance to be trained to help with a prairie burn — and to document the regrowth of the grasses afterwards. It’s such an interesting process.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by shoreacres — September 28, 2016 @ 9:06 pm

    • Seeing what actually happens in a large forest fire and the resiliency of the system is at once mind-boggling and reassuring. It occurs to me that Nature’s plan for regeneration begins as an integral part of the fire event itself.

      I would jump at the chance to work with a prairie burn and its subsequent regrowth! It would be like seeing a condensed version of the burn and regeneration cycle of a forest.


      Comment by montucky — September 28, 2016 @ 10:14 pm

  9. These are lovely, so glad they’re running clear and free of fire ash and debris. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by bayphotosbydonna — September 30, 2016 @ 7:00 am

    • Monday I will try to get up into the area of the fire itself. That ought to be interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — September 30, 2016 @ 8:38 pm

  10. It is so hard to watch the natural beauty of our world devastated by forest fires.


    Comment by Charlie@Seattle Trekker — October 1, 2016 @ 6:03 pm

  11. Will the scorched area regenerate quickly? In the mean time I’m looking foward (with some trepidation) to seeing your images of what it looks like now. I guess forest fires are natural occurences which are essential to restore balance and I hope the balance in your back yard is rapidly restored. Interesting comment about the firefighting doing as much damage as the fire.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Finn Holding — October 2, 2016 @ 3:18 am

    • These large fires are very complex, in both the damage done and the regeneration that takes place. I see areas within the fire boundary where there is little fire effect and other small areas where the fire burns so hot it sterilizes the ground. The burned areas always recover, but not on a schedule easy for us to relate to, more often on a schedule of centuries: but Nature has Her own time frame. Trees hundreds of years old are not replaced in a decade.

      Some of the problems facing the forests today have been created by human efforts to eliminate fire from the ecosystem and/or make pitiful efforts to reduce the buildup of dead material by “controlled burns”. Our western forests have accumulated huge amounts of burnable material over the past century of fire suppression and that makes the fires that do start harder to control, much more damaging and more expensive to control. This has been exacerbated by the building of homes along the edges of or inside forests. I have thought for over twenty years that the area burned by this fire has badly needed fire to clean up all of the dead and down trees, mostly lodgepole pine.

      I will try before winter to post many photos from within the fire area to show a cross-section of what a big fire does.


      Comment by montucky — October 2, 2016 @ 8:30 am

      • It’s alarming how human intervention, either as prevention or cure, almost always gets it wrong. We just never seem to learn that we need to work with nature, not try to bend it to our will.


        Comment by Finn Holding — October 3, 2016 @ 3:45 pm

  12. How pretty and peaceful that little fall of water is.

    Bush fires, (I think you call them Wild Fires?) are devastating, especially for loss of homes. livestock and property, but its surprising how quickly the land regenerates. Of course trees centuries old do not reappear overnight. In Australia fires, (even thousands of years ago), open rock-hard seed pods and eradicate diseased wild life. And while no one wants to think of wild animals suffering, fires can have a positive effect on the flora and fauna.

    I do so hope those that might have lost homes and stock are assisted by the Government (like they do in Australia).


    Comment by Vicki — October 2, 2016 @ 9:44 pm

    • In this part of the Northwest, these are usually called “forest fires” because they burn in the National Forests: they are also just called “wildfires”.

      This particular one, while it covered over 30 square miles, was rather benign, in that there were no structures lost and no injuries to anyone. It did clear some very thick brush and burned lots of dead trees while leaving (it looks like) over half of the trees nearly untouched.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — October 3, 2016 @ 8:43 pm

  13. absolutely beautiful!
    well you know where to get morels next year….


    Comment by Tammie — October 3, 2016 @ 12:30 pm

    • I’ve thought about the morels, but anyone who wants to harvest them in this burn will need a very, very good pair of hiking boots! Most of the area (outside of along the Thompson River road on the west side) is very remote and accessible only by trail.


      Comment by montucky — October 3, 2016 @ 8:47 pm

  14. I think it’s always amazing to see what regenerates after a forest fire (or any natural devastation) so I’m interested to see your next photos after you hike into the burned area. This stream is so clear and beautiful, it takes my breath away!


    Comment by Mama's Empty Nest — October 3, 2016 @ 1:08 pm

    • This past week I’ve made two attempts to get into the main fire area, and after about 16 miles of hiking have gotten only to the edge of it. Next week I plan to make another hike from the west side and I’m quite sure that will put me into the burn area (if the access trail still exists). Sooner or later I will post some photos of whatever I have been able to see.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — October 3, 2016 @ 8:51 pm

  15. Hi Montucky, Thanks for sharing the pretty view of the little creek. Glad it flows well in spite of having crossed a fire area. Great picture. Have a pleasant day tomorrow!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by wildlifewatcher — October 3, 2016 @ 7:38 pm

    • Today we hiked into the headwaters of that little stream and found that nearly all of it’s watershed escaped the fire (by a narrow margin). Its sister creek, Munson Creek, appears to have not been as fortunate.


      Comment by montucky — October 3, 2016 @ 8:53 pm

  16. Life circling round and as beautiful as ever, Montucky.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Mary Strong-Spaid — October 12, 2016 @ 8:27 pm

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