Montana Outdoors

May 25, 2017

Firewood season

Filed under: Summer — Tags: , — montucky @ 9:19 pm

Last Tuesday I made a trip into a higher region of the back country scouting for a place to start cutting firewood for next winter. I found that an access gate that the Forest Service said was open wasn’t open: fortunately I was just scouting and hadn’t planned to do some serious cutting. At least I brought back a few photos. The gate sits at an elevation of about 5,600 feet and the peaks in the photos are 7,000 to 7,400 feet. This is in what was about the center of the Chippy Creek fire in 2007 that consumed 150 square miles of the Lolo National Forest. The fire-killed trees will make excellent firewood but the real good news is all of the new tree growth that is already taking place. It will be 200 years before it gets back to what it once was, but Nature has plenty of time. It’s too bad that mankind doesn’t.

Little Thompson Peak (7,000 ft)


Little Thompson Peak


Thompson Peak (7,400 ft)

Thompson Peak

Little Thompson Peak

Across Thompson River valley



  1. Necessity of life. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by nvsubbaraman — May 25, 2017 @ 10:09 pm

    • Definitely! It is very satisfying to me to cut and process my own firewood, making the wood heat during a cold winter all that much more enjoyable.


      Comment by montucky — May 25, 2017 @ 10:11 pm

  2. You have lots of firewood available once the gate opens. Looks like it’s pretty cool up there right now.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by wordsfromanneli — May 26, 2017 @ 12:14 am

    • It’s still early spring up there. Water is flowing out the mountainsides from the snow melting above the wildflowers have not yet begun their new season. It’s a long ways up there for a load of firewood. I will go and get several loads because it’s such a beautiful place to be, but I also ordered a log truck full of logs to be brought to my house that will last for the next three years.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — May 26, 2017 @ 6:59 am

      • The logging plan sounds very sensible to me. I was thinking the same thing in your last post, about how far it is to haul a load of wood.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by wordsfromanneli — May 26, 2017 @ 5:16 pm

  3. One does wonder what we will be doing in 200 years.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by centralohionature — May 26, 2017 @ 4:37 am

    • I wonder too, but I don’t like to think about that very much as I perceive the natural world being degraded by development and exploitation faster than it can regenerate.


      Comment by montucky — May 26, 2017 @ 7:02 am

  4. It always amazes me to see regrowth after a forest fire. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Mama's Empty Nest — May 26, 2017 @ 5:20 am

    • It amazes me too. It’s fascinating to visit and revisit a burned area over the years and see the progress. The complete recovery though takes a long time from the human perspective. A Ponderosa Pine for example can live from 400 to 600 years.


      Comment by montucky — May 26, 2017 @ 7:05 am

  5. Friday May 26
    Is the sky really that blue ??? It’s lovely to see.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Jean in North Georgia mountains — May 26, 2017 @ 6:24 am

    • It is. At that elevation, the air is thinner and since there are no large cities within hundreds of miles, little air pollution.


      Comment by montucky — May 26, 2017 @ 7:08 am

  6. It’s really interesting to see the landscape, Montucky and I like your conclusion to mankind and nature.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Hanna — May 26, 2017 @ 11:58 am

    • I’m very concerned that the urbanization that is taking place nearly everywhere causes people to be less understanding of the way this planet works and therefore less liable to help protect it for succeeding generations. I have seen what has happened to the forests in this area over the last 70 years and it’s frightening to project that kind of thing over the next century. Removing the forests will also remove the watershed and clean water is something our species absolutely has to have constantly to stay alive.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — May 26, 2017 @ 3:02 pm

      • I have always been happy to be in nature. My parents took me to the beach, and in the woods. It was common small trips, and a few camping tours occasionally. It has made me familiar with nature. For the last 20 years my interest has evolved from small trips to the mountains. That’s some of the best I’ve done for myself, and now I love walking in forests, bogs and mountains. I love nature and want to take care of it.
        If we don’t care for our earth, it will shake people of, like a dog that has fleas.
        …but it is depressing to watch the indifference sometimes based on ignorance.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Hanna — May 26, 2017 @ 4:19 pm

        • The more exposure to nature that you have, the more you understand it and appreciate it. And that’s the problem I see now: people just don’t have the exposure to nature as much as they used to.

          Liked by 1 person

          Comment by montucky — May 26, 2017 @ 7:17 pm

  7. It looks like there’s plenty of firewood up there, and snow too! I used to love cutting and splitting wood. We used to burn 6 cord each year and I did it all by hand with a splitting maul. There’s nothing better than wood heat!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by New Hampshire Garden Solutions — May 26, 2017 @ 2:43 pm

    • That’s about the way I do it too. This year though I will buy a truck load of logs (27 tons) which will provide me with about 3 years worth of heat. I’ve done that 3 times before and it’s an economical way to do it, all things considered, while providing plenty of exercise sawing, splitting, moving and stacking. It also provides a reserve for someone else who might have need of wood come mid winter.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — May 26, 2017 @ 2:57 pm

  8. Its amazing how forests and undergrowth regenerate. Great photos in this post (as always). Interesting to see those higher trees standing above the new tree line in the last image. The clear blue unpolluted skies are a joy to behold in your area.

    We see a lot of that regeneration here in Australia after bushfires. In fact, there are many trees that require the heat of a bushfire to open their seed pods. Australian Aborigines have worked with the land for thousands of years, burning certain areas and hunter-gathering only that which they need for one day’s food. White settlers have a lot to answer for (in the destruction of native habitat) We have so many introduced birds, insects & animal species now (that are killing off the indigenous species).

    If there was a way for the indigenous peoples in western countries to take back control of the environment, I feel sure they’d make a better job of living WITH Nature, instead of against it. I imagine Native Americans did the same before white settlers arrived.

    I wonder whether the human population will still be alive in 200 years?

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Vicki — May 26, 2017 @ 6:00 pm

    • Just recently I believe, Stephen Hawking said that he thinks we now have less than a century to find a new planet to support our species, if that can even be done. Seems to me there is a much easier answer, and the indigenous people all over the world know that answer and how to do it. It’s “civilization” that will lead to our demise.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — May 26, 2017 @ 7:33 pm

  9. Very stark, I hope nature has time. I do worry about the future of the environment in many ways. I’m sure that wood cutting will be quite a workout.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Candace — May 26, 2017 @ 6:34 pm

    • I think that our species will cause its own extinction before the Earth is damaged beyond repair, but that’s small consolation.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — May 26, 2017 @ 7:25 pm

  10. We lived in west central Idaho over 10 years. We spent the summer gathering 8 – 10 cords of firewood to go through winter. The fire-kill in you photos looks like lodgepole. We would gather red fir and tamerack. Both gave good btu. Firewood..warms you several times…gathering, splitting, stacking, and finally, warming your home.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by gardengateproject — May 27, 2017 @ 7:54 am

    • You are right, most of these trees are lodgepole, but there are quite a few Larch and a few firs in the mix. And another warmth… the warm satisfaction that you did it yourself!

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — May 27, 2017 @ 8:47 am

  11. Hi there……have been contemplating hiking Cook, Little Thompson and Thompson for a while now. Am wondering what FS road you were on to get such great photos at 5600′. Thanks for your time.


    Comment by Anonymous — June 18, 2017 @ 1:13 pm

    • Hello!
      That is FS road 5582. Take FS 519 off of the Little Thompson road for about 5 miles to get to it. The gate in the first photo is where trail 310 starts. It will take you up to trail 1309 which will take you to trail 291 which leads to Thompson Peak, Little Thompson Peak and down to Cook Mountain. Have a great hike!


      Comment by montucky — June 18, 2017 @ 4:16 pm

      • Thanks for the intel……did you say anything to the FS about the closed gate? May try this in July, after more snow melt and an “opened gate”……theoretically…..

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Anonymous — June 26, 2017 @ 3:13 pm

        • Yes, I told them. I’m sure the snow has melted up there by now. The phone number at the RS is 826-3821.


          Comment by montucky — June 26, 2017 @ 3:37 pm

  12. Thanks again…..I have all the Lolo National Forest RD maps and study ALL of my maps repeatedly, but I don’t think I ever noticed the route and the trails you mentioned until now….so I found where you were on the map….I had really only noticed the trail going up the west side of Cook…..but I think I might like your way better…lol


    Comment by Anonymous — June 26, 2017 @ 6:51 pm

    • If you don’t mind my asking….if you’ve hiked the three peaks starting at the aforementioned TH in your response….how much mileage and elevation gain?

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Anonymous — June 26, 2017 @ 7:00 pm

      • I believe that the elevation of the trail head for trail 310 on Forest Service Road 5582 is about 5,700 feet and the top of Thompson Peak is 7,460. You take trail 310 to trail 1309 then 1309 to 291. The total length to the top of Thompson is 3 to 4 miles. I haven’t been there since 2010 so I have no idea about the condition of the trails.

        If you go to the right sidebar of my blog and go about half way down there is a place where you can do a search of the blog. Just enter Thompson Peak and it will take you to a whole series of posts on my mikes to Thompson and Little Thompson. I did not go down to Cook Mountain.


        Comment by montucky — June 26, 2017 @ 7:23 pm

  13. Thanks for the tip…..checked out the amazing photos….looks like my kind of place…..rugged, remote, and no people…..don’t know if you know the answer…..Chippy Creek Fire….lightning or man-made?

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Anonymous — June 26, 2017 @ 8:09 pm

    • I never did hear an official determination about the cause of the Chippy Creek fire.


      Comment by montucky — June 26, 2017 @ 9:06 pm

  14. Thanks again for the intel…..made it up Thompson Peak on Saturday……would post a pic if I knew how……trail 310 not bad…..1309 not good….flagged most of it….291 to summit…not good either…..didn’t go for Little Thompson….got a late start and after going over and around hundreds of trees decided Thompson was enough this time….

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Anonymous — July 3, 2017 @ 3:16 pm

    • Thanks for the update! I don’t know if the FS is going to maintain that trail or not. The Chippy Fire really wiped out the trail. t woulod be a pretty trail once the trees start to grow back in.


      Comment by montucky — July 3, 2017 @ 4:08 pm

      • Actually, I called them before we went…..I knew the trail would be bad….I was told all three were cleared last fall, which gave me some hope….but still lots of trees down…and on 1309….hard to find the tread in some areas which is why we flagged….as much as you hike, I know that you know, that things don’t look the same coming back down as they do going up…..310 has lots of small pines growing in….

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Anonymous — July 3, 2017 @ 5:33 pm

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