Montana Outdoors

July 13, 2018

The Clark Fork of the Columbia River this afternoon.

Filed under: Koo Koo Sint — Tags: , , — montucky @ 7:35 pm

Clark Fork River

The Clark Fork River with the south slope of KooKooSint Ridge in the background. Finally, a picture of that slope that I like.



July 8, 2018

A visit to the National Bison Range

Filed under: Animals, Bison — Tags: , , — montucky @ 6:24 pm

Briefly stated, the National Bison Range is a refuge that was established in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt for the conservation of the American Bison. It essentially consists of a small mountain that is a spur of the Mission Mountains, 18,800 acres (about 29 square miles) in size and ranges in elevation from 2,585 to 4,885 feet and it’s where a herd of bison (presently about 350) now range freely under reasonably natural conditions. Visitors can drive through it on a loop road about 20 miles long which takes them from the headquarters, up and over the crest of the mountain and back down the other side, returning to the headquarters. (For anyone interested in more information about the Bison Range, here is a link to the National Bison range website.)

National Bison Range

Looking west from where the road starts up the mountain

National Bison Range

Looking back down the road from about half way to the top

National Bison Range

Looking southwest from the top

National Bison Range

Looking north from the top at the Mission Mountain Range in the background. Sorry about the picture quality, but we are now receiving smoke from the fires burning in Utah and Colorado and including a little from the northern California fire.

American Bison

Cow and calf

American Bison

American Bison calf

Bison calf

American Bison

American Bison

This is a huge bull grazing right beside the road. Other an elephant, he is the biggest animal I’ve ever seen. It was taken at 70mm with a 70-300mm lens: unfortunately I didn’t have time to change to a wide angle lens for a full body shot.

American Bison

A bull taking it easy

American Bison calf

A calf standing in the road about 3 feet from my front bumper

American Bison

The huge bull again

The last photos following were taken of a large bull crossing Mission Creek not far from the headquarters. This is a fast moving stream and I have lots of experience wading them (including this one) but where he crossed it would have taken me off my feet. He didn’t seem to notice the current; of course, he weighs about a ton more than I do.

American Bison

American Bison

American Bison

American Bison

That’s a cloud of dust that he shook off his back as he climbed up the far bank.

July 6, 2018

A new one for me

Filed under: Wildflowers — Tags: , — montucky @ 8:43 pm

This tiny flower is a new one for me. I know I must have seen it out of the corner of my eye hundreds of times but it’s so small that I just didn’t look really closely at it. The little cluster of blossoms could easily hide behind a small pea, and it seems to like to grow beneath taller plants. This is another “mustache in the dirt” shot.

Enchanter's Nightshade

Enchanter's Nightshade

Enchanter’s Nightshade ~ circaea alpina

July 5, 2018

Still catching up – 3

Group 3 of additional 2018 wildflowers blooming in May & June:

large mountain monkey-flower

Large Mountain Monkey-flower ~ erythranthe tilingii

Grand Collomia, Large-flower Mountain-trumpet

Large-flower Mountain-trumpet ~ collomia grandiflora

Pyramid Spirea

Pyramid Spirea ~ spiraea pyramidata


Mock-orange ~ philadelphus lewisii

Silky Lupine

Silky Lupine ~ lupinus sericeus

Birch-leaved Spirea

Birch-leaved Spirea ~ spiraea betulifolia

Bluebell of Scotland

Bluebell of Scotland ~ campanula rotundifolia

Orange Honeysuckle

Orange Honeysuckle ~ lonicera ciliosa


Kinnikinnik ~ arctostaphylos uva-ursi

July 4, 2018

A hike with a climate change.

Yesterday morning I left early for a hike on USFS trail 340 to the top of Mount Baldy, determined to hike no matter what the weather might be (and was prepared for most anything). Near the trail head this Indian Paintbrush was bright with the color of full bloom:

Scarlet Indian Paintbrush

Scarlet Indian Paintbrush ~ castilleja miniata

By about 7:40 where the trail reached the first big switchback and cleared the heavy timber, I stopped to admire the first open view of the valley below. There were clouds overhead but the sky was open and bright blue over the valley and the valley floor was in full sun.

Clark Fork Valley from Mount Baldy

As I sat for a while enjoying the view of the valley and the Bitterroot Mountains about 50 miles to the south I could see heavy clouds rapidly moving in from the south and west and soon the expanse of blue sky was shrinking rapidly, the wind was picking up and the clouds overhead started dripping just a little on this Shrubby Penstemon beside the trail.

Shrubby Penstemon

Shrubby Penstemon ~ penstemon fruticosus

About an hour later as I reached the top, the sky was dark with heavy clouds, my fingers were getting numb from the cold wind and a light snow was falling.

Storm on Mount Baldy

It was time to go back down before the already slippery rocks on the top part of the trail got even more slippery and the clouds closed in completely over the trail. It was a good hike.

There is a moral to this story for those who hike on the higher mountain trails: always be prepared for all kinds of weather, even in summer, because you will probably encounter it. (Tomorrow’s forecast for the valley is a high of 92º.)

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