Montana Outdoors

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 92ΒΊ.)


  1. Isn’t it just astounding how quickly the weather can change in a mountain setting!? Of course this can be quite dangerous if people are caught on the mountain in out-of-the-way locations far from an easy exit and unprepared for the worse…

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by de Wets Wild — July 4, 2018 @ 8:27 pm

    • Yes, in the mountains a weather change can be quick and dramatic. My pack always weighs a little more than one would expect because I’ve seen the weather do that probably over a hundred times. One of my favorite quotes: “There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” — Sir Rannulph Fiennes

      Liked by 2 people

      Comment by montucky — July 4, 2018 @ 9:25 pm

  2. Crazy weather. It reminded me of when we lived on the Queen Charlotte Islands. We always dressed in layers for warmth and waterproofing, and were often taking off or putting on a layer. But we learned to be prepared, Sounds like your hikes call for the same thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by wordsfromanneli — July 4, 2018 @ 11:39 pm

  3. Love the Indian Paintbrush!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by centralohionature — July 5, 2018 @ 3:16 am

    • They are looking a little ragged in the valley but in their prime now up higher.


      Comment by montucky — July 5, 2018 @ 8:59 am

  4. That Indian Paintbrush is so vivid and striking in that photo. Sounds like you had quite the adventuresome hike as far as weather goes. I remember how many different climate zones my daughter and son-in-law experienced when they climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro. They definitely had to be prepared.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Mama's Empty Nest — July 5, 2018 @ 7:17 am

    • The changes would be more intense on Kilimanjaro, but the same principles apply.


      Comment by montucky — July 5, 2018 @ 9:01 am

  5. I am pleased to invite you to participate in upcoming International Conference on Earth Science and Climate Change that will be held at Zurich, Switzerland on September 6-7th, 2018.
    For more information go through the link:


    Comment by earthscience2018 — July 5, 2018 @ 7:18 am

  6. LOL…..we summitted Baldy about 1:45 pm and it was quite nice….sorry we missed you…..:)

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Anonymous — July 5, 2018 @ 9:14 am

    • Your timing was better than mine then. I was home by noon. That was a fast-moving little storm – both ways! The cold air sure felt good though.


      Comment by montucky — July 5, 2018 @ 10:16 am

  7. Amen to that. You can find yourself in trouble quickly out there, and you don’t have to be on a mountain.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by New Hampshire Garden Solutions — July 5, 2018 @ 2:46 pm

    • That has to be considered any time you hike. This was a short hike but on longer ones when you get to be several hours away from your vehicle to have to be prepared for that.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — July 5, 2018 @ 4:58 pm

  8. Wonderful photos and views! Brilliant illustration of how fast weather can change. Your cloud photos are really worth a study and so is the Indian Paintbrush πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing!!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Hanna — July 5, 2018 @ 3:24 pm

    • Thanks Hanna. There are all different kinds of beauty in the mountains, and sometimes they are surprising.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — July 5, 2018 @ 5:04 pm

  9. Wow what a pretty hike! The weather can sure turn on a dime way up there!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by M.B. Henry — July 5, 2018 @ 3:43 pm

    • I’ll go up there again a time or two before winter comes. It’s extra pretty in fall when the brush turns color, and also beautiful in late fall when there is a little snow on the ground.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — July 5, 2018 @ 5:07 pm

      • Oh my I bet! I will be looking forward to pictures! πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by M.B. Henry — July 5, 2018 @ 5:28 pm

        • I’m very pleased that you enjoy the pictures. Most are taken far away from the highways and well off even the back country roads, and therefore many are scenes that not many people ever get to see. Many years ago I started hiking into the back country and wilderness but my wife was unable to accompany me because of health problems, so I bought a little camera and brought back pictures of where I was and what I saw and she always looked forward to seeing them as soon as I got back. Soon after I realized that there were other folks who like to see that beautiful wild world beyond the cities and highways and roads too and started posting pictures on the blog. I always appreciate feedback from those who see and enjoy them. I always wish that they could see them for themselves, but for many reasons that isn’t usually possible.


          Comment by montucky — July 5, 2018 @ 7:12 pm

  10. That was quite a hike! Thanks for sharing it both in words and photos. Amazing that you can have such changes in weather!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Reed Andariese — July 5, 2018 @ 4:14 pm

    • It was actually a sort hike, but at fairly high elevation. Yes, when a weather front passes over the mountains it can be dramatic at any season.


      Comment by montucky — July 5, 2018 @ 4:54 pm

  11. Beautiful! It can be scary to be caught on a mountain in stormy weather, but it’s the only way to experience something so dramatic…I probably wouldn’t start a hike in β€œbad” weather!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by lagiraffaminor — July 5, 2018 @ 4:53 pm

    • There are severe weather conditions in which I won’t usually hike too, or at least change the destination in deference to the safety concern, but do love to be outside in very bad weather.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — July 5, 2018 @ 5:27 pm

  12. When it comes to weather and mountain hiking, it seems similar to sailing. No one would choose extreme or difficult (even dangerous) conditions, but when they appear, they have to be dealt with. When I was learning to sail, my instructor insisted that we go out every week regardless of weather. Only fog kept us in port. As he liked to say, “No one learns storm sailing without sailing in a storm.”

    I love the Indian paintbrush. I was astonished to find a colony of them blooming here last weekend — surrounded by frogfruit, one of our summer flowers. I don’t know what triggered them, but they were lovely. They were a different species, of course, and more peachy-pink than yours, but still lovely.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by shoreacres — July 5, 2018 @ 8:47 pm

    • Very similar. As long as you are prepared and know what you’re doing, you can enjoy stormy weather. I carry enough stuff that I am always completely comfortable no matter what happens (and try to stay out of the heat).

      If I can hike as I have planned, I will get to see some of the species that are only found at higher elevations. The only issue might be the fire season which has limited access the past two summers.


      Comment by montucky — July 5, 2018 @ 9:05 pm

  13. Wow, that was some elevation, Terry. When you post images showing valley floors like that, I’m not surprised there’s still the possibility of snow.

    That view was well worth the hike.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Vicki — July 5, 2018 @ 9:42 pm

    • That trail is always worth the effort even though the clouds moved in and I didn’t get any pictures from the top part. I will later. There were also snow banks remaining on the north slope near the top.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — July 5, 2018 @ 10:00 pm

  14. Beautiful captures! I giggled at hearing how your fingers got numb while most of us in the U.S. is sweltering in the heat. Nature’s A/C at it’s finest! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by bayphotosbydonna — July 6, 2018 @ 8:29 am

    • That was a nice respite from the heat. If I thought it would be that cool tomorrow I’d go back up again: it was 89 today.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — July 6, 2018 @ 7:35 pm

  15. Glad you made it up to the top my friend. Ron

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Ron — July 6, 2018 @ 2:53 pm

    • Thanks Ron. I’ll go back when the weather is more photogenic.


      Comment by montucky — July 6, 2018 @ 7:35 pm

  16. Those are good hikes!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by seekraz — July 8, 2018 @ 11:40 am

  17. Wow, what a difference a little time makes! Looks pretty ominous toward the end.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Candace — July 9, 2018 @ 10:43 pm

    • It was quite a change. Apparently it turned out to be nice up there about 4 hours later.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — July 9, 2018 @ 10:59 pm

  18. Wow, that’s some difference in weather! I guess the same can be said of our highest mountains here in Scotland, although we rarely have snow falling in summer. Good to be prepared! Those views are fantastic.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Jo Woolf — July 10, 2018 @ 9:03 am

    • The views from up there are always wonderful, but I hope the next time I visit there will be scattered clouds and none of the wildfire smoke that has plagued the west the last several years.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — July 10, 2018 @ 7:23 pm

  19. Super images … love the Indian paintbrush

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Julie@frogpondfarm — July 11, 2018 @ 1:52 am

    • Thanks Julie. The Indian paints are favorites of a lot of people and are fairly plentiful here at all elevations.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — July 11, 2018 @ 1:23 pm

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  21. Very informative post. Thank You. In Finland, we have had sunny and warm days. Yesterday we had in Turku 90.86℉. It was hot although I am used to warm / hot due to Sauna.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Sartenada — July 17, 2018 @ 12:35 am

    • We have entered the hot part of the year here. The daily high temperatures have been in the low 90’s (F). It takes me quite awhile to adapt to the heat, and I really can’t exert much in it. Fortunately, the nights are cool.


      Comment by montucky — July 17, 2018 @ 3:33 pm

  22. The flowing shape and the red color of the Scarlet Indian Paintbrush flower—
    It almost looks like the flower itself was created by the strokes of a paint brush.
    It is beautiful!
    No snow here…100+ temp in Texas.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Mary Strong-Spaid — July 28, 2018 @ 11:06 pm

    • It’s an unusual looking plant, but very welcome because it adds some bright color to the forest.
      We are now getting into the 90’s too, and 100 forecast for Tuesday. And wildfire season has arrived.


      Comment by montucky — July 29, 2018 @ 8:34 am

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  24. I always carry a camelback with emergency kit as well as my camera. The amount of times I have been asked what I have in it apart from water; I always reply, everything you had not thought of. Kept me alive at 10,000ft & the desert. Be prepared was the boyscout motto I think – reinforced by a number of years in RAF mountain rescue.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by David A Lockwood — September 8, 2018 @ 1:06 pm

    • I do the same, even for day hikes. My pack always weighs more than I would like but it has paid off many times. If I had to spend a couple of days on the trail it wouldn’t be a problem.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — September 8, 2018 @ 9:23 pm

  25. Just an example how weather can change……and how dangerous weather can be ,if we are destroying it to its extreme …it could be extremely catastrophic

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Vnaikumar — September 27, 2018 @ 7:50 am

    • I really don’t think most people these days realize how narrow the temperature band is for those of our species related to the natural environment.


      Comment by montucky — September 27, 2018 @ 8:29 am

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