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.
This afternoon it seemed appropriate to visit a place a few miles from the house where a tiny part of the Lolo National Forest sits right where a small stream enters the Clark Fork River. It’s a remote place, not because of its location, but because it’s rather brushy and boggy and rocky and therefore few people visit there. Animals do though; bears, deer, coyotes… and beavers.
A beaver dam which, of course, must be investigated.
The water backed up by the dam has frozen now and the ice there is nearly a foot thick. (I checked that very carefully before stepping out onto it.)
In the preceding photos small white circles can be seen and when they are closely scrutinized (with a little imagination saved from childhood) they become little galaxies, frozen in the ice.
There is a logging road that goes up through the canyon of a small stream called Buffalo Bill Creek. The first two miles are open to traffic and because there are homes in the area it is maintained year-long. Two miles past the maintained road the sides of the canyon are composed of steep cliffs about 500 feet high and on those to the west side a variety of icicles form every winter.
The hike up to the cliff area begins along a large meadow on a piece of private land after which it enters land owned by a timber company which allows hiking and hunting access.
Nearly two miles up the road after a climb of around 900 feet the road levels out and enters the cliff area.
I have never been able to get a good photo of the whole of the cliffs themselves because of the thick, heavy brush along the stream. The following two photos show a little of it.
Following are pictures of some of the icicle formations. I wish there were some way to show size perspective, but there isn’t. The longest ones I would guess are over 20 feet in length. I will do a second post with more photos of the icicle formations.
Although this may look something like a series of fountains, it is really a display of naturally formed ice on the side of a cliff about three hundred feet above the bottom of a small canyon. They are formed by water from small seeps through the rock, aided to some extent by snow-melt, which drip and trickle down, freezing over months of cold nights into icicles. I would estimate that the taller ones are six to ten feet tall.