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.


October 30, 2016

KooKooSint trail

KooKooSint Ridge

The KooKooSint trail (USFS trail 445) starts about a mile north of the junction of the Thompson River road and Montana Highway 200 and makes its way up to the top of the western end of KooKooSint Ridge. In about two miles of hiking through eleven switchbacks on the primitive, rocky and rugged foot trail you climb about 2,000 feet to the ridge top from which this photo was taken looking to the east over the Clark Fork of the Columbia River. Somewhere near this point was where the Copper King fire started this past summer.

October 17, 2016

The other side of the ridge

Everyone sees the south side of the KooKooSint ridge: this is the north side.

North of KooKooSint

Photo taken looking north from the the Bay State Creek trail about a mile west of the Big Hole lookout

October 16, 2016

Snow storm over Big Hole Peak

Snow storm on Big Hole Peak

Photo was taken from the Big Hole lookout on 10/16/16

August 2, 2016

Copper King fire, western Montana

On Sunday, July 31 a wild fire started up at the west end of KooKooSint Ridge about 8 miles east of the small western Montana town of Thompson Falls at about 3:00 PM. In the first few hours it grew to 200 acres.

Meanwhile, a close friend was working with a contingent of volunteers on the restoration of the lookout cabin on Big Hole Peak which is located about three miles from the fire and directly down wind from it. At about 5:00 the restoration crew was evacuated from the lookout so my friend (who had hiked up to work in the morning) had the pleasure of another three mile hike back down to the staging area and return to the valley leaving most of his equipment behind.

On Monday morning the Forest Service sent a crew by helicopter up to the Big Hole Lookout to retrieve all of the equipment and wrap the cabin with fire resistant material. By then the fire had grown to 700 acres.  While we had nothing much else to do we decided to see if we could go get a good look at the fire, and made the drive up to the Eddy Peak lookout which is on the other side of the Clark Fork Valley about two miles due south of the fire. That lookout is manned and has a road up to about half a mile from the lookout itself. We arrived at the tower just in time to see an air tanker drop its entire load of retardant on the fire. I had barely enough time to change my camera to a telephoto lens before the retardant run began. It was a great opportunity for a few photos and a rare opportunity to photograph a big air tanker run from above. (The fire was at an elevation of about 5500 feet and the Eddy Peak lookout sits at about 7000 feet.) The photos of the tanker run were taken from the lookout tower.

The air tanker is a four engine jet I believe to be owned by Neptune Aviation in Missoula Montana and it’s a BAe 146 (#02) aircraft which carries a load of 3000 gallons of retardant (about twelve tons).

Photos from the base of the Eddy Peak lookout overlooking the Clark Fork Valley:

Clark Fork Valley from Eddy Peak

Clark Fork Valley from Eddy Peak

Clark Fork Valley from Eddy Peak

Clark Fork Valley from Eddy Peak

Copper King fire

Sequence of photos of the air tanker retardant run:

Copper King fire

Copper King fire

Copper King fire

Copper King fire


Copper King fire

Copper King fire

May 18, 2013

Beyond the Fairy Slippers

Nearly all of my photos result from my frequent wanderings in the mountains and forests of western Montana. The wildflowers in my previous post were encountered on the way to a hike to view the peaks of the Cherry Peak roadless area, something I choose to do at least once every year. After a ten mile drive from the valley to a starting point at 5000 feet and a two mile hike from there up an old road to 6000 feet I arrive at my preferred viewing spot with an open view of the north side of the peaks. Mountains are always viewed best from high places.

Cherry Peaks

Viewing spot

USFS Road 7581

The road at 6000 feet

Wood Violets

Wood violets (Viola glabella) in bloom just below the snow level.

Clark Fork River valley

View to the northwest over the Clark Fork River.

Koo-Koo Sint Ridge

View of Koo-Koo Sint Ridge north of the river from the access road.

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