Montana Outdoors

August 17, 2010

Thompson Peak (7)

trail 291 near Thompson Peak

Nature has begun to execute the events that must transpire before this forest will return to its previous state and stature, and the final story of this area will not be written for a century or two when the restoration will be complete. However, the preface has already been written and is on display right now at the top of Thompson Peak:

Wildflowers on Thompson Peak

Wildflowers on Thompson Peak

Wildflowers on Thompson Peak

Wildflowers on Thompson Peak

Wildflowers on Thompson Peak

August 10, 2010

Thompson Peak (6)

To those who travel the mountain trails on foot there are many rewards, but I think none are as rich as the scenes from the mountain tops. They are a bit like the frosting on a cake. Here are some from the top of Thompson Peak at 7,460 feet.

From the top of Thompson Peak

From the top of Thompson Peak

From the top of Thompson Peak

In the following photo the remains of the footings for the old lookout tower can be seen as well as a little other debris.

From the top of Thompson Peak

From the top of Thompson Peak

From the top of Thompson Peak

From the top of Thompson Peak

From the top of Thompson Peak

August 7, 2010

Thompson Peak (5)

As the trail ascended along the ridge toward the peak the amount of live vegetation increased and more pockets of live trees became visible on adjacent mountainsides.

In places here the trail was not what most would consider distinct. In fact in the area shown in the second photo I lost it entirely. Thinking that the very top of the ridge should be a good place for a trail, I climbed directly up there through a gap in the cliffs and the trail was indeed there. (On the way back down I found that there was a switchback that I hadn’t noticed in the middle of the rockslide where I lost the trail.)

This was by far the most rapid ascent of the trek, but knowing the peak was not far ahead now made it quite pleasant.

Along trail 291, near Thompson Peak

Along trail 291, near Thompson Peak

Along trail 291, near Thompson Peak

Along trail 291, near Thompson Peak

Along trail 291, near Thompson Peak

Along trail 291, near Thompson Peak

Along trail 291, near Thompson Peak

Along trail 291, near Thompson Peak

Along trail 291, near Thompson Peak

August 6, 2010

Thompson Peak (4)

As is the case on many of the tall mountains in this area, the top of Thompson Peak is very rocky, as is the ridge that leads to the summit. Despite the very high temperatures in the middle of the fire, the expanses of rock did provide a certain amount of fire-break and there some of the forest was spared. It will be a big help with the regeneration of that part of the forest.

Trail 291 to Thompson Peak

Trail 291 to Thompson Peak

Trail 291 to Thompson Peak

Trail 291 to Thompson Peak

Trail 291 to Thompson Peak

Trail 291 to Thompson Peak

From trail 291

This scene looks down at Little Thompson Peak and shows a pocket of trees that was sheltered from the flames by the rocky peak itself. Seeds from there will start replanting the nearby areas.

Little Thompson Peak

August 5, 2010

Thompson Peak (3)

The middle part of the trek to Thompson Peak followed the TeePee Creek trail 1309. It also traversed what had been a very hot part of the fire. I’m glad I was not there when it burned! A desire to see the top and a faith that there would be more than burned trees made this part tolerable.

On the TeePee trail 1309

On the TeePee trail 1309

On the TeePee trail 1309

It's a big job!It’s a start!

On the TeePee trail 1309

On the TeePee trail 1309

Even in the burnEven in the burn

On the TeePee trail 1309

On the TeePee trail 1309

Someone, perhaps in an answer to his own question, left these markings to show the trail which then became the Cook Mountain trail 291 and followed the ridge between Cook Mountain, Little Thompson Peak and Thompson Peak. The ridge was a break point in the fire and sheltered a sizable area from most of the flame.

Trail markings ?!

August 4, 2010

Thompson Peak (2)

As the access road to Thompson Peak entered the burn area, still about eight miles from the trail head, a stand of Fireweed stood beside the road to greet any visitors with the message, “It’s OK now; the recovery is already underway”. This prolific plant with its pretty purple blossoms is one of the first plants to start the renewal process after a big fire. It will flourish in profusion for many years until the new growth of trees starts to block out the sun, and even then it will bloom in the clearings. It is just now beginning its blooming season and much of the low green in the following photos are its leaves: in a week or so the understory will turn purple.

Fireweed

In this, as in any forest fire, there are islands within the burn that were spared, perhaps at a whim of the wind, or the relative shelter that a ravine provided from the fire storm and many of these can be seen in the photos. Some areas have had very little new plant growth at all. In these areas the heat was so intense it sterilized the ground. Recovery there will take much longer.

The photos that follow are scenes in the order in which I encountered them, an awkward appearing mix of devastation, of burned trees, of flowers and oases in a desert of black, and I offer them simply as glimpses of the pretty things and the ugly ones that exist inside a big burn.

Along trail to Thompson Peak

Along trail to Thompson Peak

Along trail to Thompson Peak

Along trail to Thompson Peak

Along trail to Thompson Peak

Along trail to Thompson Peak

Along trail to Thompson Peak

The tall mountain in the background of the following photo is Baldy Mountain from which I was able to take many photos of the Chippy Creek Fire. If any one is interested in seeing more pictures of the fire, you may click on one of the photos and it will take you to my Flickr site where there is a set of photos called “Chippy Creek Fire”: or, on the right sidebar of my blog page there is a category “Chippy Creek Fire” and clicking on that will take you to a bunch of posts and photos that were posted when the fire was burning.)

Along trail to Thompson Peak

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