Montana Outdoors

July 12, 2017

In search of a flower

A flower has been on my mind a lot lately, one that I encountered on a hike in June of 2008 into the mountains along the Clark Fork River here in western Montana. The USDA “Plants” website tells me that it grows only in Washington and California, which might explain why I haven’t encountered it in any of my ramblings since 2008.

At the end of June this year, despite the heat, I again hiked the Donlan Saddle trail (USFS trail 205) up to the area where I first encountered the flower. Trail 205 is an aggressive little trail that seems much longer than its 3 mile length because it starts at an elevation of about 2,600 feet along the river and ends at an elevation of 5,000 feet where it meets the start of the CC Divide trail and also the road that proceeds from there on up to the Patrick’s Knob fire lookout.

The trail is pretty and there are a few good views to be had toward the top, the rest of the trail being in the forest.

Trail 205

Trail 205

Trail 205

Trail 205

Despite the extremely hot and dry conditions this year, there were several species of flower still in bloom:

Grand Collomia, Large-flower Mountain-trumpet

Grand Collomia, Large-flower Mountain-trumpet ~ Collomia grandiflora

Menzies' Campion

Menzies’ Campion ~ Silene menziesii

Woodland Pinedrops

Woodland Pinedrops ~ Pterospora andromedea

Giant Mountain Aster

Giant Mountain Aster ~ Canadanthus modestus

Nodding Onion

Nodding Onion, Allium cernuum

Though I did reach the area in which I found the flower in 2008 I did not find it in bloom this time, probably because I was a week or so too late and because of the dry conditions, but here is a photo of it taken on June 20, 2008:

Tricolor Monkeyflower

Tricolor Monkeyflower ~ Mimulus tricolor

I hope to try again next year, but a little earlier, and it will be worth the hike.

June 18, 2017

There’s some scary wildlife on these mountain trails

Filed under: trails — montucky @ 4:23 pm

Sasquatch

This is my first ever (and probably last and only) attempt at a “selfie”. Even Buster got into the frame although at the moment he has not-my-favorite-dog status because he found a big pile of fresh bear scat and rolled in it.

June 17, 2017

More of USFS trail 345

Trail 345 is about 15 miles long. Extending from Baldy Mountain on the east to Big Hole Peak on the west, it follows the crest of a small divide called different names in various places: Loneman Divide, Weeksville Divide or, on old maps, Buffalo Bill Divide. These photos were taken on June 16, 2017 in the rain along Loneman Divide, about 5 miles east of those in the previous post and a thousand feet lower in elevation.

Red Clover

Red Clover ~ Trifolium pratense

Small-flowered Penstemon

Small-flowered Penstemon ~ Penstemon procerus

Pointedtip Mariposa Lily

Pointedtip Mariposa Lily ~ Calochortus apiculatus

Trail 345

Trail 345

Pointedtip Mariposa Lily

Trail 345

Trail 345

Trail 345

Trail 345

Trail 345

Yellow Indian paintrush

Yellow Indian Paintbrush

Stonecrop

Stonecrop ~ Sedum rupicola

June 16, 2017

USFS trail 345

Trail 345 is always a most pleasant trail, but every five years or so it becomes a trail of the big flowers. These are photos taken along about a mile of the trail as it starts its climb from Weeksville Divide up toward Big Hole Peak.

Trail 345

Trail 345

Trail 345

Trail 345

Trail 345

Trail 345

Trail 345

Trail 345

Trail 345

Thimbleberry

Thimbleberry ~ Rubus parviflorus

Dwarf rose, Wood rose

Dwarf rose, Wood rose ~ Rosa gymnocarpa

April 4, 2015

Fading away

A couple of days ago a friend and I hiked part of an old trail, probably for the last time; the Ashley Creek trail 454. It was created sometime in the 1930s, probably by the Civilian Conservation Corps by the looks of its construction, but apparently hasn’t been tended to for several years and although the Forest Service still shows it on their maps, it is going back to its earlier natural state. I am fearful that it is but one of many that the Forest Service will keep alive only on paper, probably in an attempt to show a larger than actual trail inventory as their department steadily morphs into another hopelessly incompetent and ineffectual bureaucracy. Following are some photos from along the trail.

Ashley Creek trail 454

The old trail sign still exists as it nears the century mark.

Ashley Creek trail 454

Ashley Creek trail 454

Ashley Creek trail 454

Ashley Creek is the water supply for a small Montana town.

Ashley Creek trail 454

Ashley Creek trail 454

Ashley Creek trail 454

Ashley Creek trail 454

Ashley Creek trail 454

It was a very pleasant surprise to see two species of wildflowers in bloom in a sunny spot on the mountainside along the trail, a thousand feet above the trail head. Upon perusing my photo library, I found that this is the earliest bloom for either of them that I’ve encountered by about two weeks. Who’d-a-thunk-it!

Small Bluebells, Long-flowered Lungwort, Trumpet Bluebells ~ Mertensia longiflora

Small Bluebells, Long-flowered Lungwort, Trumpet Bluebells ~ Mertensia longiflora

Small Bluebells, Long-flowered Lungwort, Trumpet Bluebells ~ Mertensia longiflora

Early blue violet, Viola adunca

Early blue violet ~ Viola adunca

Ashley Creek trail 454

Ashley Creek trail 454

Ashley Creek trail 454

It’s sad to lose another such treasure from our early days.

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