Montana Outdoors

August 15, 2017

Firewood season

Filed under: Winter, Wood cutting — Tags: , , , , — montucky @ 3:35 pm

Yesterday for the fourth time I received delivery of a full logging truck of logs to provide wood for my winter fires. For anyone who ever wondered what 30 tons of firewood looks like, here are a few pictures:

Firewood logs

Firewood logs

Firewood logs


And here are the tools used to turn the logs into firewood:

Chain saw

This saw has cut three loads like this in the past decade. I take very good care of it! It will take somewhere around 2,000 cuts to turn these logs into 16 inch blocks (called “rounds”) which will then have to be split.

7 pound splitting axe

This seven pound splitting axe has been in use since about 1975. I take good care of it too. I replaced the hickory handle several years ago and after it was carefully fitted to the axe and sanded smooth, it has received 20 hand-rubbed coats of Linseed oil. It slides like fine silk through my hands.


It will take about 6 pair of these, but that’s still cheaper than all of the bandaids and other medical supplies that would otherwise be needed.

The eventual results will be:

…..Three Montana winters enjoying a nice, warm house, independent of electricity (which is especially nice when there is a mid-winter power outage), and there will be plenty on hand if someone else needs it in the midst of a cold winter…..

…..All of my muscles will be firm, my hands hard…..

…..I will sleep very well at night…..

…..The heating cost for the whole house will be $400 a year…..

…..And most of all, the consummate satisfaction of having done the work myself!…..


The trees are Lodgepole Pine harvested during a logging operation in a cutting area about 100 miles west of my house, about 17 miles off the highway in the area of Gem Peak at an elevation of about 6,000 feet. They are all dead and dry trees, no good for turning into lumber. Eventually they would burn in a wildfire anyway and that would actually create far more more smoke and particulates than in my wood stove which uses a catalytic combuster and burns very clean.

The longer logs are 50 feet in length, weigh around 1,000 pounds (454KG) and are 18 inches (4.6 decimeters) in diameter at the base.


February 15, 2017

Alternate trail

Filed under: Winter — Tags: , , — montucky @ 9:17 pm

West Fork of Swamp Creek

This year the snow has been deep and has closed all of the hiking trails, so when cabin fever forces you outside you seek out an alternate. Yesterday’s hike was on a snowmobile track that followed the west fork of Swamp Creek road. The track is quite firm, but stepping off of it puts you thigh-deep in snow. Still, it is better than no hike at all, and the forest is just a pretty as it is in summer (minus the ground plants and wildflowers).

After seeing a little blood on the snow along the trail, after following it for about a mile, we came to a large amount of blood in the snow just off the trail. Obviously an large animal had been shot there. Today I made a report of it to the local Game Warden and he will go there tomorrow to see if there is any forensic evidence that might tell him what transpired. Big game hunting is closed in the area except for Mountain Lion and I doubt that it was a place where someone might have encountered one. There were no distinguishable cat tracks, so I suspect poaching of a deer or elk was the cause of the blood trail. Maybe I will hear more or perhaps be asked to accompany the warden to the scene tomorrow.

Along a side road on our return I saw these ice falls in an area which, in the summer, produces some beautiful Saxifrage wildflowers. Not as pretty as the little blossoms, but still…

Cliff ice

Cliff ice

February 4, 2017

Mission Mountains

Filed under: Mission Mountains, Winter — Tags: , — montucky @ 10:09 am

Mission Mountains

The Mission Mountain range runs north and south for about 30 miles through western Montana. Most of it is in the 74,000 acre Mission Mountains Wilderness Area. McDonald Peak is the highest point in the range at 9,280 feet, not especially high, but an awesome sight from the low valleys. (This photo was taken from an altitude of about 2600 feet along the lower Flathead River, about 25 miles away.)

February 2, 2017

Cold again

Filed under: Trees, Winter — Tags: — montucky @ 1:38 pm

Today we are experiencing the seventh or eighth influx of cold Arctic air of this winter into western Montana, the most that I can recall ever seeing. This morning the beauty of it seemed greatest in the trees. These photos were taken at -6º (F).

-6º (F)

-6º (F)

-6º (F)

-6º (F)

January 21, 2017

River fog

Filed under: Flathead river, Winter — Tags: , — montucky @ 11:42 am

River fog

While observing the ice jams on the lower Flathead River yesterday, I encountered foggy conditions for several miles along the river. That can be pretty too.

River fog

River fog

River fog

January 20, 2017


Filed under: Flathead river, Tundra Swans, Winter — Tags: , — montucky @ 5:18 pm

Flathead River

Today I went out to check on the Flathead River again to see what the ice was doing and this time drove up river another 5 – 6 miles. There were several sections of open water followed by other areas where it has ice bank-to-bank and it took the photo above of one of the open areas. On the way back I noticed some visitors on the ice shelf on the other side, some Tundra Swans which are fairly common here but always a delight to see.

Tundra Swans

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