Montana Outdoors

February 13, 2015

The first of 2015

Filed under: Wildflowers, Winter — Tags: , , — montucky @ 5:34 pm

After about a half mile of hiking toward a trail that I intended to visit today I tired of all of the snow and ice and turned back. I hike for the pure pleasure of it and saw no point in hiking where it wasn’t fun. And there are other places to go, one of which is Buttercup Ridge, where the very first wildflowers bloom every year about this time. It’s a small area, about 50 feet by 100 feet atop a very steep, narrow, rocky, cliffy ridge, and why buttercups bloom there nearly two months before they bloom anywhere else is a complete mystery to me. They do though, after all, bloom in western Montana and somewhere in their DNA they know that and they also know that before spring comes they may see temperatures of -20ºF and two feet of snow, but they bloom anyway. I love their attitude!

Buttercup Ridge

Buttercup Ridge

Sagebrush Buttercups ~ Ranunculus glaberrimus: (the water drops on some of them came from last night’s frost).

Sagebrush buttercup ~ Ranunculus glaberrimus

Sagebrush buttercup ~ Ranunculus glaberrimus

Sagebrush buttercup ~ Ranunculus glaberrimus

Sagebrush buttercup ~ Ranunculus glaberrimus

Sagebrush buttercup ~ Ranunculus glaberrimus

Sagebrush buttercup ~ Ranunculus glaberrimus

Sagebrush buttercup ~ Ranunculus glaberrimus

Sagebrush buttercup ~ Ranunculus glaberrimus

Sagebrush buttercup ~ Ranunculus glaberrimus

Sagebrush buttercup ~ Ranunculus glaberrimus

Sagebrush buttercup ~ Ranunculus glaberrimus

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January 28, 2013

January Visit to Buttercup Ridge

Filed under: Wildflowers, Winter — Tags: , , — montucky @ 10:57 pm

Fifteen miles or so up the road to the east of here there is a thin slice of Lolo National Forest land that borders the highway. It’s a steep, rocky, cliffy, brush-choked little column that leads up into the high country along the boundary of the Flathead Indian Reservation.

One January several years ago, for some reason that I can no longer remember, I made a foray up into the area and after about half a mile made a turn to the west up through a channel in the cliffs and arrived at a steep, narrow little ridge that overlooked the valley from about 300 feet above. From the signs left by the animals I could tell that it was a frequent haunt of Big Horn sheep. There was also a surprise; a single buttercup plant already showing a flower bud right in the middle of winter. I chose to call the place “Buttercup Ridge”.

Each January since then I have visited that little ridge and found buttercups with flower buds. (Depending on the weather, they will burst into bloom by around the middle of February.) Just before noon today I visited Buttercup Ridge again and with only a little searching found two plants with nicely formed buds.

The following photos will show each bud, followed by a larger scale photo of where it fits into the foliage on the ridge, hidden in the brown grass of last summer or in the shelter of an Antelope Bitterbush, then a much larger scale photo which includes the more distant background. I have no explanation of why they bloom in this tiny area a full two months before they bloom anywhere else around here.

Sagebrush Buttercup

Buttercup Ridge

Buttercup Ridge

Buttercup Ridge

Sagebrush Buttercup

Buttercup Ridge

Buttercup Ridge

Buttercup Ridge

Since these photos were taken the buttercups have been covered by about two inches of soft wet snow and there is more expected tonight and tomorrow. They will be OK: they are used to it!

December 8, 2011

Buttercup Ridge

Filed under: Winter — Tags: — montucky @ 11:51 pm

Buttercup ridge

Every winter in the first few days of February I pay a visit to this small, tall and sharp little ridge that’s not easy to approach but not very far off the beaten path, to see the first wildflowers of the new year start to bloom, Sagebrush Buttercups. Why they bloom so early there I don’t know, but they are sleeping now beneath a soft blanket of snow.

(The tall ridge to the right is in the Patrick’s Knob roadless area: the one in the distance is in the Reservation Divide roadless area: in between flows the Clark Fork if the Columbia. The tracks in the snow were made by coyotes and Big Horn sheep.)

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