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.
After several sub-zero nights ice is forming on western Montana rivers. These photos are of the Flathead River about a hundred miles downstream from Glacier National Park. By the coming weekend, ice will cover this part of the river from bank to bank.
Black Bears have not really acquired protective camouflage as so many other animals have, resorting mostly to their resemblance from a distance to a fire-charred log or a black colored rock or even a deep shadow in the forest. This fellow however seems to have successfully hidden himself from some folks in almost the exact center of the photo in my previous post.
Montana Highway 200 follows the Flathead River for the last 20 miles of the river before it flows into the Clark Fork River and in that 20 miles there is a stretch of about a half mile where a cliff used to run right up to the river. When I was a kid the old highway in that area had been constructed over a steep and winding path that went up, over and around the cliff. Later, the cliff was blasted out to allow the road to be rebuilt flat and straight, right along the bank of the river. The new cliff face now has numerous seeps from it which freeze in winter, making some attractive ice formations. The vertical lines visible in the ice in these photos are the old drill holes that were filled with explosive charges to blast the rock away. Ice has decorated the holes and in many places, water flows down through the holes and behind the ice.