Montana Outdoors

September 21, 2010

South of Big Hole, west of Spring Creek (3)

Filed under: Autumn, Teepee-Spring Creek roadless area — Tags: , , — montucky @ 10:29 pm

Our weather has been cool and wet and cloudy; the dark kind, not so good for photography, but it appears to be clearing and I have high hopes that there will be partly clear skies for a hike tomorrow along a high ridge in the Cherry Peak roadless area. So, tonight I’ll post these photos that I almost forgot from a trip a couple of weeks ago: got carried away with some new wildflowers, critters, etc..

Along an old road south of Big Hole

Along an old road south of Big Hole

Along an old road south of Big Hole

Along an old road south of Big Hole

Along an old road south of Big Hole

Along an old road south of Big Hole

Along an old road south of Big Hole

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September 19, 2010

Yellow evening primrose

Yellow evening primroseYellow evening primrose, Oenothera villosa

September 17, 2010

A grass that isn’t a grass

There is a wildflower that I have admired for years, having seen it only in photos until about a month ago when I passed by Goat Lakes on the trail to Mount Silcox in the Cube Iron – Silcox roadless area and found it growing just by the edge of Goat Creek where the creek exits the lower lake.

Nearly two thousand years ago, a Greek physician, pharmacologist and botanist by the name of Pedanius Dioscorides described a grass-like plant he observed growing on Mount Parnassus. Later, when the Greek description was translated, someone made a mistake and gave the “Parnassia” name to a species that is not even remotely grass-like; Parnassia fimbriata, Fringed Grass-of-Parnassus. However, a beautiful wildflower by any other name is still a beautiful wildflower (my apologies to Mr. S.) and I think this one is a real beauty.

Fringed Grass-of-Parnassus

Fringed Grass-of-Parnassus

(A little later I will post a series of photos of the whole trek to Mount Silcox.)

September 16, 2010

Leafy spurge hawk moth caterpillar

Filed under: Butterflies — Tags: , , , , — montucky @ 9:47 pm

I’ve seen the moth and it’s very pretty, but this is the first mature larva that I’ve encountered. I wondered at the strategy that produced those colors (but it worked today because the color caught my attention before I stepped on it – it was marching down the middle of the trail!).

Spurge Hawk-Moth Caterpillar

Spurge Hawk-Moth Caterpillar

It’s an interesting little individual. Here is some information about it.

September 14, 2010

Stalking a tree

Filed under: Autumn — Tags: , , , — montucky @ 10:44 pm

Not far from where I live is a tract of land of 60 acres or so near the river, that no one ever seems to visit other than the wildlife and, well, me. The grass on it is tall, the brush is very thick and thorny, it’s necessary to cross a small stream to get to it and the terrain is more than a bit difficult to travel upon, all of which make it a very pleasant place indeed to explore.

A half mile or so from the edge of this piece of land is a tree that is rapidly changing into its fall wardrobe. I’m sure it didn’t chose to begin its life in that particular location, but it has clearly chosen to thrive there. It was this tree that I chose to stalk this afternoon.

When the stalk began, there were small drops of rain in the air and the general light conditions looked as though they would be quite good for a photo or two of the tree and its new colors. I decided on a direct approach. Until I found that the local beavers had constructed a small dam in the little stream and flooded much of the terrain associated with that approach. After circling around toward the downstream side, I found a place of about fifty feet between their interesting little dam and the river and a small place within it where the stream was fordable for my short hiking boots, and I crossed it and resumed the “direct approach” until nearly in range for a clear shot of the tree.

That was when the sun broke out through the clouds and appeared right behind the tree, causing the stalk to take off on a brand new tack, made hardly any easier by the tall grass and chin-high thistles which hid all of the channels that the beavers dug and so thoughtfully left for other critters to stumble into. The best part of surrounding the tree with my presence as I tried to get into the optimum light conditions was jumping six deer out of their beds at close range and also at least one bear (and he was probably a growly bear too because I’m sure I woke him out of his afternoon sleep).

All of this for a trace of fall colors, some pure white clouds and a bit of blue sky.

Fall color

September 13, 2010

South of Big Hole, west of Spring Creek (2)

Filed under: Teepee-Spring Creek roadless area — Tags: , , — montucky @ 10:40 pm

On a day that was not expected to be clear and sunny, it seemed a good idea to take a long walk on an old logging road in the high country.

After about a mile through thick forest, where the road topped a ridge and began a slight descent into more open country, the wind coming up from there had a serious bite to it and a stop to add a layer of clothing was in order. After the heat of summer, a sudden exposure to an icy wind is both a contrast and a prelude to fall.

The added clothing was an improvement, but good, comfortable warmth came only with the rain and the addition of a poncho which blocked the wind as well as the rain and produced a comfortable sense of security from the elements. It was a wonderful day to hike!

There is just a touch of color beginning in the high country now, with many of the huckleberry bushes turning red and just some of the taller brush getting a few golden leaves. It will be a few more weeks before the full fall colors arrive here.

Here are a few photos to show what it looked like on that old road that day:

Along an old road south of Big Hole

Along an old road south of Big Hole

Along an old road south of Big Hole

Along an old road south of Big Hole

Along an old road south of Big Hole

Along an old road south of Big Hole

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