Montana Outdoors

January 15, 2009

January at Spring Creek

All in all, it wasn’t a bad day; not too cold, a little sun, and frozen snow that you could almost walk on.

Animal sightings: two Mule deer (grazing in the sun on the high bare ridge in the background of the second photo), two White-tails (in the brushy canyon bottom where White-tails usually lurk during the day), one grouse (flying just behind the nearest brush immediately after it startled the heck out of me by launching itself past my ear), one coyote (who was wearing a very attractive winter jacket!), and two doofuses (who were trying, unsuccessfully, to extricate their truck from a snowbank about two miles from where I thought it prudent to leave my Jeep and proceed on foot). A fairly good day for the animals (except for the doofuses, who, I’m quite sure, have had better ones).

It was three miles of bad road to the trail head at Spring Creek

Spring Creek trail head

where I found it would be best to wait a week or so for more snow before hiking up the trail (too much crusted snow for hiking but not quite enough to be comfortable on snowshoes).

Besides the invigorating walk in/on the snow and the winter beauty of the forest, when I arrived at this turn in the road just before the trail head

Spring Creek road

I enjoyed the memory of that sunny day in mid-June on the steep hillside at the left side of the photo, when these Tolmie Tulips were in bloom.

Tolmie Tulip

Tolmie Tulip

November 22, 2008

Let’s not forget the wildflowers of summer.

Tolmie tulips

Tolmie tulip

Tolmie tulip

(Photographed June 1, 2008 at Munson Creek in the TeePee-Spring Creek roadless area in western Montana’s Cabinet Mountains.)

June 13, 2008


Finally, we had a day with no rain: that called for a leisurely stroll up towards the Cherry Peak area. The trail there is on what was an old road from the trail head and so it’s quite wide for a trail and has a rather regular incline to it making it pretty easy hiking and the entire area is closed to motor vehicles. I’ve hiked it many times now and still have not met another person on the trail. Seems like no one ever goes there, maybe because it’s a long way to the top and all up hill. The surrounding scenery though, in my opinion, is really hard to beat. Like this:

Cherry Peak roadless area

After spending a day in that country it’s difficult to decide which photos I’d like to post (I brought back 40 and some are really pretty). I’ll likely post more from today’s hike later, but for now would you like to see…

Bear Grass, Xerophyllum tenax
Bear Grass

(this was the first I’ve seen this year and the blossom is just starting to fill out)


a Black bear,
Black bear

( I was lucky to come up behind this big guy today as he foraged along the trail, turning over large rocks looking for ants and grubs. I stalked him for about 15 minutes and got to within about 50 yards, taking the photo just as he was about to enter the thick brush. It was an experience I will remember for a long time: he’s a very large and representative Black Bear!)

or maybe

A Tolmie star-tulip.
Tolmie star-tulip

You decide.

June 6, 2008

That magic chicken soup

Yesterday evening, after I had been sick and in bed most of the day, my wife, who is a fantastic cook, took pity on me and made some delicious, magic chicken soup. I highly recommend it, because this afternoon, even though it was raining, I was able to hike the lower end of one of my favorite trails, the Spring Creek trail

On the Spring Creek trail.

Spring Creek trail

Spring Creek. (Because of the rain I didn’t take my tripod today, so these photos of the stream are from a trip there in May.)

Spring Creek

Spring Creek

and see the Tolmie star-tulips which are in bloom now in that area.

Tolmie star-tulip

Tolmie star-tulip

Tolmie star-tulip

Tolmie star-tulip

That is some incredible soup!

June 1, 2008

…and the rain that makes them grow…

A brief spring rain sweeps north over the peaks across from Munson Creek

Peaks of the Coeur d'ALenes

and waters the tolmie star-tulips that make their homes there.

Tolmie star-tulip

Tolmie star-tulip

Tolmie star-tulip

May 26, 2008

Early Tolmies

Following a hunch yesterday, I paid a visit in the rain to the lower part of Munson Creek to see if the Tolmie Star-tulips were blooming yet. It’s still a little early, but there were already three blossoms showing: later there will be hundreds in that location.

From what I can tell, this little flower is supposed to be confined to Washington, Oregon and California only, but I guess nobody told Calochortus tolmiei because I’ve found them growing in four different locations in both the Cabinet Mountains and the Coeur d’Alene mountains here in western Montana and that’s something for which I’m very grateful: they‘re a beautiful little flower (about half an inch across) with lots of varieties.

Tolmie star-tulip, (Calochortus tolmiei)

Tolmie star-tulip (Calochortus tolmiei)

Tolmie star-tulip (Calochortus tolmiei)

Tolmie star-tulip (Calochortus tolmiei)

Tolmie Star-tulip at USDA Plants

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