Montana Outdoors

July 12, 2017

In search of a flower

A flower has been on my mind a lot lately, one that I encountered on a hike in June of 2008 into the mountains along the Clark Fork River here in western Montana. The USDA “Plants” website tells me that it grows only in Washington and California, which might explain why I haven’t encountered it in any of my ramblings since 2008.

At the end of June this year, despite the heat, I again hiked the Donlan Saddle trail (USFS trail 205) up to the area where I first encountered the flower. Trail 205 is an aggressive little trail that seems much longer than its 3 mile length because it starts at an elevation of about 2,600 feet along the river and ends at an elevation of 5,000 feet where it meets the start of the CC Divide trail and also the road that proceeds from there on up to the Patrick’s Knob fire lookout.

The trail is pretty and there are a few good views to be had toward the top, the rest of the trail being in the forest.

Trail 205

Trail 205

Trail 205

Trail 205

Despite the extremely hot and dry conditions this year, there were several species of flower still in bloom:

Grand Collomia, Large-flower Mountain-trumpet

Grand Collomia, Large-flower Mountain-trumpet ~ Collomia grandiflora

Menzies' Campion

Menzies’ Campion ~ Silene menziesii

Woodland Pinedrops

Woodland Pinedrops ~ Pterospora andromedea

Giant Mountain Aster

Giant Mountain Aster ~ Canadanthus modestus

Nodding Onion

Nodding Onion, Allium cernuum

Though I did reach the area in which I found the flower in 2008 I did not find it in bloom this time, probably because I was a week or so too late and because of the dry conditions, but here is a photo of it taken on June 20, 2008:

Tricolor Monkeyflower

Tricolor Monkeyflower ~ Mimulus tricolor

I hope to try again next year, but a little earlier, and it will be worth the hike.

June 20, 2008

The longest three mile trail in Montana (Part 1)

It began yesterday and will continue tomorrow (at least the posting part of it).

It’s time to replenish the firewood supply for winter and we’ve been working quite diligently on doing just that. Early yesterday morning I tackled the job of splitting and stacking the last of the wood my son and I have hauled down from the high country and before noon it was all split and stacked: three full cords so far; 15,000 pounds of beautiful, dry, hard lodgepole pine.

As a reward to myself for swinging a 6 pound splitting axe for three hours, I then decided a ride on the Wing would do very nicely and so headed for a spot about thirty miles away, combining the ride with taking a look for the trail head of a trail I’ve been wanting to hike. It’s a trail (USFS trail 205) which travels right through the middle of the Patrick’s Knob roadless area with the top at 5,000 feet at the high ridge of the Coeur d’Alene Mountains and the bottom along the Clark Fork River at 2,500 feet. I had hiked just a little of the top end but didn’t know exactly where it came out at the bottom, and I had planned to hike it from the top down. According to the Forest Service, the trail is three miles long.

Finding the trail head turned out to be an easy thing to do and I hiked a mile or so of the lower part of the trail and headed home a little after one. About ten miles east of the town near where I live I could see a huge column of smoke above town and I immediately headed for our Rural Fire headquarters. Turns out there were two houses burning and I then spent four hours battling those blazes. It all made for a long day!

Today I hiked the trail from the bottom to the top and back down. I knew what the change of altitude would be, but I’ll guarantee that whoever in the Forest Service decided it was a three mile long trail has never hiked it! I’ll describe it a little more next post and show a few more photos, but for now, here’s one of a pretty little wildflower I have never seen before. There are a few growing in one small area along trail 205 at an elevation of about 4,500 feet.

Tricolor Monkeyflower, mimulus tricolorUnidentified

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