Montana Outdoors

June 2, 2017

East of Big Hole

Today a friend and I hiked several miles on an old road on the east slope of Big Hole looking for a trail that has been decommissioned by the Forest Service and abandoned for many years. We found it in pretty bad shape with a large number of trees down over it. It would be nice if we could convince the Forest Service to revive it because it would complete a nice loop that would be good for horse people as well as an occasional hiker.

I’ve included a few photos showing what the old road looks like, followed by some of the things that are in bloom at 5.600 feet. The road was cleaned up last year to allow some heavy equipment to get up to work on the Copper King fire so it will be in good shape for a few years before the Alders again close in over it.

Road 7578

SE slope Big Hole

Road 7578

These tiny flowers (about 1/8 inch across) caught my eye but I can’t positively identify them. I think they may be Western Wood Anemones (Anemone oregana) but I’m not positive.

Western Wood Anemone

Western Wood Anemone

Sitka Alder

Sitka Alder ~ Alnus viridis

Utah honeysuckle

Utah Honeysuckle ~ Lonicera utahensis

Huckleberry

Huckleberry ~ Vaccinium membranaceum

Northern Black Currant

Northern Black Currant ~ Ribes hudsonianum

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June 11, 2014

Beargrass and huckleberries

Filed under: Spring — Tags: , , , , — montucky @ 11:06 pm

Beargrass is beginning to bloom now in the western Montana high country,

Bear grass

Beargrass ~ Xerophyllum tenax

and then thinking of bears… As I sat eating my lunch along a trail the other day, enjoying the cool breeze that was sweeping up the mountain and the beauty of spring in the wild country, I watched dozens of bumble bees gathering nectar from and pollinating the huckleberry bushes that are now in bloom

Huckleberry blossoms

Huckleberry ~ Vaccinium membranaceum

and the thought occurred to me that in the spring of the year a bee which weighs about half a gram gets sustenance from the blossoms and at the same time pollinates the plants, then in the autumn of the year a bear which can weigh up to 1,700 pounds gets sustenance from the berries of those plants and spreads their seeds; what extremes in the annual cycle of a plant!

July 28, 2013

’tis the season for huckleberries

About this time in late summer one of the delicacies of the northwest begins to ripen and nearly everyone in these parts take to the mountains to harvest a few huckleberries. Black Huckleberry, Vaccinium membranaceum, is perhaps the most common in this area but I read somewhere that the native Indians were able to recognize 21 different species of them . I can recognize only three, but what the heck… they’re all good! I did a brief search and found an advertised price of $69 for a gallon (about 5 pounds).

Today I ventured out to pick a few and succeeded in getting enough for my wife to make one of the most delicious pies that anyone has ever tasted. And, at today’s going price, the berries I brought back at least paid for my gas.

The location:

Today I chose a section of USFS trail 404 (the CC Divide trail) just inside the southern border of the Patrick’s Knob – North Cutoff roadless area south of the town of Plains Montana. Trail 404 proceeds for many miles along the crest of a high ridge that roughly separates the Lower Clark Fork River from the St Regis River

From Trail 404

From Trail 404

The trail:

Trail 404

Trail 404

Trail 404

Trail 404

The star of the show:

Huckleberries

Huckleberry

The competition: 

When attempting to acquire about anything that is desirable, there will be competition. Today the largest competitor was probably back in a thicket somewhere sleeping, but others were out and about.

Dusky grouse

Adult male Dusky grouse, Dendragapus obscurus.

Dusky grouse

Dusky grouse, this summer’s chick.

Dusky grouse

And always there are flowers:

Fireweed

Fireweed

Harebell, Bluebell of Scotland

Harebell, Bluebell of Scotland

Fireweed

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