Montana Outdoors

April 4, 2015

Fading away

A couple of days ago a friend and I hiked part of an old trail, probably for the last time; the Ashley Creek trail 454. It was created sometime in the 1930s, probably by the Civilian Conservation Corps by the looks of its construction, but apparently hasn’t been tended to for several years and although the Forest Service still shows it on their maps, it is going back to its earlier natural state. I am fearful that it is but one of many that the Forest Service will keep alive only on paper, probably in an attempt to show a larger than actual trail inventory as their department steadily morphs into another hopelessly incompetent and ineffectual bureaucracy. Following are some photos from along the trail.

Ashley Creek trail 454

The old trail sign still exists as it nears the century mark.

Ashley Creek trail 454

Ashley Creek trail 454

Ashley Creek trail 454

Ashley Creek is the water supply for a small Montana town.

Ashley Creek trail 454

Ashley Creek trail 454

Ashley Creek trail 454

Ashley Creek trail 454

Ashley Creek trail 454

It was a very pleasant surprise to see two species of wildflowers in bloom in a sunny spot on the mountainside along the trail, a thousand feet above the trail head. Upon perusing my photo library, I found that this is the earliest bloom for either of them that I’ve encountered by about two weeks. Who’d-a-thunk-it!

Small Bluebells, Long-flowered Lungwort, Trumpet Bluebells ~ Mertensia longiflora

Small Bluebells, Long-flowered Lungwort, Trumpet Bluebells ~ Mertensia longiflora

Small Bluebells, Long-flowered Lungwort, Trumpet Bluebells ~ Mertensia longiflora

Early blue violet, Viola adunca

Early blue violet ~ Viola adunca

Ashley Creek trail 454

Ashley Creek trail 454

Ashley Creek trail 454

It’s sad to lose another such treasure from our early days.

May 3, 2014

A strange spring for western Montana wildflowers

After a winter with large amounts of snowfall (the high country around here still has 140% of normal snowpack) and lots of cloudy/rainy days this spring, the forests are very dry. The rain we’ve had has been mostly light showers with not much water volume, and the flowers which depend on April rain are doing poorly, at least in this specific area. These were taken on a couple of short hikes recently and the selection was not very good.

Round-leaved Violet

Round-leaved Violet ~ Viola orbiculata

In an area that usually abounds with violets, this and the following one were found only on a small hillside where water from snow melting at a higher elevation was trickling out of the ground.

Canadian White violet

Canadian White violet ~ Viola canadensis

Woodland Strawberry

Woodland Strawberry ~ Fragaria vesca

Mule Deer

Mule Deer ~ Odocoileus hemionus: (A fellow wild plant aficionado)

Heart-leaf Arnica

Heart-leaf Arnica

Heart-leaf Arnica ~ Arnica cordifolia

Pacific Trillium

Pacific Trillium

Pacific Trillium

Pacific Trillium ~ Trillium ovatum

These are Pacific or Western White trilliums that are in the final stages of their boom, when they turn pink. It took me awhile initially to realize that the pink onesĀ are not from a different species.

Western Blue Clematis

Western Blue Clematis ~ Clematis occidentalis

Early Blue Violet

Early Blue Violet ~ Viola adunca

Arrowleaf Balsamroot

Arrowleaf Balsamroot ~ Balsamorhiza sagittata

Grand Fir

Grand Fir ~ Abies grandis

Pioneer Violet

Pioneer Violet ~ Viola glabella

May 19, 2013

An hour on the Spring Creek trail

A little spare time in the late afternoon, a short drive, cool green shade and flowers.

Scarlet Indian Paintbrush

Scarlet Indian Paintbrush, Castilleja miniata

Kinnikinnik

Kinnikinnik, Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Howell's pussytoes

Howell’s pussytoes, Antennaria howellii

Woodland Strawberry

Woodland Strawberry, Fragaria vesca

Yellow Coralroot

Yellow Coralroot, Corallorhiza trifida

This encounter made my day! It was the first time that I’ve encountered this saprophytic orchid. Its greenish tinge suggests that it may be capable of manufacturing at least a part of its food to supplement its normal diet of decaying organic material.

Smallflower Miterwort

Smallflower Miterwort, Mitella stauropetala

Heart-leaf Arnica

Heart-leaf Arnica, Arnica cordifolia

Early Blue Violet

Early Blue Violet, Viola adunca

Star-flowered Solomon's-seal

Star-flowered Solomon’s-seal, Maianthemum stellatum

Feathery False Lily-of-the-valley

Feathery False Lily-of-the-valley, maianthemum racemosum

Western Gromwell

Western Gromwell, Lithospermum ruderale

May 6, 2013

Today’s flora & fauna

On today’s walk with the canine member of the family:

Prairie Smoke, Old Man's Whiskers, Purple Avens

Prairie Smoke, Old Man’s Whiskers, Purple Avens, Geum triflorum

Field Chickweed

Field Chickweed, Cerastium arvense

Early blue violet

Early blue violet, Viola adunca

Small Bluebells, Long-flower Bluebells

Long-flower Bluebells, Mertensia longiflora

Bighorn Sheep

Bighorn Sheep, Ovis canadensis

Bighorn Sheep

Bighorn Sheep

Bighorn Sheep

May 14, 2012

Back to the wildflowers

Our wildflowers are blooming now faster than I can post their pictures! I shall try to catch up!

Early Blue Violet

Early Blue Violet

Early Blue Violet, Viola adunca, May 1

Ground-ivy, Creeping Charlie, Field Balm

Ground-ivy, Creeping Charlie, Field Balm, Glechoma hederacea, May 2

Oregon Grape

Oregon Grape

Oregon Grape, Mahonia aquifolium, Berberis aquifolium, May 1

Unidentified

Unidentified, May 2

Hooker's Fairybells

Hooker's Fairybells

Hooker's Fairybells

Hooker’s Fairybells, Disporum hooker, May 2

June 15, 2011

Wildflowers of spring (12)

Unknown

Unknown (Possibly a species of Primrose?) 6/10

Red Osier Dogwood

Red Osier Dogwood ~ Cornus stolonifera 6/11

Hookedspur Violet, Early Blue Violet

Hookedspur Violet, Early Blue Violet ~ Viola adunca 6/12 (Couldn’t resist posting another photos of this one!)

Common Red Paintbrush, Scarlet Indian Paintbrush

Common Red Paintbrush, Scarlet Indian Paintbrush ~ Castilleja miniaata 6/12 (These seem to be early this year, and maybe a little brighter than usual too.)

High Mountain Cinquefoil

High Mountain Cinquefoil ~ Potentilla flabellifolia 6/12

Hound's Tongue, Gypsy Flower

Hound’s Tongue, Gypsy Flower ~ Cynoglossum officinale 6/12

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