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Back At You!

Hello everyone! It has been a hectic four plus months and I’ve missed you! Yes, I’m still alive, still taking pictures, and still heading into the wilderness. The biggest change is I’ve gone back to school working toward a second Master’s degree. OK, this is a lot of work, and since I’m retired I sometimes ask: WHY? Well, because I’m a life-long learner and can’t help myself.

So in my crazy, busy, demanding new school life, I “escaped” one morning to visit a place I love close by. We have walked here before, Missouri River Headwaters State Park. This day I arrived before sunrise to soak in the pre-dawn beauty, the glorious sun coming over the mountains, and the autumn landscape.

Come on along . . .

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Ousel Falls Wander

Well, it is that time of year. Not really winter, not really spring. Ice on the trails, lots of brown popping through the dirty-looking snow that’s left. The evergreens are not their beautiful greens, more like a yellow-green and pale. So to make up for this “it’s so much better any other time of year” feeling, we are going to Ousel Falls outside the town of Big Sky, Montana.  A short walk down and up, switchbacks across, through a canyon, and then rewarded with a beautiful waterfall. With all this ice, though, be sure to put on your ice cleats. It is mostly overcast today, but the sun is peeking through a bit and it is supposed to reach 52°.  That’s warm without wind, but we’ll see if the predicted wind changes things. Have those cleats on? Let’s go!

Watch your step . . .

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Winter Wayfaring at -12 Degrees

It dropped to -22° last night, but with the crystal-clear blue sky this morning, the sun is warming up the landscape. At -12° and not a breath of wind, it’s time for a winter wayfaring experience near home. It is just so beautiful. The sparkling snow clings to everything it fell on over the last 24 hours. Be sure to dress warm though, it is still very cold outside and we don’t want any frostbite on fingers, toes, or nose. It is so nice to still have farmland within our city limits. Wintertime aspens, long piles of hay, and the Bridger Mountains that define our eastern edge, all covered in sparkling white.

Bridgers frame aspens

Wayfaring with me . . .

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Glorious Bowman Lake and Surrounds

The remote northwest corner of Glacier National Park is a seldom visited, sparsely populated area with beautiful vistas and finger lakes that take your breath away. Today we are driving to Bowman Lake, the third largest lake in Glacier behind Lake McDonald and
St. Mary Lake respectively. We’ll be taking a walk along the northern shore. I have found, however, that the journey to the hike can be just as marvelous as the hike itself. I think you’ll agree today.

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Continue to the lake . . .

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Hiking to Cold Lake, At Last!

Driving north up Montana Highway 83 we see the Swan Mountains on the right and the Mission Mountains to the left. Gorgeous scenery as we drive up the Swan Valley. There is a hike that has been on my mind for two years and today, finally, I will make it to Lower Cold Lake. Look, there’s Swan Mountain, the rocky peak between the tree-covered mountains. It is the second highest peak in the Swan Range at 9,289 feet and it even has glaciers, but today we hike in the Mission Mountains. It’s only a little further to US Forest Service road #903 which begins our climb to the Cold Lakes’ trailhead. It’s a beautiful day and I’m sure you’ll enjoy this hike with me!

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To the trailhead . . .

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Ride~About: The Unique Pryor Mountains

What a great idea. We have the maps and a free day, so leaving at 5am we journey three hours east to the unique Pryor Mountains. They are very different from what we expect in Montana that boasts of the Rocky Mountains in the west and the Great Plains in the east. Rather than the glacier-carved granite of the Rockies, such as the Beartooth range only 40 miles west, here we have an island of sandstone and shale mountains reaching up from the prairie high enough to including spectacular limestone canyons. The Pryors are not only geologically unique, but culturally, ecologically, and meteorologically as well. What an unexpected and beautiful landscape!

pryor mountain road

Continue driving with us . . .

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The Lake They Call Avalanche

Glacier National Park is a gorgeous and amazing testament to the glaciers that covered the area for thousands of years with ice up to a mile deep. All that moving, melting, and re-melting ice formed this northern section of the Rocky Mountains. A carved masterpiece of U-shaped valleys, hanging valleys, cirques and tarns, paternoster lakes, and moraines. So let’s walk a little over two miles to see a glacier-formed valley which is the home of Avalanche Lake. I know it is uphill all the way, but we just have to go. Come on!

trail-9319 Continue our hike . . .

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SNAP*Shot: Eared Grebes

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What a surprise! On my morning walk around Cattail Lake there were six pair of Eared Grebes. I have only ever seen them in Yellowstone but here they are. I know they nest in colonies, so maybe six pair could be a colony? I’m so excited that we may have baby Grebes close to home this year! The young ride on their parent’s back for the first two weeks of their lives. What a sight that would be! Let’s see what a little research turns up.

Continue . . .

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Ride~About: Savoring Spring

Early spring, a time to savor the blessed warmth of the sun rising higher in the sky, the snow giving way to flowing creeks and warm ground, and all nature’s creatures relishing the release from the frigid challenge of staying alive. Soaking up the rays on a beautiful spring day is wonderful for all of us and this bison cow could not be more peaceful.

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Today we will drive the loop from Bozeman, MT to enter Yellowstone through the West Entrance in West Yellowstone. We’ll then explore sections of the park that are open to early-spring auto travel, and return to Bozeman by way of Mammoth Hot Springs. Come, let’s explore together the season that is the promise of renewal!

Continue in anticipation. . .

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Walking the Wilds of Bozeman

What to do? Because of the wildfires in Washington, Oregon, and northwest Montana, the smoke hangs in the air like a hazy veil with air quality warnings made visible by fine ash wafting across the landscape. It is 42° with a slight breeze, conditions that make the air quality a bit better first thing in the morning. So grab your jacket and let’s head out the front door for a walk to 12-acre Cattail Lake to see the wilds of Bozeman at sunrise.

wild Bozeman

 

Continue our walk

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Newbie in the Jewel

What a beautiful day! Time to explore Jewel Basin, 15,349 acres in the Swan Mountains, west of Glacier National Park in northwest Montana. The Jewel is dedicated to hiking–no bicycles, no horses, and nothing motorized–boasting 27 alpine lakes and 35 miles of trails. Twin Lakes is a five-mile round trip excursion that I can’t resist, so let’s go!

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Continue our walk . . .

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Rain and Shine

It’s a beautiful day just north of Seeley Lake in northwest Montana, but the clouds are getting thicker as we drive to the Morrell Falls trailhead. Picture perfect cumulus clouds with patches of blue give us hope of sun rather than rain on our hike today. Then again, the saying in Montana is if you don’t like the weather, wait a minute. Heeding the warnings and the fact it is still spring in the Rockies, let’s grab the bear spray, our packs, and go!

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Continue walking . . .