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.

Before sunrise the western sky is pink/purple/blue and gorgeous. This is a typical pre-sunrise sky in this part of the West and how can you not shed  tear for its beauty. We are standing on the banks of the Madison River coming up from Yellowstone National Park. Straight ahead, northwest, is the Jefferson River looping from the south. One half mile north the Gallatin River enters coming from the east, and the Missouri River heads east and south for 2,341 miles to join the Mississippi near St. Louis.  Yes, both these rivers flow south to north, at first a strange vision to Eastern eyes. It is all about the Continental Divide, remember that from 8th grade? I know, I also had to look it up again when I moved here.

Walking along the Missouri in the autumn grasses, let’s look back at the confluence in the far left corner of the picture. The sun is hitting the Tobacco Root Mountain tops straight ahead. The Tobacco Roots separate the Jefferson and the Madison Rivers. There are 43 peaks above 10,000 feet in the range, the tallest being Hollowtop Peak at 10,604 feet. We have to go explore those mountains one day soon, but not until the snow melts.

The grasses and assorted plants, usually called weeds, create fascinating landscapes. The colors, shapes, and promise of spring green, I like calling them peaceful geometry, in this case verticals.

Lovely geometric circles and loops.

Here comes the sun!

The frost on the grasses glitter in early morning. We will soon get wet as the frost melts, but it is worth it!

A special treat, the sun warming the brokenness of the fence that has seen better days.

The shapes, the frost, the calm colors. I think an autumn plant identification book should be published since their fall shapes and colors make them hard to ID. Perhaps this is a mullein? Do you know?

Don’t you just love the effects at sunrise? The racing of the fog and steam from the warmth of the rays, the brightening of the lightest colored autumn plants ending their season. It is  20º this morning, so we are creating our own steam from our breath.

Heading back to the car, we get a better view of the Tobacco Roots. The sun is higher in the sky so the pinks and purples are gone, but the warm rays have yet to reach us in this hollow along the river.

Ah, long shadows, a late season and winter beauty. We are near the parking lot as the sun highlights the sparkling, frosty landscape. The cloudless blue sky promises a beautiful day, however, early frosty Montana mornings are a peaceful, beautiful way to start any day.

Until next time . . . which will be soon my friend!

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