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

One of many Bluebird houses standing vacant waiting for their springtime returning residents. Like many people in our community referred to a “snow birds”, they live in places like Arizona, California, and Florida November to May. We’re tough though, so let’s go and enjoy the snow.

bluebird house

A wonderful view across Cattail Lake which we have visited before. The lake is frozen and the skaters have already begun to clear the skating rink open for all to enjoy. Needs some work after last night’s snow.

The snow clings to the evergreens making the landscape look like a Christmas card. At the end of the Bridgers are the Bangtail Mountains. That’s them in the background.The  Bangtail Divide Trail is 23.8-miles long and a well-known mountain bike must-do trail. It is also a good hiking trail. May give that trail a try next summer since the views are said to be spectacular as you head up to the highest point of 7,925 feet. However, there is a 1,300+ foot elevation gain almost immediately, and that is very long and steep! Ooops, my wimpiness just peeked out. Perhaps we can find an easier way up, but that has to wait for warmer weather.  The Bangtail Range averages about 6,000 feet high, significantly lower than the surrounding Bridger Range and Gallatin Range.

At the Cherry River Fishing Access there’s a lovely trail that takes us to the Gallatin River. Today we will not walk that far, but will head toward one of the two frozen ponds that are havens for lots of waterfowl come spring. One of my favorite photo subjects–fences. This one surrounds the parking area.

Snow piled high in every nook and cranny.

Bordering the road that runs past our little piece of wonderland.

It is hard to know if it is one of the different types of frost we have here in the North or snow or a combination, but you can almost see the individual crystals.

The grasses holding on in winter with their heads carrying ice/snow crystals that shimmer in the sunlight.

Can’t help myself, just love the view. The spine of the Bridger Range runs about 45 miles north to south. The tallest peak in the range is Sacagawea Peak (9665 ft/2,946 m), difficult to see from here since it is on the east side the range–we are standing on the west. Next summer we will take a hike to Fairy Lake for a better view.

From here we have a great view of Baldy Mountain on the right (8,514ft/2,717m). A panorama reveals the entire Bridger Range with the smaller Bangtail Mountains to the far right. Although Baldy Mountain stands out from this direction, locals call the sloped end of the range Mount Baldy. That white top-to-bottom strip at the end of the range is home to The “M”, a local landmark and popular hike. Although snow covered now, it is a very large letter M made of white rocks. The “M” was conceived and constructed in 1915 by engineering students at Montana State University here in Bozeman, and is still maintained by University students.

You can see the ice clinging to the grasses. It is what gives the landscape its sparkle.

Let’s head this way a bit to the pond

Those cattails are certainly resilient.

You can see the ice crystals so clearly on the grass heads.

It is amazing that the creek between the two ponds is still flowing. The water must be warmer since the pipe brings the water from the bottom of the pond to the surface here. It nice to hear the gurgling flow that is unusual this time of year for creeks and streams.

Well here we are back at the parking area. My nose is getting cold! The snow-covered rocks give an eery look to the circle that will take us back to the road.

What a beautiful day, but time for the fireplace and a cup of hot Joe.

Until next time . . . stay warm!

8 thoughts on “Winter Wayfaring at -12 Degrees

  1. Veronica Wald says:

    Another lovely little walk – very interesting how the snow crystallized on the grass blades. Don’t we live in a great place!

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