Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Well, it's Sunday, November 25th, 2018.......  And NO SNOW!!!  Hmmmm..... now it is Tuesday November 27th and I still don't have this ready.  You know how Time and I get along, it does not wait for me at all!!!  It just keeps plodding along at it's own pace regardless of what I am doing.............. Still not even any snow in the forecast, except a few snow showers.  The Locals around here are dancing in the streets and Debbie and I are moping around because of no snow.........  Could this be a Winter without snow?  Heaven Forbid!  We went looking for snow yesterday and found a little in the Mountains.........  Not nearly as much as usual for this time of year, but some at least.......  Our first stop was along Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park.  I got to looking at reflections in the Lake and realized that maybe I was Upside Down and no one had turned me over yet this morning......  Do you ever feel that way?  Fortunately, Debbie was there to let me know that the sky was UP and not the Water!  So, I sighed a bit of relief and continued taking some photos. 

Debbie took this one looking Southwest across Lake McDonald at the Apgar Mountains.  What a Beautiful Fall Day!!!

This is looking Northeast at Mount Brown and the Lake McDonald Shore line.

No, this is not a Volcano, just the clouds created at the top of Mount Brown.

What a beautiful, Sunny day!  Not bad for November 24th.  The temperature was in the low 40's.

Views of the Mountain Tops are Awesome.

Last summer the pull-offs along the Going to the Sun Road along Lake McDonald were mostly closed as they were re-paving them.  Not only did they re-pave them, they made some new ones and enlarged some of the old ones.  One thing Debbie and I were really pleased with is they have made several access paths down to the lake shore from these pull-offs.  This will be a big draw for many visitors to the Park next year, as there were very few places to get to the lake shore.  Not much swimming in the lake though, the surface temperature rarely gets above 62 degrees.  Burrrr!!!

About 10 miles up the Going to the Sun Road, we finally found some SNOW on the road.  These photos are just typical scenes along the Going to the Sun Road in the winter months.

The first 10 miles of the road were clear of snow and all of our roads in the Valley are clear.  This is NOT the usual late Autumn.

Anyway, we stopped at a pull-off and went down to the lake shore and got completely carried away taking photos. The frost on the leaves trimmed them out with silver...

This is in the shade, and underwater just to show how colorful the rocks are here in Glacier National Park.

You can tell by looking at this photo, the water in this lake is like drinking water.  In late summer you can see the bottom where it is deeper than 50 feet.  WOW!

We stopped along McDonald Creek several places to take photos and these are a few of what we were seeing.

Also we stopped at McDonald Falls and photographed it for a little while.  There are two Falls on McDonald Creek and the McDonald Falls name has gone back and forth on these but now the Park Service has put up a new sign naming this one McDonald Falls.  We will see if that sticks for a year or two until they go back to calling the other one McDonald Falls.

This one is just a close-up of the lower part of the Falls.

Driving along the Going to the Sun Road, you never know what you will come across.  Witch's Hair Lichen grows where there is moisture and clean air.  It gets it's nutrients from the rain and air.  It is a long-lived perennial and sometimes may almost cover a tree.

The warm Sun was melting the snow and frost on the evergreens and it looked like rain under some of them.

Coming back down from Avalanche, we stopped and got out at some of the new pull-offs and walked down to the lake shore.  There were a few more clouds overhead, but we did not notice.

I still can't get over the photos Debbie takes of me of my back side.  I can't see my bald head in the mirror, so I always wonder who that person is!

There is nothing like a reflection of clouds in a clear lake.

Was I perplexed by the thoughts of how this lake exist, or was I just cold?  Anyway, Lake McDonald is a deep lake, at 472 feet.  It rarely freezes over.  In the shallow ends of the lake ice may freeze out a mile or two, but the main body where it is deepest, almost never freezes over.

On our way home we went up the Camas Road to the North Fork Road and back into Columbia Falls.  That is one of the most scenic roads that is really close to us.  This waterfall is awesome the year around.  It is on a North facing slope, so it has frozen already, most of the waterfalls and streams have no ice on them at all.

Looking across the North Fork of the Flathead River, the Mountains do have some snow, but not as much as usual for this time of year.  These slopes were burnt over because of lots of fuel on the forest floor from a previous fire in 2003 and the heat scorched the earth.   It will take decades to recover.  When fires burn so hot that the seed bed is destroyed it requires things like the Clark's Nutcracker to 're-plant' trees across the region.

The Clark's Nutcrackers 'hide' a lot of seeds throughout the Summer, Audubon estimates that they may each 'plant' 30,000 seeds or more each year (in the late Summer and Fall) and don't remember where they put them all.  They can carry 90 or so in a 'pouch' under their tongue.  We suppose they remember where they 'hide' most of them, but sometimes something happens to a bird and that leaves thousands of seeds 'planted' over a large area. Over time we gain a new forest.  

The Clark's Nutcracker feeds it's young on the seeds it has stored over the previous Summer.  We don't think about Pine seeds having much 'food value' but ounce for ounce the Whitebark Pine seeds have more calories than Chocolate!  So, should we eat Pine nuts???  Some people cook with Pine Nuts, so what do you think?  You want to go on a hike and eat some pine cones???  I think I will pass.  I will go for the Chocolate instead....

Monday, October 22, 2018

As many of you know me,  I could not just 'leave it be' as far as just a burned Cabin in Glacier National Park.  So, a little research and now I know more about the place.  This Cabin was the Baring Creek Cabin also known as the Sun Camp Fireguard Cabin.  These Cabins, as there were several in Glacier National Park, were also know as Patrol Cabins and used by the Park Service Personal.  This one was used quite often into the 1960's but not a lot since then.  Occasionally a hiker would stay overnight in this Cabin.  No water or electricity but a wood stove and the Park Service had added Propane heat which made it a bit more comfortable. 

The Blackfeet name for the creek is  a'pa-oa'pspi  meaning Weasel Eyes.  The name was changed to Baring in honor of a banking family from London, England that visited frequently during the 1920's.  James Willard Scultz was involved in naming and renaming many places on the East side of the Park.  James and Joe Kipp took the Baring brothers on hunting trips in this area in the 1920's.  I still like 'Weasel Eyes' for this awesome Creek and Falls.

Debbie is looking Northwest at the chimney which, with the foundation, is about all that is left.  Matahpi Peak is in the background (behind the burned tree).  This Cabin is near Baring Creek just up on the side of Goat Mountain overlooking St. Mary Lake.

At one time there was quite a complex of buildings here but the Cabin was the only thing remaining when the Reynolds's Creek Wildfire destroyed it on July 22, 2015.  This view is looking Southeast.  Now that this area has burned, you can see St. Mary Lake from this spot.

Inside the Cabin is much like many of the Patrol Cabins built here in Glacier.  They were 20' X 24' with a covered porch.

This is looking Northwest.  I am a little confused, yet, as it looks like in this photo that there were electric power lines in the background, but apparently Electric was never run into the Cabin.  Maybe those are just some scratches on the film,  More for me to research............

The Reynolds's Creek Wildfire was a very hot fire.  Brent Rowley and Kyle Langley are archaeologist in Glacier National Park and one of them is holding a piece of glass from a window in the Cabin.  They believe the temperature of the fire at the Cabin may have reached 1,800 degrees.  When a Wildfire burns this hot it often destroys the seed bank and it takes many years for the forest to regenerate.  Debbie and I will be watching how the forest recovers and I will be commenting on that in later Blogs.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

We have been to Montana almost every year since 2003 but only in August and early September.  So, this last Winter we found Montana, especially Glacier National Park, STUNNING!!!  Well, Spring with the thousands of Wildflowers, was just as Stunning!!!  And Summer was AWESOME, but we were much more familiar with  Summer.  WELL, AUTUMN is SPECTACULAR!!!!

If you are thinking of coming out for a visit,  Think Autumn!!  Particular mid-October.

This is the FIRST Blog that I have written in a Timely manner.  You know that Time and I do not get along at all.  Yesterday we went across US-2 to the East side of Glacier National Park.  The Larch trees turn golden in the Fall and then rusty brown  (they have needles, not leaves) and loose their needles.  The contrast of the yellow gold and dark green of the Pines and Firs is awesome.  Some of the Aspen still have golden leaves, some have lost theirs as they started turning in late September.

The 50 miles from West Glacier to Maria's Pass is Stunningly Beautiful.  There are many pull-off's along US-2 and we take advantage of them.  The scenery is Awesome year around, but this is the first time we have seen the beauty of the Fall Larch trees.

Some of the Aspen have not yet lost their leaves and are brilliant golden yellow.

Larch are a very tall tree with short limbs and make a statement in rising above the surrounding Forrest.

The US-2 follows the Middle Fork of the Flathead.  This is the view from the Paoli Creek access site.  This is a popular place to put in rafts and float down to West Glacier.  That is, in the Summer.  This time of year the water flow is low and you would spend much time dragging the raft over the shallows.

Just to show we were not hiking out in the wilderness, this is looking along US-2 near Essex, Montana.

Debbie is photographing on the other side of US-2.  It does not look like it, but a few feet in front of Debbie, it drops over 100 feet down to the Middle Fork of the Flathead River.

Everywhere you look........  Just Awesome views!

Reflections in the Middle Fork of the Flathead.

As we continued on North of Maria's Pass to East Glacier Park and North on Montana 49 we come to an overlook of the Two Medicine Valley.  Rising Wolf Mountain is on the right, Sinopah Mountain (center), and to the far left is Painted Teepee.

Up close of Rising Wolf Mountain.  Not the tallest, but one of the largest mountains in Glacier.

Sinopah mountain rises above Two Medicine Lake.

At Kiowa, we get on Montana 89 and go through St. Mary and up to Babb.  We turn at Babb and it is 12 miles of rough road to Many Glacier.  Just as we get on the road to Many Glacier, there is a beautiful lake.  This lakes is maintained by Beavers.  There is a culvert under the road that the beavers keep blocked to maintain this water level.  A joint effort between the Road crews and the Beavers as the Road Crews created a special type of culvert so the Beavers would not back water over the road.  Not sure of the communication between the two, but they seemed to get a general understanding of the situation and it has worked well for the last many years.  We see some ducks and we think Loons nest on this lake.

Going into the Park, along a place called Two Dog Flats there is a backdrop of colorful mountains.  Debbie noticed a 'path' along the road up into the meadows just down the road from this view.  As we stopped to investigate it, (looked like a cow path and there are no cows in the Park) we found it was a well used path created by Elk coming down to the lake for water.  This is an area (Two Dog Flats) where a large herd of Elk winter.

Near the Junction to Many Glacier Hotel and the Swiftcurrent Motor Lodge the Aspen were spectacular.  Mount Wilber is in the background.

We pulled into the parking lot at the Swiftcurrent Motor Lodge (everything is closed at this time of the year) and sat in the car and ate a sandwich.  While eating we watched two herds of Big Horn Sheep on the mountain side above us.  Yes, they are tiny in these photos, but they are about 4,000 feet from us.  We also saw some Gray Jays and Magpies.  After we ate, I talked to a man with a spotting scope (we had forgot to bring ours) and watched three Grizzly Bears digging for Marmots and Ground Squirrels on the South slope of Mount Wilber.

Leaving Many Glacier we headed down to St. Mary and up the Going to the Sun Road to the Jackson Glacier Overlook.  The Going to the Sun Road is closed at the Jackson Glacier overlook for the Season.  At the pull-off's on the way back down, we watched Mountain Goats, Magpies and Stellar Jays.  The afternoon Sun was just hitting a strip on Jackson Glacier.

Near the Sun-Rift Gorge Debbie is looking at the chimney of a little one room cabin that had burned.  We have not been able to find any information about this cabin, but it may have been built before the Glacier National Park was formed in 1910.  It will be something we discuss with the Park historian.

From Along St. Mary Lake, Debbie took this photo of Divide Mountain.

As we got on Montana 89 and headed South to East Glacier Park, we came across the largest Black Bear that I believe I have ever seen.  It was Massive!!!  Very intimidating, as that fence would not even slow it down if it decided  that I looked like something to eat.

But I think it's curiosity got the better of it and it just sat down and looked (hungry) at me.

As we went on up the road, it's path came closer to the road and is showed no fear!  Notice the Massive Head............

Continuing on our way, we stopped for snacks and gas at East Glacier Park and headed home on US-2.  As I have said, anywhere you go around here, it winds up on US-2.

The evening Sun was highlighting the Larch for a beautiful drive home.

If you are thinking of coming out to Montana for a visit, we would very much suggest a trip out here in mid October!  You might think that is a little late as the Going to the Sun road is closed and you can't get across the Park on it, but the roads are open into many of the scenic places and the views along US-2 are spectacular!!!  This year the temperatures have been (for the last week) in the high 50's and low 60's and expected to be about that for the next week.  Lots of Sunshine!!!  Could be 4 or 5 days before seeing a cloud........