25 September 2008

Butte Montana in the Fall

It's fall: mornings in the 20s deg F sometimes with a dusting of snow, partly cloudy skies, pleasant 60 deg F afternoons. After growing up in the northeast, it took me some years to appreciate late summer and fall in a high, dry valley in the Northern Rockies along the Continental Divide. Gone the blazing scarlet colors of oak leaves, the impossible purple of maple, the burning orange of sassafras, the golden bronze of beech...

In the high valleys of western Montana, the green grass of spring fades under the withering sun of the endless blue sky days of July and August. The grassy open space of the Butte Hill, dotted with gallows frames, shows the faded look of late summer. On the hills, a tinge of color is creeping into the aspen stands:

Quaking aspen has not the range and depth of colors found in the eastern hardwood forest, but it too is beautiful in its simple yellow way. For the most part, the quakies are just beginning to turn:

Although you find the occasional early bloomer:

It's what we have as our predominant fall color, and we make do with this simple beauty--although on Alpine ridges you'll find larch and along some hillsides there are red osier dogwood and other autumn-colorful, shrubby species.

It's never too soon to think about cross country skiing. Cam Carstarphen and Mike Stickney put together a volunteer crew to clear trails at The Moulton. We split up into pairs, walked the trails with axes, bowsaws and other implements of destruction, and took out the trees and branches that have fallen over the trails. Here's Mike with some fine balanced-tree chainsaw work:

Some of us met up for lunch before heading home to more mundane tasks. Here's (left to right) Jim Handley, Rick Appleman, and Joe Griffin:

One quick stop for a pic on the way down the hill to Walkerville:

RolyTheDog stayed home, and spent this week with the Vet for a kidney infection. It's tough getting old, but like the turn of the seasons it is part of life, and the aged fate of an old dog awaits us all. She's back "home" now in my office, dreaming of skiing...

1 comment:

Cicero Sings said...

We are looking forward to x-country skiing here too ... today we were out walking in our local x-country ski area.