05 March 2009

The Winters of Butte Montana

The longer, warmer days of March bring abundant clear, blue skies. This makes late winter a pleasure here along the Continental Divide of the Northern Rockies. The snow is nearly gone from Butte America at 6,000 feet. Yet a few miles into the hills in any direction (Butte is in a cul-de-sac of the Continental Divide) and the skiing and snowshoeing are superb.

Skiing along the trails at The Moulton, just five miles north of Butte, you can witness the drama of the hunt, written in the snow by the tracks of a snowshoe hare and a fox. The fox crosses the hare's track, and then follows it keeping downwind and above its prey:

Though one bright sunny day after another lulls us into a false sense that "spring is in the air," there are yet a few major snowstorms to come:

After all, it is still winter, and will be until the lilacs bloom in late May! and even they sometimes get bit with by the not-so-dull teeth of Old Man Winter:

Still, we Buttians (Buttites? Butticians? Butties?) love our little city in the mountains of Montana, year around:

It's a social place--after 15-minutes at the Quarry Brew Pub you'll be chatting away with your new best friends:

An maybe they invite you on a little cross country tour:

Those of you in warmer climes probably find the prospect of a 6-month winter oppressive. But for winter sports lovers, it is the very stuff of life. Even for non-outdoorspeople, social interactions more than compensate for the "frightful" weather outside. How do you know if newcomers to Butte will "make" it? The two best predictors seems to be any combination of a love of winter sport and a desire to make friends & socialize. Here's to good friends and good skiing! Quork out [this photo from "photobucket"]:


tsduff said...

Your shaggy raven with feathery pantaloons is a picture I must have. Quork indeed!

Your frozen lilacs look good enough to eat. I've never lived in the snow - but your enthusiasm gives me hope that I could.

~Sheepheads said...

Ravens Rule!

Butte's a good town. Good mtb trails and some good friends. Snow is good thing. Maybe less fire issues this summer.

I liked your Boston post too. I spent 3 years at Northeastern until I could no longer take commuting to NH and VT for my outdoor fix and began looking at state schools out West finally settling on U. Montana.

Janie said...

I love having 4 seasons after spending much of my life in the south. (Although 6 months of it might get a little old.)And I like reading a story from wildlife footprints in the snow.
Great photos!

CountryDreaming said...

You're tempting me to create a blog post titled "Okay, I Admit It - I Am the Queen of Narnia!" It's refreshing to find like minds and kindred spirits who enjoy winter's finest with no need to rush spring.

The main factor regarding my survivability in Butte would be elevation, and at 6,000 feet, I would do fine.

Cross-country skiing would be my winter sport of choice. Socializing with friends within a small town or country or creative atmosphere would be awesome. I would venture that as an artist type, winter can also be enjoyed in solitude surrounded by nature, just a "me and my camera" type of thing.

Many thanks for this fine look at Montana living!

Louise said...

Right now I live where winters are relatively mild, but we still have them. However, they are mild enough that I'm a total wimp when it gets nasty. But I think I would get used to 6 months of winter. I lived once in a place for 7 months, and it was winter ever day and pitch black for a couple of months. Montana is one of the most beautiful places to me. I love it. But I think you are right about living there. It is not for the faint of heart!

EcoRover said...

TSD, in good RavenPerson form, I nabbed that pic from "photobucket." We Ravens are prone to pick things up, but we're honest about it (unless we're talking with the CoyotePeople)!

Thanks, Sheepheads--Boston is sort of a giant version of Butte (Catholics, Irish, bars, old buildings) only different.

Hi Janie, I love tracks as the purest form of the sign. Friends in Alaska love our short Butte winters (and abundant sunshine).

You got it, CD: Spring comes when it may, and it will come. And yeah, the solitude is good too. I enjoy morning skis where I rarely even cross another human track on my 15 km route.

Louise, there does seem to be a big "acclimation" factor. The first year we moved here, I thought anything below 0 deg F was too cold to go outside. Since then, I often hunt and ski at -20 or so. Partly it's having the right clothing, of course.

troutbirder said...

Very well said. And while here on the tundra with my artificial knee, wintertime skiing adventures are quite limited - a roaring fire, a good book and friends make the blizzards seem a minor and passing detail.

tsduff said...

man you are good. Ravenperson. I'll have to remember that next time I kype a picture (I'm prone to do it all the time) :)