17 August 2009

"Dr Anaconda Lake:" Rendezvous 2009

We braved a decidedly unseasonable cold front this year for the annual gathering at "Dr Anaconda Lake" in the north Big Hole River valley of southwestern Montana. The size of the gathering was down a bit this year as some folks had other plans (Butch, Gretchen & LewYong, Hawaii!) or simply did not want to camp with night-time temperatures in the 30s. We also had some day-visitors--Frank & Hwe Ackerman, and Phyllis Costello & Jim Dochnal. For those who were there, there was no lack of enthusiasm.

Here's Celia Schahczenski, Dr of Mixology, on the "DrillBlender:"

"Now that's a margarita!," sez Mrs ER:

Brent & Karina Patch got in some fishing and sandcastle building time with their kids Adler & Kenia:

Brent & Adler even found some time between rain- and windstorms for a canoe trip around the lake:

The weather also did not stop us from celebrating the birthdays of Kenia Patch & Emily Munday:

Part of the group made a valiant effort to get in some beach time, only to be chased off by the wind & rain. They settled for a roaring fire in a somewhat protected spot near the beach:

For hikers, there was wildlife such as this mule deer doe:

And this VERY fresh (and large--the knife is 4" long) bear turd:

There's lots of bear food, including Black Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa):

Black Twinberry (Lonicera involucrata -- considerably more toxic & unpalatable to humans than its Red Twinberry cousin, but the bears sure like it):

And, if the bears want to freshen their breath, Mint (Lamiaceae family):

There is a small stand of large, old Ponderosa Pines (Pinus ponderosa; click link for a great book about this magnificent species) on a south-facing point above the lake. These trees are common at lower elevations of Montana, but rare in the Big Hole Valley. At this site, they have only produced cones a few times in 20 years (photo by Frank Ackerman):

In a forest dominated by dark-barked Douglas Fir and Lodegepole Pine, the reddish-yellow bark really stands out:

It weathers off into lovely fragments like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle:

The bark is extremely thick (4" or so), which makes the tree well adapted to fire that kills thinner-barked species. The deep fissures are very aromatic, smelling of vanilla or cinnamon (good excuse to be a tree-hugger, as EcoRover found; photo by Frank Ackerman):

Even with the weather, there was not enough time to do all the things we each would have liked to pursue. So all too soon we packed up camp and gathered for the group photo (left-to-right, standing: Brent Patch, Evan Morris, Jan Munday, Karina Patch, Andrea Stierle, Jeff Schahczenski; kneeling: Sheikah-The-Dog, Celia Schahczenski, Molly-The-Dog, Emily Munday, Adler Patch, Chuka-The-Dog, Don Stierle, Kenia Patch, Pat Munday/aka Ecorover):

We did have a pleasant warm-up on the way home at nearby Jackson Hot Springs:

And a stop at the site of Roly-The-Dog's grave:

So ended three days of rain (no snow!), wind, and cold. Of course, today the sky is crystal blue with a warm sun beaming down. Go figure.


Maria said...

Wonderful retelling of a great time together... The highlights of your post for me are the delicious looking cake... not so good lookin' bear poop, really interesting Lodegepole Pine bark, the bonfire... a must when camping... That kids will take off socks and shoes on a beach-no matter the temperature ... the crystal blue water surrounded by mountains!

Thanks for sharing this!

mountain.mama said...

I wondered if it snowed on you. It looks like a wonderful trip in spite of the weather. I could have gone all day without the bear poop picture, though, but thanks anyway!

Sean Eamon said...

I'm curious about why you call it Dr. Anaconda Lake? The rattle snake pictures on Facebook were great. The reporters here think they matched the patternon that 16-pound trout with the record breaker caught earlier this summer.

David said...


troutbirder said...

What a great place for an outing. And something for everyone to do. What I especially miss is the fresh mountain air (cold or not)

secret agent woman said...

Oh my God - it looks cold! And it's August!

But other than that, looks fun. I like those bark pieces.

secret agent woman said...

Oh my God - it looks cold! And it's August!

But other than that, looks fun. I like those bark pieces.

Barb said...

Hi ER,
I enjoy seeing the adventures in your part of the wilderness! (Also, that is one of the most civilized Margaritas I've ever seen!) Your lodge poles look healthy - ours are dying to the pine beetle. Cold here, too - temps at our house in low 30's overnight, but my gardens still holding on...

The Crow said...

In my next incarnation, I'm going to be born in Montana, thanks to all the pictures in your posts, ER.


Lisa Wilson said...

What fun! Last week I was reading about that hot springs, too. Looks like a good place to stop on the way to the parks if we decide to make that trip.