12 August 2009

Hiking the Montana Hills

No time this week for a backpacking trek, but there's always time for a day in the hills. I've often looked at, but never visited, a little (9,100 feet or so) peak along the Continental Divide that overlooks my favorite elk hunting spot, a ridge where I've killed four or five bulls over the years (view of "Elk Mountain" from "Richard Peak"):

After an hour plus of driving on a bad Forest Service road (we had to stop and use the bow saw to clear the route of blowdown a few times), MollyTheDog and I were happy to be hiking. It's late summer. Lewis's Monkeyflower (Mimulus lewisii) is giving us a last hurrah:

In the meadows, the False Hellebore (Veratrum viride, a very poisonous plant--Indians used it as suicide medicine) is blooming:

As is the Elk Thistle (Cirsium scariosum, a native edible plant that was an important "starvation food" for lost explorers):

Butterflies are making the next generation before the Reaper takes care of the current one:

After visiting the peak and coursing along an arc of lower hills that leads to Elk Mountain, we were ready for lunch. With good timing, we crossed a meadow offering water and Bog Gentian (Gentiana calycosa, the iridoid glycosides and perhaps alkaloids in its leaves and roots make a delightful tea, if you like bitter concotions):

A pot of water set on a dingle stick to boil:

Lunch! Gentian tea (with green tea), bread, and cheese:

A pleasant nap, listening to the Whiskey Jack People (aka Gray Jays) tell a story (see subsequent SkyWatch post), and we were ready for the hike back to the truck.


Betty said...

I happened upon your blog while searching for some day hike trails in the Butte Area. My DD and SIL are moving to Butte soon, she will be a grad student at Tech. I quickly had to tell her about your blog and we have had a blast perusing it. All I can say is it's FANTASTIC! I hope she gets the chance to meet you (she's geophysical engineering) as she is looking for places to take her newly adopted Newfoundland hiking and camping. Amazing photos and wonderful commentary. Oh and you haven't met our horses! Everyone loves them but alas, I'm in ND.

troutbirder said...

I don't know if we have bog gentians here or not but the prairie ones are fairly common. Now the tea part seems like fun but my gentian spot is in a State Park - NO PICKING ALLOWED

Maria said...

Wonderful pictures & commentary (as always)
I especially love the butterflies ... the blue ones are exquisitely colored...
Am also taking note of the poisonous plant... making certain to avoid it ~
Thanks again for the Montana hike ~ Maria

Louise said...

This is my kind of hike. The wildflowers alone are worth the hike. (Never mind the fantastic view.) Gorgeous captures!

Janie said...

Beautiful hike and great photos. Always interesting to tap into your wealth of knowledge about plants.

Raquel said...

You made hiking so amazing in your blog. The photos are very impressive. I also love hiking and scenic place is one of my weaknesses. I can walk a mile just to reach some point that can satisfy me and inspire me.

EcoRover said...

Raquel, you have a nice blog about camping. You should consider opening it to comments? Also, help people be bear aware--see e.g. http://ecorover.blogspot.com/2008/08/pintler-wilderness-rainbow-lake-warren.html .