28 June 2010

Camping Where the Elk & Antelope Play

There's an old joke that Butte America is just 15 minutes from Montana. Environmental recovery has come along well in the old mining town, but there's still some truth in the statement. At our home in Walkerville, the poppies are lighting up the front yard:

And on the hill behind, the Bitterroots (Lewisia rediviva; aka "rock roses") are blooming:

With the clear skies, it was time to head over the Continental Divide for a few days camping in the Big Hole River valley. I drove up a little creek where the Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana) blooms, scenting the air heavy & sweet:

And then up along a two-track until I came to a spring with a nice view of West Goat Peak--a good campsite:

I set up the spotting scope outside my tent so I could watch this mother antelope with her two fawns (one is nursing):

And a herd of elk cows and calves:

Dave Carter joined me for a wildflower hike. The high prairie is blooming--we saw Blue Camas (Camassia quamash), its root a staple food for the Indians that frequented this area over the past 10,000 years or so:

Silky Lupine (Lupinus sericeus)--both blue and the occasional white variant:

Little Sunflower (Helianthella uniflora):

Parry's Lousewort (Pedicularis parryi purpurea; such an awful name for such a beautiful flower!):

Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum):

Yellowish Paintbrush (Castilleja lutescens):

One of the many species of Biscuitroot (Lomatium spp):

And Little-flowered Penstemon (Penstemon procerus):

We also hiked over to Indian Rock, an overlook and prominent outcrop where indigenous peoples camped and hunted:

The old tipi rings are littered with tool flakes from the jasper that outcrops further up the valley, both yellow:

And red:

It's still a good hunting area, as the coyotes or wolves that killed this mule deer will attest:

Even antelope can be stalked closely at times when they think they are invisible in the sagebrush:

Dave left and MollyTheDog & I enjoyed the evening skies, including a passing shower that graced us with a rainbow:

Next morning, I caught a mess of brook trout for breakfast:

While two buck antelope played tag on a nearby hill:

The sandhill cranes strutted and hooted:

And a Wilson's snipe (western cousin of the woodcock) watched from a fencepost:

All too soon, it was time to pack up for home. Let's go, Molly:

Yep: Butte really is just 15 minutes from Montana.


secret agent woman said...

Gorgeous flowers. I never cease to be amazed by the diversity of beauty in this world.

Janie said...

What a beautiful campsite. I enjoyed the great wildflower photos and the abundance of wildlife.

Frostbite and Sunburn said...

You charm and educate me with every post!

Arija said...

I really feel for you and Molly to have to leave such a wonderful place. I find it hard enough to leave the beauty of yur photos let alone the real thing.

Thank you so much for taking my eyes along.

troutbirder said...

I've been in this valley several times but never in the spring in the high country. Its also not likely I'll ever be able to return either so..... so thanks for taking me along with your beutiful pictures and interesting descriptions...

Judy said...

So interesting to see the wildflowers in another part of the continent! And with names, even if I will not remember them!
My favourite shot is the portrait of Mollythedog with the lovely blue flowers in the background!!! Tell her she is a beautiful model!

Anonymous said...

You guys got some pretty shots this time. I love that one of the silky lupine white the identical shade of blue in the background mountains.

I enjoyed all the photos in this post.

Maria said...

Thank you...for a beautiful visit to your amazing part of the planet!

I loved scrolling through the flowers and the 'finds' up in the mountains!

The distant mountain views hardly look real...but I know they are!

All the best and wishing you wonderful days ahead!

Lisa Wilson said...

Beautiful! It's so nice to see everything coming to life!

Tammie Lee said...

wow, such a grand strand of photos! I have never seen the bitter root. In Calif. a different plant entirely is also called rock rose. Amazing how varied and abundant your trip was with wildlife and wild plants. Thanks for sharing.

tsduff said...

Fabulous antelope picture!!