11 March 2011

A Hike in No Snow: Jefferson River, SW Montana

I like snow. Really. It's good for tracking, playing with the dog, photography, rolling naked in as you leap from the hot tub, and of course cross country skiing. But it's a lot like pie. I like blackberry pie. In season. At some point, you switch over to apple.

So Sunday found friend Dave Carter and I seeking out the dry hills along the Jefferson River. What a contrast from the 4-foot deep glacier in my backyard! Turning up the side-of-a-side road (A Guthrie, "Alice's Restaurant"), first thing we saw was this bald eagle below its nest:

 That and huge sheets of ice from a recent jam that threatened a 10-mile swath of homes along the river:

The area is geologically interesting, with the usual Boulder Batholith features like these hoodoos:

And some interesting, grainy rock that looked very much like petrified wood:

As we hiked along a long ridge and gained some elevation, the sky cleared a bit to reveal striking views of the broad Jefferson River valley, down:

And up:

Also on that ridge, a lone tree, a graceful Limber Pine (Pinus flexilis) shown here with Dave & dogs:

Like its cousin the Whitebark Pine, Limbers' have clusters of 5 needles, though they are shorter:

Whereas the cones are more elongate:

Molly- and Jack-The-Dog had their own amusement with some mule deer legs that appeared to be the recent remains from a poacher's work:

They took turns playing carry (and covet)-the-bone for the next mile or more:

We hiked up a ridge over the canyon until we were tired, ate some lunch, hiked some more, and found our way back to the truck. Dropping down to follow a road back we were surprised by the miles we had covered, and that is one of the great joys of hiking with Dave. No watch, no map, no set destination or time to return: the day unfolds as it will, our feet following a deer trail, our hearts following the call note of a Townsend's Solitaire.


sandy said...

That eagle didn't seem to mind you all being around. I have never been that close.

Coast Guard Cutters are breaking ice on the Kennebec River here today, because of possible ice jams.

Janie said...

MTD has an eye for a good bone, just like our Daisy.
Nice to escape the snow for awhile and enjoy a good hike.

Merri said...

nice hike!
Snow is gone at our place, but the Owyhee Mtns 6 miles away have a lot of snow. I keep looking up at them thinking it's about time I go hike up there.
Although my truck is deadernadoornail right now.
- The Equestrian Vagabond