Friday, October 30, 2009

Suet Feeder

I hung up a suet feeder for the woodpeckers.

I should've known who would claim it.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Not Paula Deen Country

I miss the old days when I could go to a store and buy a four-stick box of Land-o-Lakes Salted Butter.  I use it for cooking, and I put it on toast and in my Jethro-sized bowls of grits.  The best you can do up here is a two stick box, packaged by the half stick.

Look at that! That would just make Paula Deen mad. She could eat this cute little thing as a snack as she waited for the Monte Cristos to fry. Bless her heart.

I need to stock up on butter for the winter months, but I'd hate to see what kind of looks I'd get if I tried to buy several boxes of butter at once.  So just about every time I go shopping, I get another two-stick box.

Passing Through

The Ubiquitous Steller's Jay

The Bitterroot Salish

The Bitterroot Salish (pronounced SAY-lish) are the Native Americans that were indigenous to the Bitterroot Valley. In the universal sign language used by Native Americans, the Salish were identified by pressing both hands on the sides of the head.  When early trappers saw other Native Americans to the east use that sign, they expected to find Indians with flattened heads when they traveled west. Despite this misconception, fur trappers and settlers called the Salish the Flathead Indians.  Today they are most often called by the name they gave themselves, the Salish, and they are part of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.  The name Flathead lives on, however, in the Flathead Reservation, the home of the confederated tribes, the Flathead River and in many historical references that use the old name.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

New Bird

Varied Thrush

Natural Reforestation After a Forest Fire

I'm pretty sure this area was burned in the fires of 2000.  This patch is in a protected valley near a creek, so it will likely recover faster than more exposed, drier areas.

The fires left some mature trees, seen in the back of the picture below.  The irregular combination of stands of mature trees, stands of saplings and open meadow is the "mosaic" that is often spoken of as the effect of beneficial wildfires.  The mosaic pattern increases biodiversity, strengthens the ecosystem and makes the land less susceptible to a devastating fire in the future.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

It's Hunting Season

and everyone is wearing orange.

I told the lady running the Country Store that I liked the bears. "Don't want anybody to get em," she replied. 

People walking their dogs along the road wear orange and tie orange bandanas around their dogs' necks.  Others say you should wear orange on your own property if you live near the forest.  Must be a lot of crazies out there. Or idiots.

Business Opportunity

Seems like half the valley is for sale.

The Winter Storm Warning was a False Alarm

It was warm (40s) and raining all evening. There was a light dusting of snow overnight.

The snowshoes will have to wait until November.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Local Helicopter Loggers Back at Work

The helicopter logging that was temporarily halted due to complaints by other companies that didn't get to bid on the project is back on.  The local company that had already completed about two-thirds of the project is back at work following the completion of an open bidding process.

Sula Traffic Jam

Hiking Blodgett Canyon

I drove down to Hamilton for the weekend, and on Friday, Mari and I hiked up Blodgett Canyon.  Blodgett is considered one of the best hikes in the Bitterroot Valley, so this was a good time to go--on a weekday well after the end of tourist season.  The locals told us Blodgett Canyon is usually a spectacular Autumn hike, but this year's early hard freeze robbed the aspens of their golden colors.  It was still gorgeous.

Granite cliffs mark the mouth of Blodgett Canyon.

After a short stint through heavy forest, the trail begins to open up.

Blodgett Creek is to the right.

These trees have fallen into a glassy pool adjacent to the creek.

A tiny sapling (at left) emerges from the protection of a fallen log.

As the trail climbs, the creek narrows.

 A small waterfall cascades 3.5 miles from the trailhead.

A storm was descending from the ridgeline, so we turned around at the first waterfall.

It was a beautiful hike with only a few hundred feet of elevation gain, but in a few places where the route crossed a talus slope, the trail was a bit rocky (Janet! Dr. Scott! Janet! Brad! Rocky! [extra credit for the first one to give the source of this Halloween reference]).

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009


The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent full of doubt.  Bertrand Russell

Cassin's Finch

This is my first ever positive sighting of this bird.

This juvenile is a little old to be begging to get fed.

But Dad is a sucker.

Journeys, Big and Small

[Note: This is from an entry I made in my journal a few years ago, when I was in the throes of big city life.]

When my mind, spirit and soul have been numbed by routine, I have to break away and embark on some sort of journey. Journeys on foot, journeys by car, long journeys or short.  The longer, the better.  Journeys take us out of familiar surroundings so we cannot merely endure our days on autopilot. They break us out of our doldrums and awaken our minds and senses. They distance us from the stranger we have become in our day-to-day lives and help us get back to our true selves.

My journeys were always to Montana or to Yellowstone, which is mostly in Wyoming. Friends were more than surprised that I chose to drive the 24 or more hours it took, but to me the drive was part of the journey. It takes time to get your mind out of the city and to get slowed down to a natural rhythm. The road trip was a sort of cleansing of the mental noise and stress, making me ready to appreciate the wildness, ready to be there, in the moment, when I arrived.

Even though I live here now, it is still one big fantastic journey. 

Thursday, October 22, 2009

New Poll

Thanks for voting on the last poll. This new one was inspired by Penni, who prefers a neat and trimmed goatee, and by my good, long-time friend Old, who said I was a big, Grizzly Adams looking . . . .

A note on polls: There is no way I can tell who votes on these. I only see the same results everyone else sees.

National Forest Access

There is a lot of National Forest land on both sides of the Bitterroot Valley. On almost any section of Highway 93, you continously pass road signs marking National Forest Access points. The signs are usually posted near unpaved forest service roads, and a trip down these side roads often reveals beautiful backcountry scenery, numerous trailheads and a few National Forest campgrounds.  There are so many different roads and trails that it could take years to fully explore them all.

Here are some of the views down the Warm Springs Road north and west of Sula.  About six miles in is the beautiful Crazy Creek Campground.

From the middle of the campground, a trail crosses the creek and heads into the backcountry.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Taking Rocks for Granite

It's hard to forget that the southern end of the Bitterroot Valley sits on the Idaho Batholith.  Everywhere you look, you find granite.

Most of this dark rock is granite that has been weathered and stained.

Where the granite has been disturbed, it's easier to see the grain.

The streambeds contain cobbles of granite, along with other rocks.

Don't anybody ask me for a counter top.