Posts Tagged ‘montana’

IN THE FIELD: It Really Does Exist

August 10, 2012 24 comments

Last September, I wrote a post titled “Signs” and mentioned a sign we had seen just after going through a mountain pass named Lolo Pass. The sign stated “winding road next 77 miles.” You may have thought I had written the story in jest, stretched the truth a bit, was downright lying or was telling a tall tale. Well, here it is. Told ya…neener, neener, neener. The sign doesn’t lie. The road winds back and forth and back and forth and …….you guessed it. For 77 miles! Downhill.

Lolo Pass is at an elevation of 5,233 feet (1,595 m). It is a mountain pass in the Bitterroot Range of the northern Rocky Mountaina and is on the border between the states of Montana and Idaho. Route 12, which is that winding road, follows the Lochsa River (pronounced “lock-saw”) for it’s entire length.

You can pull off into one of many vantage points to watch folks in canoes, kayaks plus the white water rafters braving the turbulent water. In the areas of calmer water, you may see folks fishing for trout and salmon. There are several camp grounds along the way, and the area is also known for it’s outstanding hiking trails.

Native Americans used the trail along the river to get to the plains of Montana to hunt bison, as well as to get to the salmon runs in the Columbia River basin, which the Lochsa and it’s tributaries feed into.


IN THE FIELD: Wilderness Treasures

June 25, 2012 43 comments

During our last trip to Idaho and Montana, we spent some time exploring the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area. While photographing the region was our primary focus, we did manage to sneak in some hiking and fly fishing.

One of our side trips was a visit to Selway Falls, which is southwest of the Lolo pass. From the trailhead, it was a relatively easy hike to several good vantage points to view the falls. It was rocky, but downhill the whole way.

After getting some shots of the falls, we decided to take a short break before we headed back up the trail. As beautiful as the falls were, I was actually more fascinated by what we discovered as we relaxed under the shade of the evergreen trees.

Behind the old log we were sitting on were several dozen Fairy Slipper orchids (Calypso bulbosa). These orchids are not rare, but they can be hard to find. They thrive in the moist environments of evergreen forests. We were amazed to see such tiny delicate flowers among the towering fir trees.

After photographing the orchids, we decided it was time to head back to the car. Hiking to the falls was the easy part. Making it back to the trailhead was all together different. The trailhead was only 3/4th’s of a mile away…except it was severe uphill trek and the day had become blistering hot. I don’t know how long our steep schlep back to the car lasted, but it seemed like three lifetimes.

I shot this with my 50mm 1.8 lens, used a tripod and cable release. Underexposing about 1/3rd of a stop helped to make the color richer.

IN THE FIELD: Lake McDonald

February 8, 2012 31 comments

On our last trip to Montana, we spent several days in Glacier National Park touring, hiking and horseback riding. On our last day there, we went on a half-day horseback ride in the pristine wilderness. The trails were not too difficult, although we did travel up and down some rather steep slopes and traversed a few mountain streams. No other horseback riders or hikers were seen the whole time we were on the trails.

The last few hours of our visit were spent resting on some benches near the main lodge until our weak-in-the legs feelings subsided.

A young couple and their dog approached us to say hello and ask us a few things about the park. I guess judging by the photo equipment and the clothes we were wearing, we looked like we had been there often. The nine month old puppy they had with them was more like a full grown dog. And a big dog at that.

I can’t remember what it’s name was…something like Lakota. He was a friendly fella and we marveled at how soft his fur was. The pup was quite fond of my wife and licked her face as if he had known her all his life. At first we thought he was some kind of sled dog such as a Husky or a Malamute. Turns out, he has a full blooded wolf.

The couple explained that his mother was found injured and pregnant in Maryland, expecting to give birth in a few days. The woman who found the female wolf was a vet, and nursed the expectant mother back to health. The pup we met was one of her offspring. The couple told us they were on their way to Alaska to habituate the wolf to a more wild and natural surrounding. After chatting for about a half an hour, we all parted ways.

My wife and I then headed down to the shores of Lake McDonald to do a little more exploring since our legs were now feeling close to normal. We found pieces of driftwood, wild flowers and polished stones on the lakeshore that made for interesting photo subjects. When the light was getting too dim for photos of land based items, we found a gravel beach to sit and watch the sunset. It was a great ending to a great day.


IN THE FIELD: Sometimes It Pays To Dilly-Dally

December 30, 2011 40 comments

During our last visit to western Montana, we discovered this statue outside the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. It stands in front of the foundation’s museum, where visitors can learn about the elk and other wildlife of the region, plus what is being done to help preserve their habitats.

After touring the museum, we went outside to get a closer look at this larger-than-life statue. Impressive is a good way to describe it.

I had taken a couple of shots, but the statue was in deep shadow from the thick cloud cover. Disappointed, we started packing up the camera gear and decided to return the next day to try for some better photos. As we were finishing up, we looked back and saw the clouds had parted, allowing the sun to shine through and highlight the statue. So I quickly grabbed the camera and tripod. And I was able to compose a few shots before the light disappeared.

I sure am glad we were taking our time putting all the photo equipment away!