Mount Sentinel via Pengelly Ridge

Normally, I think of Mount Sentinel has the M with its constant flow of folks making their way to the whitewashed concrete letter, but Mount Sentinel is a large area with an extensive network of trails. On a sunny day, Vida and I decided to tackle the slope from Pengelly Ridge to the top, and we… Read more »

Friday Pass – Hike into the Elk Summit Country

Friday Pass is a low pass between the KoosKoosia Meadows area and the Wind Lakes in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area in Idaho. The hike to Friday Pass is a relatively manageable uphill until Swamp Lake (guess why it is called that?) when the trail goes steeply to the pass. Once reaching Friday Pass, you can… Read more »

Schley Mountain Hike – Great Views of the Great Burn Roadless Area

At the peak of Schley Mountain, you have awesome 360-degree views of the Great Burn Roadless Area. This hike is 3 miles point-to-point, with mild 500’ in elevation gain. Good views from the site of the former Schley Mountain lookout.

Trapper Peak – Highest Summit in the Bitterroot Mountains

Trapper Peak, sitting at 10,157 feet, is the highest of the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana. This summit is probably the most well-known mountain in the Bitterroot Mountains, if for no other reason, simply because it has the highest summit. Dominating Darby, Montana, Trapper Peak is accessed via the West Fork of Bitterroot River, and, in… Read more »

Hiking to Canyon Lake – Revisiting a Challenge

Canyon Lake, a trail that seemed to almost kill us the last time we hike it. The last mile to the lake had my knees sounding like rusty hinges and my legs shaking. I still remember the sore legs for several days after that hike. So, why do it again and see what happens. To… Read more »

West Fork Fish Creek to the Cathedral of Cedars

Looking for a cool hike on a hot summer day? The West Fork Fish Creek starts out hot as we hiked through the blackened spires from the 2015 burn. But eventually, we reach the Cathedral of Cedars where towering western red cedars shade the cool waters of Fish Creek. This is a relatively flat trail that follows along… Read more »

Fish Lake – Another hike in the Lost Horse Country

From the Bear Creek Pass Trailhead, several great hikes spread into the Lost Horse Country, and the trail to Fish Lake is exceptional. Starting out, we hiked through a mixture of forest and boulder fields until we reached a junction in the path. By this time we were solidly within the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area. Continuing… Read more »

Hiking to Little Rock Creek Lake

The best hikes, like this one to Little Rock Creek Lake, are always those spur of the moment, look at the map, and go. “Let’s go for a hike.” “Never done Little Rock Creek Lake.” “Let’s do it!” And with that, we were off to the Little Rock Creek trailhead, located above Lake Como to the… Read more »

Bear Creek Falls (low-flow version)

It has been awhile since we have been to Bear Creek Falls, so why not a quick hike to the cascade and see how it looks without any rain in a month and a half. Arriving at the falls in less than an hour, the chasm contained only a trickle of water compared to the raging… Read more »

Day Hike to Coquina Lake in the Lost Horse Country

Nestled in a tight basin, Coquina Lake is a true gem of a day hike in the Lost Horse country of the Bitterroot Mountains. I have fallen in love with the Lost Horse country, which I have not hiked until this summer (next hike will be the Spruce Lake). From the Bear Creek Pass trailhead,… Read more »

  • Birding

    Blue no longer, the Dusky Grouse

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    I still have to stop myself from calling them Blue Grouse. The former Blue Grouse was split some time ago into the Sooty Grouse of the Cascades, Sierra Nevada, and Pacific Coast, and the Dusky Grouse of the Rocky Mountains. The Dusky Grouse inhabits the dry forests and foothills, and during the spring, male Dusky Grouse… Read more »

  • Birding

    Rufous, Black-chinned, and Calliope – a hummer of a day

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    There is a few feeders that hang outside of the restaurant at Quinn’s Hot Spring along the Clark Fork River…these feeders are covered with hummingbirds. Calliope, Rufous, and Black-chinned all made their appearances, much to my delight. These tame little critters are more than photogenic as these images can attest.

  • Birding

    Another rainy morning spent with swallows and Bobolinks

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    I awoke this morning to the soft drumroll of the drizzle outside. The drizzle ever ease or increased – just a drizzle. So, I did what I always do I went birding. This time I birded the Sweeney and Bass Creek Roads. Which yielded Swainson’s Thrush, a variety of swallows, and a plethora of Boblinks.

  • Birding

    Bobolink and Barn Swallow Morning

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    This was rather gloomy, so dark that taking any images was difficult. Luckily, I stumbled upon a cooperative Barn Swallow and Bobolink along the Bass Creek Road. The Barn Swallow was just one of fifty or so that were feeding over the fields of timothy, which were also full of singing male Bobolinks.

  • Birding

    There’s nothing Country about the Nashville Warbler

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    Since back to northwest Montana, I have once again been treated the to presence of the Nashville Warbler. They are an explosion of color and voice. The gray head with its brilliant white eye-ring contrasts the olive back and yellow throat, chest, and belly. Its song always starts with a series of double notes. The Nashville Warbler… Read more »

  • Birding

    The continuation of the Wilson’s Phalarope

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    …When those marvelous sandpipers come around here, the little ones. While they’re in the air flying, they have one mind, they move all together. When they alight on the mud, they become individuals and they go pecking around for worms or whatever. But one click of the fingers and all those things go up into… Read more »

  • Birding, Owling

    My little secret Short-eared Owl spot

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    We all have our own secret little birding spots, those nooks of habitats that we find so magically. One of my spots is a little dirt road on the north side of the Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge. So many times I have crept along this road as the dust settles from one of the occasional… Read more »

  • Herping

    First Gophersnake of 2012

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    This past Saturday the US Fish and Wildlife Service had opened the Red Sheep Mountain Road within the National Bison Range. We went with the intentions of seeing the unbelievable scenery and, of course, birds. The pleasant surprise of the road was a Gophersnake along side of the gravel road. When I was a child,… Read more »

  • Birding

    Black-backed Woodpecker – sense a theme here?

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    Some creatures hold a mystic grasp on my birding imagination. They are rare, elusive, or just plain odd. The Black-backed Woodpecker may just possess all three of those attributes in a single animal. Incredibly patchy in distribution due to their requirement of recently burnt forests for both nesting and feeding, Black-backed Woodpeckers are scattered widely… Read more »

  • Birding

    California Quail of the Bitterroot Valley

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    I have not seen a California Quail since moving back into western Montana, and I decided to take a break and find a few of the little buggers. And boy, did I find a whole mess of California Quail. I even managed a couple of images. California Quail is Montana’s introduced species problem. They have… Read more »

  • Birding, Photography

    Cassin’s Vireo from Mount Sentinel

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    Harsh questions and answers resonate through the Douglas-fir and ponderosa pine. The first note is always an upward, plaintive infliction, and the following an answering second, upward note. This questioning is relentless as if I am being grilled in a Turkish prison. The Cassin’s Vireo is one of three members of the former Solitary Vireo, which was split into… Read more »

  • Herping

    Western Skink…well worth the wait

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    So many posts left un-writtened…I will attempt to catch up on this blog and my photography-centric blog, http://www.raddphotography.com. I have always wanted to observe a Western Skink, but alas, the little buggers always eluded me. I remember seeing a lizard on a fencepost when I was a kid, but nothing since. That was true until… Read more »

  • Birding

    4 First of the Years today

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    Just a quick note about today’s birding. I managed four FOYs today; Cassin’s Vireo, Ruddy Duck, Lincoln’s Sparrow, and Hermit Thrush. The Hermit Thrush posed up for one quick image.

  • Birding

    Meeting the neighbors

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    I am fortunate enough to have some pretty good neighbors. Bald Eagles, Osprey, and Canada Geese drop by for visits almost every day. Recently, a couple of new birds have moved into the neighborhood, American Goldfinch and Red-naped Sapsucker.