Rick Bass, the Pacific Northwest Trail, and His Yaak Delusion

In his recent opinion piece in the Missoula Independent, Rick Bass intentionally makes a series of errors, widespread smears, and outright untruths about the Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT) as it winds (yes, winds Rick, more on that later). Bass’s oppositional rhetoric to the PNT even disinters the ghost of famed grizzly bear researcher Chuck Jonkel… Read more »

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 »

  • Birding

    Americans Dippers gathering nest material

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    Short film and images of American Dippers gathering moss for their nest, which is located underneath a bridge that spans rattlesnake Creek in Greenough Park. Notice that the birds are consistently dunking the nesting material, namely moss. The wetting is thought to keep the moss alive and, therefore, more pliable. The American Dipper nest is… Read more »

  • Conservation, Photography

    Sciuridae Thursday

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    As the temperatures continue to climb towards comfortable levels, the squirrels are starting to emerge. The first Columbian Ground Squirrel of 2012 Last, but not least, the ubiquitous Red Squirrel. The only squirrel is a reliably seem throughout the winter months. The Great Horned Owl – terror of squirrels

  • Birding

    Really these are the last Snowy Owls for winter 2011-2012

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    I promise, I promise these are the last Snowy Owl images for this winter (probably). I feel incredibly fortunate have spent so much time in the company of these wonderful creatures. I wish that they remain safe as they begin their northward journey to the Arctic.

  • Birding

    I see why they are called Red Crossbills

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    Of course, this title is presented with tongue firmly planted in cheek. They, or at least the males, are red, and the bills are crossed. These little finches (both Red and White-winged Crossbills) have evolved the only crossed bills of any North American bird. This arrangement of the mandibles is highly suited to prying open pine cone… Read more »

  • Birding

    Harris’s Sparrow – another rare visitor

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    This past Friday, I was privileged enough to get the opportunity to visit a local backyard and get some half decent images of a Harris’s Sparrow. The sparrow was very retiring and it took roughly one and half hours to locate the bird in a yard side hedge. But once I found it, the show was on…. Read more »

  • Poop

    Know Your Poop #2

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    In this installment of Know Your Poop, we look at a pile of scat from the Blue Mountain National Recreation Area. This collection of pellets was found in the duff of a rather open ponderosa pine stand. They are about 1/3 of inch in length, and very uniform in oval shape.

  • Birding

    Last Snowy Owls for 2012?

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    All of this winter, those of in Montana have been treated to an amazing display of Snowy Owls, especially in the Mission Valley. The owls have remained readily visible in a subdivision that sits above Polson and adjacent to agricultural towards Pablo. I have been able to visit on 7 different occasions, and I have… Read more »

  • Birding

    Rusty Blackbird at Lee Metcalf NWR

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    Today as a storm rapidly descended out of the Bitterroot Mountains, I spied a blackbird milling around on a small mud flat along Francois Slough. Upon further inspection, it turned out to be a Rusty Blackbird with that unique facial pattern, eye color, and overall coloration.

  • Poop

    Know your poop #1

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    For the first installment of “Know Your Poop”, I offer up this rather attractive piece of scat found along the Kenai Trail in the Lee Metcalf NWR in Montana. The big hint is that the trail is along side wetland and open water.

  • Birding

    Hot to Trot Hooded Mergansers

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    Hooded Mergansers have descended on the Bitterroot Valley with the warming, or dare I say Spring, weather. With the warmer temperatures, multitudes of dabber little ducks can be found at the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge. The numerous  male Hoodies can be seen in full display for the few females that have joined them on… Read more »

  • Birding

    Lewis’s Woodpecker in a great light

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    With a near perfect day, I ventured into the Tower Street Natural Conservation Area. It was my first visit to the area, and I think I have new place to add to my local favorites. When I arrived at the parking lot, I saw a larger-than a starling and flying like a buoyant crow…a Lewis’s… Read more »

  • Birding

    Pileated Dreams

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      Of the Montana woodpeckers, I have to say that the Pileated Woodpecker is by far my fave. Since moving to the Missoula area, I have only caught fleeting glimpses of these impressive ghosts. But that all change this past Friday. Walking around Greenough Park, the Pileated Woodpeckers were calling loudly, and following the sound… Read more »

  • Birding

    Leucistic American Coot

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    At Polson Bay, a massive raft of American Coots were being harass by two Bald Eagles, when Terry found a surprise lurking in the sea of slate gray, a single leucistic American Coot was swimming. The bird was ~90% white with some dark speckling.

  • Birding

    The Time of the Gathering

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    As we enter into the season that has the most death and the emergence of life, a gathering takes place in the valleys of western Montana. Multitudes of Bald Eagles descend to watch over the birthing of calves, the last failings of winter, and the first ground squirrels as they race atop the snow. I see them… Read more »