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 »

Hiking to Castle Rock – Blue Joint Wilderness Study Area

Located within the Blue Joint Wilderness Study Area, Castle Rock is easily one of the most recognizable features in the Magruder Corridor. The bare prominence stands boldly above the ridge that stems southward from Nez Perce Pass. The actual “castle” of Castle Rock is a mass of porphyritic andesite, a highly durable volcanic stone. So,… Read more »

Mount Sentinel after the first rain in 45 days

It rained…I almost forgot what rain was, but there it was falling from the smokey sky. Vida had the idea of hiking in the cool air, so we decided on a quick hike up Mount Sentinel from the Crazy Canyon trailhead. Mount Sentinel (formally known as Mount Woody) stands above Missoula, and it is the… Read more »

Hike down into Walton Lakes, Idaho

Two hikes in a row have started a hefty downhill, which the end of the day is uphill (shaking a fist at the gods). From a ridge near Tom Beal Park, you descend nearly 1000 feet to the first lake of the Walton Lakes. The trail is generally in great shape. The huckleberries were abundant… Read more »

Quick afternoon Blue Mountain Lookout jaunt

For those of us that live in western Montana, we are extremely fortunate to have so many great hiking destinations in such close proximity to our homes. Blue Mountain stands over Missoula, and on top of its forested slopes is a little-used fire lookout. The hike to the summit is a rather quick 1.9 miles… Read more »

Hike to Glen Lake (with extension to No Name Lake)

Through a forest of gray spires, the hike to Glen Lake offered us the immense vistas of the Bitterroot Mountains. I have also enjoyed the Glen Lake hike as it is relatively easy and a cruise. The biggest plus is the short additional hike to No Name Lake, a small, shallow pond that sits in… Read more »

  • Birding

    2012: The Year of the Invasion

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    2012 has been the year of the invasion. An invasion of normally arctic-dwelling bird species has descended upon the northern tier of the United States. There have been upwards of 50-60 separate Snowy Owl observations in the state of Montana. The causes for the invasion are, most likely, due to a couple of synergistic factors: the… Read more »

  • Birding

    Mission for Snowy Owls

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    Before I could bear to watch the Green Bay Packers lose to the Giants, Tom and I went up into the Mission Valley on a Snowy Owl mission. We initially checked around the Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge and the surrounding agricultural lands, and we turned up nada. No Snowy Owls or much else, other than… Read more »

  • Dharma, Thoughts

    What is the Noble Eightfold Path

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    Most simply put the Noble Eightfold Path is the course of actions as prescribed by the Buddha that leads to cessation of suffering and the achievement of liberation. Divisions and Factors of the Noble Eightfold Path Before we tackled the particulars of the Noble Eightfold Path, we need to have a basic understanding of the… Read more »

  • Birding

    The warm weather continues

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    45 degrees in january…January! That’s how warm it has been in northwestern Montana lately. The birds were appropriately enjoying the sun. All 3 species of nuthatch were actively calling and feeding in the ponderosa pines and cottonwoods as Northern Flickers both called and drummed. Common Goldeneye and Hooded Merganser were all displaying as well. Everything must have… Read more »

  • Birding

    Chasing Ghosts

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    I heard the Pileated Woodpecker vocalizing with its fast series of “wuk” notes. Went to that location, and he (I’m assuming a male here) was nowhere to be found. Then, I would hear the bird farther down, some 200 meters or so. This pattern repeat several times, and I decided that Pileateds are nothing more than malevolent ghosts…they do… Read more »

  • Birding, Photography

    Can you believe it, another afternoon at Lee Metcalf

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    Spent yesterday afternoon at Lee Metcalf NWR, and as always it was a spectacular time to be there. I was able to spot the female Greater Scaup again, and again without an image. Along the Kenai trail, Northern Shrike and American Tree Sparrow were among the visitors from the north. The surprise of the day… Read more »

  • Photography, Thoughts

    Thoughts about our existence at Lee Metcalf.

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    Today, I read in an otherwise mundane news article that an old acquaintance of mine was killed in an avalanche near Cooke City. I have read many articles like this, but most of the time the names are not familiar, and I end up reading the news with very little care. The horrific details are all too soon… Read more »

  • Birding, Christmas Bird Count

    CBC on the last day of 2011

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    I was incredibly fortunate to spend the last morning of 2011 birding on the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge for the Christmas Bird Count. This section of the count was led by Bob Danley, who was incredibly generous with his time and laughter. We had a great time. Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) 500 Trumpeter Swan… Read more »