First Snow on the Mission Mountains

First Snow on the Mission Mountains
First Snow on the Mission Mountians

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Rainy Weekend Exploration

This weekend was probably the last weekend I could spend off playing, since I may have extra work to do next weekend to help get ready for the roundup.  And the following weekend, I'll be packing to leave, which I find very hard to believe. I had had Lost Trails NWR, which is one of the refuges managed by National Bison Range, leftover on my bucket list from last year so I prioritized it for this year.

I asked our assistant refuge, Bob, if he could get me a free room there.  He came through with a great room and kitchen privileges, and I spent two nights there.  I was just an hour from Glacier so I planned to visit there as well. The only iffy thing was the weather - it was supposed to be cloudy and rainy all weekend. 

I started out just before dawn and made it up to Lost Trails by mid morning. One of the first pictures I took was of the sky over Dahl Lake.  It set the tone for the weekend - just enough promise that I was willing to drive around, but then enough rain, or threats thereof to preclude much hiking. 
.

Clouds and rainbow over the refuge

View of Dahl Lake which is being restored and is growing

When I got to the refuge, I found all the interior roads were closed since hunting season was starting. I couldn't get close enough to Dahl lake to  identify the waterfowl I could barely see there. So I drove on country and forest service roads and made a circle.  Most of the time the light was so poor, nothing looked good so I didn't take many pictures.


The only rimrock I saw. 

By mid afternoon,  under darkening skies, I was ready to give up. so I came back to my room and took a nap and read. I did edit my few pictures but didn't have Internet.  The following morning, I left before dawn to go to Glacier National Park.  Again I had mostly cloudy skies.  Only the west side of Going to the Sun Highway was open.  I decided to climb to the Logan Pass and try to hike to Hidden Lake.  I hoped to take mountain goat pictures there. Then I wanted to hike Avalanche Trail again. I thought it might have some good fall color.  For few glorious minutes, I thought the day would clear up. The light got brighter and I even saw a little blue sky.

 But the further up I climbed, the more the clouds rolled in.  By the time I got to Logan Pass, I was in a thick, damp fog.  The clouds followed me down the mountains and it was too cloudy at Avalanche to want to take any pictures, or even hike.


One of the waterfalls on McDonald Creek - habitat for harlequin ducks in the spring

Further up McDonald Creek

A little fall color along McDonald Creek

One of the spots of dense fall color along the Going-to-the-Sun Highway

Heaven's Peak - before clouds covered it

One of the few asters still flowering

View of mountain and valley

I hoped these clouds were moving out but they were moving it

Long view down the valley

Haystack creek was barely flowing

After I passed Haystack creek, I completely lost my light and most of my views.  I decided to go edit my pictures in the Kalispel Library, then check out the Whitefish Oktoberfest.  When I got there, there was nothing going on except in the big tent and I didn't like the music I heard coming from it.  So I didn't bother to brave the light drizzle to check it out.  I would have gotten in free - seniors got in for free before 5:00 P. M.

Then I got my hopes up for a good Sunday when I saw a late, dark red sunset. I got up early, packed and cleaned up and was on the road by 6.   But before I got to the turn for Glacier, I saw a red sunrise and heard the weather report for clouds and rain.  So I came home, with only a few detours,  finding nothing very exciting.  But I'll be back another year. And I can still hope to get mountain goat pictures.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

An Unexpected Visit to a Ghost Town

There are not many trees that turn colors in the fall on the Bison Range, just several shrubs, some only inches high are providing red, yellow and orange colors. I wanted to photograph big trees in their brilliant fall color, so looked up some scenic drives and hikes before leaving at dawn on Saturday morning.

I drove towards Missoula still dithering between two drives, and finally decided on Highway 200.  But when I saw the turn for Hwy 210 which was running along a stream, I took it.  A few minutes into the drive, I saw several bighorn rams grazing along the side of the road. I ended up making a U-turn and trying to get pictures.  But most of them were in the shade of the mountain - the sun was barely up then.

Ram feeding just off the highway

Several miles further, I saw a sign for Garnet Ghost Town Byway.  The description of an old gold mining town sounded interesting and I hoped the road would climb to aspens,  so I started climbing on a paved road that soon became dirt. I took several smaller side roads for a while, looking for fall photo opportunities, until I reached a washout that was too deep and wide for my little fit to navigate. I had to back down the road, next to a few hundred foot drop, until I reached a place almost wide enough for two cars to pass, where I managed to get the Fit pointed back downhill.  The views were hazy mountain vistas of a totally coniferous forest.  After that episode,  I stayed on the main road.

I was disappointed in that I was STILL only finding colored shrubs, not the glorious gold and orange trees I wanted. Then I came to an area of cliffs and exposed rocks with  small  shrubs growing profusely, all covered in green, red, yellow or orange leaves of various sizes and shapes. I spent some time on a trail in the area before finally arriving at the ghost town of Garnett. Here I enjoyed the fall colors that were everywhere.


Near Garnet

Finally I arrived at the parking lot which reveals nothing of what is left of the town, except for a informational kiosk. But a short walk down an easy slope gets you to an overlook of what is left of a town that once numbered about 1000.


Part of the exhibit in the kiosk


View looking down at the town - shot with my wide angle lens that screws to the lens on my camera

I would have liked to have come here earlier when the Visitor Center was open and, hopefully, taken a guided tour. I did find an excellent brochure that both gave the history of the town and told about each of the still standing buildings. They closed last weekend and the entire park will close in two more weeks.

The town is named for the Garnets that often occur with gold and quartz.  It is build very haphazardly with no evidence of private yards.  Many of the cabins were built at mine claims. The town was in its heyday in the late 1800's.  It has been a ghost town since 1947.

Many of the buildings are empty but some of the public ones held a few artifacts, which helped me picture life here.


Loved how long the Blue Ribbon Beer sign has lasted

The Adams family lived here from 1904 to 1927 - one of the nicer homes and had covered extensions no longer standing

I liked this simple composition on the McDonald cabin - one of two that can be rented in the winter

At the time it was built (1896-1900) this was one of the nicer houses and even had picket fence around it. It used to have a covered passageway to the woodshed and outhouse.

Thought this might have been a church but it was one of 13 bars offering
male-oriented entertainment - seen from the back
Frank Davey started his store about 1898. It sold everything and had an office to weigh gold. The meat and other perishables were stored in the ice-house which also had three hidden compartments in which to store gold. The next four pictures show parts of the interior of the store which had two large rooms as well as the ice room.


There are very few actual displays

Kenmore has been around a LONG time

Shoes in the general store

A place to gossip and probably play checkers

A hotel kitchen

Very faded glory of the most elegant building there - a hotel

One of the rooms to let in the hotel

A carriage that belonged to the owner of the general store

The Ole Dahl house, built in 1938 - the other cabin that can be rented in the winter

I also walked the trail that has some of the mining artifacts around it and one visible mine. However the brochure box was empty so I couldn't make much sense of of what I saw.


Some of the mine artfacts

Orecrusher?

This looked like a well but I think it brought ore to the surface. 

I suspect this might have been used to pull cars of ore out of the mines

This kind of gold was the only gold I saw today

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: September Views From the Bison Range





Missions dusted with snow

One of Two Cubs

Mother Black Bear


Moon from High Point

Bull elk with harem

White-tailed fawn

View from the top

Bachelor bull elk

Mule deer secrets

Mule deer fawn

Moon rise over the prairie

Young big-horn rams

Not water buffalo

Sunset