Sunrise over Lower Red Rock Lake

Sunrise over Lower Red Rock Lake
Sunrise over Lower Red Rock Lake

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Wildflower Tour

I've been watching for news of the annual wildflower tour and finally I saw it:

Wildflower Tour – Gravelly Range

July 6,  2016  A riot of color explodes in the Tobacco Root Mountains when the wildflowers bloom!
Join  the US Forest Service on July 6th for the annual wildflower tour.  Your guide will identify species and guide you to flower-filled meadows and aspen stands in the Gravelly Range.  The flowers are plentiful when we have good spring moisture and cool temperatures.
Dozens of species can be identified, so bring your notebooks to create your own list of favorites. Meet at US Forest Service District Office 9:00 am.  Pack a hearty lunch and bring your beverage of choice.
This always happens during the week,  so this year, I asked if we could get off to go on it. Refuge Manager, Bill, said all the volunteers could go.  We ended up with just all the women going. And we had a wonderful time.  I even met some flowers for the first time. 

Think this is a fly- not sure of the flower either

Foothill death camas

Visits and consults were going on all over

Forget-me-nots were in full flower


My most special flower - a pygmy bitterroot - seen for the first time


Another fly on a mountain dandelion


Please comment if you know this 



Sky pilot - another first


I was captivated by the pistols and stamins


I think this is spring beauty


The big views were outstanding alsoMi


I didn't figure this out - Please comment if you know it


Beautiful fleabane


I just wanted to sit in the flowers 


A field of thickly growing wildflowers overlooked  a canyon and distant hills. 


Blue alpine phacelia


A closer look


A hillside full of white mule's ears

On the personal front, my bee talk went over well.  The head of the college program attended, as did the school benefactor, along wth his grown family that was visiting. I think I'll be giving it one more time to a different class.

I spent a few days in Bozeman visiting a friend and getting my computer fixed.  I also left my bike to be repaired.

Then I rushed back to get to enjoy the cattle drive that comes through town and to clean up the house the deputy manager applicant will be using.  And I'll be busy this week with bees and bluebird surveys before going to Crater of the Moon National Park to visit my friend, Natalie.

Postcript:  Oh yes, I LOVE the Montana Wildflower App.  You can get it from Goggle Play or iTunes. Click here for the iphone/ipad version.  I loved being able to save my flowers I learned and then see the name with the picture later.


Sunday, July 9, 2017

Oh This Montana Weather

I am having a hard time getting my blogs prepared and published this summer.  I'm working long hours - although most of it doesn't feel like work - and not having adventures in places I haven't already written about. And currently my computer is not working and a adapter I have that allows my iPad to read my photo card isn't,t working so all those beautiful pictures about a fabulous Wildflower Tour are still unedited in my camera. Hopefully I'll have everything fixed in another week. That will include getting my bike fixed and visiting a friend in Bozeman while repairs are underway.

The one super changeable item here in the Centennial Valley is the weather. For almost a month now, one of my favorite jobs is to drive to the dam on lower Red Rock Lake to read thoe level of the lake and sometimes partially close the dam. I do this early in the morning and late in the evenings so I can enjoy wildlife and sometimes even sunsets or sunrises.

One morning about a week ago, I got to watch the storm come rolling in with beautiful light changes and play between the light and the clouds in all directions. I'll share those pictures with you this morning.  And I'll add some pictures I took the following evening as the storm cleared away over Lakeview, Montana.






























And these are pictures as the storm was leaving the following evening.












I'm real excited because I've been asked by the University of Utah to give a talk about native bees. I had a good start on presentation, which included looking up lots of my pictures and posters, when my computer would no longer take a charge. And I had not backed up my file even though I have multiple ways of doing so.  So I had to start over using a borrowed antique computer, which can not fully access my saved materials over the internet or be much used for research. And I've forgotten my government pin so have to rely on others to gain access. Then, since only my boss and I were around, I got to play hostess to several visitors, and kept getting locked out of the computer.  But the program is finished and today I'll process some bees I caught especially for the program.  Hopefully the college will have received the microscope they ordered  to use with the bee program in  time to let the students see some of our bees.  Otherwise we'll just be using magnifying glasses. The program happens Tuesday.  I get free breakfast as an honorarium.

I'll also be helping to finish the cattle fencing and spraying for invasives this week before taking off a few days for rest, recreation, and repairs.  Life is never boring.



Sunday, July 2, 2017

A Hike on the Hell Roaring Creek Trail

This year, we have two volunteer couples and me. I'm having a good time with all them.  I'm starting to help spray for invasive weeds with Tom and Betsy and am helping Tim put up fencing for the imminent arrival of cattle that graze our fields on four year rotations to help keep down invasive weeds.

Betsy likes to hike while her husband would rather fish, so she invited me on to go hiking on the Hell Roaring Creek trail. Although this is my third summer here, and the trail is just off our lands, I had only been on the lower end of it while spraying for invasives.

We didn't get started real early, so we didn't get to enjoy the beautiful morning light. The climb was short but steep. I couldn't find the altitude and forgot to turn on my GPS so I could gather that data, but the trail switchbacked up the mountain.

But come along and enjoy it. 

I looked up information on Hell Roaring Creek and found there are several in the region, including one in Yellowstone NP.  But this one starts at a springs and is the source of the Missouri River, the longest river in the United States.


You can see how close I live to Montana.  I live just about where the word "Lakes " is in the upper left hand corner. 


This trail crosses the Continental Divide Trail

These were my first columbines of the season

Sticky geranium and visitor

Much of the trail ran through woods interspersed with meadows

Oregon grape

This this is some kind of parasitic plant

First lilies of the season

Betsy under a Continental Divide Trail sigh

Love the craft involved in making these signs

W came through a wooded stretch going down and then found ourselves looking WAY UP to this

And looking on down and across the creek to the last patch of snow

A little longer view

Betsy enjoying the view

The mountains were falling down

The trail went across the talus

The creek was living up to its name

I found the first liatris growing in the shale

Another look up


A butterfly found the last dandelion bloom


The trip up took over two hours.  We enjoyed the area and took a lunch break for almost another hour, then hiked back down, much more quickly.  On the way home we found the only large mammals we saw.

Coyote in heavy coat

Two year old bull moose

Hopefully, this summer I'll get to actually get to Bowers Spring, the ultimate source of the Missouri River. Meanwhile, you might want to enjoy my memory of my failure. Click here.


Meanwhile I'm working almost every day, at least a little bit.  I have to check the gage at the dam on lower lake twice a day, and sometimes have to open or shut the gates on the dam.  Our goal is to hold the lake at 7.5'.  Our flow into the lake is slowing, and the days are getting hot and dry enough to evaporate surface water.  This job takes at least 1.5 hours a day.  Then I spend one day collecting data of the bluebirds and tree swallows and two days catching bees and then taking pictures of all the blooming flowers near them and getting the flowers identified. I'm behind on getting my data into the database and the pictures into folders by site and date. I'm also helping to spray and now to fence the fields the cattle will be using starting in another week.  So I'm not getting out to play much and don't even have time to write up things that have happened here.

But all the volunteers get to go on the BLM Wildflower Tour next Thursday.  Hopefully I'll time to edit the pictures for a blog next Sunday.  And we are going to be playing hard here over the next few days as we have the Rally in the Valley 4th of July Party, which is already underway.  Our population of humans has gone up by at least thirty and the dog population has also gone up by at least ten.

Have a happy July 4th.