Category Archives: Montana landscapes

September 22, 2015 Glacier National Park, Montana

Iconic Shot Marred by Forest Fire

Iconic Shot Marred by Forest Fire

Park Shots and More Mountain Goats

The east side of Glacier N. P. had a rough summer, suffering once again from the ravages of forest fires. One particularly stubborn fire has marred both sides of the Going-to-the-Sun-Road   for several miles, including the slope you can see in the background of this iconic shot of Wild Goose Island in Saint Mary Lake.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Looking Up to Logan Pass

Looking Up to Logan Pass

Looking Up to Logan Pass

Looking Up to Logan Pass

Falls Below Logan Pass

Falls Below Logan Pass

The road on the east side of Logan Pass is free of fire damage once you are about half way up, leaving other iconic shots such as those above unblemished.

Many Glacier Area of the Park

The Colors of Many Glacier

The Colors of Many Glacier

I made my third trip into the Many Glacier area of the park this morning once again hoping for some bears, and once again coming away disappointed.

The Colors of Many Glacier

The Colors of Many Glacier

The Colors of Many Glacier

The Colors of Many Glacier

Last Trip up Going-To-The-Sun-Road

Glacier N.P. Elk

Glacier N.P. Elk

After my unsuccessful bear hunt in Many Glacier, i headed for Logan Pass, hoping to find some mountain goats along the way.

Glacier N.P. Elk

Glacier N.P. Elk

A bull elk was escorting his harem across some of the open fields along the side of Saint Mary Lake in an area know as two Dog Flats.

Roadside Grazing Black Bear

Roadside Grazing Black Bear

A young auburn toned black bear was grazing along the same stretch of road, obviously not being deterred by car traffic whizzing by.

Coyote Heading for Logan Pass

Coyote Heading for Logan Pass

About a mile or so below Logan Pass, I encountered this handsome coyote steadily making his way up the road heading for Logan Pass. I snapped a few shots of him and proceeded on my way.

Coyote Heading for Logan Pass

Coyote Heading for Logan Pass

Looking in my rear view mirror I could see him drop back down to the side of the road after I had passed. When I stopped a little farther up the road to take some shots of the pass, here he came again, once more climbing up the bank a ways as he detoured a bit to make his way around me.

Coyote Heading for Logan Pass

Coyote Heading for Logan Pass

After taking my shots at this second location, I drove past him again, but when I stopped once more a little farther up the road, and could still see him coming my way, I dropped down behind my car on my knees to conceal myself from him, and waited for him to come by. Not seeing me, he stayed on the side of the road and I was able to get an eye level shot of this handsome fellow as he passed by.

Glacier N. P. Mountain Goat

Glacier N. P. Mountain Goat

More Mountain Goats

Today I was fortunate enough to find two different goats running the steep vertical cliffs above Going-To-The-Sun-Road, just below the east side of Logan Pass, in the same area that I saw the lone goat yesterday.

Forgive the number of goat shots below, but these guys simply fascinated me. I probably spent more than three hours taking hundreds of shots of them, so bear with me as I show a dozen or so of them below.

Glacier N. P. Mountain Goat

Glacier N. P. Mountain Goat

Glacier N. P. Mountain Goat

Glacier N. P. Mountain Goat

Glacier N. P. Mountain Goat

Glacier N. P. Mountain Goat

The shot immediately above is an enlarged detail of the image above it. Notice the placement of the hooves along the outer edge of the ledge shelf he is so nimbly traversing. That shelf can’t be more than a foot wide, it appears, and he just casually strolls along it, more than a hundred feet up.

Glacier N. P. Mountain Goat

Glacier N. P. Mountain Goat

Glacier N. P. Mountain Goat

Glacier N. P. Mountain Goat

A different goat on a different section of the same cliffs, same idea, the second image is an enlarged detail of the first image. Again, note the placement of the hooves on, and actually over the edge of the rock ledge. Now, he is walking carefully, not running, but seemingly with no concern whatsoever for the fact that he is way up there on the cliff face with no soft landing below. Just incredible !

Glacier N. P. Mountain Goat

Glacier N. P. Mountain Goat

Glacier N. P. Mountain Goat

Glacier N. P. Mountain Goat

Glacier N. P. Mountain Goat

Glacier N. P. Mountain Goat

Glacier N. P. Mountain Goat

Glacier N. P. Mountain Goat

Glacier N. P. Mountain Goat

Glacier N. P. Mountain Goat

Glacier N. P. Mountain Goat

Glacier N. P. Mountain Goat

Glacier N. P. Mountain Goat

Glacier N. P. Mountain Goat

Glacier N. P. Mountain Goat

Glacier N. P. Mountain Goat

Glacier N. P. Mountain Goat

Glacier N. P. Mountain Goat

For the image immediately above, how did he get there? And where exactly can he possibly be thinking of going from there?

Glacier N. P. Mountain Goat

Glacier N. P. Mountain Goat

One image of a goat on safe terrain. Fascinating animals !

Tomorrow I leave Glacier National Park and head down the highway a bit to Yellowstone National Park, hopefully for some nice bull elk shots. Stay tuned.

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September 17 – 21, 2015 Return to the Lower Forty-eight

Glacier National Park Mountain Goat

Glacier National Park Mountain Goat

Back in the USA

September 17th

I broke camp at Meziadin Provincial park around 9 AM and headed east on Route 37 to Prince George. The last 100 miles of Route 37 was nothing special, unlike the rest of that highway, and Route 16 East to Prince George was the same. Of course, the steady all day rain and grey skies didn’t help matters as far as great scenery goes.

Arrived at a pretty new Walmart Superstore right on the highway at the western edge of Prince George, and since I was pretty much out of everything, provisions wise, I stocked up on essentials, not knowing when i would have the opportunity to do so again. Since it was getting dark, I decided to do a Walmart boondock and settled in for the night.

September 18th

After a decent night’s sleep at Walmart, I proceeded east on Route 16 to Jasper and turned south on the spectacularly beautiful Icefields Parkway to Route 1 and Lake Louise. Unfortunately, the Icefields Parkway, under low hanging clouds, fog, and rain, loses a lot of it’s luster and I managed to travel it’s entire length without stopping for even one photograph. Hoping to get some autumn shots of Lake Louise with fall colors, I settled in at the overflow camping area just south of town on Route 1 for the night, hoping the weather would improve overnight.

September 19th

It didn’t ! With the weather remaining terrible, I left Lake Louise and traveled south on Route 1, through Banff, and on to Calgary, a city I will religiously avoid traveling through in the future. I felt like a rat being forced to run a maze, trying to get from Route 1 to Route 2 in this city’s confusing, poorly signed, heavily congested system of roadways. By the time I finally made it out of Calgary and was headed south on Route 2, after three days, the weather finally cleared and it was an uneventful trip to the border crossing at Carway. I had no problem at all with the crossing, just the normal fruit, veggies and firewood , and booze, questions and I was through and back in the lower forty-eight.

Around 4 PM, I arrived at Johnsons of Saint Marys Campground, on the east side of Galcier National Park, a place I have stayed in many times before. I paid my $78 for two nights and headed up the hill to their fairly tight, fairly unlevel campsites, that do, however, have a superb view across the valley of the mountains of Glacier National Park. These are water and 30 amp electric sites with a surprisingly strong Verizon internet signal.

September 20th Glacier National Park

Stormy Sunrise Over Johnson's Campground

Stormy Sunrise Over Johnson’s Campground

I awoke to a spectacular sunrise and howling winds, indicating that a predicted stormfront was moving in.

Stormy Sunrise Over Johnson's Campground

Stormy Sunrise Over Johnson’s Campground

Taking advantage of the morning’s decent, though very windy weather, I headed up to Many Glacier hoping to get some bear shots, as i have had quite a bit of luck there in the past. This summer’s dry conditions have produced a very poor berry crop and there were no bears to be seen this morning, so I headed back home around noon hoping to watch some football on TV.

Didn’t happen ! I have no idea how strong the winds were blowing, but the motorhome was rocking and the slide toppers were in danger of being ripped off, so I was forced to bring in the slides and lower the satellite dish before it was destroyed by the gale force winds. Welcome back to the lower forty-eight !

September 21st

By morning the winds had diminished and the rain had set in. Having a lot of image processing to do and blog work to catch up on, plus facing an October 15th deadline to file my 2014 taxes, I almost looked forward to a day in the rain to try and get some of this work done.

By late afternoon, tired of working at the computer and finding the skies clearing, I hopped in the Prius and took a drive up Going to the Sun Highway to Logan Pass.

Unreachable

Unreachable

And I am so glad I decided to do so. On previous trips here I have gotten many nice mountain goat images, but have never had the opportunity to find them high up on the cliffs, where they live out a good portion of their lives, safe from predators.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Glacier National Park Mountain Goat

Glacier National Park Mountain Goat

This evening, just as it was getting dark, I came across a lone ram, just about all the way up to Logan Pass, and before it became just too dark to shoot, was able to capture a few images of their incredible cliff hanging abilities.

Leap of Faith

Leap of Faith

Just mind boggling how easily they traverse this impossible landscape … and you can see from the first vertical photo above, that there would be no chance for survival if ever there was a misstep. I certainly hope I get another chance over the next few days to catch this guy up there again, perhaps with a little more light to work with.

 

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September 4, 2013 Red Mountain BLM Campground

A short move over to Bear Trap Road BLM Campground

Got up early and decided to move across the highway to another BLM campground on BearTrap Road. There I can orientate the motorhome facing east to help a little with the afternoon heat problem ( it has been in the lower 90’s every day but one for the two weeks I have been in Montana ). Because of the unanticipated expense of repairing the jack system and tomorrow’s window replacement, I am cutting back on campground expenses by only staying at BLM campsites at $4/night vs. private sites at $35/night. The only problem with this is the persistent heat since I can’t run the AC when on a primitive site and the afternoons have been pretty much intolerable, although once the sun goes down, it does cool off quite quickly.

While walking around the new campground with the dogs, I watched a mature bald eagle swoop down into the Madison River. Where he landed was obscurred by the river bank, so I quickly walked down to the river’s edge and could see him on a gravel bar on the far side of the river dining on a fish. Needless to say, I did not have my camera and big lens with me since I was just walking the dogs, so no pictures, but kind of neat to watch anyhow.

Early morning on the Madison River

Early morning on the Madison River

To avoid the heat today ( 90’s predicted again ),I figured I would do an all day run in the air-conditioned car to check out the northwest route into Yellowstone so there wouldn’t be any nasty surprises for the motorhome’s trip into the park. I also thought I would explore the alternate route down the Yellowstone River Valley, route 540, and a couple of the national forest campgrounds along the way.

Yellowstone River Valley

Yellowstone River Valley

Threatening skies over the Yellowstone Valley

Threatening skies over the Yellowstone Valley

 

 

 

 

 

 

Didn’t really see that much that caught my eye, more farmland, cows and horses, with a few mule deer grazing in the alfalfa fields. Stopped short of the north entrance to the park and came back up 89 to Livingston. Looks like a pretty interesting little town meriting a trip there to explore the downtown area and its galleries one day, but not today, too HOT!

Jenny and Sam exploring above the Yellowstone River

Jenny and Sam exploring above the Yellowstone River

Stopped at a Montana Fish and Game campground on the banks of the Yellowstone River right on 89 and drop in to investigate.There are 3 or 4 nice sites on the rivers edge and several more sites away from the river. Probably a nice overnight spot for the future.

Early morning on the Madison River

Early morning on the Madison River

 

September 3, 2013 Moving day

Palisades BLM campground to Red Mountain BLM campground

SmallRV andToadMooseMoved this morning about 35 miles north from my BLM site at Palisades to the Red Mountain BLM campground on the banks of the Madison, 8 miles east of Norris on 84. I wanted to get closer to Bozeman to find a solution to my missing window, and that would be the only likely place I will find a glass shop that might be able to make the repair. Since I had no Verizon coverage whatsoever at the Palisades site, I stopped at the grocery store parking lot in Ennis and got the IMac out to get on the internet and search out glass shops in Bozeman. I found 2 shops that looked look they may be able to help.

After getting set up on Site 7 at Red Mountain, right on the banks of the Madison, but really not that attractive a campground, no “it” factor, I hopped in the car and headed to Bozeman. Easily found the Glass Doctor and spoke with a helpful young man at the front desk. He seemed to understand what I was looking for, said they could cut laminated glass with rounded corners, had it in stock, and was familiar with the type of window frame I had and set me up an appointment for Thursday at 11 AM. Looks like kind of a tight fit to get the motorhome into their lot, and they are on a very busy business highway, but he assured me they can get me in there. His estimate is around $220 which seems a fair price I can live with.

Returned to my campsite around noon but just couldn’t take the heat anymore by 2PM. Loaded the dogs in the car, turned on the AC, and set out to go explore around Pony, according to the Montana Road Map, a ghost town up in the mountains. Turns out there are a few old buildings in Pony, but it mostly is just another small backwater, rather rundown town whose best days are obviously behind it.

Abandoned Montana barn

Abandoned Montana barn

Abandoned Montana farmhouse

Abandoned Montana farmhouse

 

 

 

 

 

However, there were a couple of dirt roads leading out of town and up into the mountains to National Forest lands and campgrounds and so up I went. By the time I reached the end of the road, I had gained enough elevation to have the temperature drop from 94 degrees to 74 degrees, just what I was looking for. Although the roads looked like they should have led to some wildlife sitings, all I got for my efforts was a very dusty car and heat relief, though I did see 4 good sized piles of bear scat in the road, just no bear scat depositor.

Mule deer doe and fawn

Mule deer doe

A pair of pronghorn

A pair of pronghorn

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did see a few mule deer and a small herd of Pronghorns as I took a shortcut along a dirt road through farmland from Pony back to route 287. Got back home around 6:30 and it was still hot. This was one evening it did not seem to cool down so quickly, but a thunderstorm around 8 PM finally did the trick.

Montana farmland

Montana farmland

Montana farmland

Montana farmland

A pronghorn and his harem

A pronghorn and his harem

Camera shy pronghorns

Camera shy pronghorns