Wednesday, April 29, 2009

[1]April 29, 2009
We have had a week of snow every day including a foot that fell this past sunday into monday morning. This morning we awoke to about another inch and it was wet enough that it clung to everything creating a white wonderland such as this view along the Wind River just west of town.
I had gone to Kathys Coffee at first light to catch up on the latest town gossip for the week. If nothing else you can tell where the best fishing is as all the "Fishing guides" congregate there. Apparantely a grizzly has broken into a cabin at the Bitterroot Dude Ranch on East Fork and the authorities are now trying to capture him. Donita Sayers, the highschool art teacher who lives off the Union Pass road came in to say there are still quite a number of elk in her area. They have been there most of the winter and I have gotten a number of great pictures of them but decide maybe I'll head up that way. It looks like it will be a beautiful morning with this snow the way it is covering the countryside and the way the sun is illuminating it. So I am off.
Later in the day my wife tells me that her boss had a black bear show up at their place last night. Guess hibernation is over. He lives less than a quarter mile below me on the river.
[2] April 29, 2009
I am sure glad I decided to check things out as it is truely a winter wonderland. That sun already feels warm at 27 degreess and I know this snow effect will not last long. There are some great painting and photo opportunities out here.
[3] April 29, 2009
I turn off the hiway and begin the ascent up the Union Pass road and marvel at the snow now and then filtering down from the Douglas Fir, Engleman Spruce, Aspen and Willow. At times it creates a dazzling display of colored lights as it catches the rays of the rising sun.
[4] April 29, 2009
It is interesting to note that the eastern sides of trees and vegetation are not covered like the other sides. Last nights snow had fallen with just a light enough breeze thet it left that east side uncovered. This creates a very diverse view scape.
[5] April 29, 2009
The heating of the morning is creating rising air and clouds that are now piling against the mountain faces including the Ramshorn above the DuNoir Valley. Snow squalls are already evident.
[6] April 29, 2009
On the way up the road I saw several cow elk just above me on the mountain slope but it was not a very good place for stopping to get any pictures. I figured I would have a better chance on the way back down. Upon my return though they were no where in sight. A little further down the road I can see straight down to the meadow below and there are a number of elk grazing in that sun drenched snowy landscape. They sure stand out against the frosty white of the snow.
[7] April 29, 2009
I had taken a number of pictures and watched the elk below me for some time and was about to return to my truck when I spotted this small group of elk just below me. They must have spotted me about the same time as they all are watching me with the mouthful of grass they have just taken still in their mouths. I don't want to disturb them so I quickly retreat back to the road and leave them to their breakfast.
[8] April 29, 2009
I finally return to the hiway and head back towards Dubois but not befor stopping to get a few pictures looking up the DuNoir. It is looking pretty stormy over the Ramshorn.
[9]April 29, 2009
Its been a beautiful morning and doesn't really seem that cold at 29 degrees. I'm wishing now that I had my paints with me and that I had more time but it is my day to watch the gallery. There are great paintings in every direction. I guess photos will have to do today. I'm just glad I took the notion to come check things out

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

[1]April 14, 2009
There is another winter storm brewing and it has been raining and snowing alternately all day. The weather bureau is calling for the possibility of over a foot of snow and up to 3 feet in the mountains. It seems hard to believe just two days ago how nice it was without a cloud in the sky. My wife, Vicki and I decided sunday afternoon that it was a good day to drive up to the Glacier Trailhead SE of Town to check things out. I hadn't thought about it until she mentioned that she had not been up there since last fall. Vicki is a stickler when it comes to walking and diligently does it every day. 1-2 miles per day but it is usually along the river walkway in the town park. I have been confined by what I can do and have not hit a mountain trail since my surgery a little over four weeks ago so this is a good chance to see how I do in a short distance.
On the way up the road we encounter a number of Mule Deer scattered in various groups all along the way. A lot of deer. On the slopes of Whiskey Mountain there are about 100 head of elk grazing away. We are pleasantly surprised when we drive into Whiskey Basin to find about 50 head of Bighorn Sheep and oddly enough they are accompanied by a number of Mule Deer. I have never seen or heard of that.
[2]April 14, 2009
I was this way a month ago just befor my episode with the doctors and this beaver dam was not here. They have been pretty busy fashioning a home from the willows along Torey Creek.
[3]April 14, 2009
I decide, much to Vicki's disaproval, that rather than hiking the trail we will hike along the creek into the canyon which is pretty rugged but I want to test myself a little bit. The creek is pretty open but with some ice which works for a trailway and easy walking or I should say sliding until we get into the canyon to the point of scrambling over boulders and downfall. Some of those steps up and over rocks are a reach for me and I can sure feel it. But it is sure good to be out. We abandon that approach and are content to merely pick our way through boulder strewn parks.
[4]April 14, 2009
It is a beautiful afternoon and with a jacket on very comfortable. It is hard not to be taken in by the scene of Arrow Mountain towering above us, granite faces lifting skyward to the west and Whiskey mountain cliffs to the left. Except for the occassional Clarks Nutcracker flying overhead announcing his presence as only Jays can do it is quiet and peaceful. We do jump a mule Deer fawn from last year who efortlessly bounds down out of sight in the canyon. It seemed pretty surprised to see us.
[5]April 14, 2009
Vicki is informing me about having to watch for ticks and I reassure her that there won't be any as it has not been warm enough yet, and they won't be be out until the temperature gets to at least 70 degrees. It isn't two minutes later that she draws my attention to one crawling on my pants leg. I am supposed to be the biologist? How do women know these things? A while later I feel another one crawling on my hand. Torrey Creek valley is the only place I can say I have ever encountered ticks in this part of the country though I'm guessing further east on the reservation which is at a lower elevation, drier and milder one would encounter them.
[6]April 14, 2009
We return to the truck and make our way back down country. We pause at the meadow full of Bighorn Sheep and shoot a few more pictures of them. They are a ways out in the meadow and not that close for great photos but I get some that will work for paintings anyway. I love Torrey Creek. It threads its way through forest then willow covered bottomlands snaking its way towards the three glacial lakes below. I have done countless paintings of this stream and am always continuing to look for more ideas and compositions . It is also great floating with a kayak or canoe.
[7]April 14, 2009
We pass Trail Lake. I was surprised to find as much ice gone as what there was. It has been a cold spring and this lake is always late in opening up. I had hoped to find some Trumpeter Swans on one of the three lakes but to no avail. There are a lot of geese though, especially on the two lower lakes. These two along with a Merganser pair seem to be enjoying the open water that there is.
[8]April 14, 2009
Just a ways down the road is Ring Lake. With no noticeable wind up the valley or on Trail Lake it is surprising to find it blowing a gale here as we are only a quarter of a mile below Trail Lake. To our right there is still some ice that juts out from the shore into the lake and it is lined with Canadian Geese. They are not too happy with our presence and are sure letting us know what they think about us. The view towards the Ramshorn Peak is definitely worth the stop but it is cold in that wind so we don't stay long
[9] April 14 2009
The area around the lakes are full of Indian Petroglyphs and I can't resist stopping by one of them. Hats off to these artists of bygone days. They have left us with a treasure and how often I have pondered about the artist so many eons ago pecking away at this rock and leaving his legacy.
[10]April 14, 2009
Of course I have to stop and check out the Osprey nest on Torrey Lake. Too early for inhabitants yet. What a view to raise their young. That wind has the lake whipped to a froth. Don't think I would want to be out in it with my Kayak today.
[11]April 14, 2009
I was hopping it would be a little later when we got back to the hiway as the light on the Badlands at sunset can be phenomenal for picture taking. It is a little early and with such a clear sky it probably wont be conducive to the light show it could be but then again how does one drive by without stopping for a few pictures?
It was a good afternoon. I really feel that little hike and climbing around but I feel it in my soul too and that is good.