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This photo was taken on a nice sunny day.

The bike ride up the Skalkaho was fun today.  A favorite of mine, it’s 10 miles to the top from my starting point and gains about 1300 ft.  Not too hard, but enough of a workout for me.  It was kinda windy going up and mixed sun and shade.  a few sprinkles.  Thought I’d go to the top and then drop back down to a little lake for lunch.  It took me the usual 90 minutes to reach the pass.  The surface was good, but a little muddy in spots.

At the top. June 3, 2012.  No camera on today's ride.  Good thing too.

At the top. June 3, 2012. No camera on today’s ride. Good thing too.

Right when I got to the pass, out of nowhere, a snow storm blew into my face from the other side.  I mean, I got off my bike and it started snowing.  And blowing hard enough it was difficult to look in the direction of the wind.  I knew this wasn’t good.

Thinking to drop down and revisit the good weather below, I quickly changed into my warm gear, gulped some water and descended.  The snow lasted for about 15 minutes and then turned to rain.  You know, Rain.  Like real Rain.  Like during a thunderstorm down pour.  I got soaked and continued to descend more slowly than usual, since the wind chill was, well chilling me.   I passed the lake by, thinking only of getting down.  I later found a place out of the wind to stop long enough to open some hand warmers in the rain and slip them in my gloves.  Then back to it.  The rain made the surface more muddy which was ok, since it slowed me down.
Approaching the summit on a nice sunny day last summer.

Approaching the summit on a nice sunny day last summer.

The sun came out after what seemed a long time.  But it must have been only 30 or 40 minutes since the storm started.  I stopped and worshiped my favorite star for a while.  After that, I stopped now and then to warm up.   By the time I was down to the car I was mostly dry, but still pretty cold hands and feet wise.  Quite the ride.  Only thing I could have really done different is to have worn my Pearl Izumi long biking pants instead of my stretchy climbing pants and brought along some waterproof glove covers.  It was just that the timing couldn’t have been worse.  I was at my sweatiest when it hit.  But it made for an epic ride and I’m appreciating the warmth of our cabin tonight all the more for it.

Oh, and I almost forgot.  On the drive home I saw a large mountain lion cross the road.  Must have been at least 200 lbs.  whoa

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I packed up the camper on the old blue and white Ford, loaded the trailer and hit the road for Montana last Thursday.

We made it with ease.
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We’ve been unpacking and piling empty boxes high ever since.  Had one phone call on the land line since we landed here 5 days ago.  Cells don’t work in the canyon.  Yesterday we finally decided to make the big trek to the dump.  ???????????????????????????????We loaded the truck down with old mattress, recycling, trash, boxes etc.  Town is about 25 miles;  half of which is on a gravel road and half on pavement over a low pass.  Takes about 45 minutes.  Philipsburg.  800 souls.  County seat.
And…   that’s right, it turned out the dump is closed on Mondays.  I’m sure the neighbors were amused.  only a handful of farmers and cabins between here and town.  But hard to miss the truck full of trash going to town, coming back and going to town again the next day.
Even the moose looked up from their munching to check out the old blue truck. The drive was nice and we stopped to look back at the wildlife along the way.???????????????????????????????
Well, I need to rest up for the trip into town again today.
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The day was cool at 7:30 am.  The trail head was quiet.   2500 vertical ft above us, on a steep scree slope above timberline, we could see our destination.  This trail had intrigued me since I first noticed it.  At that time, I was hiking through Maloney Basin in the Anaconda Pintler Wilderness.  The trail ran from left to right, high above me on an open mountainside.  It seemed incredibley HIGH. But that’s Montana; everything’s big.  The mountains match the sky in that regard.

We started walking and 3 hours later, at 9500 ft, we would look down to see the truck waiting for our return.

It never ceases to amaze me what putting one foot in front of the other can achieve.  This day hike delivered alpine beauty beyond our expectations.  

Macro views of the high peaks of the Pintler Range.

Micro wonders of lichen and flowers fresh from recent rains.

Also a spring so cold that our hot feet could stand only a few minutes of submersion.  We sucked down long swallows of the pristine water; unfiltered and full of elemental energy.  Restored, we sprinted back up 1000 ft to retrieve a trekking pole forgotten in our dreamy alpine distraction.  

Another day in Montana.

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Yesterday we opened the door and walked outside.  And we just kept walking.  Ended up going about 2 miles down the Rock Creek canyon.  One slow car passed us as we walked along the narrow creek-side country road.  There we found an old homestead originally settled by an African american woman in 1894!  It has recently been restored by the forest service.

While wandering around the 300+ acres of the old homestead we experienced a Trifecta of Wildlife Viewing
1.  A fox came trotting toward us casually headed to the creek.  Once we were seen, the casual pace changed to a swift dash in the other direction.
 
2.  About 20 minutes later, walking along the creek, we spotted a black bear grazing on the other side.  We watched it bumble along for a time, before we were spotted.  The bear became very alert and scampered straight up the slope away from the creek and the unexpected humans.
3.  Then, when heading back toward the old homestead cabin, we spotted an eagle’s nest in one of the clusters of tall cottonwood trees.  With at least 2 babies.
It was a delightful day in the sun.
On the walk back we looked up at the cliffs and noticed the bighorn sheep were watching us.  I didn’t count them in the Trifecta since we see them all the time. (and I didn’t know what to call a 4 x viewing.  Quadra-fecta sounds a little forced.)

It was quite a rich wildlife day, even by Montana standards.  I returned later in the day to do some fly fishing.  After all, it is Rock Creek.

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It’s been a while, but I’m back on the Creek.ImageWater’s high, but dropping.  Fishing’s slow, but improving.

Meanwhile the biking is awesome.  ImageThis is Skalkaho Pass.  Nice ride along the West Fork of Rock Crk.  No cars, mostly paved.  Nice.ImageNear the top.

The wildlife continues to liven up my days.ImageMoose on Upper Rock Crk.

ImageBig Horn Sheep on the move.

Not too bad waiting around for the Salmon Flies.Image

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Okay, I went for a walk.  I went fishing and caught mostly nothing.  Things are not too exciting.  But the beauty of the season is stunning.

I have no fish photos; none of them being big enough to record.  Or maybe they were pretty darn nice fish, but it was just I wanted to let them go quickly.

The high yesterday was 35.  Maybe. 

The time stamp on this photo is 2:17 pm.

Although it was cold, the sun was shining.  That makes so much difference here in Montana.   I was surprisingly comfortable and just enjoying being on the planet.   So I’ll leave you with a few photos of the spectacular fall weather.

I did catch a couple of trout. On dries even.  But the scenery takes it this time around. 

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Spring is finally here in the high country.  Not summer mind you, but spring.  We headed into the Anaconda Pintlar Wilderness of SW Montana for a short day hike.

Three miles in and three miles out.  Sounds pretty easy.  However the trail gains about 1500 ft, so it should be steep.  It was.  In fact all the elevation gain is achieved in the first 2 miles on an old road.  Occasional views of the nearby peaks and the sound of a small creek provide welcome distractions from the steady climb.

Once at the real trail head, two miles in, you are done climbing.  A lovely and blessedly level trail leads on to Ivanhoe Lake.

This path often achieves what I call the Trifecta of hiking:  a 1.Level 2.Shady patch with a 3.Breeze.  If you’ve ever hiked up hill on a sunny windless day, you know what I’m talking about.  The Trifecta is wonderful.

Anyway, then comes the lake.  A beautiful glacial cirque.  Looks like no one has made it up here this season, except maybe a moose and calf, judging from the tracks.  This has us a little concerned.  Sitting quietly lakeside we see a brown thing, a big brown thing, emerge from the trees about 50 yds away across a small finger of the lake.  First we thought it was the moose we feared.  But we soon realized it was a spike horned elk.  We were down wind and it didn’t know we were there.  To our delight it went for a frolicking swim!

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