Category Archives: Outdoors

Sunday, with Extra Sun

Yesterday we decided to set out and get some old fashioned recreation, something we probably don’t do enough of with everything else going on in our lives. We are fortunate in that there are so many beautiful alternatives essentially right out our back door. For example, for starters we decided we’d get the canoe on the water for the first time this year. On the way, Julia insisted on taking a picture of this big, fat Quarter Horse.

It takes a while to drop off the canoe, take a vehicle down and leave it at the takeout point, then drive the other vehicle back to the put-in spot, but it’s worth it. Where we decided to put in on the Bitterroot River is literally just five minutes from our house.

Then we were off and paddling and soaking up the rays from the tops of our heads to the tips of our toes.

I love being on the river. Even though there were many other people out on inner tubes, it was still relaxing and felt like a getaway. We had stretches all to ourselves as well.

Hey, there’s a naked girl in the bow! And geese on the shore!

Well, she wasn’t really naked, it just looks that way. Nor was she relying on the wide-brimmed hat to keep the sun off her. She was well lathered in sunscreen.

This trip — floating the Bitterroot until it joins the Clark Fork, then a little farther along — really isn’t a “wild” float. But it is a wild river, and it is exciting to see wildlife along the way. Birds zipping along just above the surface of the water. Herons along the shore, and osprey overhead. Sometimes fish jump. I love it all.

As always, click the pictures to see larger version. You’ll be able to see the fawn in the lower right of this one that much better!

Then there are other types of wildlife, like teenagers at McClay Bridge thronging the shore and jumping off the bridge into the water. I’ve done that before, when I was young. I used to come out here sometimes with my cousin, Casey.

This is the first time we’ve seen one of these assholes on this river. This guy was going too fast, blew by some tubers, and left a wake that would have swamped us if we hadn’t turned into it. Jackass. There was another power boat later, but that guy was at least respectful of the other people on the river.

After we got off the river and got home, I decided I wanted to hike up the M as well, even though it was still pretty damn hot out. Julia was game to give it a go; we didn’t even bother to take the time to unload the canoe.

Before long we were at the base of the trail, headed up. That first, long switchback is always the most difficult for me, it seems.

The moon was in the sky, watching our progress.

Almost to the top!

Here’s what the M looks like from the ground, in a picture taken earlier this year.

Here’s what it looks like right up close!

There weren’t that many other people on the trail, unlike on Friday when I climbed it.

The view from the top, and from points closer to the ground, was excellent as ever.

Hiking the M is more workout than pleasure stroll, but I still enjoy it. Like floating the river, it reminds me of how beautiful Missoula is, and how fortunate I am to live in this part of the country. At times in the past I know I’ve taken that for granted, but I sure hope I never do again!

Springs Comes — Finally!

A week ago today I was out driving and walking around Missoula taking photographs for the Crumley piece I did. It was gray, and damp, and with the wind blowing it was downright cold out. That all changed this weekend with the arrival of sunshine and 70+ degree weather. It was glorious! So we kind of scrapped all other plans and spent some extra time outdoors.

Bass Creek Trail

Saturday we drove down just south of Florence and did a little hiking along the Bass Creek Trail. We got a late start, but it still felt great to get out and stretch the legs in the sunshine. Ravalli County Search and Rescue had a bunch of stuff set up at the trail head. There was training going on for potential EMTs.

A guy we spoke to explained the various things they would be doing, including a simulated “catastrophic event” which would be held late that night that would see them out there until about 2 or 3 AM.

The lower part of the trail was cool and shady, running along Bass Creek.

The cliffs to are right were beautiful. I like the variations in landscape of the various hikes we go on, all within about 30 minutes of home.

A snake bolted across our path!

As we gained elevation the trail was covered with snow and ice. Going up wasn’t so bad, but coming down was an exercise in not-falling-on-your-ass. Julia did wipe out once. I pointed and laughed. We survived though. Even did this self portrait where we turned around a couple three miles up. Good thing we stood in the brightest possible sunshine possible too to totally wash out the image. We’re smart that way, and I’m such a genius photographer.

Waterworks Hill

Sunday before we got started on other projects and errands we hiked up Waterworks Hill, which is on the north side of Missoula. All my years living here and I’d never been up there before. It provides a nice view of Missoula. I really need to learn how to use my camera better in bright sunlight — it was really a much more spectacular day than these images show.

This is the site of the old peace sign that used to be here, and was visible from the valley below. It was quite a landmark, but I think someone bought the property and tore it down or something.

We returned through a little canyon called Cherry Gulch. With all the birds chirping and other folks out enjoying the weather, it was quite an invigorating, if short, outing.

It was good to get out, soak up some rays and make other plans for getting out this summer. We’re looking forward to it!