Archive for September 2011

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The Palouse, known for generations as a great place to grow things, what with its scenic, rolling hills underlain by rich dark soil, has in recent years been recognized as a good place to farm wind as well.  I’ve been driving through this subtly beautiful part of the Pacific Northwest, on the way back from my Rockies road trip.  I’m eager to get back home after so long away, and with an upcoming overseas trip, do not have the patience to give this place the time it deserves.  I passed the site of the Whitman Mission today, and also drove along the shortcut that the Corps of Discovery took on its way back east.  It was another case where Lewis and Clark were aided by the natives of the area.  While traveling through here, the two noted the excellent potential of the area for farming, if only the Snake River could be tapped for water.  Perhaps they saw how one day irrigation would grow massively in scale.

Posted September 17, 2011 by MJF Images in Uncategorized

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A dusky (aka blue) grouse on my last hike in Glacier Park, in the Two-Medicine Valley, a drop-dead gorgeous valley rimmed by impossibly spectacular mountains.  A few of these were near the trail, and I couldn’t resist.  I just really like game birds.  They seem very curious about people, and just can’t be bothered with flying sometimes.  Been working lately a bit harder on my wildlife technique, in hopes I don’t embarrass myself too badly during my upcoming Africa trip.

Posted September 16, 2011 by MJF Images in Uncategorized

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I never truly realized how beautiful the Flathead Valley north of Missoula, Montana is, that is until now.  Ranch- and farmland share the valley floor with wildlife-rich wetlands, all with the absolutely awesome Mission Mountains.

Posted September 15, 2011 by MJF Images in Uncategorized

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Along the creek, above Running Eagle Falls in Montana’s Glacier National Park, a verdant corner amongst the stark peaks.  I had to really scramble and bushwack to get here, and it was a micro-exploration that turned this up.  Running Eagle Falls is named for an American Indian woman who became an amazing warrior in these parts.

Posted September 15, 2011 by MJF Images in Uncategorized

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Moose in the morning, at Glacier National Park’s Two Medicine Lake.

Posted September 15, 2011 by MJF Images in Uncategorized

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Someone commented that these two elements, rock and water, seem as one in this image.  It made me think of how inseparable these two are on this planet, and how one without the other would have likely left Earth lifeless.  Rock is the local source for the raw materials from which our body is made, and water liberates and carries those elements throughout the environment and throughout our bodies. Rock without water is lifeless (think Venus); with water it moves as if alive.  One example: plate tectonics on earth depends upon rock in intimate contact with water.  And without that process, there would be no large-scale recycling on the planet (and thus no complex life).  The image is of the West Boulder River in Montana’s Absaroka-Beartooth Mtns.

Posted September 11, 2011 by MJF Images in Uncategorized

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Swan River National Wildlife Refuge in northwestern Montana, on the way to Glacier.  It’s quite noticeable when you pass into this part of the Rockies, with their beautiful elongated lakes, some of the biggest mountain lakes anywhere.  The moon is nearly full, and lighted the landscape last night.  If you approach Glacier from the south and do not drive up through Seeley and Swan Lake, you’re making a big mistake.  Rustic lodges situated along the shores of beautiful lakes, the Mission Mtns on one side, the Swan Mtns (and Bob Marshall Wilderness) on the other. The busier route through Polson is not as scenic.

Posted September 11, 2011 by MJF Images in Uncategorized

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The two faces of present-day Montana.  The abstract of burned lodgepole pines I just tweeted are from West Boulder Valley, in the Absaroka-Beartooth Mtns of Montana.  This photo is from that same valley, but from the meadows where the valley flattens out and the river forms beautiful lazy fishing holes like this one.  Fire in this state over the decade and a half since I was here last has really changed things.  With the naturally slow recovery in this high country, the forest stays ugly for quite a number of years.  This place (W. Boulder) was burned five years ago, and 99% of the trees were killed.  Total devastation.  Today it is still in the pioneer stage (i.e., weeds & grass) of recovery.  Yet in the meadows, this past wet year gives us fantastic swimming and fishing holes like this.  Still beautiful Montana, but one must say that these hot fires that burn through the west do not leave behind pretty landscapes, in general.  Climate change is hitting the intermountain west at the same time as we have allowed fuel to build up.  So this should come as no surprise.

Posted September 10, 2011 by MJF Images in Uncategorized

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Coming back from a long hike into Yellowstone’s backcountry (Fawn Pass to be specific) and crossing the upper Gallatin River in moonlight, I had to force myself to delay the keenly anticipated return to my van.  But the way the Gallatin’s silvery course wound through the darkened valley just begged to be shot.  I imagined several trout passing beneath the wooden bridge I stood on, while the long exposure passed.

Posted September 8, 2011 by MJF Images in Uncategorized

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A hike into the Spanish Peaks, near Big Sky, Montana, brought me to Beehive Basin, where I saw very busy bees harvesting the last of the nectar for this summer.  What attracted me to this one was he was working very close to a granite boulder, with its big crystals of feldspar and quartz glinting in the late-day sun.  Staying until the sun was down, I hiked back out by moonlight.  At the trailhead, I met a very skinny fellow who was out of food.  I gave him some, and this gave him the energy to hike up into the basin for a moonlit sleep.  I passed him on the trail.  Nice guy.  As the joblessness in this country continues, we will likely see more of him.  Indeed, I may be in the same situation someday.

Posted September 7, 2011 by MJF Images in Uncategorized

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