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near the river

The land around the river rivals the river itself in beauty, serenity, and grandeur.  In one 60+ mile stretch, only about a dozen homes are visible from the river.

The Big Blackfoot passes through three red rock canyons, interspersed with open pastures of wild grasses and flowers, backed by snow clad
mountains with the occasional glacier in the distance.  Here are some images of this wonderful surrounding landscape.  Enjoy the views!


Red and green Montana mudstone rock formations mottled with fossilized pre-Cambrian wave ripples form much of the river's banks.  This is the "Office" hole in early October, a great holding spot for scary-big overwintering trout.  Red osier dogwoods, snowberry and willows line the ledges backed by Douglas fir and tamarack overreaching the waters.


Critters considered rare or extinct elsewhere abound here.  As part of the Crown of The Continent, the Blackfoot valley has all the species that were here before Lewis and Clark's "Voyage of Discovery" party walked its length in 1806.

Grizzly bears frequent the middle and upper valley sections.
     

Cougars, also called mountain lions, flourish on the hillsides throughout the valley..


Thousands of elk live overlooking the river along its entire length.


Bighorn sheep are often seen in the lower valley just a few miles outside Missoula.
  


An old railroad trestle, one of the few remnants of the old Big Blackfoot Railroad.  Started in 1903, it replaced the great river-borne log floats with a logging train, bringing timber from the Blackfoot valley to the Bonner mill at its mouth.  The railroad ceased operations in 1954 but the rails remained until 1982.



Sheep Mountain from Nine Mile Prairie.  The river runs along the base of the trees in the foreground.



The river and its surroundings in the depth of winter's grip.  The temp was -32 when this photo was taken.


Two of the wild animals well known to the valley -- the ubiquitous coyote on the right and my fox terrier Tyler on the left.  Luckily, the coyote escaped with nothing more than a bruised ego.



Ranching on Kleinschmidt Flat in Ovando in the middle Blackfoot valley.  The southern edge of the Bob Marshall Wilderness passes along the ridge top in the distance.



Honest, this image has not been Photoshopped.  I took this "Jackolantern Sunset" photo with the first shot from my first digital camera.  I was sitting on the porch, reading the instruction book, and looked up to see this fleeting image of a dying thunderstorm.  Luckily the camera was smart enough to figure out what to do.



There is no purer blue than a Montana sky in winter.  And no purer white than last night's river effect snow delicately clinging to the trees.  Overlooking the river, Inauguration Day, 2009.
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