Tuesday, June 10, 2014

And There Were Bears!


 Finally, a day trip! We decided to tour the National Bison Range, about 40 miles from Missoula. We'd been there before, 4 or 5 years ago, and had enjoyed the spectacular beauty. Bison are awesome, but the views of the Mission Valley from this place are beyond compare. We did see some bison last time but not much else on the day we'd picked. On this trip we were much more fortunate. Our first viewpoint showed us the Flathead River far below. The gravel road through the Bison Range is 19 miles, one way, and narrow.

 It was thrilling to catch a glimpse of a black bear, but then... yes, there were 2 cubs cavorting just above her on the hillside. Mama bear is in the lower center of the photo, and the cubs are slightly higher. Click to enlarge, and you might see them.

Here is my favorite view of all. We walked out on a quarter mile trail to find this breathtaking view, looking east. I can't imagine any sight more beautiful. 
 The Montana state flower is the Bitterroot. I am always searching for wildflowers, so imagine my excitement to find lots of these pink beauties as we hiked along the short trail high in the Range. The only other Bitterroot I'd ever seen was in Eastern Washington many years ago, near Quincy.

 Bunches of them!

 Just for fun, as I got out of the car to photograph a valley scene, I snapped this pretty butterfly.

 This is the gorgeous view looking down into the Mission Valley and up at the stunning Mission Mountains, south of Glacier National Park.

 Heading down from the highest point of the Bison Range we encountered this sign, "Lake Missoula - Highest Level". Here is a link to an excellent web page filled with lots of information about Glacial Lake Missoula.
  http://hugefloods.com/LakeMissoula.html

 We were lucky to see 2 deer with fawns far down in one valley . The young ones would leap and bounce a distance away from mom, then bounce right back. They repeated this several times as we watched. They were too far away for a photo. This lonely deer was having a feast down in the lower part of the Range, near the road.

 Once down from the heights and back on the main road we came across this historic Catholic Church. What a beautiful setting!

 We kept hearing a Meadowlark nearby and I finally spotted him, high on the cross, singing his heart out in praise of the gorgeous countryside.

And last, as we made the circle back to Highway 93, we drove by the beautiful St. Ignatius Church in the town of the same name. Several years ago we went inside to see the amazing paintings on the walls and ceiling. This trip we were too tired. Maybe next time!

1 comment:

Char Hardt said...

beautiful pictures, Ann!