Western Montana is awash in fall colors, and more should be on the way!
For me, the first seasonal changes were seen around the streets of Missoula and in Pattee Canyon. And recent outings suggest that larch trees should be going golden in the Rattlesnake Recreation Area and the Seeley Lake area soon – in the past week, both were between yellow and green.
Here are some fall color resources:
For any photographers out there, Missoulian is running a fall photo contest on its Facebook page. The top three vote-getters will receive prizes.
Here are the rules:
- Upload up to 5 photos a day.
- Must be a fall photo.
- Must be from this year.
- Must be from the Missoula Valley.
- Deadline to enter is Nov. 2.
- Voting ends Nov. 9.
Well … sure. Missoulian reporter Rob Chaney goes on the hunt for wild mushrooms in the Mission Mountains, where recent rain has brought out fungi aplenty.
It’s open house season for the fairies and wood elves of Montana’s mountainsides.
Those toadstool dwellers may be imaginary, but their domiciles of record are in profusion this time of year. More than 3 inches of rain landed in Missoula in the past month, making it one of the wettest Augusts on record. That did amazing things for the mushroom community.
On a recent trip in the Mission Mountains, nearly all the wildflowers were faded and gone. But a closer look revealed bright yellows, reds, pinks and greens of mushroom growth.
Granted, fungi don’t carpet whole hillsides like the beargrass did this year. You find them on the carpet, or even underneath it – around ankle-height in the brush and under logs.
Don’t despair. Just look differently, within foliage instead of above it, in dim places instead of sunny spots.
Read the rest of the story here.
Wildflower-related activities are planned this weekend by the Flathead Chapter of the Montana Native Plant Society and the Montana Chapter of the Sierra Club.
On Saturday, join botanist Anne Morley and the Montana Native Plant Society for a two-mile wildflower identification hike along the Old Swan River Road near Bigfork. The hike will be from 10 a.m. to noon. Meet in front of the Showthyme restaurant in Bigfork. Call Morley at (406) 886-2242 to RSVP. Pets are not allowed.
On Sunday, the Sierra Club will take a hike to Packer Meadows and Lolo Pass. The eight-mile hike on either the Lee Ridge or Lewis and Clark/Nez Perce trail will start at the Lee Creek campground. Horticulturist Adrienne Hopkins will identify wildflowers and plants along the way. Bring a lunch and plenty of water. Call Hopkins at 543-3755 or e-mail email@example.com for information. Liability release forms are required, and pets are not allowed.
Or, you can drive up to Lolo Pass on your own schedule. According to the Lolo Pass Visitor Center information line – (208) 942-1234 – the camas at Packer Meadows are blooming. Catch them before they wilt.
Description: Five cream to greenish-yellow sepals forming cup with five stamens clustered atop 6- to 18-inch stem with oval- to heart-shaped leaves on stalks growing from base. Glandular hairs cover top of plant. Found on rocky flats, slopes and cliffs. Blooms April to August. (Wildflowers of Montana, by Donald Anthony Schiemann.)
Recently seen: Mission Mountains, Blue Mountain, Pattee Canyon and Rattlesnake Recreation Area.
The walk: To reach the trail to Turquoise Lake in the Mission Mountains Wilderness, turn west on Kraft Creek Road from Highway 83, about 22 miles north of Seeley Lake. Follow the road 11 1/2 miles to its end (signs for the Glacier Lake trailhead point the way). From the trailhead, follow the wide path west to southwest along Glacier Creek. At about half a mile, a log bridge crosses Crazy Horse Creek. At about three-quarters of a mile, the trail crosses Crescent Creek. When the water is low, a log bridge provides safe passage; last weekend, however, the creek was overrunning the bridge, requiring hikers to ford ankle- to mid-thigh-deep water. At about 1 1/4 miles, the trail splits; follow the path to the northwest as is begins to switchback up the valley wall. At about 2 3/4 miles, the trail splits again; follow the southwest path. Begin looking for roundleaf alumroot on the upper switchbacks. As the trail levels and turns south, it leaves the trees and crosses grassy patches, slabs of rock and lingering snowfields, providing views of Glacier Lake below, the Mission Mountains to the west and the Swan Range across the valley to the east. The trail drops slightly to Lagoon, Lace and Turquoise lakes, ending at about six miles. Look for more roundleaf alumroot among the rocks along the trail. (If you lose the path in the snow, continue walking south, staying generally level. When Lagoon and Lace lakes come into view in front of and below you, respectively, make your way between the two and you should reach the southern end of Turquoise Lake.)
A hike up into the Mission Mountains from the Seeley-Swan Valley over the weekend was like taking a step back into early spring: Growing from grassy patches among the rocks and lingering snowfields were Western springbeauty and glacier lilies.
Also, lower down, we found plenty of last week’s flower of the week – pointed mariposa lilies.
Find out where we went and what else we found in the Unwind section of Friday’s Missoulian or here at WildflowerWalks.com.