Moai on Easter Island

Moai on Easter Island

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Back to the Roots, Part II

When I happen to be back in Montana, every few years I get the time to head back into the Highland and Tobacco Root mountain ranges of southwest.  These are the mountains I grew up in so it is always to get back into them.
Lodgepole Pine forest floor
The Milky Way from the top of Red Mountain.
The Highlands are just south of Butte and have a  few 10,000 foot peaks in them and one small lake.  One of the peaks, Red Moutnains, is just over 10,000 and only take about 45 minutes to walk up since you can drive to almost treeline.  I decided to take some night shots and make a timeplapse video from the summit.  After a few storming days I look the first opportunity I had of a clear night.  It also happened to be the coldest night of the summer.   I froze in my summer sleeping bag huddled behind a small rock wall on the summit and some little critter decided to make a meal out of my show laces that night.  Why it didn’t go for the extra food I had in my pack that was sitting right next to my shoes I’ll never know.  But I did get some great shots out of it.  I think the milky way in Montana is brighter than it is in Antarctica.
Butte, America
Montana's Milky Way

I few days later I headed up to the Tobacco Root Mountains with a good friend that I used to work with at Lewis and Clark Caverns.  We haven’t been on a mountain together in almost exactly two years so it was great to get back into the Tobacco Roots again.

Mountain Little Sunflower in the Tobacco Root Mountains.
John near the summit of Cloudrest

These mountains are fairly overlooked, which is nice because you can easily go a whole day without seeing another person on a trail or on a mountain.  But it is nearly impossible to go a day without hearing the buzz of an ATV on one of the many mining or logging roads the cut deep into the range. 

We counted 21 mountain ranges that could be seen from the summit of Cloudrest After climbing we had to consult “The Scroll” to double check the names of some of the lakes and peaks that we’d seen in the range. “The Scroll” is a sacred collage of topo maps that cover the whole Tobacco Root Range.  It’s made up of 12 7.5-minute maps taped together and rolled up between two large wooden dowels.