Blogs

Pyrocumulus

     On July 28 and again on the 29th, the large grass and brush fire east
 of Blackfoot created significant cauliflower-like clouds above the smoke
 columun. These clouds, or "pyrocumulus" often form above forest and range
 fires when the intense heating created by the fire forces air upward into
 much colder air until it reaches the saturation point. Adding to this is
 the additional condensation nuclei created by the ash, which causes the
 air to expand and cool. Although moisture is a component of these fires,

Night Climb

It was 1957 and I was working as 2nd Fireman on the Plains R.D. of
the Lolo National Forest of western Montana. I had recently come out of
military service at Great Falls and had applied for work on about 9 ranger
districts On a Sunday evening, I had returned from a movie at the Llano
Theatre in town and checked in at the ranger station. There had been a
thunderstorm on the district and Ranger Hansen was on the radio receiving
information about a small fire that was visible from a lookout. It became
my assignment to make a night climb to the lookout to relieve a fellow

Hebgen Lake Earthquake

Reading the [Post Register] article about the Hebgen Lake earthquake that occured near Yellowstone on Aug. 17, 1959, inspired what follows. I was working that night at Lake McDonald Hotel in Glacier National Park.

Before going on duty that evening, I had casually noticed that the
lake outside the screen door seemed unusually quiet. Rowboats that were
usually gently rocking at the dock outside the screen door were scarcely
moving. Nothing especially significant, I suppose. Just an observation.
Years later, however, upon reflection, the concept intrigued me. Perhaps

A Symphony of Sight and Motion

   Over my lifetime, I have had the opportunity to witness a few events that linger in the memory and bring solace and wonder at the rhythm of nature and the planet, in places sometimes far removed from the ordinary world and its uncertainties.  Such took place one October morning far up the Swan Valley in northwest Montana in 1975. I had spent the previous night in my Rambler station wagon while snow fell for several hours, accom- panied by intense lightning. 

Iceberg

A friend forwarded a photograph of an iceberg taken by a diver, showing the iceberg in its entirety, from top (above water) to bottom (below water). This is my comment:

  This iceberg probably originated from the lower end of a glacier in north
western Greenland, which is a major iceberg producing area. As the glacier
slowly moves down to sea level into a warmer region and begins to float,
pieces periodically break off, bobbing up and down until becoming stabiliz-
ed. Becoming caught in the northward flowing West Greenland current, it is

Forest Visitors

While working on Jay Point lookout in the summer of 1964, I had some
  unusual visitors late one afternoon. After making a scheduled survey of
  my viewing area, encompassing the vast spread of rolling ridges of the
  upper Lochsa drainage, I stretched out on my wooden bunk for awhile, my
  mind wandering as it chose in the quiet of the afternoon. At one point,
  as I opened my eyes, I found myself under the direct scrutiny of two,
  what appeared to be, big horned owls, hanging upside down from the fold-
  ing wooden roof flaps that enclosed the windows in winter. The slightly

From your forward observer

As the ice slowly recedes, the migration builds.  Market Lake March 12:      10 sandhill cranes, 100 swans, 1000 snow geese, 200 canada geese, 100 pintails, assorted goldeneyes, coots, mallards, northern harriers, ring-billed gulls, male red-winged blackbirds. A bald eagle on the ice feeding on a swan. Great-horned owl on nest.  Camas NWR March 12:  

Pollen Event

During the summer of 1964, I served as a Forest Lookout on the Powell Ranger District of the Clearwater National Forest in north-central Idaho. The Powell District is just west of Lolo Pass. From my vantage point, I had a sweeping view from the high crests of the Bitterroot Mountains westward, far down the Lochsa River drainage. Northward, across the river is the route that Lewis and Clark took on their way to the Pacific in 1803, eventually to make contact with the Nez Perce Indians on the Weippe Prairie, where I later worked in a sawmill and as a timber scaler.

Red-wings in, Red-wing eaten

They were a little late, but my male Red-wings finally showed up at our feeder last week after spending the last few months in warmer climes. They were a little nervous and for good reason. My (people who feed birds are often possessive about the ones who frequent their property) Sharp-shinned Hawk, in a lightening-fast attack through tree and shrub, snatched one of my blackbirds and consumed it on the ground in about 30 minutes.  

Waxing Sentimental

I don't often express some of my deepest feelings; but this was one of those days. And I thought I ought to share it. After a day in Island Park, I decided to take the Henry's Fork Byway between Ashton and St. Anthony on my way home. It is my favorite route. It is quiet with little traffic and it affords a view of the high altitude scenery of the eastern Snake Plain as the day is ending and western North America is rolling into the night.