A journey into the eyes and mind of a naturalist.

A Trip to Big Sky Country

For the past 30 years my wife and her family have spent a week in the Boulder River Canyon in Montana.  I recently had the opportunity to go out with them as an official member of the family.  I enjoyed the hiking, rock picking and most importantly the fresh mountain air.  Here are some pictures from the trip.

The Boulder River and many of the rivers in Montana are in flood stage.  The raging waters had washed the road to camp out in several places just weeks before our arrival.  The high water gave me the opportunity to play with my shutter speed a little.  I only with I had my tripod!!

This is the sunrise on our first morning in Montana.  We stopped at a friends cabin just south of Miles City and this was the sunrise that greeted us.

One thing that I like to look for when I’m away from urban areas is the different types of lichen.  Lichens are actually a symbiotic relationship between algae and a fungus.  A lichen is not a single organism but actually two that are so connected they are often considered one.  Lichens are sensitive the air quality, specifically Sulfur Dioxide (SO2).  Sulfur Dioxide is a by product of burning fossil fuels.  In urban areas the levels of Sulfur Dioxide is too high for many species of lichen to survive.  They simply cannot survive.  The farther you get away from the city the more lichen species seem to show up.  On this rock i found several contrasting examples.  Many lichens that grow on rocks can be decades or even hundreds of years old, slowly spreading over the rock, breaking it down as they go.

Montana is known as Big Sky Country and for good reason.  Everywhere you look the sky seems to be larger than life.  Even in the reflection of a river backwater the sky seems to demand your attention.

Up Next:  Montana Flowers

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