The past two Saturdays, the Montana Master Naturalist classes took a field trip up to McCauley Butte, a prominent Missoula landmark owned by one of MNHC's board members, Mindy Goldberg, and her husband, Stuart. Stuart's business, Northern Lights Development, has placed conservation easements on most of this land (read more here).
Mindy and Stuart met us at the property, and we hiked to the top--a rather leisurely hike, as we had to stop and identify wildflowers, insects, and birds along the way!
Oh, yes, and rocks, too. All of the rocks on McCauley Butte are sedimentary, as guest lecturer Greg Peters points out.
Stuart took the time to give us a brief history of this landmark, as well as share some of the future plans for this unique piece of land.
As we hiked up the hill, we stopped to notice the lovely little woodland stars (Lithophragma parviflorum)--aptly named!
There were also many of the bright little shooting stars (Dodecatheon pauciflorum):
as well as buttercups (Ranunculus glaberrimus):
and some tiny little draba (Draba verna):
We also saw several birds, including an osprey pair in the midst of adding to their nest, red-tailed hawks soaring out over the valley, and the lovely western meadowlark, with its beautiful song.
It was a cloudy, breezy, but warmish day, and the views were spectacular!
We learned about the geologic history of the Missoula Valley, and were able to see the Glacial Lake Missoula lines on Mt. Sentinel and Mt. Jumbo, as well as a birds'-eye view of our beautiful valley!
We were very grateful to Stuart and Mindy for sharing their beautiful space with us.
The sun peeked through at the end of the day, a lovely benediction and reminder of spring.