Last week in Missoula was filled with reasonable temps and lots of sunshine with, so I decided to seize the last nice day of fall and go to Blue Mountain for a day hike. Looking back over the wind, snow, sleet, and rain from the past week, it shows how fast seasons change here in Montana.
Despite the temperatures in the mid-40s the sunshine really made this hike special - the view across the Missoula Valley was crystal clear. The trails were rather busy due in some part due to Veterans Day, although I think the last chance for a dry sunny day played a big part in the number of Missoulians out and about. Once I trekked further in, the crowds dissipated, bird songs audibly grew in number, and the peacefulness of the forest emerged.
The few times I tried to catch a family of chirping birds in my view finder, the small birds kept hopping and flying away. I put away my camera and decided to just watch and listen quietly; my mental note is just as vivid in my senses as a photograph in my camera. Once satisfied with watching the fleeting birds, I kept on the path and saw a few folks in bright vests in a field off in the distance. They were working on some sort of explosives project, of which I am not sure, but it did seem strange that in the midst this beautiful public space. Later down the trail a few signs directed me to stay on the path in the marked area as there were unexploded materials in the field. This made me a little uneasy, even though I was not straying from the path, so I changed directions at the next path I found.
I headed down closer to the river and through a more densely wooded terrain. A crow was calling loudly and it felt as if he were following my path by hopping from tree to tree as I moved forward. Not long after, the crow swooped out of the tree overhead and made a complete circle over my location of the path; I took this as a good omen for my walk.
Not long after the crow incident, I turned back toward the parking area. The walk lasted for well over an hour, but could have easily continued for longer given time. There are plenty of trails to explore, specimens to examine, and sights to take in.
To find Blue Mountain, head south from Missoula on Highway 93 towards Hamilton. Not long after crossing the river, there is a light at the intersection of hwy. 93 and Blue Mountain Rd., where you will take a right hand turn. Follow Blue Mountain road for a couple of minutes and after a tight turn left, you will see a parking area straight ahead and slightly to the left. Once you park your car there are many trails to choose from!
To find out more information on the recreation area at Blue Mountain please visit the All Missoula website.
And, for more information on bird species and field notes from Blue Mountain please visit the Montana Birding and Nature Trail site.