Sunday, November 28, 2010

Stepping into Narnia.....

The road into the National forest. Lions and tigers and bears!

The road to town. Waiting for the snow plow to buzz by and clear the new snow .

I suppose there are a few of you that are familiar with C.S. Lewis and the Narnia Chronicles. A wonderful story of four children who  discover a portal into another time . They step through a wardrobe while playing a game of hide and seek and  find themselves in a snowy wasteland of evergreens and silence. I think perhaps I have stepped into Narnia......There has been snow of some amount for the last 16 days. It is silent and magical outside. Occassionally the sound of a bird nearby and since it warmed to a balmy 33 degrees we now have the drip drip of snow melt.

Aspen branches heavy with their frosting .

As the snow continues to fall the husky house quietly disappears.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A new phenomenae .......

Driving to work it had stopped snowing for a bit , safe to go out Eh? Not so quickly . I discovered a new phenomenae as I approached the last 90 degree turn in the road.  The above picture is a tree blizzard . This is snow that was very happy to lay on the trees whipped up by the wind into a cloud that can pretty much obscure anything.

If you look closely you can see some interesting swirling patterns of snow taking flight from the building roof on the left side of the road. Prior to moving here I only recall this kind of thing at the peaks of K2 in those interesting National Geographic specials . hmmmm at any rate the Tree Blizzard can render your visibility to zero so it is prudent to drive slowly ; )       

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Making your own weather

Heading out Saturday morning to get a block heater for the car. This will help me start the car when the oil turns to molasses at zero degrees. Fortunately it was only 13 degrees over night. Well apparently when it starts to snow here it doesn't stop till April. And that is if you are lucky. For winter driving I have been advised to have the following : A shovel, extra hat, gloves and coat and extra boots. This is so you can change clothes after your first set gets wet while you are digging your car out of the snow bank. Flares in the event that the digging doesn't work. Food for 2 days , not a week as in Montana you will be found in 48 hours where as in Alaska it could take a week. I also am stowing sand bags, water ( not in the trunk as it freezes ) an extra gallon of windshield washer as yours in the car may freeze and not come out in a timely fashion. Battery charger and a set of chains.  Dog food for the dogs of course . So all of this is not supposed to be in the trunk but in your back seat. Which begs the question about where to put the dogs ? Trunk? So if I set out in inclement weather I will be well provisioned.
Heading back to the Foothills it was overcast but not snowing in general . you can see a thick blanket of clouds on the top of the mountains making their own weather. Up at 6000 to 7000 feet I bet there is some deep snow . Down in the valley 17 degrees with a windchill of 3degrees. Snow adds such a gorgeous dimension to the mountains.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Snow reaches the Valley floor

A heavy snow fell on the Valley , it has been teasing since September, playing with the mountain tops , flirting with it's icy frosting for the last 2 months.

Last curve as we leave the Foothills, this open field is a favorite for the Turkey flock. Thank goodness the house in the distance feed them and they stay out of the road. Most of the time. Although I left at eight AM the plows had not reached this sector . A nice layer of ice covered by fluffy snow was fairly navigable.

Driving home the roads were clear and the Foothills glowed under their new snow . This is the beautiful Creston area where the soil is unbelievable. Thick dark loam that grows gorgeous wheat and christmas trees. Hoping for good roads tomorrow!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Soon to be listed on Etsy ......

From Left to Right Kyanite earrings with fine silver and labradorite,  lapis and peridot,  Mystic Mountain organic glass with amethyst and moonstone, and far right is sleeping beauty turquoise lapis and fine silver. All ear wires are sterling although they look a bit golden in the picture. Soon to be listed in my etsy shop

Slightly different light with the Mystic mountain Left bottom, kyanite left top , lapis and peridot right top and the turquiose and lapis bottom right

Sunny Days in October ......

Twisting Canyon curves on Hwy 2

Golden Tamaracks lighting the hillsides

 November snows have crept down the Foothills in foggy white swirls along the green folds of the lower mountains and now  October is just a sunny memory. Tamaracks turned golden along the mountainsides as I  drove along highway 2 East that lies  south of Glacier Park boundary. This was a perfect drive for another little feet adventure.

Theodore Roosevelt Monument -Continental Divide
Rocky Mountains

Careening thru canyons , through lush meadows teeming with deer and elk finally climbing up to Marias Pass and the Continental Divide where the Theodore Roosevelt monument stands 60 feet of granite mined near Helena. Originally it was to be an Arch structure over the highway. If you look carefully at the mountain north of the highway you will see a layer that is a thrust fault. The rocks on top of the Lewis Thrust  fault are older than the ones below. During the formation of the Rocky Mountains an older sheet of metamophosed precambrian  rock was thrust upon younger and softer Cretaceous material . The Lewis Thrust Sheet originated 50 miles south west of the Glacier Park and was moved here as the Farallon tectonic plate subducted under the Western margin of the pacific coast. Since the upper rocks were heated and now harder they have resisted erosion better than the softer cretaceous rocks below the thin line of limestone.

looking north across Hwy 2 you can easily see the thrust fault line ( thin white area half way up ) that divides the older Precambrian  top rock from the softer and younger Cretaceous  bottom layers.

Entrance to the Blackfeet Nation

This was a well known path by the American Indians. To the east the Blackfeet Nation. It was known to the Blackfeet as Backbone Pass. At 5216 feet , it is the lowest crossing of the continental divide in Montana. To the west were the  Salish and Kootenai tribes who used this pass to hunt bison .It is named after the Marias River that has it's headwaters here before it heads East. The river is believed to be named by Captain Merriweather Lewis in 1805 for his cousin Maria Wood. John F. Stevens was commissioned by the Great Northern Railroad to find a way across the mountains. The pass that had been known to the surrounding tribes for centuries was found by the members of the Mr Steven's party in December of 1889 in 4 feet of snow and subfreezing temperatures. This is determination.  By 1893 they had completed the last rail segment over Marias Pass.  It was almost  another 40 years before a road was forged in 1930.

Finally reaching my destination at Two Medicine Lake one of the eastern accesses of the Glacier National Park . Quiet for the season except for the wind. The crowds of summer tourists long gone. The sun warm on my face but a chill in the air predicted cooler weather to come.

Trains passing through Essex
A nice over the train bridge linking the two sides of the Essex hotel complex , it is about 30 feet over the tracks and you can see through the walkway to the trains below ! Great acrophobia aversion therapy!

Prior to the road between East and West Glacier, motor cars were shipped by train across Marias Pass to their destinations.  Now Highway 2  connects the two small towns that flank the East West borders of Glacier National Park . Essex is a small ski town winter resort with mostly train traffic. Amtrak stops here bringing winter cross country skiers to a snowy paradise during the winter months. Accomodations include the main hotel and rail cars refurbished for eagar winter enthusiasts.

Hotel at Essex

A good feeling after  a day's journey . Time to put up our little feet and say good bye to the sun .