Missoula hikes

Wild Flower Hikes: Missoula’s First Flowers!

B&B decks  around the property 6-30-02 175 small“Festival” of the First Flowers and Montana’s State Wildflower ID Link

Celebrating Missoula’s early blooming beauties- the buttercups, yellow bells, shooting stars, pasque flowers and star flowers from March to May!  Not only do we celebrate the first flowers here at Blue Mountain Bed and Breakfast, but the Missoula community does its own celebrating.  There are wild flower classes and group hikes as well as the Forest/Flower Run for the Trees that help usher in the spring.  Run Wild Missoula is a non-profit organization that organizes many healthful activities so it’s a good idea to check out their long calendar of events.  May through December, there is always something going on.   The Missoula Marathon and Half Marathon in July is gaining notoriety and is now considered to be one of the best marathons in the country!

 

  MISSOULA’S FIRST FLOWERS:  Tips on how/when to photograph wild flowers & ID them on the MT Gov.Link.

pussy clusterI suppose the Pussy Willow (Salix discolor) might be considered as one of the first wildflowers even though it actually is a shrub.  Its lovely silvery soft buds help ring in the spring like a silver church bell.  Even though it is not a flowering ground plant, it does happen to be one of my favorites.  Because the buds grow along each stalk, it makes a beautiful first bouquet and adorns our home in celebration of various family birthdays.

 

Jays and birds 057 buttercup cropThere is nothing quite like the bright, yellow welcome that the Sagebrush Buttercup (Ranunculus glaberrimus) brings to our Montana mountains and valleys.  Solitary flowers, popping up out of the snow with petals like buttery popcorn.  In other areas, the tiny yellow heads mingle with the green of new moss in secret shady places. In truth, buttercups blanket the ground in a beauty that can only be appreciated after many long months of winter and snow.  Like the first butterflies of spring, their beauty makes our hearts flutter with a sense of renewal and joy!  My mother always placed a single golden flower on our dining room table in celebration of spring and in anticipation of more beauty to come.

Native people used the buttercup for medicinal purposes.  Buttercups can be found on the surrounding hillsides as early as February and a few can be found into May.  Once the buttercups are blooming, a rainbow of other floral colors continues to unfold throughout the spring.  The purple of pasque flowers, the delicate pink of the shooting stars, along with star flowers and yellow bells ring in the early spring months while the balsamroot, lupine, paintbrush and others soon follow.

*The Alpine Buttercup (Ranunculus eschscholtzii) blooms at a higher altitude than we find at the bed and breakfast.  It can be found blooming from June through August in certain locations.  We recommend visiting The Buttercup Cafe for a delicious treat as a way of warming up either before or after an early spring hike!

Yellow Bell  4-18-03 020 small, crop

*The Yellow Bell (Fritillaria pudica) is the color of sunshine.  It’s nickname is the mission bell which has a beautiful ring to it and reminds me of some of the areas earliest and most beautiful missions.  St. Mary’s down the Bitterroot, St. Ignatious, in the Mission Valley, and The Cataldo Mission in northwestern Idaho.  The yellow bell can be found lightly scattered throughout Pine forests, sage or Bunchgrass in April and May.   It has a long stem and intricate markings, much like the shooting star.  The Salish people gathered the tuber of this flower in early May which was washed and boiled and often mixed with the Bitterroot before eaten.

 

*The Star Flower/Prairie Star (Tellima parviflora) can easily be missed as it delicately hides among the grasses and other wildflowers from April to June.  Once spotted, it is like finding a little treasure.  The dainty flowers, also known as fringe cup, look like symmetrical snowflakes with just a hint of light pink sunset added to their color.

shooting stars  5-03 048 small, crop

*The Shooting Star (Dodecatheon pulchellum) blooms in late April through May here on the mountain.  In shady areas, you sometimes can find a few tucked away in August in certain forests.  As a young child, I remember our family climbing a hill in the Miller Creek area where hundreds of shooting stars bloomed.  With the encroachment of weeds and warmer weather, we now look elsewhere and enjoy the few beauties that decorate our hill.

 

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*The Pasque Flower (Anemone occidentalis) is another fairly early bloomer.  It’s medium-sized purple petals welcome the spring in full beauty in May and June.

 

 

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AREA HIKES:

Missoula and the surrounding area offers a multitude of options for finding some of the first flowers.  Here are a few Wildflower Walk suggestions

I. View- Missoula Valley 1 smallHere at Blue Mountain Bed and Breakfast, we have many guide books as well as these LINKS to help you identify the flora of the area.  If you wish to take a day hike near the bed and breakfast, stop by for a quick tour!  We are more than happy to lend you a book and give you some hiking suggestions.  Upon your return, you can re-charge your batteries by enjoying a glass of sun tea in the shade while listening to our backyard waterfall.  If you would like to spend several days in the area, call us or book a reservation on-line.  It’s the perfect way to escape into nature and totally relax without having to drive miles to get somewhere!

*Our hillside is full of blooming, native plants; here are two resources for native seeds, including Milkweed, so you can grow them as well.

*Beautiful spring wildflower photos!

@ All photos taken by Blue Mountain Bed and Breakfast

Montana Grizzly or Black Bear?

    Deer Diary:

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      “Did I just see a Montana Grizzly or was that a Black Bear?” 

 

 

the-missoula-area

 

 

 

 

This weekend has proven to be quite the bear sightseeing tour!  Be happy that’s not bare (as in the latest Missoula bike festival- don’t ask)!
If you are coming to Missoula, Montana for some wildlife viewing, the best place to see a grizzly is in the Washington-Grizzly Stadium during a home game.  Missoulians are pretty proud of their football team.  Outside of the stadium, however, some people aren’t as wild about the re-introduction of the Grizzly.  That’s a whole new topic and a story for later on.

Few, if any,  grizzly bears are seen in the Missoula/Lolo area and thankfully, we’ve never personally run into one while exploring the woods.  However, if you happen to visit Glacier DO REMEMBER that grizzly bears go hiking too!  The probability of running into a bear of any kind in Montana is much less than meeting an angry person which means the statistics of bear run-ins are pretty low.   In reality, Missoula doesn’t harbor many angry people, there are too many things to do and enjoy here!

 

DSCF2898smallNow if you dig a bit deeper, Montana history is full of interesting stories where men and women clash over many issues.  Our own road “Deadman Gulch” actually earned its name years ago from an argument over water rights that obviously didn’t go so well for one individual.  Montana does have an interesting history of stage coach robberies, vigilante hangings and even moon shine “wars” right here in the Missoula area.  There have even been a few pretty crazy individuals to roam modern Montana as well.  Overall, those are just headlines that sell books and our “wild west image.”  In truth, Montana has good-hearted people and is known for being one of the friendliest places in the U.S. to visit or live.  We have many guests who comment on how welcome they feel upon their arrival here in Big Sky CountryFriendliness, Fun and Fuzzy Creatures are top reasons to come for a visit!

And yet, I digress…Bitterroot valley pics 10-21-05 118  Let’s get back to bears in the stadium and woods.

Brady and I don’t often see football games in person.  For us, the busiest time of the workweek consists of Friday, Saturday and Sunday- when guests are exploring the town.  What we love about innkeeping  is the ability to live vicariously through our guests who come to enjoy games, concerts and hiking trails!  Since Blue Mountain is literally part of our backyard, we almost always have time to enjoy nature.

Today was one of those glorious, autumn afternoons.  The temperature was perfect and I was sure I heard John Denver singing “Sunshine on my shoulders…”  For me, having the ability to instantly get out and enjoy nature is as rewarding as life gets.   Probably the thing I like most about fall days is you never know who else might be out enjoying a stroll.

Deer try to camouflage themselves in the long, golden grass, while hawks often circle above.  We’ve seen darling foxes creeping through the thickets and the last of the fuzzy caterpillars munching leaves as fast as possible.  All of these amazing creatures of the forest know that Jack Frost will soon come knocking at the “door.”  Now is the time to store food and take in the last rays of sun!

cathy's visit 8-04 063 small crop caterpillar

 

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Here on Blue Mountain, fall is a magical time to enjoy the slow changing of the seasons.  Birds begin to migrate and summer fawns lose their spots, growing into adulthood.  I often think about the hidden forest secrets I’ve not yet discovered and wonder how many eyes are watching me as I casually walk through the forest.  For me, such mysteries are comforting-  I am but one tiny piece in a vast wilderness of wildlife.

Once in awhile, I think there just might be a chance that I’ve spotted something wild and wooly without being detected.  I’d like to think so, because I wish to leave as light a footprint as possibly along the path I choose to walk.

Today gave us one of the rarest of magical moments as we neared the end of our forest journey.  Just above the road, we watched a healthy black bear yearling cub climb the hill and then disappear from view.  In football terms, my guess is he was just about on the ten yard line.  It was a fairly close encounter, but certainly not a worrisome one.  As the laziness of an autumn day allows, he slowly ambled up the hillside.  The bear’s thoughts seemed to be elsewhere- likely focused on filling his belly with the the last of this summer’s berries.  Not so unlike one of our autumn tasks- packing away delicious preserves in our storeroom for guests.  Indeed, it is time once again to prepare for Old Man Winter’s return!

Whether you are a local or from out of town, we hope you find the time to explore Blue Mountain on your own.  We always welcome you to stay with us here at the B&B while you enjoy the views and wildlife, our home made berry preserves and hospitality.  We, and the mountain are awaiting your visit!

It´s a Bear!

 

Fall Color in Missoula

Montana isn’t celebrated for its fall foliage the way New England is, but that doesn’t mean there’s no color here. Our peak season is hard to predict thanks to our unpredictable weather, and some years are definitely more colorful than others, but our huckleberry bushes turn a lovely shade of red, and the larch and aspen leaves a cheerful yellow.

The autumn view from Blue Mountain Bed and Breakfast.

We suspect this year will be a good year to enjoy fall colors while hiking, biking, and generally enjoying the outdoors close to our Missoula, Montana Bed and Breakfast. Read on for a few best bets to see pretty leaves:

  • Trails traverse the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area, a 60,000-acre expanse of wilderness located just north of Missoula. The long trail to Sheep Mountain (11 miles) offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, and is beautiful even without fall color.
  • The Bass Creek Trail runs parallel to Bass Creek and a series of small waterfalls, whitewater cascades, and calm pools. Hike an easy 1.5 miles to an old log dam, or continue 5.5 miles (and 3,000 feet higher) to Bass Lake.
  • Blodgett Canyon in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area has spectacular scenery. See Hikes Near Missoula for more details.

The view from our Missoula Bed and Breakfast is pretty nice, too, and you don’t have to hike to appreciate it. If you yearn to absorb the beauty of a Montana autumn while relaxing with a cup of tea or glass of wine, you’ll be happy at Blue Mountain Bed and Breakfast.

 

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