Misty Morning in Montana
Waking up and rambling around an autumn valley in far northwestern Montana after a night of rain – couldn’t ask for better!
All was gloom and wet at dawn in the valley, but with just a little elevation the world was luminous. The larches here were just starting to turn, lime green in the morning sun.
It continues to blow my mind how low-elevation everything is in the Inland Northwest. To my high-and-dry psyche, it just seems wrong somehow, especially given how boreal it all feels. This was not far from the Montana state low-point (1,820 feet, an elevation I typically think of as either harsh desert or underground). But the lowness gives the region a lot of its character, with dripping mild-winter fungus-strewn cedar woods and idyllic valley bottom meadows. Pleistocene glacial erosion also created some counterintuitive topography – this nearly flat valley divides the Cabinet Range in two and contains an imperceptible watershed divide. You’d never notice passing through, but half this valley drains south to the Clark Fork, while the other half feeds the Kootenai and takes a long detour into Canada.
The mountains up here have elevations may not seem terribly impressive by western standards, but with the valleys being so low, they certainly stand out.
I grew up in Montana, so it’s ironic that it’s now one of the western states I know the least and have barely photographed. I put a good dent in that track record this fall though, and I plan to keep working on the problem! More Montana imagery will be coming soon, and hopefully for years.