Plein Air: Mission Valley, Montana
September 6, 2015
Typical weather in Northwestern Montana, the day started with looming clouds and threats of an autumn storm. We braved the shadows and headed to the Mission Valley. Our first stop: Kicking Horse Reservoir on the Flathead Indian Reservation. This spot is my happy place. My favorite for fishing, writing, and watching. Enjoy the incredible backdrop of the Mission Mountain Range, while you listen to the symphony of geese, cranes and other frequent feathered visitors. My fondest Montana birthday celebration was a day spent wet-wading, fishing for bass as little sunfish gently poked my feet in the clear water, ending with a beer and brie dinner on the bed of the truck, watching the setting sun.
After watching the clouds invade the sky and quick lunch of homemade wrap sandwiches and store bought sodas, we decided to hop back in the truck and make our way to another dirt road. We drove our way to a beat-up path tucked away. I spotted something on the side of the road and we stopped to investigate. We found an elk skull, its mandible and body elsewhere.
A few turns later, we landed in our second plein air spot. A wild apple tree stood across the way, and Rex and I snacked on crabapples before we set up. Under the claw-marked tree trunk, we noticed a very large pile of bear scat that looked a little too fresh for my liking. It wasn’t the first time we set up near recent bear activity evidence, but considering our close call earlier that summer, I was a little nervous. Rex painted aspens while I pondered escape plans if the bear came back early for dinner.