I’m always impressed with how busy an unstructured day in the woods can turn out to be. You can start the day with very few definite plans and still somehow not have enough time to finish everything you started. I suppose that’s something that comes along with being an explorer of the outdoors.
On February 28th, we traveled down to MPG Ranch in the Bitterroot Valley not really knowing what to expect. It was a chilly morning, but the fog was already burning off of the valley floor, revealing endless blue sky. MPG Ranch Manager, Joshua Lisbon, met us at the gate and led us down to the Bitterroot River floodplain, where we began our hike.
The trail started in an open ponderosa pine forest, but gradually entered the realm of aspens and cottonwoods as we approached the banks of the river. Our first stop was at what appeared to be a beaver haven, as nearly every cottonwood tree within a half-acre had been taken down by our big-toothed, furry friends.
We continued along the riverbank until we stopped again on a large exposed sandbar composed of the world’s largest collection of skipping stones (I’m guessing). We also stumbled upon the tracks of deer, coyotes, and geese along the way.
After our time at the river, we gathered around the campfire for lunch and celebrated the 4th anniversary of the Outdoor Explorers Program! Steve Archibald brought cupcakes and Arthur Carhart National Wilderness Training Center bandanas for everyone!
We finished up our day with a nature scavenger hunt, where matches scoured the woods in search of a variety of natural treasures. One match even found a turtle shell!
Thank you to everyone who contributed to our February trip! Special thanks to MPG Ranch, Missoula Big Brothers Big Sisters, Montana Wilderness Association, Arthur Carhart National Wilderness Training Center, and our volunteers Colin and Danielle! MPG Ranch is always conducting interesting biological and ecological research: check them out at http://mpgranch.com/.
As always, keep exploring!