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Homestead Loops - June 2022, MT
mini location map2022-05-31
56 by photographer avatartibber
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Homestead Loops - June 2022, MT 
Homestead Loops - June 2022, MT
Hiking3.79 Miles 117 AEG
Hiking3.79 Miles   1 Hour   24 Mns   2.71 mph
117 ft AEG
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
I'm doing my Montana trip/travel log first as technically, my first hikes were at the homestead; unless one counts triple cemetery grave decorating as hiking.  We had miserable weather in Idaho so I could never get out and hike until we got back. We did lots of great scenic and rough weather drives though.  The weather at the ranch was sunny with broken clouds which created some nice landscapes for me to photograph. 

I have links to the videos I made including around the Romain ranches.  It was odd to find lilac bushes in the prime of their bloom.  If you've never smelled a lilac, you are really missing something.  I was completely giddy :) ; kind of like I am around huckleberries.  The other big bloomers on my trip were the crab apple trees, unbelievable!  The antelope and deer and gophers were also out in force wherever we drove around the ranches.  The one thing lacking was all the rain the rest of the state had been receiving. It seemed to have stopped at the Romain boundary as the Romain Reservoir (it's on google maps) was the lowest it's ever been in our lifetime.

Now to the hike.  Today I did a loop hike around the homestead reservoir west of the house.
(This is not to be confused with the Romain Reservoir which at cousin Brian's across the highway.)  The wildlife was out in droves, including one particular antelope that seemed to be intrigued by me and couldn't decide if she should run or check me out, so she did both.  I do think it's the hat I wear that gets their attention as earlier some deer were quite interested as well, as were the deer down by the spring.  I decided to stay high above the reservoir and where I could see my path clearly to avoid rattlesnake encounters.  On the reservoir were some pelicans and mergansers.  I did get to see a new bird I never knew they had in Montana; in fact, it appeared to be a happy Long-billed Curlew couple.  Later I would catch a Red-Winged Blackbird taking a bath and then above me a pair of hawks.  As I got to the dam I saw some more deer down by the pumphouse.

From here it would be new territory.  I was thinking I might be able to hike up to Hoot 66 but the fence precluded that idea so I hiked the southside of the field they had harvested last summer.  Once again I was staying high above the reservoir for a better rattlesnake visual.  I came upon a really large flock of geese so I was able to take a few photographs of them as they lifted off and flew northward.  I wasn't sure where I could cut across to get back to the homestead but eventually came to a barbed wire fence that forced that decision, unless I wanted to crawl thru it which isn't easy as it's strung pretty tight.  The chickens were making their usual racket so I stopped by the henhouse and filmed a little bit.  That nite we were treated to an intensely colored sunset that I ran out to capture once I saw it forming as we were trying to get a pickup to start.

The next afternoon, after we baked the Rhubarb Cake from the garden's fresh rhubarb :) and while Cousin Connie was napping, I decided to hike the other dry stock tank; altho I didn't know it was dry.  This tiny reservoir is directly north of the homestead.  However, getting to it presented a few obstacles so I ended up walking around a couple fences and over another before I could actually start hiking toward it.  It's not very far but I had never seen it up close before.  I don't really know the history of it but it was definitely made with a tractor and blade.  It's really more of a pond and doesn't have a spring to feed it.  However, there are still some old trees around it.  What was interesting about this hike is that the ground is so crispy from the lack of rain.  I literally was crunching what little prairie grass there was.

I hiked back toward the shelterbelt and then hiked to the south of it where cousin Kenny had plowed a little area to keep the weeds down and to keep it separated from the field.  They had just finished seeding.  Cousin Kenneth is always the last one to get done; not sure why that is.  On today's hike there wasn't much wildlife until I got back to the homestead where I photographed a cat, altho I couldn't initially tell what it was from the distance. I also photographed a couple Kingbirds that I originally thought were Western Meadowlarks.  One thing about the homestead, between the chickens and birds and ducks, there always seems to be some sort of sound.
Anyway, a little hiking is better than none and when you hike in a place with so much history and personal meaning; it's very special. 

Here are some of the videos I put together.  I think you'll enjoy the antelope one:
Drive from the Idaho border via Missoula to Great Falls, MT -   [ youtube video ]   There was lots of snow on the mountain tops and high running water for most of this route.

Day One - Drive around the ranches and the first part of my hike including the antelope encounter [ youtube video ] , and this is the whole video:   [ youtube video ]  
Day One and hike continued and Day Two including the hen house visit:  [ youtube video ]

I also did a little hike (well more of a walk) in Cascade, MT where we were staying at this awesome fishing lodge and cabin with several of our cousins at Yucca Bend (and yes, there were lots of Small Soapweed Yucca around).  We were there for my cousin Dustin's wedding.  What a beautiful place right on the Missouri River.  Harris Mountain across the way was actually on fire in July 2021; my cousin Dallas was one of the DNRC helicopter pilots that helped fight that 31,000 acre fire. 
Needless to say, there was lots of action on this river with fishing traffic, herons, pelicans, ducks, geese, hawks, muskrats and moo moos.  We were treated to an intensely colored double rainbow for quite a long time.  Here is the video at Cascade:   [ youtube video ] includes our stop in Gt Falls and drive, the lodge, river and mountain plus all the wildlife and my little hike.

Last I had to get back to Phoenix, the cheapest flight out was via Lewiston, ID so my cousins in their late 70s and myself drove via Helena to Avon, MT and on to Cottonwood, ID.  The drive, as usual, is very scenic and the weather was inclement off an on, especially once we crossed over the border.  Meanwhile, as we went thru Helena and the cousins were talking about touring the Capitol; but then I spotted the spires of the Cathedral. I hadn't been there since 2008 and since my cousins are devout Catholics we stopped there. 

If you haven't ever been, you should add it to your things to see if near or in Helena.  Here is the video that includes a few pictures from the drive but features the Cathedral:  [ youtube video ] is pictures of the best Huckleberry milkshake ever :y: !
Meteorology [ checklist ]
[ checklist ] Double Rainbow Rainbow
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated
a couple Milkvetch and a couple other unusual plants.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Romain Reservoir 1-25% full 1-25% full
Lowest we recall seeing it in 50 years. There's been lots of rain all around but it seems to have missed the Romain ranches area.
For me, sometimes it's just as much about the journey as the destination.
Oh, and once in awhile, don't forget to look back at the trail you've traveled.
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