Wild Life - September 2013

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Volunteers plant bear grass near Mill Lake, high in the Bitterroots. Photo by Michael Dax

I am not a scientist by any means, and any time someone starts referring to the Latin name of a plant or animal, my eyes glaze over. But a few weeks ago, I was invited by the Montana Wilderness Association to help plant bear grass at Mill Lake in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. Five years ago, some major construction on the dam left much of the area around it disturbed and in need of restoration. I had never done a trip like this, but the idea of hanging out high in the Bitterroots is always an enticing proposition, and I quickly agreed.

The sun slipped behind the western horizons of Montana’s fabled Big Hole Valley, backlighting summits along a vast sweep of Continental Divide.

At the north wall of the valley, a huge black cloud was swallowing the Pintlers, spitting forks of lightning into forest and sagebrush, trailing curtains of rain.