Pink Alpenglow on Snow Moon (Moon Monday all Day Plus a Windmill Weekday)
Rare mornings each month does the Full moon set with the sunrise behind the photographer. Rarer yet are the mornings that we’ve just had a fresh snow coating everything. Add to that the Red/Pink light of the Belt of Venus falling down on the snow. The 40 miles wide Little Powder River Valley stretches across to the “Red Hills” (Their real name). The 6 inches of fresh snow over the last couple of days has been blowing around from a strong wind. “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill had to get into the picture as is his propensity of course. I have no control over his photobombing actions. In his defense, I find he provides scale for this perspective crushing telephoto shot
Mustings on Agility:
Standing back 400 yards from this .5 second exposure that was on a window clamp mount using my vehicle as a tripod out in a snow covered field that allowed this angle. Yes, this morning I was driving through drifts and 6 inches flat of snow all over the place. I have enjoyed the extra clearance that this new f-150 Raptor has. I’ve never had to take it out of 4 wheel high so far. Off road even down hills pretty steep hills (and getting back up) is doable so far. Usually valleys are black holes for 6000 pound objects that drop below the ridge line. I’ve not managed to get it stuck so far. I’ve gone many places that would have stuck my old jeep hard. I am much more agile in this rig than any other I’ve driven up in the high backcountry.
Looking westward across the 40 mile wide Little Powder River Valley , a cloud bank will snuff out the light within minutes. I am often sent home early with no “photos in the can” by cloud banks shrouding the horizon. When I head off road to climb up ridges chasing light, the mid-winter wins sometimes. This night I went up hill. Over 300 square miles of landscape presents here, all covered by this snow blanket. We get most of our 14 inches a year of precipitation during the winter.
You will note how effectively Yucca plants have a tendency toward collecting their own stash of water. The result of this is to soak the ground around them. The Yucca is a great plant up here providing food to the deer all year long. Deer from both species eat the seed pods from Yucca which grow in significant quantities up here. Yucca flowers are edible too I ‘ve seen ungulates take advantage of them every year. The deer grow fat on them. Already eaten, mostly deer have consumed the seed pods. By Mid-Winter, the deer have consumed much of the food reserves on this ridge. They have moved on to other pastures. Typically they head to sheltered gullies with water near by.
If it’s going to be winter, I wish it would freeze the backcountry ground. As I type this it’s been staying around freezing and just above for weeks. Mud in the backcountry completely blocks me from access as I don’t want to rut up my two track trails.
I am up on one of the highest points around for this capture up on an Overlook to the Red Hills. As you can see by the grass, its quite windy at this moment. I’m in the shadow of a big cloud looking over the Little Powder River Valley to the Red Hills from thisoverlook. The hill is known on ranch as “RattleSnake Ridge” or just “Rattlesnake”. Antique Deering Seeder with a View
This 1930’s Deering (IH) Seed Driss has been up here a while. It has view that reach 180 miles horizon to horizon easily. This old antique planted much of the grass species in many of our hay fields generations ago. Progeny of those 1920’s seeds still populate the local grasslands today. It’s in pretty rough shape with animals rubbing against it every year, weather, freezing/thawing being the worst on the wood. This will be here another couple of hundred years as the steel frame is quite intact.
I can’t imagine the sunsets and views this old soldier of the ridge top has seen. It’s seen weather fronts, meteor showers, comets, sunset/rises, twilights, storms, lightning and god knows what else . It’s been watching roughly since Herbert Hoover was president after all. That’s a lot of time to look around and enjoy the scenery
We just got this snow storm and it’s been on the ground for a week now. Snow is starting to accumulate in the backcountry. The low areas are drifting in and are a nice trap for intrepid photographers driving about in 6 inches of snow blowing about. I am waiting for a new truck to change out my too bumpy Jeep Grand Cherokee but for now, the Jeep will have to do. No production schedule on the 2020 truck I’m ordering.
One the way back to the ranch from Gillette (a 140 mile round trip), I saw this Moon Rise over Trail Creek Road. The Sun had just set behind me and all this red light was even reflecting off the road sign turning a dark blue sky into a dark redish purple “Belt of Venus” which is the long red wavelengths bouncing off the ice in the air. This gave the whole scene a rediish colorcast which here is as it was then.
This is the hunters moon which was just above a wispy cloud layer lighting it up. There were plenty of hunters packing up for the day on Trail Creek so the moon was living up to it’s name. Red Colorcast this deep isn’t that common in my experience.
Geologic Musings: Some of you know I’ve been a geologist (MS) as one of my professional careers I’ve had in my travels… I’m very much into Geobiology and sedimentology. This area in this image is a well dissescted sandstone/shale geologic sequence (Tullock or Fort Union Formation Tertiary) with most of this grassy areas bedrock being younger than the dinosaurs. My ranch way up on those ridges on the upper left of the photo has the older Cretaceous Dinosaur Bearing sediments. Down in the river valley you get some quartz cobbles where the rivers concentrate them. . It’s pretty rare to find cobbles up on the far ridges and when you do they are always affiliated with dinosaur fossils……
These stones are called “gastroliths” or stomach stones. The dinosaurs carried them from where they picked them up hundreds of miles away from where they were finally deposited when the dinosaur died…. Rivers that deposited the Cretaceous dinosaur bearing sands sand were only competent to carry sand only, they couldn’t carry cobbles very well lolol. Too heavy for the current velocity. I actually look for sand with rounded mud clasts (balls of mud) the size of the bones I’m looking for to search for fossils. I bet you think I look for fossils first. Actually I look at the sediment and it’s characteristics before I start looking about.
Location: Trail Creek Road, 1 mile south of Montana near the Little Powder River, Campbell County Wyoming.
40 Miles distant from the Camera’s lens, I’m at the same elevation at that snowy far ridge “Red Hills” in this Layers of Landscape image. Big views from up here 👁 Spotlightling was rife that sunset (about a week ago). Your looking across the Montana/Wyoming border as I’m standing in Montana. It’s snowy where I am too. We got 4 inches of heavy wet snow but the ground in the valley’s got rain. Rinse and repeat all winter lolol. I have never seen it this green up here in OCTOBER up here in the 20 years I’ve lived here!!!!!!!
Geologic Note: The big Valley is the Little Powder River Drainage. It’s about 6 feet wide at the moment. It removed all that sediment between here and there though…. 🤔 From where I stand, the originally flat layers of sediments are Diving underground 50 feet every mile generally in that direction more underground. They dive into the LARGE Powder River Basin at the foot of the Big Horn Mountains 130 miles distant. The Basin is literally a downwarping of the earths crust forming a wave where the wave crest was eroded away to form the Big Horn Mountains, which wore away and filled up the wave trough (the bathtub next to the mountains where all the coal swamps formed) So the Dinosaur bone bearing Sand Beds that blanket my ranch disappear about two miles west of my house diving underground and younger rocks are on the surface. The BigHorns happened After the Dinosaurs 😎
The “Red Hills” are called such because they have a LOT of usually/mostly Red “Clinker” rocks which are coal fired “underclay” that turned to a natural ceramic by the underground fires. It is literally a coarse uneven ceramic in hardness and “Clinks” when it drops. Native Americans made a LOT of tools from it. Lewis and Clark thought it was of volcanic origin. Large outcrops of it exist all over the area and it’s mined as gravel for roads after crushing. Lots of rattle snakes live in “Clinker” dens. The Clinker shrinks as part of the process leaving voids which are homes for many creatures on the surface but often make for local perched water tables that occasionally are big enough for light local use.
This 8 layer landscape ladder of the Big Horn Mountains Riding 13000 feet above sea level as seen from my ranch 130 miles away. I’m up on the Montana/Wyoming border to the northeast of the highest parts of the ranch. I get a good weather window to see these weekly but not many of those are this good. This was an 800mm rested telephoto shot from a high ridge. The grass is about 1/4 mile out, the first treed ridge (the Red Hills) is 40 miles out for an idea of scale here.
I took a trip to Sheridan last week by the time you see the images….. Many good photos from that journey all backcountry for the 119 miles (3 hours) trip on gravel. You can’t easily get there from here by highway.