I shared some pictures that were taken on a recent trip to Ronan and Polson, Montana. Those pictures were primarily of the Mission Mountains and they were taken as we traveled through the Mission Valley. Here are some pictures of the mountains and valley taken from a different point of view. Namely, these images were taken from high in the National Bison Range. As can be seen from the images, these views are of the same mountains and valley, but from high above it and a different angle.
This is an image that was taken about a week ago and which I've already shared. The reason is to get a comparison going. The view is almost the same as in the previous image, except that the other picture was taken from the right of where this picture is taken and at a somewhat greater altitude.
This view is looking northwest, over the Mission Valley. The mountains in the distance are the part of the Rockies that I live in, though I live a little more west of this view, at about the same distance. The view is hazy due to smoke in the air, blown in from wildfires burning in Canada. The hills in the foreground are part of the National Bison Range or NBR.
There are two black dots on the ridge of one of the hills, just to the right center of this image. Those are bison, viewed at a distance of about two miles.
This is yet higher up and is facing east by northeast. Part of Ronan can be seen from here, with more of it being obscured by the trees just to the right of center. While much larger than our town, Ronan isn't very large, with a population of around 1,300 people. Glaciers on the mountains behind Ronan can clearly be seen.
This was taken in the same location as the last image, but farther to the left (looking north. From the spot this picture is taken, we are about 3,000 feet above the valley floor. I really like this picture, not just because of the tremendous view, but because the snow on the Mission Mountains in the distance almost looks like the mountains were dipped in white cake frosting. Except for a few glaciers that reach lower, the snowline can be so clearly seen that you can nearly draw a line with a ruler over the image.
The title of this picture, the edge of the beach, might seem strange. The altitude here is roughly 4,000 feet above the valley floor, after all. However, the name is accurate. You see, at the end of the last ice age, this whole valley was a vast lake. The plaques in this image are literally where the shore of that lake was.
All of the previous pictures were taken from locations that would have been under the surface of that lake.
What can't be seen in any of these pictures is that the lake reached beyond Missoula, Montana, which is about 45 miles south of this view, behind me when this image was taken. The lake had a total area of over 3,000 square miles and held more than 500 cubic miles of water. Ice dammed the water up to the northwest and the ice dam occasionally ruptured, spilling huge amounts of water, ice, and sediment that drained away across northern Idaho, eastern Washington, and down the Columbia River Gorge.
This was the largest ice-dammed lake known. It is also the reason the Mission Valley is so fertile, though it is also littered with rocks that were transported there by the enormous glaciers of the ice age.
Through this entire area, there are many visible signs of the glaciers and of Lake Missoula.
It is rather sobering to realize that 10-15 thousand years ago, this view would have been of one giant lake, with only islands visible above the water. In fact, I would have been standing on one of those islands to take this picture.
This picture is facing roughly east from just inside the National Bison Range. This is still low country and it isn't very high above the valley floor. If I was standing at the sign in the middle of the picture, the valley could easily be seen, though I'd only be about 100-200 feet above it, so the angle wouldn't be appreciably different than those in the images I previously shared.
This is a nice image of the mountains, though. These pictures were taken in mid-May, 2017. The pictures I already shared from this year were taken in mid-June, but the snow coverage is nearly identical.