31 May 2009


We didn't get a chance to go out for a shoot this week. Too many projects going on, not the least of which is the continuing chore of cleaning up after the windstorm. Since I'm doing it all by hand I'll probably be out there with the old chainsaw for the rest of my life. There will be tons of slash which needs to be gathered and burned. Then there is the blocking and splitting. I must be a simple minded soul because I really love it. These blow down boys are really tricky and getting them all the way down without killing myself is a challenge.Chainsaws can be a nasty business.

So, I thought I would go back in time and pick a day from our winter trip to recount.

The day is March 24,2009 and Koty and I have set out to explore the Navajo Nation back roads.


We come across a small herd of sheep with dogs working the herd keeping them away from the road. The dogs look like mutts but boy do they know their job. It's really a beautiful thing to watch. It's like a delicate dance. I couldn't resist pulling over and trying to catch some of the performance.

I was barely getting started when this old pickup pulls up and parks on the other side of the road. The man in the truck just watches me. I'm thinking this is maybe the herd owner and he isn't too keen on me messing with his sheep. I stopped what I was doing and just waited. Pretty quick the truck made a u-turn and pulled up beside me.
The man inside introduced himself as Jack the owner of the sheep.

I sort of have this gift, talent, whatever that allows me to draw people out and engage them in interesting conversation. This was to be one of those times.


I learned quite a bit from Jack. The most astonishing thing to me is that the Navajo do not resent the whites, at least not the tourists. Apparently, there is still some racism felt with the local whites. I learned Native Americans are very patriotic. The Navajo have a vast pride for their part in WWII (Navajo Code Talkers). I learned that life is tough on the reservation. Most must drive to Gouldings, where there is a public well, to get their drinking water. In most places the well water is just too saline for anything other than washing. It has to be hauled for the livestock as well.

I learned that the elders are quite concerned that the younger generation are turning their backs on Navajo customs and culture. I find this a travesty as well. There is so much of Native American culture that is light years ahead of western whites. But, these customs and cultures are still practiced by many of the older tribal members. They still use peyote and conjure visions. I learned that the medicine man still has a revered place. Most of all I learned the Navajo are a gracious people.


Jack and I probably talked for an hour. I didn't get many photographs of his dogs working as they moved out of range whilst we talked. I didn't mind. The conversation was fascinating and every bit as colorful as the landscapes. Before he left Jack told me of a road to take where the landscapes were "good". The images are representative of that landscape.


Jack pointed out his place and gave me a standing invitation. If I ever get back to Monument Valley, and surely hope I do, I will go visit Jack at his ranch and learn more.

If you have never visited this enchanted place you really should. Mother Nature quite dramatically shows how two-faced she can be. And, nowhere does she show those two faces more profoundly than in this desert. On the one hand she serves up a beauty that will make your heart break. On the other she delivers the harshest of living conditions. Cold in winter, blazing hot in summer and red dust storms that will drive a sane man crazy. A truly amazing place!

©Kinsey Barnard

24 May 2009


At last! Spring is in the air. This has been the coldest spring since I have lived here and it's great to finally be able to bask in the warm sun.

The biggest news is that I have had a Canada Goose pair nest and produce six little goslings on my larger pond. I have no photos of them because I haven't taken any. I haven't taken any because this pond, built in the center of my forty acre parcel, away from the house and any distraction, is especially for my wild visitors. It is meant to be a safe haven and sanctuary. To photograph them feels like an invasion of their privacy and I must respect my guest's privacy. But, I can tell you, it is a site to behold as they paddle the pond. The photo below is of a family riding the Tobacco River.


I have also spied another new resident Timothy Turtle. I hope he has a partner or he may not stay for long.

Mostly the week was about ranch chores. That wonderful sun makes the grass, and everything else, grow. But, we took yesterday off and went down to Sunday Falls. I have tried to photograph these falls before with little luck and I'm afraid I had much the same outcome this day.


For some reason I just can't seem to capture anything special at these falls. I suppose the main reason is, short of standing in the creek, it's tough to take a stand. The falls were really barreling so standing would have been very difficult.


Naturally, where there is a Sunday Falls, there might just be a Sunday Creek. And so there is. I have a favorite spot where I like to try and photograph the creek but there was a old motorhome parked in the spot so I was not able to get in there. With these tough times more and more people are living in the forest and this looked to be the case. Not a bad placed to live really. But, you will get rousted by the Forest Service every 14 days.


After fiddling around the falls I decided to continue up the Forest Service Road on foot. I had promised Koty a walk and I was wondering if we could find Fire Lake. Poor Koty, when I'm busy working around the ranch he doesn't get enough exercise. After working several hours I just don't have the umpah to hike a few more!

It was an extraordinarily beautiful day for a walk in the forest. We soon came to a fork in the road. I didn't know which one to take. One thing you can count on in the National Forest, they'll give you one sign that will intrigue you and never another to get you there. I chose to take the road to the right. After awhile a small pickup with a canoe in the back pulled along side. They looked like they were on their way to a lake so I stopped them. It turned out the first Fire Lake was not far. The next lake was five miles further. They were on their way to the upper lake.


Fire Lake isn't a particularly pretty lake and it's fairly small as well. There were two people trying their hand at fishing but I don't think they had had much success. I didn't have another five miles in me so we headed back down the road.


I don't know what these plants are. They look like a lily pad except that they are red. Maybe lily pads growing underwater are red? I dunno.

It turned out to be not much of a day for photography, either that or I was off my game. But, any day spent in the woods of Montana is a day well spent. I live in the woods but I love to explore new places. I never know when I will stumble on that special opportunity to capture something truly unique and beautiful. Something I can share that people would never get to see any other way. That lights my candle. We'll come back and look for the other Fire Lake another day.

©Kinsey Barnard

17 May 2009


Here in Northwest Montana we are still trying to get into spring. Having a darned hard time of it too. If you are planning a trip to Glacier I'd hold off on that. Here is a recent photo of Going to the Sun sent to me by my friend Kevin. I think the photographer was one of the road crew.

Glacier Park May 2009

It hasn't been very warm but it's always beautiful here at the ranch. Mother Nature seems to have a choice bit for us nearly everyday. This cloud formation reminds me of some kind of gigantic insect.


Our western sky is very special and offers a never ending kaleidoscope of color and shape shifting. Below is a sunset we had this week. I love the dark moody colors. They seem to reflect the mood of those of us who are still waiting on spring! :)


We took a trip over to Rexford and the Koocanusa this week. There is a nice trail that follows the bluff above the lake all the way to the marina. The view is always lovely, looking north into the distance at the Canadian Rockies in British Columbia. I don't think I have ever seen as much snow this late in the year.


I was on the look out for any wildflowers but only came across these two:



The lake continues to await the run off season so the water level is still quite low. Down at the marina the docks aren't even in the water yet. I reckon marina boaters are getting kind of antsy.


I'm never near water that I don't try to capture some type of reflection. I just think they are so beautiful and artistic. If I could paint I would want to paint this.


And, of course, Koty was enjoying the day as always. I have never known a creature as happy as this dog. He is nearly ten years old now, I have had him since he was eight weeks. He is now older than I am and still have ten times the energy. I think of him as my fountain of youth. If it weren't for him I'm sure I wouldn't get half the exercise.


©Kinsey Barnard

10 May 2009

Hiking, Clouds and Reflections


I've been working in the forest, trying to make a dent in the damage that was done by the windstorm. Man, am I out of shape. That six month photo shoot in the south has taken it's toll. Three hours and I'm down for the count. My arms getting so tired I can barely hold up the chainsaw. All the while Koty watches wondering when will will go hiking. Of course, after working with the chainsaw there isn't anything left for a hike. But, I promised Koty I would take him for a hike today and I always try and keep my promises.

I decided we should take the hike to the Marina via Swisher Lake. It was one of those days in Montana when the clouds were strutting their stuff. I love clouds, they are like living things, shape shifting and gliding along. I think we have exceptional clouds here. I love to photograph them.

On the way we popped into little Tetrault Lake where folks were trying their hand at a little morning angling. The lake was placid and once again there were those beautiful clouds reflecting in the water.

It's about a quarter of a mile walk into Swisher Lake from the road. It too is a little thing but very tranquil. This morning it was particularly peaceful. There was a coyote sipping at the shore and a pair of Canada Geese paddling serenely along. I have no photograph of the scene as I didn't have the proper lens to make anything worthwhile. Some things that I see just remain photographed in my memory. I guess I'm selfish but I like that.

Soon the geese paddled away, the coyote wandered off into the forest and so did we. The Swisher/Marina trail is about six and a half miles long if you go all the way to the marina which is right on the border with British Columbia. It's a very nice trail, no motorized vehicles allowed.

Today I had two objectives in mind, besides giving Koty his promised walk. One was to check for wildflowers and the other was to check out an old snag where some owls had made their nest last year. There were some wildflowers. I thought the one below was quite lovely. I haven't looked it up yet so I don't know what it is besides pretty. Isn't that enough? Unfortunately, there didn't seem to be anyone home at the snag.

We didn't make it all the way to the marina because I kept taking side trips. On one side trip we wandered down to the shore of the Koocanusa. The lake (reservoir really) runs about ninety miles from Libby Dam straight into British Columbia. It got it's name from Koo (kootenai) can (Canada) usa (USA) hokey but appropriate. The lake is still pretty low because the snow still isn't melting much. I thought last spring was cold. This spring has been even colder than last year. No global warming here, quite the opposite. We did find a place where water was just coming right out of the bank and flowing into the lake. Koty especially liked this discovery as he was thirsty.

I'd say we probably made it a little more than half way to the marina before I decided it was time to turn back. Koty did not like that idea one bit. I keep thinking Koty is going to slow down a little. After all he is going to be ten in October but absolutely no sign of it yet. He is now older than I am and has ten times the energy. Not fair!

On the way home we passed by Sophie Lake. I love to photograph reflections. This one was of clouds, Mt. Baldy and the Galton Range. Could a painter create anything more beautiful? I think not.

©Kinsey Barnard Photography

04 May 2009

Mother Nature Flattens the Forest

Well, Mother Nature certainly has been on a tear. In the big picture She's got the entire world in a panic over the swine flu and in the little picture She has laid down some crazy weather here at my ranch.

The photo above is what greeted me upon my return home. I thought I had pretty much missed winter but apparently not.

And, if that were not enough, last week She really let her rip. And rip she did with one of the most violent windstorms I have ever experienced.

The wind started blowing early in the morning and just kept picking up speed. By 9:00am the power was out as trees came tumbling down on the lines. At first I didn't think anything of it as we get power outages from time to time as well as wind. But, as the day wore on with no power and no let up I began to realize this was different than anything I had ever had here.

Around noon I was looking out from my deck just in time to watch this big spruce fall in slow motion. The wind sounded like a freight train barreling across the bench upon which we sit.

When I arrived home from my winter trip I found that my freezer had ceased to operate and all the food, several hundred dollars worth, had spoiled. Not being one to take her food lightly I had already gone down to the Flathead to re-provision at Costco. By 4:30pm on the day of the storm I was envisioning losing it again. I called Lincoln Electric to see what the status was. The gal told me it could be out all night. Yikes! About then a light bulb went off as I realized the RV had a refrigerator that operates on electricity and propane. I admit I'm a little slow on the uptake. I started taking everything out of the refrigerator in the house and loading it into the motorhome. About the time I came in from the last load I noticed something seemed different. And sure enough a light was on!

I really had no idea how bad the wind had really been until the next day when I went out to asses the damage. It was pretty amazing.

There were spots where every single tree had been knocked down, nothing left standing. I think what made this wind so devastating was that the wind came from out of the east. The prevailing wind at my location is out of the west. This meant that the trees were being blown back against years of surviving westerly winds. Some simply snapped. Others just rolled over.

Regular readers know that I always look for the silver lining and here it is for this devastation. Almost every tree I lost was a spruce (I reckon I lost 40+ trees altogether). I don't even like spruce. They are shallow rooted, bushy things and the wood isn't even very good for firewood. Most would have come down eventually as part of my forest management plan sooner or later. Maybe Mother Nature doesn't like them either? Maybe I wasn't moving fast enough for her? I lost two fir and no larch.

The big thing is the big mess. I'll be cleaning this one up for a very long time. Others in my area fared far worse than I. I'm grateful no one was hurt and we will all be back to normal in no time. Just seems like Mother Nature is not in a very good mood lately.

I have a ton of photos and tales to share that I still haven't gotten around to so those will be coming up.

©Kinsey Barnard Photography

PS: I am frequently told about people having trouble signing up for e-mail notification. I maintain my own notification list to be sure people who want it get notified. If you would like to be on that list please send your e-mail address to kotybear2002@msn.com

01 May 2009

Just A Qucikie!

We are home and have been having a wild time of it. A wind storm came through a few days ago and nearly flattened our forest. We were without power for a a day and when we were able to get out to assess damage it was an amazing sight to see.

Although, we got plenty of damage some of our neighbors fared far worse so we are grateful. But, I will be out with the chainsaw for a very long time trying to clean up the mess.

The deer are loving it because they like the tender new needles they can get unless a tree falls. The good news is that almost all of the trees were spruce and I would have culled them eventually anyway for fire wood. I get some photos to show you. An amazing display of Mother Natures's power.

Will return to the trip diary, hopefully, soon.