04 May 2016

Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge

After our hike up Bass Creek Trail we headed on back to the B & B for lunch and a nap. Kinsey passed out and I took a nap as well. What else was there to do?

Later that afternoon we went to check out the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge. The weather lady was forecasting afternoon thunder showers so we thought we'd head out early and avoid the rain. We hopped in the car and headed out. OK, so Kinsey wasn't really hopping, her knees were hurting so bad from the morning hike she more like hobbled.

When we got there we took off on the first dirt trail we found and headed out. Depending on what publication you are reading there are 267 or 235 species of birds in the refuge. Close enough for government work, right? Anyway you slice it, its a birdwatchers paradise.

Lee Metcalf Wildlife Refuge Trail Map

The trail we took wandered around in a storybook forest of big old Ponderosas, cottonwoods and aspen.

Whitetail Deer at Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge
We trekked around through the lovely forest and meadows and eventually wandered over to the Bitterroot River. It's a big, beautiful river and look at those gorgeous mountains in the distance. Those would be the Bitterroots.

Bitterroot River & Mountains as seen from the Lee Metcalf Wildlife Refuge
After awhile we came upon two local gals sitting on a log beside the river, eating their dinner. Kinsey being the Chatty Kathy that she is stopped and spoke with them for quite some time. One of the women was wearing a lovely, beaded medicine pouch. Kinsey admired it and was told that the lady had made it herself. She said it was made from "brain" tanned whitetail. Kinsey hadn't a clue what what brain tanning meant and asked. She promptly got called a "pilgrim" which I think is an insult of sorts for not knowing about brain tanned leather. She sure does now. In case you don't know either, it is hide tanned in a brew of the deers' brains.

We didn't see a lot of birds on our walk. Just the usual mallards, geese, turkey and such. But, on our way out we hit the jackpot. Looking out the window Kinsey says, "What the heck are those? They look like ostriches, maybe gnu." There was a car stopped and a fellow with a huge Cannon lens sticking out his window. We stopped and very quietly Kinsey got out an mouthed through the passenger window "What are those?" The fellow rolled down the window and said "Sandhill Cranes".  And, so they were. Really elegant  birds.

Sanhill Cranes Lee Metcalf Wildlife Refuge

As usual the weather lady was full of horse feathers it was an awesomely beautiful afternoon and evening. Kinsey says she thinks the thing to do in the summer is go have a nice dinner somewhere and then come down here for an evening stroll. If you are in the area you don't want to miss it. We sure as heck will be coming back.

 The Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge is located about 25 miles south of Missoula on highway 93.

Until next time.

Molly Montana

©Kinsey Barnard

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