Hidden Valleys on Great Bear Wilderness

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Along the Great Bear Wilderness of Montana, countless small valleys are nestled in the hidden recesses of the many high mountaintops such as these atop Elk Mountain. Carved by the ebb and flow of glaciers in the last ice age, like islands in the sky, they are isolated ecosystems, cut off from life in the canyons far below. Nourished by the melting snowpack they thrive all through the summer and late into the fall when this image was lensed. Seasons are fast and harsh up here in this rarified world.

Below, the snowpack is still melting in the headwaters of Lower Twin Creek. This is an optical illusion as we are looking down the glacial cirque, the river is flowing down at a sharp angle away from us.

Below, On top of the small valley on Circus Peak, a glacial pond is still melting away, watering the entire mountainside and valley. These frozen ponds provide a vital water supply for the surrounding plant and wildlife.

And here on Dry Park Mountain, the ice is just now beginning to melt away.

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