Beautiful Friday Evening…

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“White Man’s Dog raised his eyes to the west and followed the Backbone of the World from north to south until he could pick out Chief Mountain. It stood apart from the other mountains, not as tall as some but strong, its square face a landmark to all who passed. But it was more than a landmark to the Pikunis, Kainahs and Siksikas, the three tribes of the Blackfeet, for it was on top of Chief Mountain that the blackhorn skull pillows of the great warriors still lay. On those skulls Eagle Head and Iron Breast had deamed their visions in the long-ago, and the animal helpers had made them strong in spirit and fortunate in war.”
(From Fools Crow by James Welch)

Chief Mountain is one of the most interesting peaks in Glacier National Park from three different perspectives; geological, historical and, of course, mountaineering.

The history of the mountain is as interesting as its geology. It is one of the earliest mountains in the area ever to be placed on a map, appearing as “King Mountain” on maps published in England in 1795 / 96. Meriwether Lewis observed the mountain on the Lewis and Clark Expedition and called it “Tower Mountain”. In 1854, a state survey referred to the mountain as “The Chief or King Mountain”. Some early German geographers dubbed it as “Kaiser Peak”.

The present day name of the mountain is appropriately taken from the original Blackfeet Indian names of “Old Chief” or “The Mountain -of-the-Chief”

Early Indian legends about the mountain involve braves ascending the peak and staying on the top in their “medicine vision” ritual. The most popular of these involves a Flathead Brave who risked not only the long journey from the west, but also discovery by Blackfeet who were not on friendly terms with the Flatheads. He is said to have carried with him to the top a bison skull that he used as a pillow during his stay. The first white men to climb the mountain in 1892 discovered a weathered bison skull on the summit. For more information visit here…

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Rising to an elevation of 9, 080 ft, it is a spectacular mountain peak, especially when the Prairie Smoke is caught in the evening glow…

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Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum)…

 

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Three weeks ago the Prairie Smoke was in full bloom in Glacier, when we visited a couple of weeks later it was doing what it is known for…

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It is also called Old Man’s Whiskers!

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Perhaps the most distinguishing feature of this North American native prairie plant is not the reddish pink to purplish, nodding, globular flowers that bloom in late spring, but the fruiting heads which follow. As the flower fades and the seeds begin to form, the styles elongate (to 2″ long) to form upright, feathery gray tails which collectively resemble a plume or feather duster, all of which has given rise to a large number of regional descriptive common names for this plant such as torch flower, long-plumed purple avens, prairie smoke, lion’s beard and old man’s whiskers. The feathery seed tails act as sails in aiding dispersal of the seeds. A soft, hairy plant growing typically to 16″ tall with fern-like, pinnately divided, green leaves (7-19 leaflets). Spreads by rhizomes and can be naturalized to form an interesting ground cover. Native Americans once boiled the roots to produce a root tea that was used medicinally for a variety of purposes such as wound applications and sore throat treatments.  For more info visit here…

 

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