An advantage of living in Eau Claire is I can get deep into the Western Upland Geographic Province of the state quickly. One spot I have grown to love is Montana Ridge. The entire area around the ridge is marvelous. I took this opening photo from the ridge.
Navigate to Gilmanton in Buffalo County. Take State Hwy 121 east to Lookout. Now start paying attention. Continue east and hook a right on Cooke Valley Rd. If you pass CH Q, you’ve gone too far!
Cook Valley Road itself is a lovely drive. I’ll show you a few photos I took while on this road.
I get a kick out of how water flows can carve out their area in the land. Here’s a little creek carving out a spot in the Cooke Valley.
One of the lessons I have learned in Wisconsin is its people live everywhere. I enjoy looking at farm life in such areas as this. Here you see a stockpile of hay, probably alfalfa.
And here are some beef cattle poised to eat that alfalfa.
I was surprised to see such a beautiful home on this farm. I’m sure the family has earned it!
This shot gives you a sense of the valley, a wedge between ridges.
I will blow up this photo. My partner on this trip saw this yellow-tracked tractor at work in the distant field. It is behind a tree at the top right corner of the lower left quadrant of the photo! I had to break out my long-range lens to see it! She just had a repair job done on her eyes! No fair.
Remember that little creek in Cooke Valley I showed earlier? I went out there today, and here is what I saw! I think this is a riot, Cattle strolling down the creek! Shortly after I took this photo, they all galloped out of the stream to dry land. I guess the click of the camera stunned them. Ha!
You will soon run out of valley on Cooke Valley Road and climb up the side of a ridge. You’ll come to an intersection, Thiesen Ridge Rd. to your right, Schneider Rd. to your left, stay straight on CH X, and there you are, on Montana Ridge.
The best views from Montana Ridge can be seen when the trees are without leaves. I took this in April. I needed to leave my car, walk around, and take it all in. It is beautiful on the Ridge, and fun driving up to it. Peakbagger.com says the elevation is 1360 ft.
I enjoy the areas below the ridge as much as the ridge itself. As a city boy, I am always in awe of how people live and work in the valleys. As you depart the ridge on CH X, you will see this farm, first from a distance …
then close up. It is quite a big operation.
I love this shot. Note the building to the lower left. It is old, to be sure. It might have once been a home. Now it looks like it is being used for storage, almost like a barn. There is a horse to the left of the building. You can also see the hilly landscape leading up to the tree line on the ridge. This is very characteristic of this region.
I like to keep my eyes open to interesting objects in the hinterland. This looks like an old horse-drawn wagon.
I bumped into this scene in the valley below Montana Ridge—a cupola in the center and a horse-drawn rake to the left. Cupolas were put on top of the roof of a barn. The slats would allow air to escape and would also shed some light on the dark inside of the barn. A horse-drawn rake would pile hay into windrows or clean up the field after haying.