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We pulled over to look at the aftermath of another “Gallatin Tsunami” about 3 miles south of where I first noticed its effects: five feet of plum pudding cemented into a wall running flush with the doug fir that lean out over the river. The flow had stripped the tree trunks of their bark, and now shreds of bright red cambium made it look colorful and especially violent, and the wall itself was grey and chaotic with great chunks of brilliant blue ice embedded inside. Although the flood occurred in mid-January it was characteristic of a ‘break-up flood’: the Gallatin river froze over during a week of sub-zero weather around New Year’s, and since then we have had days of 40, even 50 degree weather in Bozeman. These melting temperatures weakened, then finally broke the dam, releasing a flotilla of giant ice chunks that may have backed up for miles behind the constriction where they jammed. It would have been spectacular to watch the actual event– but it was enough, for me, just to stand there and imagine.

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