Some years, the ice is pretty thick at Lake Como, northwest of Darby. Not this year. In a photo taken last week, you can see a fissure that has separated the ice sheet over the middle portion of the lake. It is definitely not the surface on which to take a stroll. Though there has been plenty of snow in the Bitterroot Mountains, the low elevation snow is scarce and the valley's temperatures have been mild this winter.

Each winter, after irrigation season, the lake shrinks to near its natural size, but the spring runoff brings the pond back up to the level of the Lake Como dam and the irrigation system that takes the water north along the eastern side of the Bitterroot Valley for agriculture use.

Lake Como, which includes horseback and hiking trails, campgrounds, swimming and boating, lodges and RV sites, is one of the most popular recreation sites in Northern Region of the U.S. Forest Service. Part of the reason is the magnificent setting below the nearby peaks in the Bitterroot National Forest.

A big rock on the winter shoreline of Lake Como. (Mike Daniels, Townsquare Media)