Monday, July 25, 2016

Rocky despite lousy route-finding

I picked the wrong route and we paid the price

Reaching the summit cap 
On top, with mountains upon mountains in the Bob Marshall Wilderness as my backdrop

Chip Myers below Rocky Mountain Peak, the Bob Marshall Wilderness high point

I hadn't climbed Rocky Mountain Peak (elevation: 9,392 feet), the high point in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area in seven years and hadn't thought of it as a particularly difficult peak.  It is a 4,100 feet cumulative gain over 10-miles roundtrip.
But Sunday's climb on a clear, hot day proved somewhat challenging because I was insistent on choosing bad routes.
I've climbed this peak three different ways over the years.  I think I've summited some 20 times over the past 30 years.
The most direct route is from the east, but involves a slog up scree.  The most challenging route is from Headquarters Pass via the north ridge on a jagged ridge.
We went to the west saddle by way of HQ Pass, dropping 200 feet west from the pass and gaining the saddle, some 600 feet above us to the south.
In years past we've gotten into a large gully to the north of the saddle and scrambled up, using our hands at times.
I'm not sure why, but I decided to bypass the gully and went slight south and then up.  We immediately got into Class 3 rock and gradually picked our way up about 900 feet, using our hands most of the way.  About 150 feet from the top I could see the easy gully I had by-passed.  Bad mistake!
On top it was about as calm and clear as I can ever remember.  The 360 views were amazing! To the north we could see the high Glacier Park peaks ---- St. Nick, Stimson, Rising Wolf, Divide.  Directly in front of us, strikingly handsome Old Baldy. To the west, Pentagon, Silver Tip, the North Wall, the Chinese Wall, The Sisters, Red Buttes, Prairie Reef.  Further out, the Swans, Holland, Great Northern, Swan Peak.  To the south, the Scapegoat Plateau as far out as Red Mountain, which we had climbed last week.  To the east, the brilliant limestone peaks of the Rocky Mountain Front, and beyond them the butte laccoliths, the Island Ranges like the Sweetgrass Hills, the Highwoods, Big and Little Belt mountain ranges.  And....the Great Plains!
We decided to descend the east ridge line and then from the saddle down the giant scree fields to the trail near the great spring.
Once again, a great error in judgment by me.
Once we hit a large break in the ridge line, instead of sticking with it, I followed my step-son down scree and talus through a series of cliffs, which, because of my caution, took us forever to get through.
Finally, we hit the scree and it was smooth sailing, on plan.
But, I was severely embarrassed.
The nanny became aggressive when we approached, so we made a high trail around her and her kid
A real highlight of the trip was the number of mountain goats we saw, particularly nannies with kids.
While I always expect to see goats at the pass or at the spring or at Our Lake trail over the next divide, I had never seen them so low on the trail, grazing right on the trail.
The best guess I could come up with is that they were seeking salt from horse urine as packers frequent this trail.
I suspect I'm going to need to go back later this summer and reclimb the peak just to refresh my memory and restore my route-finding confidence.

For a route map and more photos, CLICK HERE

HQ Pass trail far below us

Finally through the ugly talus

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Alice Creek traverse

Karyn Good surveys the landscape from the CDT Trail with Red Mountain in the background

They know how to pile a cairn on the CDT

In the expansive Alice Basin below Lewis and Clark Pass
A lovely 7 mile traverse of the Alice Creek Basin, both on and off trail with a link to the Continental Divide Trail and historic Lewis and Clark Pass.
The trip began at the Alice Creek Trailhead, about 10 miles north from the Montana 200 turnoff outside Lincoln.
It followed an established trail for about a quarter mile where it joins a ridge heading straight for the Continental Divide Trail, on an abandoned Forest Service Trail.  That abandoned trail is still very easy to follow, although there are some deadfalls across it.
We found albino Paintbrush amidst the other colorful flowers
Once on top we walked east along the CDT to Red Mountain (elevation: 7,277 feet), which we easily climbed and got terrific views of the Alice Creek Valley, the Scapegoat Wilderness, and the CDT back to the other Red Mountain (elevation: 9,411 feet).  The ridge line is broken up by large, sandstone cliffs.
We took a short side trip to find the East Fork Falls Creek Trail that leads to the Dearborn through the Falls Creek Roadless Area.  The trail intersects with the CDT but is unmarked and easy to miss. I was interested because Falls Creek is closed from the Dearborn and this is a logical way in and out.
Then it was down through timber and grass to the Lewis and Clark Pass, where the Corps of Discovery passed through on its way back from the West Coast.  It is marked with historical signs.
It is open from the pass down to the car, traveling down the flank of Green Mountain and offering great views of the Alice Creek Basin and CDT country above it.
Some 2,200 feet was gained and lost along the way.
The wildflowers, particularly the Indian Paintbrush, were profuse.

For topo map and other photos:  CLICK HERE

At the pass

Jim Heckel at the top of the ridge nearing the CDT

Monday, July 18, 2016

Busy season: Choteau Mountain, Glacier, Great Bear and Scapegoat's Red

Scapegoat's Red Mountain had the feel of Glacier with its colorful argillite rock and snowfields

We were surprised by a herd of 19 mountain goats on Red's flanks

Scapegoat's high point

This was my seventh time up Red Mountain, at 9,411 feet the highest point in the Scapegoat Wilderness and Bob Marshall Complex.
This was a new and fourth different approach.
My first time, 42 years ago, was up from Heart Lake via Ringeye Creek trail with Cliff and Don Merritt while doing a story for the Tribune about the new Lincoln-Scapegoat Citizen's Wilderness Area.
I've come up the east and far west ridges, accessing them from the end of the Copper Creek Road.
This time we went up the ridge that points directly at the 9,000+ foot tan peak just south of Red Mountain.
Aside from a 1,000 foot gut-busting gain in 3/4 of a mile at the beginning, this was an excellent and quick route, with 3,500+ feet gained in just under 3 miles to the top.  Yes, the descent at the end was just as ugly as the ascent.
The weather was perfect for climbing and we found ripe huckleberries along the way to ease the pain.
We were treated to seeing 19 mountain goats as we approached the Red Mountain summit cap.  Many of the nannies had little ones and they quickly got the young ones down a gully out of our sight.
The views from the top of this high point are breathtaking;  the snow-capped Missions, the Scapegoat/Flint mountains complex, the Front and range upon range to the south.

Marion Lake in the Great Bear Wilderness

First time back in Bear's Marion Lake in 31 years

Marion Lake is located south of the Izaak Walton Inn at Essex, accessible by one of the roads behind the Inn.  
From the trailhead, it is 2 miles and about 1,700 feet in elevation to this gem in the Great Bear Wilderness Area.
In my younger years it was a favorite one-night backpack site.
The trail is steep and fairly overgrown as West-side trails can be with alders, thimbleberry and every sort of greenery imagineable.
Huckleberries helped distract us from the uphill grunt.

Tourists enjoy Bering Falls near St. Mary Lake
Indian Paintbrush flowers in many shades of red, pink, orange and yellow colored the landscape

Glacier's amazing flower season

We played tourist on Glacier's east side, visiting St. Mary and Two Medicine areas, while relaxing at East Glacier Park and eating at Serrano's and the Lodge.
One of the days we took the St. Mary Lake boat tour to view the 2015 Reynolds Fire from the water and compare it to the 2006 Red Eagle Fire.  It appears as though the 2015 fire burned in a healthier, spotty fashion as compared to the 2006 scorching.
We hunted for moose along the South Shore Two Medicine Trail one day, and took in the floral show along the North Shore Trail the next.
There are more, colorful Indian Paintbrush than I can ever remember.
A drive up the Two Medicine Road was a terrific with flowers as well.

Gordon Whirry on Choteau Mountain ridge line

Looking southwest as we descend the ridge line into Jones Creek

Choteau Mountain express

This was one of our Wayne's Wednesday Walks, minus Wayne who was teaching at the Yellowstone Institute for a week.
Only three of us showed for this climb on a fairly rain-threatening morning.
Choteau Mountain is wonderful for the way it shows off the limestone reefs of the Rocky Mountain Front.  It is a long, tremendous reef that stretches south to north over several miles revealing the heart of the Front --- the high, Teton peaks.
The summit is 8,398 feet and we fell 26 feet short of it, the victims of having a dog with us, high winds and general inertia.
Yet, we had a long walk along a section of the ridge just shy of the peak, with a gap in the ridge and about 100 yards separating us from the summit.
The views were so breathtaking it didn't matter.
We got a great workout of 8 miles and about 3,800 feet of elevation gain.

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Quick Glacier Slide Lake backpack

Red-striped Chief Mountain is partially hidden by pointed Nanaki and Papoose peaks

Yellow Mountain towers over Slide Lake, created by an earthquake slide off the mountain

In the alpine meadow beneath Gable Peak at the head of Lee Ridge
I love the Chief Mountain area of northeast Glacier Park.
I climbed the mountain nearly 8 years ago via the Lee Ridge route just south of the Canadian border.
I hadn't returned until a couple of days ago when the backpacking itch got to me.
My first choice had been Morningstar Lake in the Cut Bank Creek area of the park, but that campground was full.
There's usually not much competition for the three sites at Slide Lake however, and I grabbed one of the spots.
I parked my car at the Chief Mountain lot and walked up the road south to the Lee Ridge site, hardly visible to anyone who drives by ----- look for the red tag at about a half mile.
It is 6 miles to Gable Pass and another 2.3 miles down to the lake.
The first almost four miles of the hike is truly unexceptional by Glacier standards;  all of in deep forest without any views.
But, when coming out of the forest the views knock you out:  Chief and Gable mountains dominating the south and west horizons.
Chief is a narrow finger in the sky when viewed from the south.   My view from the north revealed a much stouter mountain, actually a reddish/buff-colored wall above a large scree field.  Below it the fingers of smaller Papoose and Nanaki on a narrow ridge leading to that field.
Gable is really three peaks, with the summit peak another finger pointing at an angle.
Below it on the Lee Ridge is an alpine meadow full of wildflowers, grasses, gnarled-short trees and shrubs.  To the north is the mighty Belly River Valley and Canada, dominated by peaks like Glacier's highest-Mount Cleveland, Bear and Sentinel.  Off to the east, the Great Plains, although the Canadian Rockies appear to bend in that direction on the horizon.
These views grandly make up for the hike in the woods.
The open Lee Ridge is marked by giant stone cairns.
At the 6 mile mark, the trail splits to Slide Lake to the left, and the Belly River Ranger Station to the right.  Some 2,200 feet has been gained from the trailhead.
Magenta colored Indian Paintbrush at Gable Pass
The walk to Gable Pass is at the base of Gable Mountain, which has crumbled away, leaving huge, stone debris on the path.  This is at about 7,300 feet, and here in summer there are some snow fields.
Through the pass, the stone debris plunges south toward Slide Lake and is joined by debris from the base of Chief Mountain.  These rocks fill chutes looking like stone avalanches.
The trail to Slide Lake is steep and drops about 1,200 feet to the lake, which sits at the base of massive Yellow Mountain.
Slide Lake is really two lakes ---- the first a large lake at the base of a waterfall below Seward Peak, the second a smaller lake created by an (earthquake induced) rock slide off Yellow Mountain.
There are bull trout in these lakes and the Park Service is trying to re-establish its health, so fishing is prohibited.
The wind blew and it rained during the night, but the campground is protected in deep timber.
It is one of the few campgrounds in the backcountry where fires are allowed, and a group of four young St. Mary Lodge seasonal workers camped there, started one and kept it going, keeping the place cozy in the unsettled weather.
The flowers on the lake's grassy slopes were outstanding.
That group walked out on the road that passes through the Blackfeet Reservation, a rough, uninviting, rutted and cattle infested trace, some 7 miles to the Chief Mountain Highway.
That was too hostile for me, and despite a light drizzle I went back up the Gable Pass in the morning and walked out the way I had come in, on Lee Ridge.
This country is lightly used, but well worth the visit, particularly to see the open ridge and Gable Pass.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Washboard Reef traverse in Bob

Gordon Whirry near the high point of the hike at 8,250 feet.  Wrong Ridge to the right.
This 15+ miles traverse gains about 4,000 as it travels off-trail along a Bob Marshall Wilderness Area reef on the Continental Divide between Teton Pass and Olney Creek back to the West Fork Teton starting point.
Most of this trip is in the West Fork Addition to the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area added to the Bob by Congress with the Heritage Act of 2015.
Over the past 10 years I've done this more than a half dozen times, the most recently 2014.
It is a wilderness hike in the best sense ---- with wild, untouched country and 360 views along a 5-mile off-trail high ridge line that peers deep into Glacier Park on the north, the North and Chinese walls to the west and south, and the might peaks of the Rocky Mountain Front to the east.  The Wrong Ridge dominates to the west, one drainage over.
It is particularly gorgeous this time of the year because of the wildflowers.  The varieties of Indian Paintbrush, Arnica, Beargrass, Lupine predominate.  On top the alpine flowers, such as the Forget-Me-Not carpet the top.
We had a glorious, clear day for this walk.
The hike begins at the West Fork Trailhead No. 114, the same trail head used for Mount Wright.  It passes the Mount Wright turnoff and goes 5 miles to Teton Pass, where the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest meets the Flathead National Forest.  You get off trail here and travel south along a 5 mile ridge.  Some 5 relatively easy, unnamed peaks are climbed along the way, the highest, a handsome limestone peak at 8,250 feet.
The most difficult part of the hike is finding the Trail No. 117 back down to Olney Creek from the top.  It is note marked.  It is at the top (about 7,934 feet) of the final ridge line if you hike this north to south.  Then it is straight down.  It then travels through the 2007 Fool Creek burn, difficult to follow because the trail was obliterated in many spots.  We closely watched the cut logs and in a couple of spots the stone cairns.  A trail crew has been through here and it is much easier to find than in 2014.
It is interesting to see that the Forest Service has put a sign up discouraging horse use on this once actively horsey trail.
The trail down from the reef to Olney Creek discourages horses
I've reported this hike several times before in this space, so I won't belabor, so here's a link to a Garmin Advenure with topo map and elevation charts:  CLICK HERE
Some 10 seasons after Fool Creek fire, it's lush and green above Olney Creek

In the background is the high point at 8,250 feet, that we climbed along the way

Thursday, June 30, 2016

A week's worth of hiking, climbing

Mike Dannells crests the Patrol Mountain summit cap
When I don't post for a while, like last week, it doesn't mean I'm inactive.
Quite the opposite.
Since my last posting 10 days ago I went on a Montana Wilderness Association tour of the Lewis and Clark Expedition "Fight Site," on the Two Medicine River, led a Wayne's Wednesday Walk into Muddy Creek Falls on the Front, led an MWA climb of Fairview Mountain in the Front, dipped into Glacier Park for a quick look at some mountain goats, climbed Highwood Baldy Peak by a new route, and led a Wayne's Walk up Patrol Mountain ----- whew!!!
It's high summer, after all.
The weather has been generally spectacular with clear vistas enhancing everything I've done.

Lewis and Clark Fight Site

Walking to the Fight Site meant traversing some Two Med badlands in a high wind

This MWA event turned out to be mostly a car trip with a short hike to the site through Two Med badlands.
This is where the Lewis and Clark Expedition met two teenage Blackfeet, who attempted to steal a rifle and horses and one of them were killed, and the expedition fled.
The site visit was led by Larry Epstein, former Glacier County Attorney, who as a teen frequented the area, which sparked his interest in the history.  He helped locate the site and later became a member of the Lewis and Clark Foundation.
This is unbelievably remote, reached off the Cut Bank-Valier cutoff road where there is a state plaque commemorating the fight.  Then it was a drive through fields high above the site and badlands below.
We also stopped at a historical marker off U.S. 2 just outside Browning marking the 100th anniversary of the expedition, and the Holy Family Mission (to which I returned later that week).

Crown Mountain Trail

Katie, just below the saddle south of Crown Mountain

I've been up this Crown Mountain Trail 270 west of Augusta many times, mostly to climb the mountain, but my wife Katie had not been.
This is the best way to climb the mountain, but the hike to the saddle to the south of the mountain, is a worthy hike.
We had a crystal-clear day and got to see lots of wildflowers.

Muddy Creek Falls
The canyon walls impressed all the hikers

The low flows in the creek concerned the hikers

This is a 4-mile roundtrip hike in the Front up the Muddy Creek Canyon I've done many times with family and friends.
This trip, which included 10 friends from Great Falls, was part of the Wayne's Wednesday Walks.
It was a hot day, so the cool of the waterfall canyon slot was most welcome.
We were all a bit unsettled by the low water flow in the creek.  

Fairview Mountain
Our MWA group on top

The hike is impressive for the several Willow Creek Falls

Katie and I led this hike of 12 people as part of the Montana Wilderness Association's Wilderness Walks program.
All 12 made it up the summit, which offers spectacular views of the southern end of the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, particularly the Scapegoat.
We walked up the Willow Creek Falls Trail west of Augusta, breaking off the trail and going cross country to the top just beyond the final cascade.

Highwood Baldy
The outstanding wildflowers below Highwood Baldy

I try to do this at least annually, and was a bit late this year.
I perfected a route that travels a ridge line between McMurty and Deer creeks, shaving off a couple tenths of mile from the Deer Creek route.
The advantage to this new route is that it stays on a ridgeline most of the way, where the Deer Creek route comes up a bottom.
This allows for more expansive views.
What was special about this route last week were the abundant wildflowers, particularly Sticky Geranium and Lupine and the thick grasses.  I could see where the elk had been sleeping on the ridge in these grasses from the large indentations.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Steamboat East (not the lookout)

This is rugged, cliffy terrain
Steamboat East, the named mountain

A selfie on top

Because Steamboat East (elevation:  8,281 feet) doesn't have a trail to the top it doesn't get climbed nearly as often as Steamboat Lookout (elevation: 8,565) further west along this spectacular ridge line.
Steamboat East is a bit more difficult to climb because of the route-finding, and because of one 1,000 foot pitch at about mile 3.
But the views from the top are every bit as rewarding as the lookout views and make this a worthwhile climb.
I hiked nearly 12 miles and gained and lost almost 4,000 feet on this trip.
The climb begins at the Trail 206 parking lot.  This is one of the oddest trails in the forest because it cuts through private land and is a few feet adjacent to a private road to the Dearborn River crossing, at about a mile.  Why hikers can't use this road rather than this trail is beyond me.
The best route to the top begins just beyond the national forest boundary at mile 2.  It is just before reaching a visible drain pipe for an intermittent stream, which usually runs dry.  Sometimes this route is marked by rocks, but is difficult to pick out.  But, a few feet off trail there is a terrific climber's trail that is marked with cairns for about 2 miles, until it clears a high cliff.  I suspect that some expert from the nearby Wilderness Bible Camp has improved this trail and left the cairns.  I've done this hike numerous times over the years, but this route, which used to be a faint trace is vastly improved.
At about mile 3 the trail pitches steeply uphill for almost 1,000 feet, difficult to ascend, but almost impossible to descend in places.  On the way down I cut wide switchbacks, which though steep, helped some.
Once above the cliff the going is quite easy.  It runs through a large boulder field.  A small cliff blocks a direct route.  Go to the right on a game trail to cut around it and ascend it.
Lady Slippers were prevalent along my route

I've never seen so many spring beauties such as these that carpeted the area below the top
It is direct here through scrub forest and open fields to a saddle between the named peak (on the map) and a grassy, higher peak (by 30 feet) to the east.  I went up both.  Along the way I got great displays of spring beauty and lady slipper wildflowers.  On top, there were carpets of forget-me-nots.
From on top there are clear views of the ridge to Steamboat Lookout, one of the best ridge walks in our area, Scapegoat, the Continental Divide peaks (Caribou and Red) and snow-dappled peaks in every direction except far to the east, where there is the Great Plains.
Carpets of blue forget-me-not wildflowers
I'm always struck by the beauty of this area, but at the same time repelled by the landowners who have restricted access to public lands ----- there is a "no public access to trail" sign at Falls Creek.  This is also the area where Joseph Campbell shot his neighbor to death over simmering private property disputes.  This ugliness pervades the otherwise spectacular experience.

For more details, route map topo, CLICK HERE

The Dearborn, a real wilderness river

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A flurry of short trips

This gate has allowed the Sawmill Road to be reclaimed as Trail 730 in the Little Belts east of Monarch
The sandstone cliffs on the Milk River in Writing on Stone Provincial Park in Southern Alberta
The limestone ridges above Lime Gulch in the Front

The Running Rabbit trip really ran me down, and so I shifted gears to do more relaxing hikes.
On Sunday I did the Lime Gulch hike in the Front for the first time in nearly 20 years, on Monday an exploratory of Sawmill Gulch in the Little Belts on the Hughesville Road, and Tuesday I shot up to Alberta and walked in the hoodoos along the Milk River at Writing On Stone Provincial Park just north of the Sweetgrass Hills.
Here's a summary and some observations:

Lime Gulch

Lime Gulch was a lime green 
This is located in the Rocky Mountain Front west of Augusta on the Willow-Beaver Creek Road about 3 miles north of the Benchmark Road turnoff.  It is near the old Girls Scout Camp and sits across the road from Fairview Mountain.
It is a 7.2 miles roundtrip to the Cutreef divide on a pretty good trail that's marked from the road.  It travels between the Lime Ridge and an unnamed limestone ridge to the west.  It is open grass land most of the way, following a small stream.
This is obviously great elk country, although I didn't see any this day.
The trail gets very little use, despite its high scenic value.  It does get grazed by cattle.
The high Teton peaks, like Rocky and Baldy, are visible to the north once the divide is reached.  To the south it's Crown and Scapegoat mountains.

Sawmill Gulch off Dry Fork/Hughesville Road

Sawmill Creek was dry at the beginning and grew larger and stronger upstream
This Trail No. 730 in the Little Belts, 5 miles east of Monarch on the Dry Fork/Hughesville Road, is hard to find.  
It is an old road that has been blocked and is pretty much reclaimed as a little used hiking trail.  It lies below the west flank of Mount Barker, and it is possible to climb Mount Irene using this route.
It is not visible from the Dry Fork Road, and it is unsigned, and you have to cross private property to reach it, which isn't any problem.
The trail appears to be the rocky floor of a dried streambed until entering the trees, where there is a gate blocking motor vehicle access.  Then, for several miles before it peters out, it is a pleasant walk along the dry stream in a road bed, now overgrown with grass.
Then, within a mile the stream appears, and for the next couple of miles grows larger.  I'm told there are native cutthroat trout here.
The Forest Service has done a great job clearing deadfall from the trail.
A caution:  you have to ford the stream some 7 times before the trail runs out, but it isn't too difficult.
In several spots the trail opens into gorgeous, large meadows, but otherwise stays tucked in a narrow canyon.
I found moose and elk sign and a lady slipper wildflowers on this hike.
In the spring greenery it was gorgeous.

Writing on Stone Provincial (Alberta) Park

The hoodoos are cut in many odd sandstone shapes
This is a a gem of a (historical) park just over the Montana/Alberta border along the Milk River that is run by the province and advised by the Blackfoot Confederation.
It is about 150 miles from Great Falls (2.5 hours each way), and since I regularly travel that one way to get to Glacier, I figured what the heck.
The park derives its name from the Indian pictographs carved into the soft sandstones of the hoodoos.
It is located on river valley just north of West Butte in the Sweetgrass Hills.
The hoodoos line the Milk River rims for miles.
There is a good sized campground, a beach area, and hiking trails, as well as a backcountry without designated trails, but this area is accessible only by wading the river.
There are signs that indicate that river is used by floaters from Aiden to Del Bonita.
There are also signs asking visitors to be careful to look out for rattlesnakes, of which there are many.  I didn't see any on Tuesday when I went.
The visitor center is full of historical and archeological artifacts and interpretations of the park.
There is also a rebuilt Royal Canadian Mounted Police post, which I didn't visit.
The park has been nominated for a World Heritage Site Designation.
I walked the main trail, the Hoodoo Interpretive Trail, some 4.4 kilometers roundtrip and got splendid views of the park, the river, and the Sweetgrass Hills along the way.  The hoodoos are in many eerie shapes and one can see why the Blackfoot consider this a spiritual place.
There are two sites on the trail where the pictographs can be seen:  one depicting a beer, a bison and claws; and the other, a large battle scene, probably fought in the 1870s between the Blackfoot Confederacy, Crow, Cree and Gros Ventre tribes, the Blackfoot triumphant.
Unfortunately, over the years many have also carved initials and other things into the sandstone as well.
I plan to return for more exploration.
There is no entrance fee, but there are charges for camping.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

We'll call this Unamed Running Rabbit Peak!

Six of the seven furry buddies met us on top

On the unnamed summit

Approaching the top
This was a failed attempt at Running Rabbit Mountain in Glacier National Park (elevation: 7,674 feet).
We were weathered off by an approaching storm.  
However, we did reach the summit of an adjacent, sharp unnamed peak on the Running Rabit Ridge (elevation: 7,434 feet), which even had a Geodesic marker, that usually graces a summit. 
This was a bushwhack all the way from the Izaak Walton Ranger Station on a southwestern ridge that gained over 4,000 feet to the top over about 4 miles.  This is the ridge above Ole Creek.  
We descended on a southerly ridge adjacent to our ascent route.  The map that accompanies this does not include our down route. Our biggest obstacles were many downed trees and thick vegetation.
The forest floor was thick with deadfall
We were treated to a tremendous wildflower display in the occasional open meadows, particularly beargrass, arrowleaf, lupine, and orange paintbrush.  
The biggest treat of the day was reaching the top and being greeted by seven curious mountain goats (2 nannies, 4 yearlings and a newborn) that pranced on the snow and did acrobatics on the rocks below.  The yearlings were almost too curious about us and received sharp reprimands from mom. The scenery on this climb was stunning ---- the snowcapped Great Bear to the south and the southern end of Glacier Park to the North, dominated by big guy mountains like St. Nicholas, Stimson and Jackson.  
Below us was the Wild and Scenic Middle Fork of the Flathead, twisting and turning out of the wilderness in its emerald beauty along Highway 2.
For a topo map and more photos, CLICK HERE
Mark Hertenstein in a field of beargrass 
Looking down on the Middle Fork Flathead