Sunday, July 11, 2004

Fahrenheit Cochrane Lockhart

Reaching the top of the Lockhart ridge line

The top!
It was a “down” weekend, but we managed to see the Michael Moore movie, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” cross Cochrane Dam on River’s Edge Trail, and climb Mount Lockhart in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area.
Generally, during the summer I consider any weekend “down” that doesn’t include climbing a new peak. I’ve walked across Cochrane and climbed Mount Lockhart before. Both are wonderful things to do.
But first, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” which seems to be the talker these days.
Given the large crowds that turned out in Helena and Missoula for the opening, I was surprised by how uncrowded the theater was on the first night’s showing of the film that’s doing so well nationally. About the only way I can account for the mediocre attendance is that it’s awfully heavy fare at the end of a long workweek, and Great Falls audiences want escapism (Spider Man 2?) rather than realism.
It is well enough done if you make allowances for Moore’s liberal biases and his stated goal of trying to unelect President Bush. My chief concern is that it is easy to make a very public figure like Bush look awfully bad because the camera is trained on him so much. No one can look too good with all that scrutiny.
I was sickened by the movie’s interviews with our soldiers in Iraq who hype themselves on heavy metal with obscene lyrics before going on bombing raids.
Moore’s strongest point was that the American people have been fed a constant diet of fear; they have accepted it with terrible consequences.
We walked the Cochrane Dam crossing on Saturday in extreme heat and with storm clouds building overhead. Get out quickly to enjoy the prickly pear cactus that is in full bloom. There are fields of the cactus with their yellow flowers along the way. The yucca seems especially plentiful and beautiful this year.
I was surprised to see Doug Wicks, the trail’s coordinator, doing a salvage project adjacent to the dam. What a dedicated soul! Great Falls is blessed to have him.
He said some 15 people had crossed the dam by 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, and he was pleased with the number.
Mount Lockhart, at 8,690 feet, sits behind the Teton Pass Ski Area hill and forms the Bob Marshall boundary.
I had pledged a hike during KGPR’s fundraiser and Diane Young had purchased it for her son-in-law Matt Jackson and her husband, Ray Young.
I try to climb this gorgeous mountain at least yearly. We did a counter clockwise ridge traverse up Waldron Creek. The wildflowers were resplendent, particularly the tall and alpine forget me nots and the scarlet Indian paintbrush.
There was a large snowfield on the summit ridge, which has been present for a number of years because of the drought. Traversing it is always a thrill, and I was glad to see that it was back. I hope it means we’re not as prone to have forest fires!
It was a good tune-up for Glacier Park and Glacier Mountaineering Society Week a week from now.

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