Monday, April 30, 2007

A birthday climb

Celebrating my 59th birthday atop Mount Helena

Wayne Phillips on way to Windy Point with Highwood Baldy in background
I like to get (up) high on my birthday, so I always look for a peak to climb.
It was such a beautiful spring day Saturday that I headed for Helena and climbed Mount Helena to celebrate my 59th birthday.
On Sunday I followed with Windy Peak in the Highwood Mountains.
What a great way to begin a new year.
Both hikes were enhanced by a display of the season’s first wildflowers. We counted more than 20 varieties, the most plentiful the pasque flower, but there were plenty of shooting stars, buttercups, spring beauty, and fritillary.
On Saturday we were fortunate enough to have a bright blue sky, no wind and temperatures in the low 80s.
On Sunday it was overcast, but that didn’t prevent me from acquiring a nasty sunburn on my arms.
We traversed Mount Helena by the Prairie Trail and came down through Limekiln Gulch.
In the Highwoods we did a loop hike from Windy Point back to our car via a ridge above the North Fork of Highwood Creek.
Plentiful Pasque flowers in bloom on Mount Helena
There was more snow in the Highwoods and Little Belts than in the mountains around Helena.
A hiker will find clear trails in the Gates of the Mountains now.
While I’m shifting my pack from skiing to hiking I haven’t put away the backcountry skis yet, recalling that May can offer some pretty good snow days.

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