Saturday, May 03, 2008

A climbing tune-up: Highwood Baldy

First you have to cross the creek to get to the hill

Heading to the saddle

A "selfie" on top
I haven’t put my skis away yet, but the snow is starting to clear so it is time to start hiking.
What better spot around Great Falls for a tune-up climb than Highwood Baldy (elevation: 7,670 feet) a 3,200 feet gainer from the Deer Creek Trailhead about a mile from the Thain Creek Campground turnoff?
Highwood Baldy is the most prominent landmark on the eastern Great Falls horizon.
There is still a fair amount of snow on the Deer Creek bottom, but the flanks to the east and west are pretty clear.
The wildflowers are starting to pop up, the Pasque flower, fritillary, biscuit root, buttercup and even a shooting star were visible.
We could hike, even in the snow, until we hit about 6,800 feet where the forest appears above the grassy west slopes just below the summit cap.
I hauled my snowshoes up and they came in handy at this point.
Psychologically, it is tough for me to put on snowshoes. I’m a backcountry skiing kind of guy.
The mountains are just barely starting to green.
The weather for this climb was absolutely perfect. There was a light wind, blue-hazy skies, and warmth enough to wear a tee shirt most the way.
It was pleasant to find myself in acceptable early season condition. The climb was no problem.
It portends a good hiking season ahead.

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