Sunday, May 18, 2008

Family weekend, but still Mount Sentinel

Mount Jumbo far below as I climb Mount Sentinel in Missoula
This was a family weekend where climbing was secondary.
We headed for Missoula to attend Katie’s son, Jesse’s, graduation from University of Montana Law School.
Early Saturday morning I made time to climb Mount Sentinel (elevation 5,158 feet), though, a 1,958 feet rise. Those who climb to the “M” on this University of Montana landmark have only gone up a third of this nice peak.
I’m glad I climbed this so early because temperatures went into the low 90s later in the day.
Missoula also got hit by the cold weather earlier this spring that delayed its foliage, but it is still ahead of Great Falls.
Great Falls also hit 90 and there is a green cast to the trees, but the ash and elm trees are still barren and the spruce trees a brown color because it went down to 8 below just three weeks ago.
Missoula’s maples had leafed out as well as many flowering trees.
The town was hopping with life even though school closed more than a week ago.
The Clark Fork River was full of kayakers and floaters even though it is bank full from snowmelt. The water is running a chocolate color.
On the way up Sentinel I spooked a herd of deer and spotted a marmot luxuriating in the dawn sunlight.
There were many wildflowers in bloom including shooting stars, larkspur, biscuit root, fritillary, pasque flower, buttercup, and chickweed.
Graduation was interesting. Two members of the law school class of 1938 were honored. I figured they must be 95 years old. They were attentive and looked great. They were the remaining members of a class of some 80 students.
I sat next to Mike McKeon of Butte whose son was graduating. Mike and his father, Luke, were graduates of the law school. Mike told me that there are 9 members of his immediate family who have graduated from the school, the largest number from one family in the state.
On the way home we were on the lookout for moose near the Cadotte Creek Road turnoff onto Highway 200 near Lincoln. We were rewarded with a pretty good view of one dark brown moose.
The mountains in the Blackfoot Valley and around Lincoln are still pretty snowpacked, particularly in the Bob Marshall and Scapegoat wilderness areas.
This has been the best winter in years for snow.
I haven’t put my skis up yet figuring that Memorial Day weekend often yields skiable snow.
However, I’m psychologically ready for the hiking season to begin in earnest.
Sunday, we went to Malmstrom Air Force Base where we enjoyed the base airshow featuring the Canadian precision flying team, the Snowbirds.
We were impressed.

No comments: