Saturday, June 07, 2008

Assessing the Adel Mountains

Up the ridge line

Mark Hertenstein negotiates one of the ridges

The Missouri River is a constant as are the Arrowleafs in the Spring
The weather was threatening to be angry Friday as we tried to decide what to hike.
There were the usual options, the Front and one of the Island Ranges.
We decided to head south and check out the access south of Wolf Creek on BLM land that leads to the Sleeping Giant.
As we passed Cascade on I-15 we were struck by the beauty of the Adel Mountains, east of the highway.
That was enough for us to park at the Mountain Palace Missouri River overlook and head into the Adels.
The Adels are the volcanic north end of the Big Belt Mountains. They are distinctive enough to be rated a separate mountain range. The range is where cracks in the earth allowed volcanic, purplish fingers to rise from the earth. The mountain range consists of these fingers that run in ridges. The ridges look like the spines of dinosaurs.
They are challenging for any hiker because they are narrow and precipitous and must be negotiated carefully.
Our nine-hour hike entailed climbing ridges on both sides of one of the forks of Hardy Creek, doing a Figure 8.
We also ascended the high point of the Sawteeth formation --- a group of pinnacles, and a 6,500 foot unnamed mountain.
We found a nice trail on top of north ridgeline.
This hike also gave us a chance to assess last summer’s fires that extensively spotted this area.
We passed numerous open fields of wildflowers dominated by arrowleafs and larkspur. But, we also saw more different species of wildflower than we could count. Because of the recent rains the land is greener than green.
Through a burn
The views from the high ridgeline were of the Missouri River and Tower Rock State Park directly below and the Rocky Mountain Front to the north. Unsettled weather was bringing snow and rain to the Front, but we could clearly see Caribou, Steamboat, Sawtooth and Ear mountains.
Since we started at 4,000 feet, we gained at least 2,500 feet to the top of the peak.
The Adels are mostly in private ownership --- the Sieben Livestock Co., with BLM and state sections.
I would love to see the public land blocked up and this area developed for backcountry recreation.
The land, despite the fires, is in good shape and provides a great backcountry, wilderness-like experience.
It is only a 40 minute drive from Great Falls.

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