Thursday, June 19, 2008

Exploring Sawtooth

Hunters, I think, have cleared this area to access an elk blind

The elk blind

Glorious Sawtooth Mountain, one of my favorite mountains
It was achingly beautiful Wednesday and I ventured to the Front to enjoy the Sun River Canyon and explore a route up Sawtooth Mountain.
I didn’t make it to the top, but enjoyed the trip anyway.
My goal was to explore one of the shelves on Sawtooth’s east face, and if possible break through a cliff band to the top.
I found a shelf, but it was a lower shelf and I overshot the break.
Had I found that break it would have been an easy walk to the top.
But in overshooting it I made some fun discoveries.
One was the need to explore the Sun River Game Range below to the east. What a resource I haven’t touched!
I also found mountain goat hair on the shelf. I didn’t realize there are mountain goats on Sawtooth. I didn’t spot one, but it is fun knowing they are there.
I took a very direct ridge route from the Sun Canyon Lodge.
Just south and above Red Lake, really a big watery red clay hole, I discovered an elk hunting blind that had been worked over pretty hard. There were two large blinds, built out of rock and twisted, dead trees. A path across the top of this flat area had been cleared by chain saws. There must be at least a hundred trees cleared along a quarter-mile area.
This blind sits on a historic elk path from the Bob Marshall to the Sun River Game range.
I imagine hunters using the blinds can pick off elk at will.
It didn’t look particularly sporting to me.
I wonder if the hunters got permission to clear the trees from the Forest Service.
On the way back from the Sawtooth cliff band about two-dozen bighorn sheep crossed in front of me and worked their way across the north face of the mountain.
Although I didn’t make the top, I had a most profitable day!

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