Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Forget Me Not hike

Forget-Me-Nots everywhere

Katie getting a bead on these alpine flowers 

I associate Father’s Day weekend with alpine flowers.
I discovered these exquisite blooms are at their best the third weekend of June each year and eagerly hit the high country to find them.
With so much rain this year the flowers are the best in memory.
We headed up to Rogers Pass and then hiked north (or west if you want to be a stickler for directions) along the Continental Divide Trail up to the divide crest and just beyond Cadotte Pass just below a small mountain Gary Moseman calls “Nora Mountain” for his daughter.
We were treated to an amazing show of blue, fragrant Forget-Me-Nots whose perfume permeated the high mountain air. They were interspersed with white flox, purple douglasia, and yellow buttercups and biscuitroot.
The trail had been worked over pretty thoroughly by what we guessed was a grizzly turning over stones, digging roots and looking for insects. Unfortunately, we didn’t see Old Ephraim.
From vantage points along the trail we could see that the high country is pretty socked in with snow. I’ve climbed Red Mountain (over 9,000 feet) on this weekend in years past, but this year we’d need ice axes and crampons to get the job done. Rocky Mountain Peak was full of the white stuff. We could see that Sawtooth and Steamboat looked very climbable, though.
In addition to the alpine flowers we saw plenty of other wildflowers including larkspur, paintbrush, sticky geranium, penstimin, sugar bowls and St. Johnswort. The huckleberry bushes were covered with blossoms, promising an active late summer of picking.
We were the only folks on the trail between Rogers and Lewis and Clark Pass, despite a gorgeous day with temperatures in the high 60s and poofy cumulus clouds painting an otherwise blue sky. There were some horse trailers on the other side of the highway indicating a party was on the Flesher-Rogers stretch.
It’s a 66 mile drive to Rogers Pass and access to the Continental Divide Trail, an amazing asset to have so close to Great Falls.
I ‘m amazed at how little use this treasure gets.

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