Sunday, June 12, 2011

Adel Mountains: lush and green

Mark Hertenstein works his way along volcanic outcrops

Green, green, bucolic hills

Balsamleaf Arrowroot was the flower of the day
Unfortunately, the Adel Mountains just south of Great Falls, are mostly in private ownership.
What's public is mostly state and BLM lands and tough to access.
This small, volcanic mountain range parallels Interstate 15 between Cascade and the Dearborn River on both sides of the highway.  Some consider them part of the Big Belt Mountains.
It is tough to go high anywhere in the Great Falls area because there's still too much snow.
The Adels are low-slung enough that they are mostly free of snow and spangled with wildflowers.
We spent six hours running the reddish ridgelines, which are dikes, the offshoots of the volcano.
The arrowleaf balsam root is the dominant flower with large fields trailing up every gulch and filling most open fields.
We saw lots of sign of bear and elk on the hike.
Most of the time this is a very dry mountain range, but the almost torrential La Nina rains have greened this area up like Ireland.
From high points we could look down on the flooded Missouri River and be glad we could witness from our perch.
I don't understand why there's not more interest in public access to the special mountain range.
On the east side of I-15 there are some checkerboard blocs of BLM land.  On the west side there are fewer such sections.
I'd love to see BLM try to put tracts together and offer public access.
It is so scenic and a mere 30 miles from Great Falls.

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