Wednesday, August 03, 2011

An elky and steamy Steamboat climb

Of course you want to start the trip with a look at Cataract Falls

You can see the forest is coming back from the 1988 Canyon Creek Fire

Only a portion of the large herd we saw

On top, with Scapegoat Peak to my back
This is my year for seeing elk.
On my recent trip into the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area's North Wall we found entire areas full of elk sign and criss-crossed by trails.
Scarlet Indian Paintbrush was the flower of the trip.
On Wednesday climbing Steamboat Lookout Mountain in the Scapegoat Wilderness Area we happened upon a herd of more than 100 elk moving out of a thick forest and up a steep gully.  We were alerted to the herd by the whistling and chirping among the members.
We were able to observe this herd because of our safe distance from them across the gully.
On the way down from the mountain we once again heard the herd which had moved to another gully on the other side of the ridge we were using to climb.
It was an extremely hot day with temperatures in the 80s and the sun beating directly down on us.
However, we had a very satisfying climb, which involved following a great trail from the Elk Creek Trailhead, climbing more than 3,500 feet to the top that revealed amazing views of Scapegoat Mountain, the Crown Mountain complex and the high Teton Peaks to the North.
Cattle graze most of the area, but they were pretty much concentrated near a small lake near Elk Pass because the trail is clogged with blowdown timber, remnants of the 1988 Canyon Creek fire.  I was surprised that a trail crew hadn't cleared them away at this late date in the summer.
I've been monitoring the progress of the forest regeneration since 1988's fire and am pleased to report a green and healthy looking forest is emerging from the ashes.  I was please to see considerable Douglas Fir trees among the lodgepoles.

Click on this video to see the elk we found in the gully below Steamboat.  Listen closely to hear the elk chirp and whistle.

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