Sunday, September 09, 2012

Up Bridger Baldy False Summit

Me on top the false summit
Smoke is enveloping the state from numerous in-state and (mostly) Idaho fires.
I was in Bozeman for Humanities Montana meeting and decided to walk up the ridge line of the Bridger Mountains on my way out of town.
Bridger Baldy
The Bridgers is a stunning mountain range and dominates the north end of Bozeman ---- rising more than 4,000 feet from the valley floor.  It is a very narrow range, making it all the more striking.
The last time I was in the Bridgers was Labor Day weekend 2006 when I climbed Sacajawea, the range's highest peak and wandered north along the crest, picking up Hardscrabble along the way.
Runners along the ridge line.
I climbed the false summit (with marker and register) of Bridger Baldy (about 8,600 feet elevation).   This is about 300 feet shy of the summit (8,914 feet), but about a mile shorter in distance, yet I gained about 3,600 feet to reach this spot.
With all the smoke, and not much in view on the horizons, I opted for signing the summit and foregoing the rest of the ridge walk.  I had seen about as much I was going to see on this hike.
I started this climb at the Bozeman "M" parking lot.  The "M" is an 832 foot, half-mile climb.  A trail proceeds from there steeply up to the Bridger divide.
The divide is punctuated by limestone walls that rise in long ridges. The well-worn trail follows at the base.
Fall ground color
Fall is evident along the divide with significant stretches of vegetation browned with frost.  Some of the ground cover has begun to color.
I was struck by the number of runners on this trail.  Very fit young people running, not hiking shoes.
Unfortunately, there wasn't much I could see from the top because of the smoke.  I could barely make out the MSU Fieldhouse below.  The mountains I should have been able to see ---- Tobacco Roots, Madisons, Absarokees --- were obscured.
I'll be back.

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