Monday, October 01, 2012

Two wilderness areas and a peak in a day hike

Fall color lights up Deer Creek where the Scapegoat and Bob Marshall collide
When I went into the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area to walk to the Chinese Wall a month ago I passed a small, obscure trail at the beginning of the hike out of Benchmark that piqued my curiosity.
Nineteen Mountain ridgeline dominated views to the southwest on the hike
It is the Deer Creek Trail, about a mile and a half from the trailhead, a trail that leads to the top of Deadman Hill (elevation: 7,368 feet), the site of a lookout that was torn down about 60 years ago.
I had just sped past this wonderful trail in the past on my way into the Bob for some other destination.
Unimpressive to look at, Deadman Hill offers exceptional views of the Bob and Scapegoat
Lucky for me, the hike Sunday was enhanced by the peak of autumnal splendor with cottonwoods and aspen in full color.  The groundcover was brilliant in reds, oranges and yellows, too.
The trail climbs on the south slope of a long ridgeline for 5 miles, rising 2,100 feet to the top.  About a mile into the hike you enter the Scapegoat Wilderness Area.  On top you are in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area.
The views along the way are remarkable:  the massive Nineteen Peak limestone ridge rises to the southwest, imitating the Chinese Wall for sheer size.  Smaller peaks on a north-south ridgeline adjacent to Deadman Hill are a red shale color.
The Ahorn Fire of 2007 has created a mosaic of ghost forest and left entire hillsides untouched.
The Deadman Ridge separates Deer Creek from the West Fork of the South Fork of the Sun River that is a main thoroughfare to the Chinese Wall.
South Fork Sun River near Pretty Prairie
From Deadman Hill the views along the ridgeline to the west leads the eye directly to the Wall (Salt Mountain), Prairie Reef and Sheep mountains.  There are tremendous views of Pretty Prairie where the cottonwoods lit up the bottoms with their fall colors.
To the east is the Rocky Mountain Front, Renshaw and Sheep Shed peaks.
To the south, Arsenic, Crown and Patrol mountains and the Elbow Complex fires that are still smoldering after more than three months of burn, shooting white puffs as the wind blew.
At one time Deadman Hill stood as a lookout directly between the lookouts on Patrol and Prairie Reef mountains.  Now Deadman seems a lonely, if abandoned place that has few visitors save the many elk that inhabit the nearby hillsides and forests or grizzly bears that have churned the ground and overturned rocks looking for things to eat.
This is an out and back hike, but there's nothing stopping the curious hiker from going off trail beyond or up one of the many tempting peaks.

No comments: