Monday, June 03, 2013

Forget the rain, it's all about the wildflowers

Wayne Phillips on the flank of Rodgers Peak on the Continental Divide Trail near Rogers Pass
It has rained pretty steadily the past 10 days.
We had a break on Saturday and I took full advantage of it, climbing Rodgers Peak above Rogers Pass (yes, they are spelled differently on Forest Service topo maps). It was National Trails Day and what better way to celebrate it than hiking the Continental Divide Trail.
I can't believe how those of us who live near it, ignore it.
It is as close to Great Falls as Kings Hill Pass in the Little Belts, but it doesn't get near the use of the Kings Hill trails.
It is a greater, longer and grander trail than the Appalachian Trail, but without the crowds.
We hiked east along the CDT from Rogers Pass toward Flesher Pass, climbing the 1,400 feet to its crest.
There are streaks of snow on Rodgers Peak's red rock slopes.
Bouquets of alpine flowers spangle the CDT
But the feature of the hour on this hike were the many alpine wildflowers --- particularly pink Douglasia and blue Forget-Me-Nots.
The CDT walk was not my choice Saturday, but the rainy weather drove me to it.  My choice had been Highwood Baldy, but I feared flash flooding and switched.
Likewise, my wife also switched her Trails Day hike from Crown Butte to the west side of the Rogers Pass CDT.  She took 12 all-female hikers with her to enjoy the scenery and the flowers.
We attracted their attention on the others side of the pass by yodeling across to them.  We got a hearty yell of acknowledgement back from the women.
Rain caught up with us on Sunday, however.
We got up to the ridge line on the North Highwood Creek Center Ridge Trail when the heavens cut loose and dumped lots of rain on us.
It was lots greener in the Highwoods than on the CDT, and the flowers, particularly the Arrowleaf Balsamroots, spangled the hillsides.
From there we left for Fort Benton where we had a reservation at the Grand Union Hotel to celebrate our wedding anniversary.
Arrowleaf Balsamroots dominate the Highwoods hillsides

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