Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Hiking between rain episodes

A big drift partially blocks the way to the Patrol Mountain lookout
It's been wet, thank goodness.
So, I've had to plan my hikes carefully, taking advantage of the occasional dry spell.
In the meantime, I've been working really hard to get into climbing shape, which has meant climbing a sort of checklist of climbs I do every year to gauge my conditioning:  Windy Point, Highwood Baldy, Patrol Mountain, Mount Wright, Steamboat, Sawtooth, etc.
Adventuring into new areas will be far and few between until I feel sufficiently in shape.
Spring Creek Trail in Little Belts
One exception was last weekend coming back from a trip to Billings where I stopped by the Spring Creek Campground in the southeast end of the Little Belts just west of Harlowtown.  I did a small hike on the East Fork trail from the campground, which offered beautiful views of the Crazies to the south and towering limestone spires.
This trail doesn't seem to get much use and can be hard to follow.
The map shows it going all the way over to the Daisy Ranger station.
From there, I took backroads to Kings Hill Pass, crossing through the heart of this central Montana mountain range.
On Sunday, Katie and I took Great Falls newcomers Camille Consolvo and her husband, Mike for a quick climb of Highwood Baldy.  There is a short window in the spring to climb this highpoint because the Forest Service lets the cattle in around July 1.
It is greener than green there and the wildflowers are very spectacular right now.
It was greener than green on the Highwood Baldy climb Sunday
On Tuesday I set out for the Sun River Canyon with thoughts of trying a short hike.  Both Sawtooth and Castle Reef were tantalizing, but I chose to pass because of a predicted thunderstorm.
I drove the Beaver-Willow Road to the Benchmark Road for sightseeing purposes, but when I saw Patrol Mountain, I just had to get to the top of that mountain.
I figured if I could get to the top around 2 p.m., I could beat the storm and enjoy myself.
I started at 11: 35 a.m., and made the 5-mile, 2,500 feet climb by precisely 2.
I grabbed a quick bite and was back to my car by 5 p.m., just as it started to sprinkle.
The lookout on top is staffed by Samsara Chapman, but she hasn't started yet, although I could tell that some of her supplies had arrived.
Along the way columbine and beargrass were blooming and I even found the calypso orchid in patches.
Coming home, I got pounded by rain.
Arrowleafs highlight Haystack Butte in the Front outside Augusta

1 comment:

Doug Thorsen said...

who do you ask for permission to access haystack? i've followed your blog for awhile. you have given me a lot of great ideas for hikes! thank you for sharing all of your knowledge and info. i like learning the names of flowers and stuff too from your blogs.