A weekly recounting of the weekend adventures of Tom Kotynski, retired Great Falls Tribune Associate Editor, who prowls Montana's mountains and communities' happenings. All photos and writing are copyright Tom Kotynski.
A "selfie" on the Prairie Reef traverse. That's the Chinese Wall behind me.
The second day of a three day traverse of Prairie Reef Mountain in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area. This day details the 11 mile off-trail hike down the north ridge, and ridge scramble into into the Prairie Creek basin. This day was the high point of the trip with tremendous views into the Chinese Wall and beyond. Lots of suffering this day. It started in a shroud on the mountain-top that I waited out. My original goal was to walk the ridge back to Bear Lake, but a large snow field stopped me. Instead, I scrambled off the ridge on a goat trail and then followed elk trails for several hours until hitting a supposed Forest Service Trail down Prairie Creek. It was a trail that was clearly not maintained since the 2007 Ahorn Fire. I climbed over trees most of the afternoon and early evening, arriving in camp at Pretty Prairie after 8 p.m. I had descended 5,400 feet. On the Forest Service "trail" I bumped into two separate, large herds of elks at enormous wallows. In this unvisited area the elk have overpopulated and trashed entire drainages.