Saturday, April 11, 2015

Snow gone, so it's time to hike

The top of Windy Peak in the Highwood Mountains Friday
This has been the longest break I've taken from the blog in its 11 years of existence.
I visited a daughter in Portland, helped my mother move into a retirement community in Chicago and last weekend spent it with a grandson in Minneapolis.
So, it was high time to get back to the high country.
Lots of wildflowers already
At this time of year I'm usually skiing in the best snow of the winter.
Not this year.
Yes, there is snow above 6,500 feet, but we haven't got too much of it and what's left is pretty wind-crusted and hard, not conducive to the kind of skiing I love.
This poor critter didn't winter well
I went out Friday to test the hiking in the Highwoods and was pleasantly surprised by what I found.
The road to Thain Creek Campground is in great shape and the trail to Windy Peak and beyond is in great shape.
In fact, I bumped into three other hiking parties when I was there.
I climbed Windy Peak (a bump in the range at 5.998 feet) and got really great views of the surrounding ranges including the Little Rockies, Bearpaws, Little Belts, Snowies and all the way to the Rocky Mountain Front.
There's still lots of snow on top both Highwood Baldy and Arrow peaks, but just above 6,500 feet.
My plan is go back Monday and climb Baldy.
I was very surprised to find numerous wildflowers in bloom; Pasque, buttercups, spring beauty, fritillary, oregon graps, among others.
The bottoms of the creek were shockingly green.
Word of caution if you go out:  the ticks are thick.
I still hold out hope that we'll get a couple more blasts of snow for skiing and to supply water for our streams this summer.
But if not, perhaps the hiking season has truly begun.
The creek bottoms were surprisingly green

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