Sunday, January 31, 2016

Middle Fork Judith River canyon in winter

Struggling up the road that is at the center of the area conflict

One of the many caves in the canyon of frozen water

Walking right up the bottom on the frozen river
I really enjoyed a snowshoe/hiking trip into the Middle Fork of the Judith Wilderness Study Area in the Little Belt Mountains south and east of Great Falls, Saturday.
The trip showed off the resource conflict that has prevented this area from inclusion in the National Wilderness System ---- mining claims and a road that criss-crosses the river numerous times to reach those claims, causing resource damage.
We were able to walk up a canyon of mudstone and limestone on frozen river and view the river from a point above it.
Unfortunately, we saw a sample of why the resource is threatened --- an ATV on the rutted road.
We covered nearly 6 miles, gaining just under 1,000 feet.
Mark Good, the Montana Wilderness Association Island Range Chapter staff director, explained his optimism that soon the road will be closed, new access built for the in-holdings, and this land designated wilderness.
In addition to the canyon spires, this land is remarkable for its numerous Ponderosa Pine trees, and caves.
This area isn't really a good candidate for skiing, and snowshoeing is marginal because of sparse snow.
I ended up taking off the snowshoes, and putting on Yak-Tracks over my boots.

For topo map of route, and more info, CLICK HERE
The MWA Island Range Chapter group

Sadly, we found what is causing so much damage in the area

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