Thursday, June 30, 2016

A week's worth of hiking, climbing

Mike Dannells crests the Patrol Mountain summit cap
When I don't post for a while, like last week, it doesn't mean I'm inactive.
Quite the opposite.
Since my last posting 10 days ago I went on a Montana Wilderness Association tour of the Lewis and Clark Expedition "Fight Site," on the Two Medicine River, led a Wayne's Wednesday Walk into Muddy Creek Falls on the Front, led an MWA climb of Fairview Mountain in the Front, dipped into Glacier Park for a quick look at some mountain goats, climbed Highwood Baldy Peak by a new route, and led a Wayne's Walk up Patrol Mountain ----- whew!!!
It's high summer, after all.
The weather has been generally spectacular with clear vistas enhancing everything I've done.

Lewis and Clark Fight Site

Walking to the Fight Site meant traversing some Two Med badlands in a high wind

This MWA event turned out to be mostly a car trip with a short hike to the site through Two Med badlands.
This is where the Lewis and Clark Expedition met two teenage Blackfeet, who attempted to steal a rifle and horses and one of them were killed, and the expedition fled.
The site visit was led by Larry Epstein, former Glacier County Attorney, who as a teen frequented the area, which sparked his interest in the history.  He helped locate the site and later became a member of the Lewis and Clark Foundation.
This is unbelievably remote, reached off the Cut Bank-Valier cutoff road where there is a state plaque commemorating the fight.  Then it was a drive through fields high above the site and badlands below.
We also stopped at a historical marker off U.S. 2 just outside Browning marking the 100th anniversary of the expedition, and the Holy Family Mission (to which I returned later that week).

Crown Mountain Trail

Katie, just below the saddle south of Crown Mountain

I've been up this Crown Mountain Trail 270 west of Augusta many times, mostly to climb the mountain, but my wife Katie had not been.
This is the best way to climb the mountain, but the hike to the saddle to the south of the mountain, is a worthy hike.
We had a crystal-clear day and got to see lots of wildflowers.

Muddy Creek Falls
The canyon walls impressed all the hikers

The low flows in the creek concerned the hikers

This is a 4-mile roundtrip hike in the Front up the Muddy Creek Canyon I've done many times with family and friends.
This trip, which included 10 friends from Great Falls, was part of the Wayne's Wednesday Walks.
It was a hot day, so the cool of the waterfall canyon slot was most welcome.
We were all a bit unsettled by the low water flow in the creek.  

Fairview Mountain
Our MWA group on top

The hike is impressive for the several Willow Creek Falls

Katie and I led this hike of 12 people as part of the Montana Wilderness Association's Wilderness Walks program.
All 12 made it up the summit, which offers spectacular views of the southern end of the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, particularly the Scapegoat.
We walked up the Willow Creek Falls Trail west of Augusta, breaking off the trail and going cross country to the top just beyond the final cascade.

Highwood Baldy
The outstanding wildflowers below Highwood Baldy

I try to do this at least annually, and was a bit late this year.
I perfected a route that travels a ridge line between McMurty and Deer creeks, shaving off a couple tenths of mile from the Deer Creek route.
The advantage to this new route is that it stays on a ridgeline most of the way, where the Deer Creek route comes up a bottom.
This allows for more expansive views.
What was special about this route last week were the abundant wildflowers, particularly Sticky Geranium and Lupine and the thick grasses.  I could see where the elk had been sleeping on the ridge in these grasses from the large indentations.

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