|The Reynolds Burn above St. Mary Falls|
|An interesting sky on Scalplock Peak|
|A crapper with a view on Scalplock. St. Nick shard is prominent|
|Katie in Apistoki Valley|
There's still some snow, but many peaks in the park are climbable, particularly in the southern end of the park.
On Friday we walked along the St. Mary River in the Reynolds Creek Burn from last summer, assessing how the fire affected the area. We think the fire opened up some vistas and that will be an improvement. On the down side, the area has lost much of its shade and will be blazing hot in the summer sun, where it was a nice, shady oasis before the burn. There is plenty of greenery and flowers in the char and the colorful rocks along the trail, once hidden, are on display. I liked what I saw. We visited St. Mary and Virginia Falls on a side trip.
On Saturday we climbed Scalplock Mountain (elevation: 6,919 feet), a roundtrip of 4.6 miles and elevation gain of about 3,200 feet. This was my sixth time up this wooded peak, located just north of Essex. A trail to a fire lookout, on the National Register of Historic Places, is on top. There are some 17 switchbacks to the top, which makes the elevation gain easier, if longer. The payoff were the tremendous 360 views from the top of this relatively small peak: the snow-capped Great Bear Wilderness Area high peaks to the south, Glacier in all other directions and the Wild and Scenic Middle Fork Flathead River snaking below. The park's most famous pinnacle, St. Nicholas, is directly northwest.
|Orange Indian Paintbrush|
|The beargrass seems early this year|
On Sunday we ventured into the Appistoki Valley, a wide valley that drains the Mount Henry and Appistoki peaks headwalls above Two Medicine's Scenic Point trailhead. We took the trail about a mile and 600 feet, where we headed off-trail for the valley. There was plenty of snow to criss-cross the rushing creek and we stopped for lunch below a large waterfall. This is really wild country.
|My favorite girl with my favorite wildflower, plentiful camas|
|The Reynolds fire improved the views. Trees once hid falls view from trail|
|Rising Wolf behind Katie|
|Katie at Scalplock Lookout near Essex in the Park|