Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A week's worth: Fairview again, CDT at Rogers (twice), Wolf Butte

At Lewis and Clark Pass 
Silky Phacelia were abundant

Beargrass was thick near Rogers Pass
Primrose were everywhere
A standard CDT view near Rogers Pass

Nearing the top of Green Mountain, the high point on the hike at 7,450 feet

As Spring turned to Summer 2017 I got extremely active with the great weather, climbing Fairview for the second time in a week, doing two variations on the Continental Divide Trail between Rogers and Lewis and Clark passes and doing my annual climb of Wolf Butte in the Little Belts with my son, Demian.
I took and re-took these hikes simply to enjoy the aesthetics, and the athletics.
Of particular interest were the wildflowers on the stretch of the CDT between Rogers and Lewis and Clark passes.  Rogers is easily accessible from Highway 200, just under an hour's drive from Great Falls.  Lewis and Clark Pass is reached from the Alice Creek trailhead in the Helena National Forest some 14 miles from Rogers Pass on the Alice Creek Road.
Usually at this time of year we enjoy the alpine flowers atop the CDT above Rogers.  But, this year everything seems accelerated. Yes, we saw some alpine flowers, but they were fading and being replaced by other varieties.  Where we normally see Forget-Me-Nots and Douglasia now, they've faded and have been replaced by Miner's Candle and Primrose and tons of Loco Weed.
On Sunday we hiked from Alice Creek trailhead to Lewis and Clark Pass and then to Rogers, covering 10 miles and climbing 3,000 feet in brilliant sunlight.
After reaching Cadotte Pass we began to see other hikers who had come up from Rogers, checking out the wildflowers.  We later found out that most were from the Missoula area.  Their interest was piqued by a story in the Missoulian newspaper extolling the blooms along the Divide.
I have been going to this area for 45 years, and have never seen so many cars at Rogers Pass.  I teased the Missoulian's Rob Chaney that his article made Rogers look like a Bozeman-area trailhead.
There were lots of grizzly diggings or 'rototillings' on the hillsides between Green Mountain and Cadotte Pass.
The views along this stretch of the CDT include the Red Mountain skyline, the tops of Steamboat Lookout, Caribou Peak, Ear Mountain and Table Mountain, the Great Plains, and as far south and west as the Flint Creek mountains near Deer Lodge and Philipsburg.  On a clear day the Island Ranges of Montana, including the Sweetgrass Hills, Highwoods, Bearpaws, Big and Little Belts and even Snowies are visible.
What an amazing thing it is to have this national scenic trail in our back yard!

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