Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Old favorites: Patrol, Route Creek Pass, Our Lake, Pioneer Ridge

Enjoying a gorgeous day at Our Lake

Mark Hertenstein fights gale-force winds just below Route Creek Pass

The new Bob Marshall Wilderness boundary sign on Patrol Mountain Trail 

The past couple of weeks have been filled with family obligations and a trip to the Calgary Stampede.
But, I still managed to get out and enjoy quick trips to old favorite destinations in the Front:  Patrol Mountain, Route Creek Pass, Our Lake and the Pioneer Ridge in the Little Belts.
Of note are the new Bob Marshall Wilderness Area boundary signs posted on Route Creek and Patrol Mountain trails, reflecting the boundary changes made by the Heritage Act two years ago.
Particularly surprising is the wilderness sign immediately at the beginning of the Patrol Mountain trail near the trail head on Straight Creek.  It is a nice, large new sign that adds "Helena" to the name of the Lewis and Clark National Forest reflecting the administrative consolidation of the two forests.
The boundary for the Bob on the Middle Fork Teton River is now four miles up the trail toward the pass rather than the pass two miles further up the trail.
The Our Lake boundary marker is a simple marker that could be easy to miss, and about a mile from the trail head.
Each visit to the Front reinforced how special this area is.  I find myself savoring, rather than rushing through the hikes, more intent on the experience rather than the destination.
We experienced gale-force winds on Route Creek, where we abandoned plans to climb Old Baldy.
A large grizzly track not far from a scat pile filled with undigested buffalo berries

 We found many ripened buffalo berry bushes, and a nice grizzly track and some scat with undigested berries.  Smoke from forest fires filled the air on our way to the trailhead, but otherwise we had a pretty clear day.
Samantha Chapman was on her day off and away from the Patrol Mountain lookout, so I missed her for the first time in many years.  I think this might be her 15th or 16th year at the lookout.
We took neighbor kids up to Our Lake and found some snow remnants at the large waterfall fed by the lake.
I did the 5-mile Pioneer Ridge loop with a Colorado hiker in town for a family reunion.
The Patrol Mountain lookout cabin 
The large waterfall below Route Creek Pass

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