Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Defying smoke, Blackleaf Canyon

Despite fires, Mount Frazier appeared clear on the Front up Blackleaf Canyon
I may have been denying myself unnecessarily this fire season.
I had limited my trips from what I could judge from smoke conditions in Great Falls.  If I couldn't see the Rocky Mountain Front, the Highwoods or the Little Belts I stayed home.
Such was the case Saturday when I passed on an opportunity to go to the Front for a Headquarters Pass-Our Lake traverse.   It was really socked in here, but the winds had shifted to the north.
Turns out it was a picture-perfect day on the Front with views of the Chinese Wall from HQ Pass.
So, I decided to test out the conditions Sunday, and despite the smoke in Great Falls headed to the Blackleaf Canyon in the Front.
The wind had shifted some and it was coming from the south, blowing some smoke into the Blackeaf.
But, it cleared sufficiently that I had very nice day hiking to the East Fork Teton divide behind Mount Werner, logging 7.5 miles and 1,800 feet in elevation.
I had clear views of Mounts Frazier and Werner, between which the trail passed, and even some blue sky.
I took it slowly and enjoyed the grandeur of the area and the solitude, although I did share it with a small herd of angus cattle.
I never tire of the canyon's high walls, walls inviting enough that they have rope climbing routes on them and I saw two climbers getting in position to test themselves on it.

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