Thursday, February 06, 2020

High winter: 747, Falls Creek Falls and Waldron Creek

Our route past and back to Falls Creek Falls

The stats 

Falls Creek Falls, a spectacular sight

I call the best part of summer, "High Summer."
I think the best part of winter should likewise be called, "High Winter."
We're in High Winter right now.
The high country has some of the best powder in years.
Yet, it has been dry and relatively warm down low in town.
In the past week I broke trail for Katie's Girls in Glacier group on the Little Belts' Trail No. 747 behind Porphyry Peak on Sunday, we hiked into Falls Creek Falls up the Dearborn on Tuesday, and we had a fabulous ski up Waldron Creek into the North Fork bowl with a side trip to the Teton Pass Ski Area for some tele turns.
The "girls" on snowshoes coming down 747

The route that included my going off trail

My stats on 747 

Despite a big wind storm along the Front I found pretty calm conditions in the Little Belts Sunday.  Dumb-me had trouble finding the trail down 747 despite having done it three times previously already this year.  The snow was great and I enjoyed meeting Katie and three of her girls, who were on snowshoes.  By going off-trail and then skiing up and back on 747 once I found it, I added a couple of miles to the trip.
On Tuesday, Katie and I went for our morning walk on a glorious no-cloud day.  Katie suggested that we go to Falls Creek in the Rocky Mountain Front instead, and we turned around and headed for the mountains.
Falls Creek, off the Dearborn between Table and Twin Buttes mountains had pretty much melted-out during the Chinook and the snow had melted and then refroze.  We started out on snowshoes and then went to Yak-Trax.  We had difficulty finding the "trail" to view the falls because the hardened snow covered the trace that is the unofficial trail.  I had remembered it off one of the grassy clearings, and we started toward it and couldn't find it and continued up the main Falls Creek trail.  We added some distance to the otherwise very easy walk in our search.
On the way back we noticed a stone cairn and I followed it up a ridge and looked to the south and discovered the falls.  They had mostly frozen and clung to the deep canyon walls.  Other spots were frozen in place along the canyon as well.
Gordon Whirry at the Waldron Creek Bowl

Our route

On Wednesday it was Wayne's Walks day and I was the leader of our meager group of three up North Fork Waldron Creek into the bowl.  It was the second time this winter for us.
After reaching the bowl and climbing to 7,000 feet, we turned around for some tele turns and reached the junction with the rarely used trail to the Teton Pass Ski Area.  It is rather steep and a bit difficult to follow.  Once we got to the ski area we stayed for four runs and turned around on the trail and back to the car.
There were four new inches of powder on a lovely base.  The sun also cooperated, giving us views of Choteau and Guthrie peaks to the east.  I really enjoyed seeing the ski area, not open on Wednesdays as it had been in years past. I hadn't been there in three years because it didn't open.
Our Waldron Bowl/Teton Ski Area stats

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