Thursday, January 26, 2023

La Nina's bounty: lots of skiing, shoeing, hiking --- 747, Deadman, Cadotte, South Ridge, Silvercrest, Buffalo Jump

 LaNina, that brings moisture from the Pacific, has really delivered this winter,  bringing warmer than usual temperatures in town, and some of the best snow I've seen in the mountains.

I've been getting out a couple of times a week, mainly in the Little Belts.  I feel like I'm commuting there.

I've now done 747 loop five times this season.   It just keeps getting prettier now that we've added the new, longer loop on this six mile trek. Each trip there's been more snow, enhancing the scenery and making this remote trail on the back side of Porphyry Peak harder to find.  It's such a nice workout, easy to reach and complete in a short day trip.

Subalpine Fir frosted after a snowfall

On the Blackfoot River willow bottom near Cadotte Creek

Snow ghosts that look like little bears

Big Baldy in the Little Belts dominates the horizon

A spring pumps water in pillows of snow

Katie working her way up the Deadman Trail ridge

The newest discovery has been the South Ridge trail, up Forest Service Road 3356, across the road from nearby Silvercrest.  We've stayed away from this trip because it gets heavy snowmobile traffic. We went on a cold, gray Tuesday and encountered only two snowmobilers and there was plenty of powder.  This climbs about 1,100 feet from US 89 four miles to the South Ridge between Big Baldy and Kings Hill mountains.  It affords nice view into the Jefferson Creek drainage, and access to the Deer Point trailhead and Middle Fork Judith Wilderness Study Area.  There's tons of side logging roads and open parks if you're inclined to practice your tele turns.

I got back to Silvercrest for a short snowshoe with Wayne Phillips, and put those shoes back on for a trip on the Deadman trail.

One trip that didn't pan out so well was to Cadotte Creek south of Rogers Pass, where we didn't find really good snow and cut a backcountry ski trip there short.

And, for hiking we hit the Buffalo Jump on a clear, sunny day that afforded us amazing views in every direction, but particularly the Rocky Mountain Front.

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