Long hike that is oh, so worth it
We started out at 5 a.m. so as to miss the heat of the day going uphill, which did make for a much more pleasant climb. On the way up, we encountered a mountain biker, who must have gone over the top and continued onto the Crystal Cascades trail as we didn't see him at the caves. We also saw gorgeous wildflowers, predominantly larkspur and columbine as well as fantastic views of Crystal Lake.
We ate lunch at the top of the Snowy Crest, with 360 degree views of the all of the mountain ranges. Thank goodness the smoke from the Washington/Oregon/Canadian fires cleared so we could enjoy the views of nine ranges from the top: Moccasins, Belts, Highwoods, Absarokas, Judiths, Little Snowies, Little Rockies, Bears Paw, Pryors and Madisons. We couldn't quite see the Tetons, but the views were still spectacular. We also enjoyed the Medicine Wheel and views of the small surrounding towns and the Judith Gap wind farm.
As we followed the ducks/cairns to find the trail on the rocky mountain ridgeline, a party of two young men overtook us on the way to the caves and they took our picture at the sign to Devil's Chute, which we declined to go in.
Again, the flowers were so colorful, we had a hard time not snapping photos as they blues and yellows popped out at us.
When we arrived at the Ice Cave, the guys were just exiting, leaving the cave to us by ourselves. What a fun time to go through the small cave opening and see the beautiful ice formations. We put on our yaktrax and ice cleats and walked on the solid ice flooring to explore the formations. One column had a hole in it, so the gals shined their lights into it, revealing a fallen flashlight and other items, leaving the gals to wonder what else might have fallen into that hole over the years.
After our cool inside-the-cave adventure, we made the long trek back down, searching for and finding a few fossils in the limestone rocks we had to walk across. We met a gal going up and in addition to bear spray, she was packing a pistol, showing it to us when we inquired if she was afraid of hiking alone.
At the end of the hike, since we finished just before 4:30, we decided to head into Lewistown for dinner, deciding on Mexican food. We arrived back in Great Falls by 8:30.
What a wonderful day and such an amazing place to see!
Who went: Susan, Sue, Brenda, Mary, Gail, Chrissie, Katie
Link to Katie's pics
Link to Gail's pics