We knew it was going to be a hot one, so we left town at 5:15 a.m. This adventure was a hike to get Susan W back on her game after being ill with a bug that affected her lungs and stamina. We were all determined that she would make this hike after not having the energy a few days before. And on Amber's advice, she had drunk a quart of water the night before to hydrate.
So we hit the trail around 7:15 when it was still a cool 47 degrees; but with the sun shining down, it did feel hotter. This section of trail was full of tall, bright magenta fireweed under the burnt trees from the 2017 Allice Creek Fire and purple harebells.
We slowly made our way to Lewis and Clark pass, as Katie decided going counterclockwise would be easier, with more flat spots on the uphill than the other direction that we had just done. After the pass, we turned left onto the CDT (Continental Divide Trail) where the rocks turn granitic, with crystallin sand and many rocks on the trail that are hard on the feet. This type of rock lasted almost until the top of Red Mountain, at which point, the rocks went from igneous to sedimentary. This area is very interesting for rock formations. Just across the pass on Green mountain, the rocks are full of blue-green tarnished copper.
Most of us were happy to tag another peak and then the scenic ridge walk began: the cliffs so stark with their drop offs and layers of mudstone. After the ridge walk, we entered a section of trees that had not been burned. Under these trees was a beautiful meadow full of bright red Indian paintbrush among other flowers. We must have seen around 100 different varieties on this magnificent loop hike.
The last uphill section before we got off the CDT and headed down the last four miles to our cars was a bit taxing on Susan, but she did well. Then it was down, down, down, with stops at the springs to dip in our neck coolers for an "ah" moment of relief as the sun was really beating down at this point. Still the temperatures were in the 70s as opposed to the 90s we were having in Great Falls. We felt lucky to have this entire hike to ourselves and live so close to these opportunities.
We arrived back to our cars around 2 p.m. Mission accomplished; Susan did well and felt fine. She is back on trail with us now!
Who went: Beth, Amber, Nora, Susan, Katie