Group Splits: Some Go Green Mountain; Some Do Red Mountain Loop
After a day of soaring views and wonderful wildflower shows, the GiG declared, "I'd do that one again."
The day started at 6:15 with a missed meeting of Viki at the pass. Luckily, we found her at the turn off for Alice Creek, so all was well. We didn't see any wildlife on the way in, but with Covid virus, we were mostly traveling alone with no one to watch while the driver kept eyes on the road.
We got on trail at 8:30 a bit late for a sunny day on an exposed trail, but the temps weren't supposed to rise above the low 70s. The burn was actually beautiful, making for more views and sun for the flowers. We saw showy fleabane daisy, spiraea, and fireweed and harebells in this section. As it was mostly flat, we made good time. However, about 2.5 miles in on a gently sloping trail, the path took a decidedly steeper turn. At this point, Susan, coming off an illness, didn't think she could continue. After a discussion, Beth, Mary and Amber, who all came in one car, said they would take her back and then start from the other end and meet us around Red Mountain. So we said our goodbyes, thinking we would see them later on the trail, hoping Susan was okay.
As we climbed to the ridge, it was hot; it was a good incline, but once we hit the top, the flowers were amazing in the meadows. The cliffs were jagged too, maiking for a lovely ridge walk. We did come across two men on a rocky outcropping above us. At first we thought it might be Amber, Beth and Mary. but no. At this point, we started yelling Yoohoo at intervals, thinking they were fast hikers and might be coming upon us soon.
We stopped for lunch at the edge of a cliff area with views. The area was very burned, with even the ground blackened. Paula had to put a jacket on as the wind had a chill to it and she was in shorts and short sleeves, so we decided to get back on trail to prevent hypothermia.
We enjoyed the ridge walk and flower show a bit longer: the blanket flowers, harebells and Indian paintbrush with buckwheat. Then we faced more uphill, but it looked worse than it was. i guess we had strength from our lunch break. Along the way, we kept hollering out, wondering when we would run into the other three, but we never did.
We kept an eye out for grizzlies along the way as we saw several digging patches and bear scat, most at least a day old, thankfully. A few far-off cairns/rocks gave us a start at times, but we didn't see any wildlife except birds.
After our climb, we descended to Red Mountain and put two stones on the cairn in remembrance of our two GiG members whom we have lost: Chrissy and Colette/Coco.
We hit Lewis and Clark Pass, paused for pic by the sign and then were started by a big black dog that approached us from the back, its owner not calling it off or anything. In bear country, this was a bit unnerviing. We shooed it away, but it kept coming back at us. Finally, we looked back and owner and dog were gone. Then we flew down the road, the last mile and a half to our cars, running into a group of people with four dogs. These dogs ran past us and didn't bother.
As we approached the parking lot, we were anxious to see if Beth's car and Susan's car were both gone. We wondered if the other gals decided to call it a day, Susan's car was gone but not Beth's, soi we surmised that they had decided to do the entire hike and would be about three hours behind us.
We got off trail at 2:20 and arrived home around 4:15. We really set a record for our group on an 11-mile hike. At six p.m., we learned the others were at Rogers pass. They had gone in the other direction and had gone up Green mountain instead of Red, so it was a Christmasy-type of day! They would have gotten home around 7 p.m., still three hours behind us. We checked in with Susan. She was tired but otherwise fine. So we all had a good day.
Info from Green Mountain Group: We maintained a steady pace and enjoyed the journey as we ventured East if the Alice Creek trailhead. The lightening caused Alice Creek Fire from three years ago, (thanks go to Amber for looking that up) did not allow for any shade throughout. The cool breeze was appreciated! The ground/soil was still charred and black, yet bunches of lupine, fireweed, yarrow, Harebells, golden rod, bunch grass, and other flower species dotted the ground. No new trees were observed, but some trees were spared from the fire’s path. At the Lewis and Clark Pass, we hiked south on the CDT for 1.5 miles, with the trail being fairly steep and tallus laden. With the various colored strata, the rocks had stories to tell- if only to understand them! 😀 Beth did manage to collect a few - her backpack could hold no more and was she was very excited by the unique characteristics of each treasure packed home.
Near the top of Lewis snd Clark Pass, we saw a wooden post with wrapped with barbed wire and a few nails pounded into it. We wondered if it was placed there intentionally to collect bear fur for DNA sampling. There was a big clump of hair on it.
One extremely small group of cumulus clouds was in the sky leaving 99% Montana’s brilliant blue sky available to observe for mikes in each direction from the top of Green Mountain. Once on top, Mary opened a rusty metal box which contained some small wet documents- li like a ledger or small notebook - and a prescription bottle with a local photographer’s business card in it. We found the USGS benchmark, took some pictures and ate a snack, while enjoying the views before we headed back down the mountain. Definitely, a fun filled afternoon and we all felt a sense of accomplishment!
Who went: Paula O, Viki, Susan, Beth, Amber, Mary S, Katie