In Pursuit of Limestone Columbine Turns No Luck into Nice Evening
Six Giggers headed out at 3 p.m. for an evening hike to find the rare limestone or Jones columbine that inhabits alpine rocky peaks. We had seen some before on the top of Kings Hill, they were blooming on other mountains, so hoped to see them again. Alas, after a climb up the jeep road, we were skunked. We saw the leaves but no flowers. We didn't see but one or two seeds, making us think that this year's weird weather, warm, below freezing several days and then over 100 and in the 90s for a week in May might have done them in.
And, indeed, we didn't see many flowers at all. The only prolific flower was white phlox. We saw a few others such as Jacob's ladder and larkspur, but not many of them; such a change from a year ago.
But the evening was so pleasant that we enjoyed the warm weather with a slight breeze, the views and the company.
As we came down the hill, we found a BMW biker stopped at the top. Susan started a conversation with him; he was from Wisconsin and headed to the BMW biker rally in Great Falls.
We arrived home at 7:30.
Who went: Susan, Maria, Debra, Noreen, Jo Ann, Katie
Fasten-Bra-Straps-and-Remove-Dentures Ride Leads up to Waterfalls
Not Much Wading on Way to Gorgeous Box Canyon Falls
Josy and Carol S left the DOB about 8 am in June’s car and met up with Viki Gallagher in Choteau about 9:15 am. This was a rescheduled hike, moved from Tuesday, June 15 to Wednesday, June 16. The drive up and back was uneventful despite driving from Dupuyer to the Muddy Creek trailhead on about 15 miles of gravel – perfect conditions for a flat tire. No flat tire thankfully.
Our hike up to the falls was a bit longer because we missed the old 2-track road trail that was about 100 feet from the gate. We turned right farther up and knew as we kept climbing up that we had erred. We made our way down the slope toward Muddy Creek following cow and wildlife trails to get back on track, following the correct trail and eventually making our way on the rocky creek bed. We had the trail to ourselves and the daytime temperature was perfect! We were concerned about the wind. We were hiking into a head wind, which is not ideal in a box canyon that is frequented by grizzly bears.
The creek bed was dry for quite a while. Because the going was slow with uneven rocks and lots of zig-zagging from left-to-right across the dry creek bed, it was difficult to judge how far we had gone before we finally heard and saw water in the creek, but we eventually did. As we followed the trail from one side of the creek to the other, the canyon got narrower and narrower and the sound reverberating from the falls got closer and louder. The falls is about 2 miles from the trailhead, but it seemed longer. No wading was required, only needed to occasionally go through ankle deep water. We saw very little sign of bear and did plenty of talking and calling out as we hiked in.
The Muddy Creek Falls was as spectacular as expected and a new thrilling sight for Carol and Viki. We enjoyed the mist, the sound, the sight, and the uniqueness of the box canyon and the falls while we had our lunch. On our way up, we had tied orange ribbons to key junctions to visually mark our way back down and then gathered the ribbons as we made our way back to the 2 miles to our car. Our great day was celebrated with a stop for ice cream in Choteau. Perfect. Yum!
Arrowleaf Balsamroot Lead Way to Devil's Glen Hike on the Front
Two Hikes: Bearpaw Lake and Bear Paw Nature Trail
After a great hike last winter to Mount Otis and the Bearpaw Lake trail, we decided to revisit thiese places to see how they looked in the spring. Everything was so green and the wildflowers pretty.
We got an early start at 7 a.m., deciding to travel by way of HIghwood to avoid the road construction on the highway to Fort Benton. We crossed the Rocky Boy Reservation to get to the largest county park in the nation: Beaver Creek Park is a part of a unique area in northcentral Montana plains country, the Bears Paw Mountains. The park is a 10,000-acre strip along the north slopes of the Bears Paw Mountains, about one mile wide and 17 miles long.
As it is county run, they do charge $9 per car for seniors to recreate, a small price to pay considering the wonderful nature of this wild place.
We started at Bearpaw Lake and hiked a 2.5 mile loop trail, taking a side trip to Beaver Creek Falls, to cross of another on our 21 falls in 2021.
We saw a marmot and some deer on this part of our adventure along with the babbling creek. We also saw a not-very-common flower: a fringed gromwell or puccoon.
It was lunch time when we finished, but the sun was hot with no shade along the lake, so we decided to head to Lion's campground, the trailhead for our second hike, to see if any shade were available there. And the answer was yes; Lions had two nice picnic shelters and lots of trees, so we ate there. Bonnie almost used some icky ancient outhouses until we spied brand new ones behind the picnic shelters--whew!
After lunch, Gail and Jo Ann decided they had had enough hiking, so just three went down the nature trail, a very nice walk on an old reclaimed road that was overhung with black hawthorns, aspen and cottonwoods, creating a canopy and shade as we enjoyed reading the interpretive placards every tenth of a mile or so. The wildflowers, especially the arrowleaf balsamroot and golden pea were gorgeous here too. Since Gail and Jo Ann were just waiting for us, we didn't go very far, about a mile, before turning around. The trail is flat and would be almost 6 miles round trip, so we thought we should come back in fall and put a car on each end to walk all the way through.
On the way home, we stopped in Fort Benton to have a bite to eat at the Wake Cup Cafe, but they weren't serving food, just drinks, but the gal suggested we go to the Club. Katie thought it was the Banque Club, but we found it closed. A gentleman on the street told us it was the VFW Club and told us how to get there. It was a very informal place, basic food, but we were hungry.
We arrived back home around 4 pm
Who went: Gail, Jo Ann, Randi, Bonnie, Katie
Over 50 Wild Flowers Counted in Wet Highwoods Walk
A marmot, several herds or deer and lots of moose sign broke our count of the myriad wildflowers on this perfect weather day. We all agreed it was the perfect day of the year: a slight breeze, in the 60s with blue sky and puffy clouds.
Left at 7 a.m., returned by 3:30 p.m.
The Highwoods are always so green this time of year and filled with flowers. This year, the arrowleaf balsamroot weren't the dominant flower as in the past. It looked as if the latest three days of subfreezing temperatures nipped them in the bud, literally. but he shooting stars, spring beauties, pasque flowers and sugarbowls stood out even thought the flower show was on the light side.
After about five miles in, we came to a stream crossing that we couldn't rock hop across; Josy crossed on a few logs, some a bit rocky while Carol waded in her shoes and Katie walked in bare feet. We had two more easy-to-jump streams and then we were in water and mud the last mile or so.
We happend upon two strange things: wire cages that were tethered into the ground, apparently marking something, but we couldn't figure out what and some tires with reflectors and the middle covered except for a hole in the middle. We wondered if it were for a snow marker or something that had been removed for the summer. Katie sent pictures off to a ranger to identify but as of this writing had not heard back.
All of us handled the 2300 feet of gain and 8.5 miles easily.
Who went: Josy, Carol, Katie
Girls in Glacier and Katie Kotynski