No Wind Along the Rocky Mountain Front Surprises Gals
The Blackleaf Canyon hike had already been cancelled twice, once for gale-force winds and once for expected snow, so we were very happy when the weather cooperated this time.
We left Great Falls at 7:30 am and were on trail by 9:45 after an interesting drive on two miles of very rutted road, including one section washed out by spring floods the last few years. Immediately, everyone was impressed with the massive rock walls, walls where rock climbers can be seen on most weekends. We followed the creek along the base of the main massif marveling at the huge boulders that had fallen into the stream at one time or another. In fact, Susan proclaimed one such boulder was the largest she had ever seen that had taken a tumble.
As we made our way across the now dry streambed, we saw how the trail had been washed out in the floods, but the trail crew has done a marvelous job rerouting the trail.
As we came out of the creek, we started the slow climb immediately. This hike is at a gentle angle, so you don't even realize some of the walk is uphill. When we came back down, we were surprised at how downhill/uphill it was.
One thing we noticed immediately was the lack of wind. Although the temperature was only in the fifties, as soon as we climbed out of the canyon and into the sun, we warmed quickly, necessitating stops to strip layers. Most of us were down to t-shirts by the time we hit the top.
The spiraea and other ground covers were bright oranges and reds, and the aspen bright yellow against a brilliant blue sky. Finally, our skies were clear from smoke, not so in Great Falls, which was getting haze from the Yogo/Judith fire.
The middle section of the hike is in the trees; once we broke out into the alpine area, we again were amazed at the huge cliffs and rugged mountains surrounding us. We also couldn't believe the extent of the 2007 fire that burned so hot nothing is really growing yet. In this area, the breeze picked up a bit but felt so good.
Once we attained the saddle, what was to be our lunch spot and turn-around, Susan spied some rocks up on the side of the pass and declared she was going higher. The rest of us dragged our legs up too, even though we were hungry and ready for a rest. But we were glad we did. The views were even better and the breeze not as cool. Even a slight breeze at 50-degrees can cool hikers quickly, especially if sweaty after a climb.
The way down was just as gorgeous facing the other way. We did see sheep and bear scat along with little critter and coyote but no animals. We had the area to our selves, except two cows left behind from the round up the week before.
We arrived back at our cars right around 4 and arrive back to GF at 6 p.m.
Who went: Carol, Susan, Randi, Katie (and Katie's husband tagging along in the back)