Fun Day Climbing in Mining District in the Judith Mountains
We picked off another peak, this time in the Judith Mountains outside Lewistown. This area is by the old mining ghost town of Maiden and by an old NORAD site, complete with barracks, turned Bible camp, so it's very interesting. However, we did notice the mine waste and orange-colored water, polluted with heavy metals.
The day started at 6:30 a.m. as it promised to be a hot one, so we wanted an early start. We were on trail before 9 a.m. and off trail by 2 p.m. This is a loop trail and Tom, Katie's husband, went in the opposite direction on the loop.
And it was hot. We hadn't hit the trail and we were already sweating in the very muggy weather, with threatening rain clouds. The trail started out downhill through a nice lodgepole forest before it started to climb. In about 900 feet and 2.5 miles, we reached the top to pretty views of several mountain ranges: Highwoods, Big Snowies, Little Rockies, Moccasins, Sweet Grass Hills, Adels and Juthiths. The top also had some nice flowers: arrowleaf balsamroot, douglasia, phlox, cous and nine-leaf biscuitroot, calypso/fairy slippers, Wyoming kittentails, larkspur, shooting stars and a few pasque past their prime.
When we got to the top, we expected to see Tom there already, thinking he would be faster than we were, but we were surprised that we beat him by about 30 minutes. As we ate our lunches, a young couple came along and chatted with us a bit. They were from Winifred, the man having taken over the family farm. Then when we saw Tom, they took off down the trail, doing the loop on our clockwise direction. Tom took a picture of us social distancing. Then we waited for Tom to have a bite, enjoying the breeze as it dried our sweat; he decided to go back the same way he came to show us a confusing part at the end of the trail where it hits old logging roads. He said he wandered around a bit finding the trail and that is why he took longer to get to the top.
So we headed out. The trail takes a nosedive to a deep ravine with a polluted creek running orange through it. And, of course, what goes down must come up, so we then had to pull up out of the ravine; boy were we sweating and drinking water. As we headed up the hill, we met another couple coming down. They asked how far the creek was--it was about a mile away by this time.
The rest of the way until we hit the logging road was uneventful, But at the road, we took the wrong way to begin with. We went down the road instead of up. Susan hit the wall and needed a bit of a break. She had the other half of her sandwich and was good to go the last third of a mile up the road and back to our cars. Whew! it was a great hike to see how in shape we are.
Susan and Katie were amazed at how dehydrated they were even with drinking quite a bit on the trail. They had drinks in the car but never had to stop on the way home. Not good. We need to drink more on a sweaty hot day.