Snow and Wind Turn to Sun and Views Along Flesher Pass
The gals had another journalist along, this time from the Helena Independent, on their MWA trip to Flesher Pass.
It all started at 8 am with a gorgeous drive facing the snow-capped peaks of the Rocky Mountain Front. Three gals from Great Falls faced an icy drive over Rogers Pass up to Flesher to meet with three others from Helena, one of whom didn't show up.
Camille, June and Katie met with Mary Ann and Tom, the journalist. We all quickly put on our snowshoes as the wind was howling, blowing snow into our faces. It was also slightly snowing. The day looked very cloudy, and we wondered if we would get any views at all. We also marveled at the clearcut path that had been logged, obliterating the trail in places.In fact, in one place it is very hard to pick up due to slash piles and no trees for markers. There is one small arrow marking the way that takes a bit to find if you aren't sure of the way.
But June and Katie had done a prior hike, so they were able to identify the sign quickly. And we did get some views about this time as the sun had come out.
We were surprised to find that sections of the trail were still broken, despite the snowfall we had been getting. In other parts, the blowing snow had completely covered the trail. Tom and June did most of the breaking as we made our way to the top of a mound before turning around. A few of us fell, but nothing serious while Mary Ann lost a powder basket from her poles.
On the way back, we didn't retrace our steps, instead following the road. On the way, just before the cars, we came across piles and piles of the logs that had been cut. They had a sign on them indicating they were for sale.
We arrived back at the cars at 12:30, way ahead of our 1:30 estimate, so we headed into Lincoln to use the bathrooms and buy snacks at the convenience store before heading to the Blackfoot Pathways Sculpture Garden.
Since we still had extra time, June suggested we stop to see the giant bear at the Forest Service office and also ask about the cut logs.The lady there said they were cut by Northwest Energy as part of a powerline. We asked if she was sure they weren't a fire break from the Stemple Pass fire last summer, but she said no; that the Stemple fire didn't threaten Flesher Pass area.
Then it was on to the sculpture garden to meet our guide Becky Garland and her Welsh terrior Sarge for a lovely, informative tour, explaining about the origins of the park, the artists and interpretation of each piece along the way. For the tour, we met with some skiers along with Katie's husband, who had been invited since we had had so many drops. We had a group of eight as Tom hadn't come with us, instead returning to Helena after the snowshoe.
We were able to use boots instead of snowshoes, but there was about six inches of fresh snow, so we did get a workout as we enjoyed the sculpures.
We arrived back in town around 5 p.m. Later, Tom emailed us to say he had contacted the Forest Service, and the field officer said the clearcuts were the result of fire suppression efforts. Mary wrote to MWA to see what is going on with the logging. Hopefully, we will get to the bottom of this.
Update: We talked to Ranger Duane in GF and he assures us it is a fire break as he helped make it.
Read the article here.
Who went: Katie, June, Camille