Blizzard Winds, Blowing Snow Gives Way to Sun and Views
We wondered if we should cancel: the roads had black ice according to the Montana road report, the wind was picking up, and we now had a 60 percent chance of snow, up from 40 percent the day before. But we went, thinking if Rogers pass were too bad, we could hike to Rogers Peak instead of continuing on to Flesher. So we left the DOB at just after 8 a.m. not knowing what to expect.
But June was super driver. We didn't encounter the black ice out of Simms; but Rogers Pass and all the way to Flesher was snowpacked and icy. She handled it well.
When we arrived at the pass, the wind was howling, blowing snow in our faces. We really started to get cold as we geared up and put on our snowshoes. Once we got moving, we warmed up, but the snow was still blowing the whole way to the outhouse, and flakes started to come down. At this point as we waited in line to use the pit toilet, we wondered just how far we wanted to go in this weather. And it wasn't only the weather; we had to break trail in one to two feet of snow, not that the deep snow was unexpected.
It was powdery, but still an effort, especially on the uphill sections. But we soldiered on, trading off breaking along the way. We noticed that a new trail had been cut; many, many trees had been cut down, and large slash piles remained. The blaze was very wide, resembling a power line trail. We wondered what the lumber crew was up to as the cut part did not follow the CDT (Continental Divide Trail). At first, this cut threw us off; but both Katie and June, the leaders on this trip, knew the trail was dropping too much and going the wrong direction, so we backtracked, trying to find the CDT and get back on track. Miraculously about now, the snow lifted and most of the wind stopped, revealing gorgeous views toward Holter Lake.
At this point, Katie got our her phone and checked both Gaia and Google maps to see where we were in relation to the CDT. This helped us find a tree with an arrow on it pointing the way. Everything looked so different with the trees removed.
So we finally got back on trail and proceeded another half mile before deciding to stop for lunch. June found us a nice log to sit on, sheltered from most of the wind, except for a few big gusts that blew the snow a bit. Then Katie and June went up to explore the ridge to see if we had any views into the Seeley Valley and the Swan Mountain Range. We had some views, but not that far. So the others followed us to see the vistas spreading on both sides of us.
We dropped down from the ridge to retrace our steps to the outhouse. Then instead of continuing to retrace, we took the logging road around, past a pile of wood for sale. As we approached the parking lot, the wind started to pick up again, blowing snow in our faces. June turned the car around to block the wind a bit while we took our snowshoes off and piled into the car quickly to get away from the gusts. Then the snow started again as we drove down the pass.
The rest of the way back was better than our way out, with most of the ice melting into slush. June had clear sailing once we drove down Rogers Pass. On the way, we wanted to show Lindsie the Adams Stone Barn, but we couldn't remember which town it was in. We wondered if the barn had been "saved" as we knew it was up for destruction at one time. Closely watching as we passed Simms, then Fort Shaw, then Sun River, we wondered if we had missed it, but we spied it just past the Ramble Inn. (read more here). We also told Lindsie about the assortment of bras gracing the ceiling and walls of this establishment. See for yourself here.
We arrived back at the DOB at 2:45.
Who went: Katie, Susan, June, Nora, Lindsie