Six Falls Spill Over on Gals as They Hike Reynolds Burn, See a Bear
We wanted to see the burn and we did. Besides the falls spilling over with spring run off, we were able to see the effects of last year's Reynolds fire and enjoy the benefits of fire as well as the devastation.
Our day started at 6 a.m. and we arrived at Sunrift Gorge parking lot and got on trail at 9:30 a.m. After a quick trip to view the gorge, we headed down the Baring Falls trail and diverted to Sun Point, which is officially closed due to construction. Along this portion of the trail, we were keenly aware of the blackened trees and soil but also shocked to see all of the bright green of new growth and popping colors of the wildflowers, particularly the Mariposa/Sego lilies, the state flower of Utah. Penstemon, alumroot, Indian paintbrush and lupine were also abundant.
We didn't stay at Sun Point long, due to high winds that blew us off our feet, so we were back on the trail, retracing our steps until we arrived at Baring Falls, where the Reynolds fire destroyed a historic ranger's cabin. Still the fire opened up the views, so we could see St. Mary lake as well as distant falls, such as Virginia, which we visited up close, and Florence Falls, which we didn't.
Then it was on to St. Mary Falls, where the burned areas were most apparent, revealing the cascades much sooner than we could ever see them before, but also exposing us to more sun than we were used to in this normally very shady area.
After our admiring the falls, we headed up the trail toward Virginia Falls, but not before stopping for lunch at an unnamed falls that trammeled down over solid rock that made a great resting ;place. After eating, we continued past two more unnamed cataracts before making it to Virginia Falls, the grand daddy of all of them, spilling and spewing mist for many meters. The gals, and their camera lenses, were soaked by even a brief stroll near the cascading water.
After we were drenched, we moved on to the bridge over the creek, which is fed by the spilling water, and enjoyed the falls from a safer vantage point.
From there, we retraced our steps to the cars, to complete an 8.5-mile circle. On the way out of the park, we got a surprise: a black bear eating by the side of the road. After many pictures and creating a bit of a bear jam, we stopped briefly at the St. Mary Visitor Center to buy souvenirs, Nature Conservancy maps and then visit the bathrooms.
Before getting home around 9 p.m. we stopped for a fun and satisfying dinner at a GiG favorite: Buffalo Joe's in Dupuyer. Surprisingly, the construction by Choteau hadn't started yet, so the drive was better than expected along this stretch of the road.