Frozen Falls, Crystal Creeks Sparkle under Blue Skies
After two days and nights that included below-zero weather, the gals were glad to find some sunshine to highlight the snowy landscape.
Four of us headed to the hills--the Little Belts--for a snowshoe to Memorial Falls, followed by lunch at the car and then a short run up Jefferson Creek, just to where Chamberlain Creek crosses the road.
We were surprised that the pull-out just after Memorial Falls isn't being plowed. In fact, markers have been put up prohibiting plowing altogether, so we had to hike about a half mile and park at the Jefferson Creek parking lot in order to reach the falls.Luckily, we had light traffic, which was also surprising since we expected quite a bit of skiers headed to Showdown on such a nice Sunday.
Memorial Falls never disappoints in the winter as it always looks different. This time, it resembled an elaborate cave formation or off-center wedding cake. After visiting the main falls, we headed up the hill to upper falls and short distance beyond. The lack of snow was evident as branches and fallen logs weren't covered yet. And we really didn't have a base, the powder so fluffy we sank right down to rocks in many places.
After our falls fix, we returned to the car for lunch before heading for our jaunt down Jefferson Creek. On this part of our hike, we met Jane Weber on skis as well as several other snowshoe parties. Unfortunately, there is no sign indicating snowshoe etiquette to stay off the ski tracks, which frustrates the skiers, whose tracks are wrecked by snowshoes. We did try to explain to the other snowshoers whom we encountered to please stay off the ski tracks.
We had a fun hike along the creek, venturing off the main trail at times to keep the water in sight. It had some gorgeous frozen ponds with crystals glinting in the sun. We marveled at all of the animal tracks we saw, mostly large ungulates, possibly both elk and moose along with rabbit tracks.
At the end of a 2.5 mile hike to add to our previous 2.5 miles to the falls, we returned to Great Falls by 2:30.