Bonnie Jensen Braves Ice Cold River Walk to Earn 500 Miles on Carved Limestone Canyon Judith River Hike
On her way to earning her 500-mile award, Bonnie and five others had a fun day wading their way on a hike in and along the Middle Fork of the Judith River. The section we hiked includes the part names as a WSA (Wilderness Study Area).
We left Great Falls at 8 a.m. and arrived at the Judith FS cabin at 9:30.We were all dressed in winter clothes and our water shoes; the howling wind seemed like we made a mistake, but once we entered the canyon, we rarely felt the wind at all. However, there was no escaping the icy waters of the river on the 20+ crossings we made coming and going.
We traveled slowly, following cattle trails to begin, which quickly turned to bushwhacking and wading more than hiking. The fall colors spilled into the river and gave us some eye candy, especially the rose hips, Oregon grape and the red Osier dogwood. Our fears of the water were allayed; it wasn't too swift or too deep, so we all felt comfortable in our footing.
We admired the huge limestone cliffs, rising high overhead, littered with caves, and carved out sections from the river's current, some with bat guano spilling from them.
We stopped for lunch in a river-side cave that someone had dragged a few logs into. We didn't stop for too long as the cold crept in. We were well aware of the wind as we watched the clouds speed across the sky above us.
The way back was a bit warmer; we happened upon three gals on horses and three fishermen at the diversion dam near the end of your hike; otherwise, we saw no one else.
When we got back to the car at 2 p.m., Susan produced Bonnie's award, which has been in the making, due to canceled trips, hikes that we didn't quite go far enough, etc. But this time, she hit the big 500. Maria had made a special "500" sign for her too. This day was extra special too, as Bonnie was headed back to Vegas the next day, and Katie finished her 2020 miles in the year 2020.
Katie's husband had been out exploring the area; they decided to drive down the south fork before returning home. Everyone was home by 4 p.m.
Who went: Carol, Desirae, Susan, Maria, Bonnie, Katie
P.S. The local ranger for Sluiceboxes checked with the Discovery channel to see if they were filming a session of Naked and Afraid. They said they were not, although earlier in the summer they did do an episode in the Little Belts.