Cool Canyon with Waterfall Beckons Gals on Hot Weather Streak
One-hundred-degree weather hit Great Falls and then never let up for three weeks, prompting several trip cancellations, including a substitution this week: Blackleaf Canyon, which is exposed with lots of uphill, to Muddy Creek Falls, which is much shorter and flat, although it is an obstacle course. And the fires were blazing creating smoke. We figured a canyon hike would be better than a view hike, as our views would be occluded with smoke.
We left Great Falls at 5:30 a.m., thinking we would beat the heat of the say, which was predicted to be in the 80s, even in the mountains. After a comfort stop in Choteau, we arrived at the trailhead at 7:45 and hit trail just before 8, after gearing up.
This trail showed its challenged right away with a bushwhack down the two-track road. The silver berry was thick in spots as we made our way to the wash out from the floods of the last few years. To prevent anyone from getting lost or not making our way back to the cars, Katie placed marking tape on several trees at key intersections, although there is no guarantee of coming back the exact same way. This hike is one that is rarely hiked the same way twice as you just make your way however best you can by following the dry streambed, crossing back and forth as needed.
And the streambed isn't easy to navigate as it has many boulders and large rocks that could turn an ankle if not careful. So we alternated between walking up the streambed and following cattle and game trails through the thick brush and trees on the banks, whichever seemed the easiest in places.
It wasn't until the last half mile that we came across water and the place that Muddy Creek goes subterranean. At this point, the canyon narrows, which forced us into the water for the last part of our trek.
Still, there wasn't much water in the creek for this time of year, but once we hit the falls, we saw plenty of water. The pool was too deep to approach the falls, and we had to navigate around several boulder areas. It's always a surprise to see this falls for the first time, and it was a first for Maria, Susan and Doreen.
It took us 2 hours and 45 minutes to hike just under 2.5 miles, so it shows you the extent of the trail finding and obstacles, around which we had to negotiate. But it was an adventure. On the way back, Maria, Camille, Doreen took turns leading with Maria doing the lead most of the way, We were able to retrace our steps very well, with Maria and Camille finding some better ways to avoid the boulders in the creek bed.
We arrived back at the cars at 1:30 and drove to Choteau for a comfort stop and ice cream. We arrived home by 4 p.m. Who went: Susan, Camille, Maria, Randi, Doreen, Bonnie, Katie