Moon, Antelope, Rocky-Mountain-Front Views Delight on Drive
It was the best of times; it was the worst of times on the drive to Teton Pass Skl Resort for our hike along the North Fork of Waldron Creek out of Choteau. The best of times included seeing a herd of about 100 antelope glinting in the sunrise and the moon setting behind the pink-tinged mountains of the Front.
The worst of times happened when some of the gals started hyperventilating when they realized that we were headed in the direction of Mount Wright, the hike that did some of them in last summer. Just seeing the burned trees on the hills reminded them of how hot they got with no shade trees on an 80-degree day hiking the very uphill trail to the top of an almost 10,000 foot peak. The snow seemed to sizzle as the gals described getting under cars for shade after the return and jumping in the Teton River to cool down.
Surprisingly, the paved part of the road was quite clear but the gravel wasn't well sanded and was snowpacked and icy, making for a slow trip to the top.
But as soon as we parked at the ski hill, all was forgotten of icy roads and Mount Wright as we realized there was no wind, temperature about 20 degrees, so the day was beautiful for our snowshoe hike. And it was perfect day for welcoming our newest member, Sue H., to snowshoeing.
The trail heads straight up the ski hill before you turn 300 feet up, the blue diamond marking the place for back country skiers to head into the trees away from the alpine ski resort.
Luckily, someone had broken trail, so the walking was pretty easy and our trail-finding skills weren't challenged at all. although this trail does have some ups and downs and some obstacles along the way: fallen trees, stumps sticking out. And we saw some bear grass through the few still-bare spots.
We saw many animal tracks, from a mountain lion that had climbed a snow-covered branch that arched over where the bunnies were playing to elk to snowshoe hares to mice to squirrels to weasels or pine martens. We even saw some tracks that looked like moose or else a very large elk. The snow was so deep that it was a bit hard to tell on the larger ungulate tracks with no other signs. And it appeared the illegal wolverine traps had been removed from the chains, although the bait cage and tree camo were still there.
When we hit the road along Waldron Creek, we headed toward the bowl for about a mile, retraced our steps and then continued out until we hit the road, then followed the road back to the ski resort, where we had a nice lunch. The lodge was crowded, which was a good thing. It's nice to have this small mom-and-pop resort operating in our backyard.
Who went: Mary N, Susan, Gail, Sue H, Cathy, Brenda, Chrissie, Katie Time: Left at 8 a.m., returned 4 p.m.