Pretty Rock Turns into Surprise Find on Piegan Pass
This day held a surprise along the way, which would unfold once the gals attained the top of the Piegan Pass.
Three gals, all of whom had never taken this path before, decided to give this nine-mile hike with just under 2,000 feet of gain, a try, planning for a slow pace if necessary. Two others had really wanted to do this hike, but weren't able to make it. They sure missed a nice one.
With all three of us having never done this hike before, we decided to play it safe and start really early as the days are rather short in September. We left Great Falls at 5:30 a.m. and got on trail at just before 9 a.m. We had no trouble parking in the small lot at Siyeh Bend as we were the first ones there.
At this time of day, it was quite chilly. In fact, it was so chilly that normally on-fire Susan even put on a jacket, much to the other two gals' amazement. But in not time, we were shedding layers as the uphill starts out right away.
The hike itself was beautiful. Preston Park and other sections of the trail still had flowers, mostly asters, pearly everlasting and Indian paintbrush, sticking out among the fall colors of the underbrush. The berries really shined too: elderberries, black twinberries, mountain ash.
In general, we had the park to ourselves, seeing only about 20 people on the trail and most of them were heading to Siyeh Pass, so we lost them at the fork. We did come across some hikers at the top of the pass who had come up from the Many Glacier side, having done the hike the hard way with 4,000 feet of gain and only 2,000 feet of loss.
We ate lunch at the top of the pass and didn't see any of the pesky marmots that can harass hungry hikers.
On top, June went off trail exploring a bit when she found what looked like a very pretty, but very uniform-in-shape, rock. When she picked it up and turned it over, she saw it was a small stone plaque that had a name, number and date on it. We weren't sure where it had come from and surmised maybe it was on top of the mountain and had come done in a rock slide. It read: "Forever Loved, #4014 Mark S. Williams, 2017." It appeared someone may have scattered ashes or just wanted a remembrance of a loved one placed on the pass for some reason, perhaps it was one of his favorite hikes. We wondered what the #4014 meant. Gail did some sleuthing and found a reference to a Mark Williams dying in 2017 with reference to the same number, but still the number is a mystery for its meaning. We left the rock plaque where we found it. See photo slideshow below and this link.
We didn't see much for animals, except one sheep that was lying down both coming and going. We surprised ourselves by finishing the hike at 3:30, about an hour earlier than expected, but the weather had been perfect, not too hot, enabling us to really make good time.
On the way home, we stopped at a couple places to eat but they were all closed, so we just headed home. We arrived back in Great Falls at 7:30 p.m..
Who went: June, Gail, Susan W.