"It was a snow beaching," Susan W, aka, Happy Camper, said after she fell over into very powdery deep snow, necessitating a rescue. But that was toward the end of the hike when we were speeding down the mountain as the snowflakes started flying.
The day started at 8 a.m., and we got on trail by 9:30, slowly making our way up the mountain, breaking trail the whole way until we hit the cat track at Showdown that wound us around the back of the mountain to the base of the lookout tower. Some of us realized how much the Christmas baking was slowing us down, but we realized we could do this climb. Most of those on today's trip were also planning to go on the eclipse snowshoe adventure, so this was a good test of our endurance; plus doing it first in the daylight was a good idea.
As we neared the top, we could really feel the wind picking up and see the clouds closing in overhead, leaving just a slim strip of sunshine on the surrounding mountains, which was pretty. By the time we were on top, the wind was picking up the powdery snow and blowing it in our face. Since the weather was turning, we decided to walk the short distance to the ski hill to eat our lunch in the warming hut. And warm it was. Susan W discovered that the heaters were right under the benches that ran along the outside walls, so those needing to warm up sat there. And some purchased coffee or hot chocolate as an extra warm treat to go with their lunches.
Then it was back outside to the wind and blowing snow, which encouraged us to hoof it down the mountain without stopping. We made it to the cars just after 1:30, a record, I'm sure!
After a brief bathroom break and drinks at Bob's Bar, we headed home. We did see Tony and teased him a bit about being back at the Bar since he had sold it before Christmas. He said he had to finalize the books on his last quarter and then he would truly be done. And he gave us his phone number and promised to take us to the stone arch on a summer hike.
We arrived back in Great Falls at 3:15; a very fun day with a bit of a challenge.