Six of us crammed into Katie's Traverse at 8 a.m. for the trip up to Kings Hill pass. We parked at the pass and got on trail by 9:30, arriving on top at 11:30. We made good time, gaining over 1,000 feet of gain in some patches of challenging snow necessitating trailbreaking. But we traded off the lead to give legs a rest as needed.
On the way up, we enjoyed the sunshine playing on the surrounding mountains; but by the time we reached the top, a wall of clouds hung overhead and the wind had started picking up. It was blowing snow in our faces, several of us were getting cold, so instead of having a picnic outside by the lookout tower, we decided to head over to the Showdown warming hut. Besides, we could purchase a cup of hot cocoa and use a better outhouse on the ski hill side of the mountain.
We stayed in the hut about a half hour, just enough time to warm ourselves, but we didn't want to stay too long with the storm brewing. So down we started as the flakes were forming. We really raced down the mountain, not taking any rest breaks, with the winds and snow increasing as we went. By the time we reached the car, the roads were snow-covered.
We had an interesting drive to Neihart, since the center line was impossible to see, Katie was thankful for the rumble strip in the middle. But the funny thing was, as soon as we reached Neihart, the storm lifted and we could see blue sky again beyond the wall of clouds, so the storm was isolated to the mountain.
After a quick bathroom and drink stop at Bob's Bar to say "hi" to Janice the new owner (we saw Tony doing the last bit of books for the year--he said he had to do his last "quarterly books" and then he was out of there for good), we made it back to Great Falls at 3:15.
Overall, it was a great "get-in-shape" for snowshoeing hike.
Who went: Susan C, Susan W., Sue, Sara, Mary S, Katie