A Snake, Robin's Egg, Views Highlight the Scalplock Lookout Climb
Carol made a hike! After several failed attempts, we finally were able to meet Carol from the west-side Glacier group, so we have now added her to the list of Marta, Madelon, Jackie, Kate, Tracy and Joan who have joined the GiG for a hike!
Our day started with meeting Carol at the back-country parking lot at the Walton Ranger Station outside Essex. (we left Great Falls at 5:40 a.m. and arrived at 8:35). We traveled with Tom, Katie's husband and his climbing partner Mark, who decided to go up Running Rabbit on an off-trail excursion.
The three ladies got on trail about 9 a.m. and made the 3,200-feet, 4.5-mile ascent through lovely wildflowers, especially roses, Indian paintbrush, lupine, arnica, and ballhead waterleaf, in 3.5 hours. On the way up, we encountered a handful of sprinkles before the sky cleared for good. The ascent isn't too bad, due to 20 switchbacks, except the last third of a mile from the saddle to the lookout turns decidedly steeper. We enjoyed the fantastic views on top as we savored our lunch while sitting on the deck of the lookout.
At 1:30 p.m., Katie scurried everyone off the mountain as we could see clouds brewing in the western skies, and we wanted to be off the top and out of the exposed area back into the trees in case lightning hit.The walk down was gorgeous the first mile, with 360-degree views, but we must admit,the last few miles grew a bit tedious with so many trees and switchbacks. We did enjoy the flowers in spots again as many had opened up since the morning. Also on the way down, we found a perfect blue robin's egg, which Carol decided to incubate in her bra to take home to try to hatch. It lay right off the trail and would have been smashed for sure had she left it.
Another interesting find was a small snake which appeared to be a western terrestrial garter snake.
We arrive back at the car at 4 p.m. and had beaten the men down. After leaving a note for the guys, Carol graciously gave us a ride to the Izaak Walton Inn, where we had a cold drink while awaiting their return. We read the paper and had a refill before the men made it back, about an hour after us.
Then we headed to Serrano's for one of their famous dinners. Unfortunately, it took us over an hour just to get our food, so we were late getting home: 9:30 p.m.