No Wind at Firebrand Shocks Gals After Last Year's Gale-Force Gusts
The GiG met the WoW for another trip: This time to the rarely crowded Firebrand Pass area in the southern part of Glacier Park. We started out at 6 a.m., met Ann from Rudyard in Browning at 8 and then the WoW Canadians at 8:30 at the Firebrand trailhead parking area.
The day started out very foggy, misty and wet, especially since this hike is very brushy at the beginning. It had rained all night, so we also faced mud in places. The beginning of the trail is along some moose ponds, which we didn't see, but in this area, we saw quite a bit of fresh bear scat, making us think we better make noise. We never saw any bears either, even though the huckleberries were plentiful and very delicious. They were a welcome reprieve during the uphill climb.
Even though most of us put on our rain pants or gaiters, we still got wet. The trail crew had cleared some of the brush away from the trail in the areas where the leaves can reach shoulder high and the nettles troublesome; but other sections that reached thigh level weren't cleared. However, the color of the groundcover was so pretty, we hardly noticed. There was also a plethora of fungi: colorful mushrooms of darkbrown, rust, bright orange and yellow.
Besides huckleberries, we also enjoyed saskatoons/service berries, grouse whortleberries and thimbleberries. We saw other inedible (or mostly so) berries: bane berries, elderberries, Oregon/holly grape, red twinberries, bead lilies, false Solomon seal and twisted stalk berries!
These distractions along the trail helped Desirae in particular as she was on her first moderately strenuous hike and loved it; however, she had not tackled so much uphill before.
The clouds started to lift as we approached the pass, making us think that we might have some views on top. The whole way, we had no wind, so even though it was damp and misty, we didn't feel cold. Even at the pass, no wind! A first for those who have been before. In fact, last year, we had gale-force gusts of 70 mph, which knocked some gals off their feet.
This year, the only surprise at the top was the view: the clouds had lifted to the west, revealing Summit, Little Dog, the Barrier Buttes, Red Crow, and most of 8888 and Despair. Since we had no wind, we spent a whole hour on top, eating our lunch and enjoying. But it was a bit colder on top of the pass, so some of us pulled out our buffs, at which point, Brenda gave us a lesson on how to make a buff into a do-rag, our new fashion statement.
The day had gotten so nice with blue skies and puffy clouds that it was hard to head back down the mountain. The whole way, we stopped off and on to pick more huckleberries. A few of us even saved a few for our husbands.
We arrived back at the cars, after crossing the train tracks, at 4 p.m.
The WoW group headed home after getting some ice cream as they were helping with a community picnic. The GiG went to the Glacier Park Lodge for lunch (someone wanted mixed drinks and not the beer/wine served at the other restaurants).
We arrived back in Great Falls around 7:30 Who went: Josy, Amber, Viki, Brenda, Ann, Desirae, Katie Canadians: Lorna, LaVern, Laura, Carol, Linda, Doreen, Joan