On a gray day, three GiG gals headed to Helena, hoping for no rain. The predictions were for rain and wind in Great Falls all week, so we went south since the weather looked more favorable that direction.
And we were right. We didn't get rained on and no wind! Although, we were quite cold when we started, necessitating gloves and jackets.Susan never did strip down to her last layer, I think a first for her. Mary kept all five of her layers on the whole time, with Katie taking off one layer just to put it back on once we reached our ridge top snack break.
We did encounter a few hikers (two with dogs) and quite a few bikers, who were a bit scary due to how fast and silently they came upon us. But everyone was respectful and polite. The hikers yielded to uphill traffic while we stepped off the trail for the bikers, so they wouldn't have to lose their momentum.
We took the Don't Fence Me In trail to the Water Line to the TR to the Pinchot to the Rodney Ridge and Meadow trails, which completed a nice loop. At the far end of the Rodney Ridge trail, we continued up a spur trail to view the Top of the World view spot and then backtracked to our loop. The views were lovely even though the low clouds blocked the far mountains. We could still see snow-capped peaks as well as the surrounding hills, houses and creeks.
The trail is a variety of forest, meadow and ridgelines with views. We also saw 14 flowers: fitillary, 9-leaf biscuitroot, cous biscuitroot, American vetch, fairybells/red twin berry, pasque flower, arrowleaf balsamroot, buttercup, phlox, douglasia, virgin's bower/clematis, skunkcap sumac, shooting star to name a few.
A few times we were confused about the trails as there were unmarked social trails. However, with the aid of the South Hills Trail map and our cell phones, we easily found our way.
The trip took us just under 3 hours to complete, and then we headed to lunch at the Brew Pub, but first we stopped at the Base Camp to purchase more maps and take a look at gear.
We got back to GF just after 4 p.m. to face the howling winds.