South Hills Helena, May 19, 2019 Gals Explore New Area in Helena South Hills
North Fork Highwood, May 13, 2019: Late Season Still Produces Flowers in Highwoods
Many Glacier Waterfalls, May 11, 2019: Snow Shortens Hikes on Warm Many Glacier Day
Morony to Ryan, May 7, 2019: Evening of Hoodoos, Ticks, Rock Formations
Twelve gals headed out for an evening walk along the north shore of the Missouri at 4:15 p.m., going from the Morony Dam trailhead to the Ryan Dam trailhead. First we parked a car at Ryan and then continued to Morony.
We enjoyed a slight breeze but not the winds we had expected while the storm clouds kept their distance, hanging over the Highwood Mountians, so the weather really cooperated.
The river was gorgeous as were the hoodoos and the few flowers we saw: cous biscuitroot, phlox, golden peas, sumac, cushion milkvetch and American vetch.
The eye of the needle and the hoodoos stood out along the bank. One thing that really surprised us was the silt that formed numerous sandbars even though the water was high.The run-off from the farms must be getting worse. We wondered how the flow of the river was being affected with the narrowing of the main channels.
We didn't see any snakes although several gals collected a tick or two, especially those hiking toward the front. Sara even had one embedded, we think a first for a GiG hike.
We got back around 9 p.m.
Who went: Maria, Susan W, Judy, Amber, Jo Ann, Gail, Bonnie, Sara, Susan C, Rose, Kuntzie, Katie
Trout Creek Canyon, April 27, 2019: 22 Steam Crossings Create Trout Creek Obstacle Course
There probably wasn't a dry foot after we finished our 6.5-mile hike in the Trout Creek Canyon by York, as the creek was running high. We had 22 stream crossings, some of which were tricky: see-saw logs, slippery rocks and muddy shorelines. A few of the gals wondered what they had gotten into.
But the creek wasn't the only obstacle of the day; we also had ice and snow as well as felled trees to maneuver over and ticks to pick out of our clothing and hair.
The day started at 7 a.m. We arrived at the trailhead by 9 and hit the trail at 9:20 after a quick bathroom break at the Vigilante campground.
Of course, no spring trip to Trout Creek would be complete without looking for the Kelseya uniflora rose. We saw some great blooming specimens above the entrance kiosk (which were too far away to see well) and also at the end of the main trail, about one-mile down the road. This spot, however, requires an off-trail, through the bushes, trek for a good viewing; several of us ventured for a close-up look of the dainty flowers; however, those who did picked up a few ticks in the process.
The rest of the Kelseya mats we saw were not flowering yet.
We only saw a handful of people and two bikers on the trail. When we started, we were the only vehicles in the parking lot.
On the way back through the canyon, several of the gals gave up on rock hopping and simply walked through all of the crossings, preventing any falls. At the very end, we came across a solo climber working his way up one of the rock faces. He did have a rope anchored at the top. We watched as he ascended and clapped when he reached the top of the pinnacle.
After our hike, we had a discussion about where to eat, the York Bar of the Grubstake. Decision was the Grubstake, so we headed past York toward the Lincoln exit in Helena for our late lunch/early dinner. We were so happy to fit in a hike with an impending blizzard on the way. We had only had a few sprinkles; we were able to drive back without much precipitation too.
Although we had canceled a trip to Glacier as the weather had already turned for the worse to our north, we weren't disappointed in our canyon obstacle course.
We arrived back in Great Falls around 5:30.
Who went: Brenda, Susan W, Viki, Judy, Paula, Amber, Susan C,Maria, Beth, Katie
Juniper Bay Holter Lake, April 24, 2019: Gals See Bighorns, Views, Snake
Essex, April 4-7, 2019: GiG, WoW Enjoy Izaak Walton Together with Snowshoeing, Games, Soaking while Facing Post-Hole Snow Conditions, Mouse, Spiders
Looking Glass Highway, March 23, 2019: Mountain Views Make up for Post-holing with Joint Trip with Canadians; Susan C. Enters 100-Miler Club
Kings Hill to Silver Crest, March 16, 2019: Perfect Powder Makes for Fun Day, Quick Day
The Kings Hill to Silver Crest is a fun walk through hike, necessitating at least two vehicles for a car shuttle to the top while leaving one at Silver Crest, the ending point. We had one more twist in our shuttle day: We were dropping off Maria at Showdown for a morning of skiing on a memorial day for a friend of her son's.
We left Great Falls at 8 a.m. and were on trail at 9:45 after a stop at the Inconvenience Store in Neihart. We had a cramped ride with 7 gals and gear, including skis in Katie's Traverse; luckily, it was a short ride to Showdown, where we left Maria off, telling her we would return around 2 p.m.
The day was beautiful with no wind as we started the climb up the Ranch Creek/O'Brien Creek back country ski trail. We did have to break trail all of the way to the bowl where the snowmobilers play, but the snow was powdery, so it wasn't bad. We all took our turns out front.
When we hit the bowl and the Powerline trail, we saw a few snowmobilers, but not many, and they were staying away from the creek areas where we were as the snow wasn't stable. We saw several places where the water and thin ice were visible.
Then we crossed the bowl area to get on the road. Katie pointed out where to go to hit the E-Loop on Silver Crest if we were on skis; some wanted to see the loop, so we took the quarter-mile spur trail until we met the groomed trail. We actually saw two skiers on the E-Loop, which is the first time. Usually no one is on this run. Then, when we turned around, we met a couple following our tracks. They said they were doing O'Brien Creek; we informed them that they had missed their turn quite a ways back. We told them they could backtrack, which might be quite a long way or instead head up the Powerline and back to their car at the top of Kings Hill. They could also have cut cross country to hook back up to the trail, but that might not be a good idea without a GPS. We could tell that gal wasn't into making for even a longer day, so we told them to go the Powerline for sure and save O'Brien for another day.
Then we backtracked to the cat track and followed it around to the Silver Crest Parking lot. We made very good time, arriving at 12:30, which put us back at Showdown by 1 p.m., so we thought we would have a cool drink or some snacks while we waited. Then we found Maria was already waiting for us inside, so it worked out perfectly.
We got back around 2:30.
Who went: Susan, June, Viki, Sue, Amber, Kaite and tag-along Maria
Seeley, March 8-10, 2019: GiG Gets Pinched by HiPo; Unlucky at Shake-a-Day;
But Snowshoeing Fun, Shopping, Camaraderie Prevails
Memorial Falls, Jefferson Creek, March 10, 2019: Newbies Take to the Snowshoeing
Sluice Boxes, March 7, 2019: Frozen Belt Creek Provides Backdrop for Warm Day
Sacagawea Springs, Feb. 2, 2019: Calm-Before-the-Storm Morning Hike to Sulphur Springs
After yesterday's crazy snowshoe on the 747 trail, this lovely morning walk along the Missouri following in the Lewis and Clark expedition footsteps was a welcome stroll. Maria called it "day two of bootcamp," but it really was pleasant. With temperatures in the 40s, we shed our layers and enjoyed the warm breeze as we knew the thermometer would be dropping later in the day, bringing in below-zero weather.
The day started at 8 a.m. at Paris Gibson Square. Thirteen of us went despite not knowing how icy or muddy the trail would be.So we came prepared with snowshoes, yaktrax and old boots/shoes we didn't care too much about in case the gumbo piled onto them. Yet, we found the trail to be mostly dry. We had a few icy spots, especially in the shaded coulee areas (of course they were on the downhill/uphill sections) and a bit of mud too.
But we all enjoyed the views of the Missouri River Breaks, the unbroken plains that looked almost identical to what the expedition would have seen: no power poles, no structures, just river and waving grasses.
We marveled at where Belt Creek enters the Missouri as well as the rapids that can cause havoc with those floating the river, but we really enjoyed seeing the springs that supposedly healed Sacagawea after Clark's bloodletting failed to cure her from a major illness (Probably PID (pelvic inflammatory disorder caused by gonorrhea). Read more here. Most of us knelt down to touch the water, which is artificially dammed into a pool now. Beyond the pool, the water has coated all of the rocks with its minerals, giving them a gray cast with nothing else growing. The distinct sulphur smell emanated from the pool and stream, yet the water temperature isn't warm, but rather about room temperature. We all wondered how the sulphur smell bubbled up through the earth's crust and what causes it. Read more here.
We also discussed how the state tried to give the old homestead area plus $10,000 for a grant writer to the Little Shell Band of the Chippewa Tribe so that they wouldn't be homeless anymore. However, they declined as they felt they didn't have the money to restore it. Read more here And more
We ended the day at 11 a.m., a wonderful hike before our sub-zero days start.
Who went: Susan C., Susan W, Mary S, Sara, Jeanne, Jean, June, Viki, Carolyn, Sue, Kuntzie, Maria, Katie
747 Trail, Feb. 1, 2019: Tree Wells and Avalanche "Woofs" Make for a Scary, Long Day
Mount Helena, Jan. 26, 2019: We Welcomed Rose to Mountain Climb
On a bluebird day with lots of wind, we welcomed Rose to the GiG. We all marveled at her matching outfit while talking about how we have hiked with mismatched mittens, mismatched gloves and even two different hiking boots. Mary S recounted how she took two different shoes on a trip to Atlanta; Katie related how her husband tried to climb Patrol Mountain in two left boots. But the real interesting tidbit happened at the end of the day--read on!
Christi led us on the Dump Out trail, one the GiG had never traveled, so we had a new experience on our climb of Mount Helena. We usually take the Prospect Shafts or Prairie trail and then take the 1906 down. We have also gone on the Hanging Draw and Powerline. The newbies to this area marveled at the fact that it is a city park, purchased by the Prickly Pear Land trust. Some of the land is BLM too. For Helenans, it is like our River's Edge Trail, well used and loved by the local strollers, bikers, hikers, dog walkers.
We decided that Yaktrax or ice cleats would be better than snowshoes, given the trail was well worn and snow not very deep; it was a great choice. We battled a bit of wind, but we were mostly protected in the trees and coulees on our way up. The day was warm, in the high 30s, so the wind wasn't too cool, especially on the going up part. As we climbed, the views kept getting better and better until we reached the top with 360-degree scenery! What sights we could see, looking down on Carroll College campus, Fort Harrison, the Cathedral and Last Chance Gulch, not to mention Mount Ascension, the Elkhorn Mountains and the Sleeping Giant.
After taking many pictures, we decided not to eat lunch on top due to the wind and instead head back to the picnic table, located about halfway back to the parking area. However, the table was out of the sun and not out of the wind, so we did have to bundle up, putting on extra layers. Our lunch was a very quick due to the cold, so we blew down the mountain, making it back to our cars just after 1 p.m.
Then, for one car, it was a quick stop at the Park Ave. Bakery; we decided we earned a cookie for the ride home. At this point, we also ducked into the bathroom at a brewery, where Jean discovered in the mirror that she had put on two very different earrings, proving that our day truly was one of mismatched items, all expect Rose, that is.
We arrived back home by 3 p.m. after our wonderful windy, but very sunny, day.