Mount Helena, May 3, 2014
Five go despite gloomy forecast: No rain, no wind; fun and shopping
We woke up to rain in Great Falls, and cancellations, but five gals (down from the original nine) braved the elements and trusted the 30-percent chance of rain in Helena not to come--and the weather did hold--not one drop fell all day. And the temperatures in the 50s was perfect for hiking, unlike the chilly 30s in Great Falls.
We saw 11 different flowers: shooting stars, fritillary (yellow bell), kittens' tails, nine-leaved biscuit root, pasque flower, buckwheat, arrowleaf balsamroot, douglasia, phlox, cut-leaf daisy and one yet unidentified white flower.
We arrived at the trail head at 9 a.m. taking the Prospector Shafts Trail up, stopping to read about the violinist Fred Kuphel, who played music as children planted trees on the mountain. Read More as well as look at the old limestone smeltering kiln and shafts from the gold rush days as well as the military exercise pits. It took us about one and a half hours to reach the summit of 5,468 feet, a gain of 1100 feet.
On the way down, we took the 1906 trail, stopping to explore the Devil's Kitchen, a series of shallow caves carved into the limestone that people, mainly teens, light bonfires in. Too bad the main cave is covered in graffiti now.
For wildlife, we saw a doe and many bluebird, but thank goodness not the mountain lion that they said was lurking around according to the warning sign on the trail.
We arrived back to the car at noon, perfect timing for a lunch at Benny's Bistro downtown.
After lunch, we walked Last Chance Gulch, stopping in various stores, including the Parrot for some chocolate and Panhandler kitchen store. Then it was onto the new Just Tapped oil and vinegar store before heading back to Great Falls.
After this hike, we welcomed Catherine into the 100-miler club with her mug.
The weather was perfect: not too hot and not windy.Who went: Sara, Catherine, Gail, Sue and Katie
Link to Katie's pics
Gail recommended this lentil soup recipe, since we did much around food on this trip