Saturday, June 28, 2008

Dave's 2008 Glacier Park Photos

I've learned about a blog with Glacier Park photos. Dave has taken very nice photos. Enjoy.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Do you want to hike or not?

On Thursday Sue Ann talked me into going on a hike Friday with her and some guy from North Carolina she met and played tennis with. Initially I had turned her down as I had other things to do, but she called back saying this guy really wanted to go on a rigorous hike in the Park. Sue Ann didn't want to go with him alone so I relented.

Of the choices: Columbia Mountain, Apgar Lookout, or Mt. Brown, I wanted to do Mt. Brown as I hadn't climbed it since the early to mid 1990s. Mt. Brown is the steepest trail in the Park. This guy claimed to have hiked a number of the 14s in Colorado -- we'll see how good he is.

So I got up earlier than usual this morning and was shaving when Sue Ann called. She didn't want to go hiking. She had been out the evening before at the Blue Moon rodeo, and also earlier in the day had gotten stung twice by bees. She didn't think she was up to hiking.

Okay. We won't go hiking.

I went back to bed only to be woken a half hour later with another call from Sue Ann saying the hike was back on. This guy and his wife wanted to hike to Apgar Lookout with Sue Ann. We were to meet in an hour. Since Sue Ann now had a "chaperone" I bowed out. I had hiked to Apgar Lookout twice last year. Beside I had things to do today.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Phillips Creek

Saturday June 21 I went on my second hike of the season. The group wasn't sure if Blacktail Mountain still had snow on it so I planned this hike instead.

I called the Swan forest service ranger to ask about a few trails with views in her district. She told me the Beardance and Phillips Creek trails were snow free.

She recommended Phillips Creek trail over Beardance. She said the Phillips Creek trail had more views of Flathead Lake as the Beardance trail was mainly in the trees while Phillips Creek passed through a meadow.

She said if we started on the Swan Lake side of the trail we'd only climb 150 ft instead of the 1200 ft coming up from Flathead Lake and Hwy 35.

Joyce, Bill, Arnie, Sue Ann, and I met at 8 am as the day was predicted to have temperatures in the upper 80s F and clear skies.

I drove my car as everyone fit inside it. Good thing that half the people are shorter than average.

To reach the trail head we had to go through the town of Ferndale to get to forest service road #498. We saw no signs for the road but Ferndale is very small and the side road I picked was the correct road to get us to forest service road 498.

On this road we were to drive until we saw mile marker 3. We never saw it nor any other road sign. After a half dozen miles we saw a side forest service road and checked its number. Uh, oh. Wrong number. We gone too far.

We drove back down the road and mountain side and watched closer for signs.

We didn't see any signs but we did see a place where one could park on the east side of the road, which is what the trail description also mentioned. I got out and then found a small wooden sign indicating trail 373 to the north, which is the Phillips Creek trail.

After everyone got out of the car and prepared to hike Joyce found a sign that said "Phillips Creek" and a trail to the south.

The trail was nice. We went through a forest which kept the temperature cooler. Phillips Creek was pretty.

Some blow down crossed the trail but it wasn't too bad.

Lots of beargrass...

Phillips Creek trail is supposed to be 3 miles long and after almost 2 miles we found a side trail that led to a small clearing where we could see Flathead Lake down below. We had a nice view of Blacktail Mountain on the north (right) to Big Arm and Elmo to the south.

Far off to the west we could see snow covered mountains. The Cabinet Mountains?

We stopped and had lunch before continuing on. After lunch the trail headed down the mountain. On my map it would join with the Crane Mountain trail and the Beardance trail. How far down before the trails joined was the question.

We came to where our trail joined with another that went up (left) and down (right) the mountain. I checked the trail out and found it went back up to where we initially split off the trail to see the view of Flathead Lake. We decided to go back to the car as the "down" part of the trail was definitely down.

In the sun my black car was hot inside. As we aired my car to cool it down I saw on the map that trail 96 left from this trail head in the NW direction to Estes Lake. The sign saying 373 instead of 96 did not match, but what the heck, let's explore.

We went through more forests. We wandered around for a few miles. On trails, old roads, routes that were half trails and half roads. We passed signs of bonfires and beer cans and even passed a SUV parked at the end of a road. (We never did come across the SUV's occupants.)

After passing a lake that was more like a swamp the trail went up. Again I scouted ahead while the others waited and rested. The trail/road split and I took the trail westward. After a while I stopped and turned around as enough distance and time passed where I needed to return to the others.

On my way back I noticed ATV tracks off the trail and upwards. I followed and climbed on top of the large rock that was on the west side of the lake/swamp where I left the others. On top of the rock I had views out over the forest to the Swan Mountain Range to the east, and through the trees a glimpse of Flathead Lake off to the west.

I rejoined the others and we decided to return to the car and look for the other trails.

Off we drove. We found forest service roads that were on the map, forest service roads that were not on the map, and from the map we never found some of the other forest service roads. My map is dated 2007 so it is not an out-of-date map.

I drove down a few side forest service roads to dead ends and nothing else. No trails to be seen. No signs. Sue Ann began to tell us about the time she and a friend drove these roads many years ago when she lived in Bigfork and how they got stuck in snow. I was careful and didn't get my car high centered on the side roads. I missed most of the potholes but a few got me.

I was determined to go to the end of forest service road 498 even though the map had it ending in the middle of the forest. We also were curious as to what Mission Well was. This was labeled on the map closer to the end. Joyce said her husband had hauled logs out of Mission Well years ago but she didn't know what it was. What it is... is a lake. The lake is brown. I imagine from all the decaying trees that fell into it.

On we drove. We began to have snow off and on along the road, and a few times I had to drive across snow. The road was a little more than a vehicle width wide and at times I had to squeeze around a tree that fell across part of the road. One time I got out and moved a smallish tree off the road so I could drive by. I was determined to get to the end.

Near the end we came to a large tree across the road. Someone had cut the end off so a vehicle the width of an ATV could get by, but not a car. The tree was between two trees so we couldn't slide it sideways off the road. We couldn't push it down the mountainside as it was too large. I checked the end of the tree trunk and saw someone had cut the tree down. It was not a blow down. Hmmmm...

We left my car and walked down the road and found it split a few hundred yards beyond the tree. Each split had a mound of dirt and a deep trench on the other side dug across the road. The forest service went through a lot of effort to block the road. We continued walking on the west split. After a half mile we turned around as the scenery wasn't all that great and the road dull to walk on.

I had to drive in reverse a ways before I could turn my car around. This made Sue Ann nervous.

On the way back at Joyce's request I stopped on a section of snow so she could get out, dig down to white snow, and fill her water bottle to get water once it melted. This led to a snowball fight and everyone was lightly tossing snow at each other. Arnie misjudged and I got a face full of snow.

I kept track and found that forest service road 498 is 17 miles in length.

It was after 3 pm when we got back to Kalispell. We had wasted away the day, but had fun doing so. All told we probably hiked 7 miles total.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Lupine Lake and Ashley Mountain

Friday June 6, Joyce, Bill, Gary and I hiked to Lupine Lake and then up to Ashley Mountain.

It was good seeing everyone. This was my first hike since I returned to Montana. And it was their first hike of the year also as they hadn't gone on any hikes without me.

A half mile or so in from the trail head is an overlook of a beautiful waterfall on Griffith Creek.

Photo 1 is looking up at rock. The right side is where I first saw the waterfall.
Photo 2 is the bridge crossing Griffith Creek.

Lupine Lake is a nice lake and we stopped and ate our lunch here. It seems as none of the sources agree to the distance to the lake, but I tend to believe the sign at the trail head: 2.5 miles.

We were all feeling good so we decided to hike to the top of Ashley Mountain. It was only another 2.5 miles. The following is a photo of Ashley Mountain taken earlier from the overlook of the waterfall.

For a while a stream that fed into the lake was near our trail.

Later, near a bend in the trail, we came upon this wooden marker.

In Memory of
Beloved husband
Richard V. Bain
Nov 5, 1978

We stopped and studied it. We still have no idea if this is just a marker, or if it is a marker for an actual grave site. I believe Gary said it wasn't until sometime in the 1980s when it became illegal to bury bodies out in the woods.

Apparently I had not recharged my camera's battery in a while as once I took a flash photo of the grave marker my camera died and I was unable to take any more photos.

After the marker, the trail began a noticeable climb upward. Because time was passing quicker than we realized, and Gary had an appointment later, he and I continued ahead while Joyce and Bill followed. We still took time to move the small deadfall off the trail as we hiked.

The weather was a mix of sun and clouds. We crossed a gravel road/path, and while it was sunny where we were, we could see clouds and moisture to our west. A sign said we had one mile to the top.

Soon after crossing the road we came upon patches of snow on the trail. I was in the lead and tried to find areas of least snow to cross. Eventually that became impossible as everywhere was snow. Wet snow. Fortunately not deep snow.

We debated whether to continue and did so since I felt were were close to the top.

And we were. The mountain top was rounded and flat and was surrounded by thick trees. We had no view. The better view was near where we had earlier crossed the road.

At the top there was a large metal squat square structure with an antennae sticking up. The structure was weighed down by a collection of large rocks in a metal wire basket on each of the four legs. We could see anchor points in concrete on the ground that was used for the previous structure.

Then it began to snow. Heavily. For a while we took shelter under one of the large pine trees before deciding to return down the trail. Gary was interested in taking the road from the structure back down to the place where we had crossed it earlier. While I would have liked to have done so also, I reminded him that Joyce and Bill may be on the trail above the road and we would miss them.

Between the snow and the trees we couldn't find where the trail started down. Odd, we just came up it. Gary thought it was further left than I did and after failing to find it in that direction I came across it to my right.

It was a good thing we took the trail back even though that meant crossing all that snow: Bill and Joyce were a half mile from the top when we met them. Because there was no view, and snow was covering the trail, we all decided to return down the mountain. The falling snow ended by the time we crossed the road again. The tops of the trees were swaying, and we could hear the wind, but could not feel it.

There was an interesting tree stump that Gary took a fancy to on the way up the mountain. On the way back I picked it up and carried it for Gary. This was partly thanks for him carrying a good sized rock I fancied on our Elk Mountain hike when my hands were full with other rocks. And partly because I hadn't been bewitched by any rocks on this hike.

Gary and I traded carrying the stump to Lupine Lake. From Lupine Lake I carried the stump a half mile until I remembered leaving a rock when Bill and I hiked this trail last year. Sure enough I found the rock again. And being a nice rock (the photo doesn't do it justice) I couldn't resist it. That meant Gary had to carry his stump back to the car himself.

I had two miles to carry this rock. Down, then up a steep climb at the end. I began doubt the wisdom of carrying the rock. Once I got home I weighed it and found it to weigh 42 lbs. No wonder I got a workout carrying it.

Even though we were carrying items, Joyce and Bill had lagged behind. We waited for them to catch up. I went off trail to take a bathroom break. As I picked my way through the trees I put my hand on a large dead tree trunk and over it fell with a loud crash. I hardly touched the tree, I swear!

As we continued I went slower because Bill was lagging even more. He was tired. I found out he was out of food so I gave him some of mine. As we began the final climb upward I discovered Bill was out of water so I gave him half of mine. Shortly thereafter Gary returned and he helped Bill up the trail as I went on ahead.

Joyce was at the car and gave me some of the bread she had baked. I noticed an interesting large rock on the ground near the car and decided it would be a worthy addition to my rock garden. Once Gary returned with Bill he thanked me for loading the rock into Joyce's car for him. He had found it on the side of the road while waiting for Bill and I.

For the drive back home we went north through Star Meadows and near Tally Lake. We passed through some of the Brush Creek fire burn area from last Summer. Some of the dead trees were being logged and we passed a few piles on the side of the road with signs saying no firewood cutting of these logs.

Some of the roads didn't match the map I got from the Tally Lake ranger district. According to the map we should have come to the east side of Star Meadows, but we came to the west side. Okay... I'll remember that in the future.

While we started our day's activity at 9 am, and only hiked 10 miles, it was now 5 pm when we returned to our vehicles. Where did the day go?