Saturday, July 23, 2016

Mt Headley hike

Saturday, July 23, 2016, Patti, Joyce and I hiked to the top of Mt Headley in the Cabinet Mountains.  This was the last of the hikes with Patti before she moved to Wisconsin.  Over the past few weeks we had done a hike in most of her favorite areas around here:
  1. Glacier Park (Red Eagle Lake)
  2. Southern Swan Mountains - with a good view of the Mission Mountains (Upper Holland and Sapphire Lakes)
  3. Northern Cabinet Mountains (Cedar Lakes)
  4. and now the southern Cabinet Mountains with this hike to Mt Headley.

I don't remember it taking us almost three hours to get to the trailhead.  Between the company present and the drive along the Clark Fork valley from Plains to the trailhead must have warped time.

The hike was 8 miles long round trip.   We started our hike at the trailhead at Vermilion Pass where there was plenty of area to park your vehicle.  At Vermilion Pass the elevation was 6026 ft.   Mt Headley is at 7429 ft. The elevation change was 1403 ft.  Mt Headley ranks as the 1266th highest mountain in Montana.

Prominence is defined as the elevation of a summit relative to the landscape surrounding it.  Apparently Mt Headley is ranked #27 in prominence in Montana with 3716 ft of prominence.  I didn't remember Mt Headley being so prominent - maybe because we started the hike so high and only had 1403 ft of elevation gain.  Then I remembered looking down on a small plane flying below when standing on Mt Headley.  I have a 10 second video of that.

I got this photo from the Internet.

As we drove to Vermilion Pass we passed by this waterfall.  I am not sure the creek's name.  Maybe Graves Creek?

Here is a 27 second video of the falls:

The view off to the northern side at the start from Vermilion Pass.

The trail forked here.  With no signs we weren't sure which way to go.  This is the view of the left fork.  This was not the trail to the top of Mt Headley.   If you look back to the photo with the labels "start" and "Mt Headley", I believe the following photo view is the same as the snow covered mountains on the left side of the earlier photo.

Mt Headley is the high point on the right side of the following photo.

Patti and I had hiked to Cabin Lake in July 2015:

Views from the top of Mt Headley.

Looking NW towards the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness area.  Earlier in the week Patti and I were at Cedar Lakes in this area and I don't remember the mountains being so tall.

Apparently this is a lookout on top of Priscilla Peak.

Too bad Patti moved away.  If she was still here the Priscella Peak lookout would have been a future hike for us.  That is how we explored the Whitefish Range: hike to the top of a mountain, look over at another mountain, see something and plan a future hike to that mountain.

Parts of the trail were brushy.  The brush was still wet from the previous night's rain.  Patti is wringing out her soaked socks once we were at the top of Mt Headley.  Patti had a second dry pair of socks and on the hike back down the mountain the brush was dry.

Joyce.  A pretty good hiker for someone around 80 years old and who had knee replacement surgury back in January.

Here is a 57 second video of the views from the top of Mt Headley:

For more (better) photos of Mt Headley:

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Lower and Upper Cedar Lakes

On Tuesday July 19 Patti and I hiked to Lower and Upper Cedar Lakes and most way up Dome Mountain.  Even though Patti, Lynda and I had hiked the Upper Holland / Sapphire Lakes loop two days earlier on Sunday (and Patti and I were still recovering), Patti had a free day waiting for the movers to come pack up her stuff for her move to Wisconsin and she wanted to go on a hike.  So did I.  I reminded Patti of her interest in going on the Cedar Lakes hike with me as she was very impressed with the lakes when she did the hike a few years earlier with Mary.

So at 7 pm on Monday we decided to hike to Cedar Lakes.  A last minute thing and too late to get more people to join us, especially on a weekday.

Cedars Lakes is in the Kootenai National Forest in the Cabinet Mountains west of Libby, Montana.

The distance we hiked was 15 miles.

We started at an elevation of 2997 ft and the highest elevation we hiked was 6941 ft.  The elevation gain/loss overall on the hike was 4157 ft. 

We hiked for 7 hours and 4 minutes and stopped and enjoyed the scenery for 2 hours and 15 minutes.  Our total time from start to finish was 9 hours and 19 minutes.  A good day of hiking.

Overall the weather was good.  We were happy to have the shade of the trees on the climb up to protect us from the hot sun.  Clouds came as we hiked back to Patti's car and a brief rain shower with large raindrops got us wet.  The thick tree canopy didn't keep us dry.

Between the distance and  the elevation we both were tired at the end of the hike and happy to be back to the car. 

The Forest Service Road to the trailhead is in excellent condition. There was ample parking at the trailhead.

The trail mostly follows along Cedar Creek.   The thick cedars and water reminded me of western Washington.

The hike was a steady climb to both Lower and Upper Cedar Lakes.  The trail was very clean all the way up and at no point did we lose the trail (though the junction with Upper Cedar Lake isn't marked, its fairly obvious).  

There were a good number of groups of downfallen trees.  Most all were cut allowing for easy passage.  The exception was the spur trail to Lower Cedar Lake.  None of the downfall was cleared and we had to search to  find a way around the trees to reach the lake.

Huckleberries were all along the trail, with the majority being after you pass the Wilderness boundary. 

The trail to the lower lake was mostly in the trees with good shade.  To the right of the trail is the young regrowth after a previous forest fire which allows for some open views of Scenery Mountain and later Grambauer Mountain that rises up from the trail.

When hiking between Lower and Upper Cedar Lakes we met a father, son and their dog who had been staying at Upper Cedar Lakes.  The dog growled at us when they approached us but the dog didn't do anything.

The dog had his own pack.

At the Upper Cedar Lake we talked a while with a grandfather hiking with his grand-kids. He grew up around Libby but now lives in eastern Washington.  He seemed to be enjoying the hike more than the grand-kids.

Granddad, grand kids, and Giant Patti.

Above Upper Cedar Lake we hiked up and around the backside of the shoulder of Dome Mountain.  On the backside was a short bridge over a steep deep drop.

The view from near the bridge of an unnamed lake in another valley.

For 24 more photos from our hike:

Video of Cedar Creek  (1:35 long):

Video of Lower Cedar Lake (22 seconds):

Video of Upper Cedar Lake (30 seconds):

Video on Dome Mountain of both lakes (36 seconds):

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Upper Holland / Sapphire Lakes loop

On Sunday July 17 Patti, Lynda and I hiked the Holland Lake / Upper Holland Lake / Sapphire Lakes loop in the Swan Mountain Range.  This is one of Patti's favorite hikes and she has wanted to take Lynda and I on this hike for a long time.  This was her only opportunity as in about a week she moves to Wisconsin to start her new job.

The number 13 flag marks the highest point of the hike, what we referred to as "the notch".

The hike - according to my GPS - was 13.5 miles long.  At the start we saw a sign indicting it was 7 miles to Upper Holland Lake so I expected the hike to be at least 14 miles long.  Perhaps the sign is wrong.  My GPS had the distance to Upper Holland Lake as around 6 miles.

If I calibrated my GPS's altimeter correctly we started at an elevation of about 4100 ft and our highest point was 7452 ft.  Of course the hike was not - quite - constantly straight up and down and we ended up gaining and losing about 3961 ft in elevation.

We spent 8 hours 51 minutes on the hike with 6 hours and 22 minutes of that time moving.  Almost 2 and 1/2 hours were spent standing or sitting.  It is easy to spend lots of time at the two lakes.

Patti and Lynda like to go on "death march" hikes.   Distance-wise this didn't meet the standard, but add in the elevation, especially the steep steady downhill over the final four miles and we all were happy to see Patti's car and to sit down.  It didn't hurt that waiting for us back at Patti's car in a cooler with ice was the wine and crackers Lynda had brought for us to toast our final hike together and Patti's moving away.

While the final downhill looks (and felt) brutal, this is the best way to do the loop as we felt the scenic views were best doing the loop in a counter-clockwise manner.

At the same spot about a mile from the trailhead - on our hike in and our hike back out - we met some lost people.  In the morning we met a young couple asking if this was the way to Rumble Lakes.  They were at a junction with a trail that goes over to the Rumble Lakes trail.  We thought the couple started at the Holland Lake parking lot.  No! They had started at the Rumble Lakes trailhead and missed the side trail to Upper Rumble Lake.  They had hiked around 5 miles out of their way and over to our trail.  The trail connecting the Holland Lakes trail with the Rumble Lakes trail was overgrown and brushy.  The young couple were soaked from about their waist down.  They took the news of being "way" lost really well.  I'm not sure I would have been as accepting about it; especially as they had a wet 5 miles hike back to the Rumble Lakes trail.   Oh! To be young!

Then on our hike back to Patti's car we met a father and son at the same trail junction.  They were asking how to get to Holland Lakes.  They had been mountain biking the trail from the Rumble Lakes trailhead.  On purpose!  However they took the trail to Upper Rumble Lakes when they didn't mean to.   I've hiked that trail - it is a user/fisherman's trail and goes in a pretty much straight line to Upper Rumble Lakes and therefore is very steep.  The mountain bikers realized their mistake and got onto the trail that led to us.  The wife had decided to quit after their Upper Rumble Lakes mistake and she planned to drive their vehicle to the Holland Lakes parking lot.  The father and son said the trail was very brushy and often they couldn't see the ground while riding.  The father had a gash on one leg with blood.  He refused Patti's offer of a band-aid.

Patti explained how to get to the Holland Lakes trailhead parking lot and off they went downhill, though carefully in the beginning as there were large tree roots and drops on the trail.

It was ironic that both groups made a mistake that was opposite of what they wanted, but was what the other group intended.

The son riding off once Patti gave directions.

Before we reached Holland Creek we were passed by a man who looked to be a long distance mountain runner.  He could have been the same guy who Patti and I met in 2014 when we hiked up a nearby trail to Holland Lookout.  Later we met a young woman hiking alone who said she knew the guy.  He was indeed a long distance mountain runner.

The young woman (18? 19? 20 years old?) had the look of what in my day back in the early 70s was called a "hippy chick".  She wore along black shirt long enough to be also used as a short dress.  She wore loose flowing pants of a fuchsia(?) color with a wild pattern covering the pants.  And a pack and hiking shoes.


The young woman passed us as we were crossing Holland Creek.   High water apparently washed out one bridge and damaged another one.  The damaged bridge was tilted.  A handrail was off to one side and one had to be tall with long arms to use the handrail.  I was able to balance and walk across it.  I helped Lynda at the end where the handrail was no longer an option.  Patti took off her shoes and walked across the creek which was not deep.

Damaged bridge

Our hike was a very scenic hike.  For much of the way to Upper Holland Lake we hiked along Holland Creek.  Usually when hiking along creeks one gets an occasional glimpse of the creek.  This time we had lots of views of the creek.  And there were a number of small waterfalls worth a pause to look at.

Upper Holland Lake had a serenity to it and was relaxing.  Sapphire Lakes was pretty in it own austere way.  The hike up to the "notch" was alpine.  The view through the notch was great.  Coming the direction we did had us going from the austere alpine views to the lush valley far below with Holland Creek and Holland Lake.  Also the trail appeared to disappear briefly near the top of the notch as the trail descended quite quick initially before "leveling" out to a steady downhill descent.  Look at the elevation profile above to see the short very steep drop in elevation.

There are quite a number of trails in this area.  Patti had a map of the trails which was very helpful as the trail signs are not the best.

The weather was ideal.  Sunny but not too hot.  The hike to Upper Holland Lake is in trees with plenty of shade on the uphill hike.  The hike up to Sapphire Lakes has some shade but being alpine the trees were not too thick.  The same with the hike to the 'notch'.  The first mile or so down from the 'notch' it was more open than treed, but that gave beautiful views of Holland Lake, Mission Mountains and the valley below.  The last few miles were in trees.

We had some clouds build after we left Sapphire Lake but the rain held off until our drive home.

In the morning as I was getting ready I saw this...

During our drive out of Kalispell we saw another hot air balloon looking for a place to land. I don't know where that balloon landed as it appeared to be either houses or fields with crops all around.

Here are 55 photos from our hike.  I had to put them in Google Photos as Google is no longer supporting Picasa for photo sharing.  Under Google photos (unlike Picasa) I can't add text to be shown as a caption for the photos.  I can add text under the info icon for each photo.  Click on info for a description of the photo.  Let me know if there is a problem - as the photo album owner I probably don't see the photos as you do.

Here is a 49 second video of Holland Creek and Upper Holland Lake:

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Red Eagle Lake 2016

On Sunday June 26, 2016 Patti, Lynda and I hiked to Red Eagle Lake in the east side of Glacier Park near St Mary Lake.

The roundtrip distance was 15.9 miles.   The elevation ranged from 4500 to 4850 ft.  So a relatively flat hike.  On the hike we crossed Red Eagle Creek twice over suspension bridges.

This is one of Patti's favorite hikes due to the wildflowers.  This year the wildflowers were there but so-so.

The weather was in the 70s and nice.  The sky was mostly clear but as the day wore on the clouds increased.  At the lake with a small breeze in the sun it felt nice; and then with a shadow from a cloud it felt cool.

Along the trail we met two Glacier Park trail crews working on the trail.   We met one other young couple backpacking out as they had hiked over Triple Divide Pass on their way to the Reynold Creek campsite west of St Mary Lake.   Other than a few people closer to the beginning of the trail, we had most of the trail and all of the lake to ourselves.

In 2006 this area burned in a major fire.  (  So, other than the many standing dead trees, the hike was mostly open and with views.

Because Weyerhaeuser bought the Plum Creek lumber company Patti will lose her job.  She has found another job in Wisconsin.  So this might be the last time Patti visits Red Eagle Lake, or at least probably for not for a long time.  When it came time to leave the lake Patti got emotional. 

Here are 18 photos from our hike:

Here is a 50 second video of the lake:

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Lake McDonald

After looking at the web cam photo of Lake McDonald that Patti sent on Wednesday, Donna wanted to go to Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park on Thursday.  Since my shoulder is still healing I am not suppose to do much. This recent nice weather has been too much of a temptation to do work around the ranch.  A short drive and hike should keep me from using my arm and shoulder too much. So Thursday afternoon we drove to the Park.

No one was at the Park entrance to monitor admission; but Donna has a Golden Eagle park pass so we drove on in.

We first drove to look at the Camas Road.  It is still snow covered and closed.  We then drove to Apgar and looked at Lake McDonald.

Then we drove up to the Lake McDonald lodge area. Part way along the way we stopped and walked down to the lake to see the view.

Near the lodge the Going-to-the-Sun road was snow covered and closed at that point.

We got out the car and walked along the road until we could take the the North McDonald road that crosses McDonald creek before the creek enters the north end of Lake McDonald.

View of Lake McDonald from the bridge over McDonald Creek.

Ariel view of the previous photo.

There we looked at the scenery and several deer before walking back to the car.

The snow on the Sun Road was hard packed and easy to walk on. The snow looked only to be several inches deep.  In a couple spots the road was clear of snow.

The sun was bright and warm in the clear sky. The temperature, in the 40s F, was relatively warm.

I was able to use my new GPS unit.  I am still figuring out how it works but I got the following data from the device.

The distance we walked was 3.3 miles round trip.

Here is a chart of the elevation change.   The chart may look dramatic but the total gain/loss was not that much as the difference between the minimum and maximum elevation was only 74 ft.  I don't know why the chart is not a mirror image of each half of the trip.

Here are 37 photos from our hike: