Blog on the Move

For various techno reasons, I’ve moved to a different WordPress site for my current posts.

You can find me at: walksandrambles2017blog.wordpress.com

I hope to see you over there!

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A Mash-up of Outings

A couple of weeks ago my walking group decided on the Storm Castle trail in the Gallatin Canyon. It’s 5-miles return, with 2,300′ elevation gain. The castle part of its name is derived from the rocky outcrop at the top which looks quite castle-like.

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The trail is well-marked and mostly a series of switchbacks. Easy enough to follow one would think. Unless that certain one is looking down, watching where to plant one’s feet. Then, one could easily miss a turn and end up climbing up a steep face where this particular one has no business being in mere hiking boots. However, this particular one is happy (and relieved) to report that no injuries were sustained either by herself or her hiking buddy who happily came along…all the while saying that this didn’t seem like the right trail. To which the certain someone kept saying it looks better up ahead. Suffice it to say that the missed corner is now known to the walking group as “Cora’s Corner.”

Once back on the proper trail it all seemed easy-peasey…a walk in the park…in the after-rush of adrenaline…with great views up Gallatin Canyon…

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…up the Hyalite Canyon

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…and across the canyon at Garnet Mountain with the Forest Service fire tower sitting at 9,300′ that can be rented…

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Our group at lunch…

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A really nice trail, although it’s known to be bad for ticks during their season and hot during summer. This day = perfect, with a little adventure thrown in.

Then, last week we chose the Daly Creek drainage trail just inside Yellowstone, then a cut across the park boundary to Tepee drainage to the north .

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No elevation gain to speak of, but instead, a trail of wide open vistas.

Our group at our lunch spot with the Sky Rim trail along the horizon – a trail for a warmer day…

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Notice here, please that my hiking buddy (on the right) from our Storm Castle trail is still hiking with me!

The end of today’s trail for us, at the beginning of Tepee Creek trail. I realized along the way that this was the trail we’d walked along on snowshoes last winter.

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This was about 6.5 miles with around 700′ elevation gain…a nice walk, but I prefer the climbs with great views.

Yesterday it was a late afternoon walk to The M. Such beauty, all around.

 

 

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Miss Logie Would be Amazed!

Well, it’s likely that you haven’t met Miss Logie, but undoubtedly my introduction of her will bring someone similar from your own school years to mind.

Ahhh…Miss Logie…the nightmare of elementary school for all the kids who couldn’t carry a tune. Our music grade for all those years was based on how we did as we were each in turn, called up in front of our class to warble a tune beside her as she played the piano. My music grade sat at a steady C+ year after year, so it’s pretty obvious that this whole procedure didn’t work so well for me.

But Monday! If only Miss Logie had been in the woods with me! She would have heard me belting out every tune I know (three), over and over, along with many a fine rendition of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat!”

Why? Well, I’d gone along with a different group of walkers. We planned to walk to Emerald Lake, a trail I hadn’t yet been on, but had hoped to walk this year. Turned out that most of this group walked at a different speed than me. But, to start at the beginning.

Emerald Lake lies five miles and a 2000′ elevation gain up the Emerald Lake Trail, which follows Hyalite Creek through a canyon. It hadn’t dawned on me or most of the others that we may run into snow along this climb, so most of us hadn’t brought along our grippers. The trail was a mixed bag from the get-go…

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…but mostly it was snow covered. A few hikers had passed by earlier, so for the most part the trail was packed down, which was great because we regularly measured 12″ beside the trail, and…no gaiters along, either.

We took our time on the climb, which I really enjoyed until realizing that we were strolling along at a mere two miles per hour! At that rate the walk would take all day. Two speedier walkers broke away and I thought about joining them, but didn’t. Instead, I ended up walking and waiting, walking and waiting, but we all stayed fairly close, first reaching a handy bridge,

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and then Emerald Lake…in a full-on squall.

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I’m sure the lake is lovely in warmer times, but it was a bit nasty with snow and wind. After a few quick pictures, we circled back down the the bridge, for lunch.

My thermos tea cup up close and backpack hanging in a tree in the distance…

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I have to say that my usual walking group spends a bit of time relaxing at lunch. Not so this group and I quickly realized that I’d have to pack up half of my lunch to be ready to leave with them. And that’s when I realized that the group would be going down at the same pace as they’d gone up! The trail was ripe for boot skiing, it wasn’t especially steep, rocks for the most part were exposed so posed no danger, and as I knew five miles were ahead of us and it was now nearly two in the afternoon, I just couldn’t walk at their pace.

The backdrop…

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So, I figured I’d walk and wait, walk and wait…just like the route up. Except, letting myself slide and run a bit put me out front by quite a bit, quite quickly and before long, the group didn’t appear even when I waited.

What to do…what to do. I figured I was fairly close to the trail head (not so), so I struck out knowing that I’d be walking the rest of the trail on my own. Not something I enjoy. Especially in our woods of bears, cougars and wolves.

And, that’s when I struck up a tune. At each corner I got a little louder (and likely a little more off-key). These woods had probably never before been treated to “Farewell to Nova Scotia,” or “I Wanna be Free,” (remember Davey Jones of the Monkees?), or even “Someone’s in the Kitchen with Dinah.” Or, the many, many repetitions of “Row.” If Miss Logie had thought I’d been bashful beside her piano, she’d have been shocked at my newfound lungs 🙂 And, you know what? It worked! Not a bear, nor cougar, nor wolf crossed my path!

Only a spruce grouse and it didn’t seem in any hurry to get away from my crooning. Ha!, Miss Logie!

It was unnerving, though. The woods are dense, the trail curvy and the snow kept my world quiet. I probably set a new pace for myself. And, not to be repeated.

Despite our beautiful scenery…

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MD Returns!

No photos today as I left my phone at home, but it was a quick walk up to The M with Jeff and MD. Once at the benches, while Jeff enjoyed birding I decided to walk up to the top of The M…a few hundred yards further.

I got up there and looked down to where Jeff was entrenched in birding, and there was MD, looking up at me. Can’t be anything wrong with her eyesight. And then, she started up…not on the proper trail, but alongside The M, itself. That’s straight up!

She took a few breaks and checked for me, but up she came. Wow! Mountain Dog of yesteryear has returned!

If you’ve been reading along over the last few years you’ll know that Indy, our bichon, aka MD, is now 11 years old. She used to be ready for most any combination of distance and altitude gain that we came up with, but we’ve decided to let her retire from the more strenuous walks. So, today was truly a surprise! She celebrated her climb with a big slurp of water!

 

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Chestnut Ridge from the Southern End

My walking buddies and I headed to the Goose Creek trail head at the south end of Chestnut Ridge for our Tuesday walk today. I was happy with this choice because I do want to walk the entire ridge sometime, so this would give me a feel for the southern end.

Most of us thought we’d be walking the road up to a certain point, but one walker thought we should take a trail instead. That sounded like a good plan as we’d had rain last night and the road was wet, muddy and slippery. So, off on a trail we went…

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This looks a fine trail, don’t you agree? And, yes, it was for about a 1/4 mile or so, but then we realized that either we’d lost it or it’d lost us. We back-tracked a bit, but it seemed to just fade away, so our leader led us for some bushwacking, and up we went. Actually, bushwacking was slower than just walking up this trail, so although we were continuing to climb, it was at a easier speed.

Beautiful fall colours and so nice to have some moisture in the woods again…

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We continued on until we realized that we couldn’t find a way to cross over from the ridge we’d walked up to the ridge we wanted to be on. Someone pulled out a map (no apps were working!) and figured out that ahead a ways we could get to where we wanted to be without loosing too much altitude.

If you’ve read this blog in the past, you know that what we do is walk…walk…and keep on walking…until we reach our destination. Once we reached the end of our current ridge we met up with a forest service road, which led us to the trail we wanted up to Chestnut Ridge. This is an “unofficial” trail, meaning, I think, that it’s a straight path, with no extra funds put into making a walker’s life easier with things like…switchbacks. No such luck, just straight up.

However, after two miles and 1,500′ elevation gain, we reached the ridge, which offered lovely lunch scenery…20160920_113555

The Crazy Mountains in the background…

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Chestnut Ridge, itself, at the southern end…

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I sat on a branch of this fine old fellow for my lunch spot…and wondered about the stories this tree could tell…

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Coming down was just that…two miles of down, although we took the road when we met up with it again. It’d dried out somewhat, so we weren’t collecting too much mud on our boots. Wildlife today included an unid’d species of grouse that flushed right beside us at a trail stop and another in the woods, a gray jay that put on quite a show for us – it seemed just as interested in us as vice versa, and red squirrels quite vocally upset by our passing by.

After having spent my summer at sea level I’m feeling every foot of elevation gain on these walks…but it’ll get easier again, right?

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Moi, on the ridge, with the Absarokees in the background (the Absarokees are en route to Yellowstone from our location). I really do need to vary my walking apparel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chestnut Mountain Ridge

After our Labour Day weekend of clouds and rain and even some snow showing on the peaks whenever they were visible, it was time to hit the trail again yesterday.

My walking group often splits and goes in different directions, depending on trail difficulty and length of time each of us wants to be out for the day. Three of us decided to walk the Chestnut Mountain trail just east of Bozeman – a trail I’d been wanting to try, but hadn’t as of yet.

The trail entrance along the interstate in the Bozeman Pass is fairly new, opening in 2012 when an easement was obtained across private land. The first 1.2 miles are steep (what trail around here isn’t?). We encountered fresh black bear tracks and droppings within the first 500 yards…an unnerving way to begin, I thought, but my hiking friends chuckled and carried on. Let’s just say that after that, a bear would have had a hard time getting between me and the hiker ahead of me.

At the 1.2 mile marker the trail junctions with an old forestry road. We wondered if it was used much, but it didn’t seem to be as it was mostly grassed-over. Shortly after this a trail breaks off and goes to “Frog Rock,” a rock formation at the north end of the Gallatin Range that’s popular with mountain bikers and climbers. We carried on up the trail,

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where we came to an overlook of the ridge line we were headed for, but we’d arrive further to the south than this rocky outcrop northern end of the ridge. The big outcrop to the right is the frog formation – a bit clearer from the west side than here, from the east…

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Onward and upward. After a short snack stop we heard the sound of something kind of pinging off of tree branches. We stopped and looked around and spotted a red squirrel high up in a spruce (or fir…I didn’t check) tree, plucking cones from the branches and actually chucking them to the ground! I’ve seen a number of red squirrels in my days, but I’ve never seen this behaviour. The red squirrels I’ve watched carry each cone down a tree and I guess, then hide it. Not here. There was quite a collection of cones underneath this squirrel…

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Not bad for a morning’s work, but why wouldn’t an opportune squirrel just sit down there and simply carry off each cone as it lands? Easy pickings, I think! Must not be much competition – either not many squirrels or there’s an abundance of food.

We stopped here along the ridge for lunch, even though the trail continues and eventually joins other trails further on…

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…and enjoyed the scenery before us to the west, including the Abarokees far off across Paradise Valley, snow covered…

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Up until lunch we hadn’t met anyone else on the trail…a wonderful attribute of our area, but as we started back down a couple of mountain bikers passed us. They’d come up from the other end of this trail. Eventually we met a few more bikers and a couple of joggers.

We continued down, admiring the scenery…

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but, ultimately, we were pleased to complete this 10 mile, 2250′ elevation gain walk.

Looking back at our ridge line walk in the distance…

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A Great Place to Celebrate the Beginning of a New Decade

At the top of a climb overlooking beautiful scenery and having my walking buddies sing a wonderful rendition of “Happy Birthday!” Hard to beat!20160830_124058

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Lunch Spot Extraordinaire

This write-up is about a BWAG walk I was along on last Tuesday…it was a full day and life intervened between then and now, but at least there’s time now to think back through another nice walk.

To start, you may say we cheated, but we think we were being smart. Instead of walking up 11 switchbacks to reach the path we’d chosen, we drove up from the another vantage point. So, our actual elevation gain over this 9.5 mile return walk was likely around 500′ – 700′ feet, although no one was keeping track. We were a breakaway group of only four BWAGs. We were the only ones who decided to head to the Bangtail Mountain Ridge, while others went elsewhere.

We drove up the Olson Creek Road several miles until the road intersected the Bangtail Ridge trail. To the North the path would take us back to Grassy Mountain, the destination of a previous BWAG walk, but we were opting for the trail to the South. Our plan was to walk until Noon and stop wherever we were at that point, for lunch.

With most of the climb done by our vehicle, our walk was unusually easy and leisurely, and amid an amazing variety of spring wildflowers, including this delightful “Sugar Bowl”…

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The trail began with a few easy switchbacks with us gaining some elevation and opening into a lookoff (this view faces East) …

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…before we entered an open forest…20160614_113438

As you can see, we were a happy bunch!

We continued on for some time and at about 11:50a began to look for a lunch place. Just then, purely serendipitously, a lone mountain biker – the only person we met on the trail all day – passed by and told us that we were less than five minutes away from the summit meadow. Perfect! Five minutes later we walked out of the woods and into an incredible mountain meadow which offered vistas in all directions. We could see all the way down and out to Wilsall to the East, into the Paradise Valley to the Southeast and Emigrant Peak, the Gallatin Range to the South, the Bridgers to the West, and the Little Belts to the North. A lunch spot, indeed!

The meadow was full of wildflowers, some we thought must be alpine wildflowers. Wild forget-me-nots carpeted areas…

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…and, if you get down on your hands and knees and inhale, you’d be delighted in their full-blossom aroma. Been there, did that.

After lunch we walked to the opposite end of the meadow, mostly out of curiosity to see where the trail began again. We posed for a few pictures in “our” meadow and then began retracing our steps.20160614_125220

Back through the forest which was still bathed in sunlight…

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and out again, for a last view of the Bridgers…

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Unfortunately, and totally unplanned, this concludes my summer walking for quite some time. Responsibilities are taking over most of my upcoming days and weeks and it’ll be a while before I’m back in our mountains.

Enjoy your summer walking, wherever you may be!

 

 

 

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BWAG Walk: Return to Lava Lake

Should we ever feel guilty about taking so much time to walk and enjoy the challenges of the trails?

That thought crossed my mind as I was hastily packing up my gear this morning, planning to join the BWAGs for a Monday outing. I used to tidy up and clean our house every Monday…that was my routine. What happened to that?

The longer walk was scheduled to be up to Lava Lake, a walk that Jeff and I have done a number of times, but not yet this year and never at this time of year, and I wanted to see the lake in spring conditions. This rocky trail is 6.24 miles return, with 1,630′ of elevation gain.

The thing about this trail is that it starts out with a climb and just keeps climbing. I wrote about this ‘way back when…although with a few years of walking between then and now, its become a little easier. Still, today was humid and between that and the climb, I was soon down to my tank top. I’d forgotten to pack my Camelbak and had my Cytomax drink and my thermos of tea, but I was thankful that the driver of the car I was in didn’t mind stopping so I could pick up a bottle of water. I tucked that into the front of the waistband on my pack for easy access…a very handy spot and if I could have remembered that it was tucked in there, I wouldn’t have had to chase it down the trail every time I took off my pack. A good reason to remember my Camelbak.

Not many photos today as our usual leader, who likes to take photos and stops often, was away, so we were left with the mile-makers. I did manage to snap this…I have no idea of the name of this delicate flower, but I promise, right here, my friend who’s a botanist and reads this blog, that I’ll to try to figure this before I see you next month 🙂 BTW, the big leaf has nothing to do with the flower.

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Through the humidity and finally some rain, we arrived at the beautiful Lava Lake…

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…where we enjoyed our lunch.

This is a popular trail and we met lots of groups, including families with very young children, walking up. I was impressed with these young walkers and they sure have a lifetime of adventures ahead of them (if they can keep that guilt at bay).

The North end (I believe) of Lava Lake pours into Cascade Creek and runs down to the Gallatin River. The trail crosses Cascade Creek once. It was sure on the run today…

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…and wild lupins were on display just about everywhere along the trail…

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Sure beat vacuuming 🙂

 

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A Revisit to History Rock

Today dawned cloudy and cool…a very welcome change from our recent run of hot weather, meaning what could we do but hit the trail? My husband awoke with the sniffles, but surely it was allergies, and what better remedy for a stuffy nose than a walk in the woods…right?

So, off we went, for a revisit to History Rock. The actual rock is a bit of an attraction, with all of the dates that are carved into it. Plus, it’s a short walk (about one mile each way) with a little climb (listed as 692′, but that seems more than it actually was).

We took MD along. Her days of walking in the heat are over, but today was perfect. Of course, as dogs do, she did, and as I was tending to the bag for that, Jeff said he saw something big and black run up the hill beside the meadow we were crossing at the beginning of the trail. He thought it was either a bear or a moose, but whichever it was, it disappeared eerily silently.

Our walk to the rock went smoothly, albeit with me looking over my shoulder on occasion, wondering where that unidentified creature had gone. Not a sign nor sound of it, though.

Between the two of us, we spotted wildflowers that I hadn’t noticed on my earlier BWAG walk, including horsetail (is that a “flower?”)…such an ancient plant…

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The wild clematis we’d spotted earlier was still in full-show…

…and here’s my attempt to photograph the nodding flowering head of the abundant glacier lily…

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…just a little creepy, maybe.

MD was quite at home on the trail…

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…and Jeff spent quite a bit of time birding, with great success, including calling in a western tanager (which I missed as I was already back at our car, happily munching down the trail mix I’d brought)…

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…after having taken a few more wildflower snaps…

The yellow flower I have yet to id. Any ideas? It was common…it’s just not one I recognize. Lots of shooting stars on display…what an intricate flower head.

And, here’s a case of “home is where you plant your roots”…

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I hope I think to come back in a few years and see how this ambitious and optimistic tree is making out.

Jeff’s sniffles turned out to be the beginnings of a cold and I was dreadfully tired later in the day. Not a good sign. However, we both enjoyed a supper of marinated and baked chicken thighs, steamed asparagus and a mixed salad, so our appetites are as healthy as ever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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