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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