The Devil’s Staircase, on Day 7 of my two-year-ago 90 mile West Highland Way walk was one tough climb for this former prairie girl. But…not any more. Today dawned yet again a beautiful day for walking here among the Bridgers so off I went with ever-ready Mountain Dog to tackle the Steep Route to the M. Ha! Yes, it was steep with no switchbacks (well, maybe a couple), but to the M we went. Yep, it took lots of stopping, but even I realized that I wasn’t gasping or on my last legs…until about 2/3 of the way up and then my quads (or lack thereof) began to make themselves felt. Nevertheless, it was superb. MD and I rested for a bit at the top and then we found a good path to the top of the letter so off we went again. However, I decided once there that that was enough for one day…my balance issue raised its wobby self again and, you know, safety first.
…just starting out from the car park. I know tons of people make this trip every day, but I have to say that these paths still have an element of risk for me. This is the ridge route and really, it wouldn’t take too much to go over the edge, at least in places. Anyone around here would scoff at this, I’m sure, but the footing is rolling rock and I, for one, have to pay attention.
Further on up, there seems to be lots of choice in the actual route to follow. The basic premise to keep going up…
Mountain Dog, showing how she came by her Montana name. When we were climbing above The M a walker was coming down and asked about MD…how high she’ll climb, to which the answer is that she’ll go anywhere that I go. He was very complimentary of her, which was lovely and quite right…Mountain Dog is a great companion.
So, just continuing on…
MD spent a fair bit of time sightseeing as she stood around, waiting for me to finish resting and get on with it.
The forest fire smoke seems to be cleared out of our valley now and the Tobacco Root Range to the west was showing itself in its full glory today. Snow capped peaks…I suspect that snow is here to stay for the season.
My Dad’s gloves with my trail buddies…on these cold mornings I’m wearing my Dad’s gloves. Nearly 20 years ago I had a trip to Norway and brought back these gloves for him. We both knew that he’d not live long enough to wear them when fall came…but, he accepted them so graciously. I’m not sure how I came to have them now (thanks, Mum!), but after all these years of toting them around, I wear them now. They’re big for me, but so were his hands over mind, so things seem right.
Looking down from the top of the letter M. After this, it was just a lovely walk down and I only got lost once. Realized that I was likely going the wrong way when two women passed me laughing and talking and I was getting out of breath. No worries…just called MD (hey, shouldn’t her nose help out a bit here?) and turned around. My thoughts actually strayed from the path on the way down and started figuring out a bunch of measurements I have to make for something totally different…made me realize that coming down, at least, I no longer have to concentrate on every step. (Hmm…maybe if I did I wouldn’t end up getting off-trail every single time I walk this backwoods highway.)