Our forecasted snow did arrive, just as expected, and after a couple of days and nights of snow falling, today dawned clear and cold. I hemmed and hawed about tackling the route to The M, but after just a bit of dithering, decided to go for it. Our West Highland Way leader (my 2010 96 mile Scottish Highland walk) told us in that group that after we’d finished our eight day walk, our feet would get antsy within a couple of days and we’d be on a trail somewhere, shortly thereafter. So now, when I wake up and feel like I just have to get moving, I understand why.
However, the rest of my family at home wasn’t feeling the same way. Our younger daughter had a school trip to prepare for and my husband, who’s usually out the door before me on the weekends, was tied up with work obligations. That left Mountain Dog, who, although definitely is not feeling well, did a great job of looking enthusiastic when she saw me reach for my backpack. However, this little Bichon is not well adapted to snow hiking. Her toes get compacted with snow and trouble starts when she tries to dig it out with her mouth, which turns the whole mess into ice. I’ve tried booties for her, but she seems to hate them and spends most of her time working her way out of them. So, although MD is well adapted to hiking the hills, winter weather has put a stop to her being my companion.
So, I set off alone, a first since we’ve moved here. I was surprised at how few cars were at The M parking lot…
…where is everybody? I’d never seen the car park so empty. This was almost an ender for me, but I figured what the heck…may as well begin, at least. I had my spikes strapped on my hiking boots, which were definitely necessary (hey, no one with their babes strapped on, chatting and in their runners out here today!). Later on, I met a downward-bound walker with major cleats, but even my tiny ones made a huge difference.
They gave me enough grip that coming down I could even run a bit, which led me to whoop a bit, too, until I came to an icy section and my senses, both at once.
The trail was spellbinding today, I have to say. All in all, I met fewer than a dozen fellow walkers for my entire two-hour trip.
The trees were heavily laden with snow and really, everywhere I looked the scenery was breathtaking. I’m not yet accustomed to such wide open skies, such blues, such dramatic scenery.
I was dressed in my usual layers and while I’ve always ended up peeling them off, today I needed everything I had. The only time I felt at all chilled was in an open stretch which was positioned exactly right for the wind to be face-on. I did consider turning back at this point…no need in dealing with frostbit for goodness’ sake…but I figured if I could get to the woods section, that then I’d be sheltered till the top. So…I continued on, truthfully…enjoying every challenging step 🙂 Is this addictive or what?
No takers today at this scenic stop.
I met a fellow hiker as he was coming down and we stopped and chatted a bit. He said he hikes The M everyday…that, I admire. He also said that the snow really puts an end to the traffic and I had to agree….the woods were perfectly still today…
…except for the occasional, oddly squeaking tree. A little unnerving when on one’s own, especially after last night’s Bozeman’s television news showing pictures of a bear on one of the town’s streets…apparently looking for a den. Good grief. A couple of times I turned around and peered into the woods…I’ve really got to work on these irrational thoughts.
The M was covered with snow today, invisible. The sky was gorgeous…a true blue. It being Remembrance Day today, I was walking with my Dad in mind. One of the many young men who have given us the freedom we have and so enjoy today. I think this was the perfect way to spend my time remembering.
There’d been a few walkers at the top before me. I’d seen two going up the steep route…I’d never had tackled that today. I was on the slow and easy path up and down.
Scenery at the top…
It wasn’t too cold at the top. The trees probably sheltered the wind that was kicking up. My husband called me at the top…very cool!
So, then it was all downhill. I walked along pretty briskly, trying out my spikes for running, which was a blast. The wind had blown snow over the trail in exposed places, which made for walking in drifts and snow going down my boots.
One branch had decided to dump its snow just when I was passing under, but honestly, nothing could move this entire experience out of the fantastic range 🙂 I just need to find a jacket that can breathe versus my many layers. And, I’ve packed away my Dromedary for the season…the connecting tube turned to solid ice today.
Managed to avoid the outcrop trail today, although at one point I was wondering if I was headed for it. There were enough tracks to keep me on track, thank goodness.
What a gorgeous Montana morning!