Return to Lava Lake and Onward and Upward to Mt. Baldy in the Bridgers

Last weekend we had a return walk to Lava Lake. It’s a six mile round-trip walk, with the three miles in being a slow uphill grade. I’d forgotten how rocky this trail is…

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MD made the journey with us and held out very well.

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Once back at the parking lot we watched as an air ambulance helicopter came up the canyon and landed just across the Gallatin River from us. Turned out a climber had had an accident and was being air lifted to the hospital. Certainly an impressive rescue.

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Then yesterday, Jeff and I had plans for walking to a destination that’s been a goal of ours since we first learned of it a couple of years ago – to Mt. Baldy in the Bridger Mountains. Yesterday dawned perfect for walking…it was to reach only 80F, with a lovely breeze. We knew MD shouldn’t make this walk, so we got ready quietly and left before she awoke. Once she sees us in our walking clothes she sticks to us and has a hard time with being left behind…best she didn’t know.

So, the first goal in getting to the ridge of the Bridgers from the South end is to walk to The M. We decided to take the easier route to conserve energy. We stopped there for a couple of minutes, before setting out for the ridge.

The route just above The M is pretty steep for a bit, but being higher, the wildflowers are still in full bloom…

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…balsam arrowroot is pretty much finished at lower elevations, but is perfect here and purple larkspur is in its glory.

It levels out for a bit before rising again to the ridge. We had a bit of a rest at the ridge…

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BTW, that’s my new blue pack beside Jeff. We’re pretty well bonded now. I love the waistband…it takes a great deal of weight off my shoulders and places in on my hips, where it doesn’t really matter. Today’s weight was mostly water and my constant walking companion – Cytomax.

From here, ridge walking begins. It starts out gently enough, with just a moderate trend uphill. As you can imagine, the scenery is beautiful from this high up, with endless views of the Gallatin Valley to the West and the Bridger Canyon Valley to the East.  Looking back at our rest stop…

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Walking along the ridge..

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…with a view ahead of Mt. Baldy, our destination (the center peak)…

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Natural rock gardens…

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…and endless wildflowers..

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The trail gets seriously steep in one area, which had me walking with my nose nearly on my knees and in one spot, on my knees to crawl up and over a rock. It wraps around rocky outcrops…

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…and eventually we passed where we’d gotten to on our attempt last year, and beyond.  Looking back at a cloud passing by…

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The trail opens up into a meadow, again filled with wildflowers…

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…and after a bit of rock scrambling, offers a view of the path ahead, to one of the false summits of Mt. Baldy…

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Looking back all the way from where we’d arrived on the ridge…

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At this point we began the last long uphill to the summit. I thought, from having peered at the summit through a spotting scope several times, that it was grassy, but no such luck up here on the Bridgers…nope…it’s a shale scree slope, my least favourite underfoot for walking. Actually, Jeff and I were on a secondary trail at this point and could have avoided this slippery slope – which we did do on the way down. But, since we didn’t know this at this point, we headed up…

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Hardy wildflowers, even among the shale…

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And, after this second false summit, we began the final ascent…

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At 8,410′ in elevation, there’s still snow on the more shaded East side of the Bridgers.

And, then, we arrived at the summit.

Looking further North along the Bridgers and to the trail run annually in August by the incredibly fit ridge racers, many of whom were training on the trail.

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Once you’re up here, it may not be too hard to walk the ridge. We’re looking for a new goal…maybe???

The summit cairn and metal box with a log book that all summiters can sign, which we did with flourish 🙂 …

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We had planned to have our lunch up here, but decided to go down a bit into more shelter. It was windy and a bit cold..we had to put on our sweaters. And, being up this high and knowing that we have to walk down, especially over that shale scree slope made my appetite disappear. We began our descent…to me, this photo make it look as if you’ll just step off the edge of the mountain…

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We found a better path down, instead of the shale slope, and looking ahead to where we’d need to walk (to the end of the mountains and beyond)…

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I took this photo for the foreground, covered in tiny white blossoms, but what stands out to me now is the rockiness of it all…it was a day of walking on rocks, which, really, is the typical underfoot of walking in the Bridgers…

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A new-to-us and as yet unnamed wildflower from our route down…

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And, one last look up at where we’d been…

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It was a long walk down. By the time we arrived at the ridge above The M, my thighs were feeling nothing short of rubbery. This is a 10.5 mile roundtrip walk, with over 4,100′ gain in elevation…tough on the ol’ thighs coming down.

No walking today…just good memories of yesterday.

Hope your feet are taking you somewhere interesting today 🙂

 

 

 

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About walksandrambles

My love of walking began in 2005, when, travelling with my Girl Scout troop to Switzerland, I joined a group of Norwegians for a day, to walk up Elsignenalp. I wasn't at all sure I could make it, but the guide was kind and through her encouragement, started out. It was an all-day affair for me and I was always the last one, but this didn't matter a bit...I'd found my new love! No photos exist for this...the camera went missing on a train...but I remember toasting myself with a cup of tea from my thermos at the top...it was a day of tough work and pure pleasure. If you walk, you know what I mean!
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