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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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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