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HOME OF THE 'TALL MAN'... (And you can see the blog pictures below in much greater detail simply by clicking on them)

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Big Up to Mount Helena


This is the top of Mount Helena (5,485), which I reached in a little more than 50 minutes — slower than in the past, but hey, it's a 1,300-foot vertical! Got down faster, but not much because the Hogback Trail I took is really treacherous for a slightly vertiginous old man with a slightly bum leg and a fear of falling.

I actually ran into Dan Hollow on the Prairie Trail part of my run. He was on his bicycle. We had a nice chat and he informed me that another old buddy, Brad Hurd, is in Helena again, too.


Here's the city center of Helena from 1,300 feet above. Nice day; a little cool (60s) and very windy at times.


This is looking just about straight west from the peak. I was huffing and puffing pretty good by the time I got up, but I did make it.


This is just a little north of the previous picture, and it shows the western part of Helena below. The trail I took kind of climbs around to the west side of the mountain then goes up the back. Nice.

Quite a few people up there today, which is good to see. I've called it 7 in the past, though I don't think it's quite that far. But factoring in the elevation change, I don't mind.

7; 23; 51; 263

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

To the river


Went a little shorter (5) today, thinking I'll try Mount Helena tomorrow when I go to the Queen City for some groceries. I think I'll make it, but I'll certainly be huffing and puffing.

Beautiful day — 60s and very breezy, despite it being fairly early (started about 8:30).


This is looking toward the river (in the trees) from my turnaround spot at the west end of the state land. The gate was open this time and the cattle were over in the larger pastures (they were right where I was standing for this last time I was here).


And here are the cattle, shot from the same spot as the above but looking west.


These cool plants are called "owl clover," and I've seen a few of them in the past week — but not this thick of a patch.


This isn't a good example of bushy cinquefoil, mostly because it's in the shade. It is, however, the example I photographed today.


And here's one of my favorites, wild chamomile. It's also known as pineapple weed because if you pinch one of the buds, it smells exactly like a pineapple. I think if I find a good patch of it I'll dig some up and try planting it in my yard.

5; 16; 44; 256
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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Farther on the Contour Road


I never tire of the views along the Humbug Contour Road route. This is the best viewpoint for looking over the Lincoln Valley, and that is, among other things, Stonewall in the distance. I ran early again today, but also long — 8 miles, in fact. Beautiful morning (mid-50s); no critters.



This is wild salsify, and I hadn't noticed in the the previous days, but that may be because other things were more spectacular. These tend to be loners.


Turnaround spot at the last switchback before the saddle. I may bet there later this week, and I'll try to remember to shoot an elevation up there.


The road back down, just a little way below the turnaround spot. That's the flank of Baldy ahead, and the road goes to the left side of it over a saddle.


The high point in the distance (almost straight west from the turnaround spot) is Dalton Mountain, which was the first mountain Nora and I ever climbed, more than 20 years ago.

8; 11; 39; 251




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Monday, June 19, 2017

Hike with Hannah


Hannah photographs the plethora of wildflowers near the Flesher Pass trailhead. We walked about a mile and a half up the trail to the south/west and got into some spectacular views.


This is near the turnaround spot. Beautiful morning — in the 50s and sunny.


The trail on the way up. The elevation up top was 6275, which is only a couple hundred above the trailhead ... easily the easiest trail from the two main passes, Rogers and Flesher.



There was lots of beargrass around, but most of it, especially on up the trail, was still a week or two away from primetime. These beauties were in the parking area.

3; 3; 31; 243




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Sunday, June 18, 2017

More rain; long run


A very gray day, with a light, misty rain. I followed the woman I've met up there before — we arrived at the trailhead simultaneously — and as before, she left me in the dust. I think she did have a good effect on my effort, however, in that I got to the 3.5-mile turnaround spot (pictured) faster than in runs before my knee injury. It was a pleasant day for a run, but I never saw her again (her car was still at the trailhead when I got back, of course. This shot shows a little trail that cuts off a mile-long switchback to the saddle next to Baldy Mountain.


The flowers up on the Humbug Contour Road continue to dazzle. The balsamroots are wilting a bit, but the Indian paintbrush and lupine seem to be gaining in profusion.


This is looking on up the aforementioned switchback road from where I turned around. My mystery running companion was long out of sight up there.

Temp was about 50 when I took off, but I think it went down a bit when the mists and breeze picked up on the way down.

7; 12; 28; 240


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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

After the rains


After almost an inch of rain in the past day and a half — during which I worked inside to clean house, arrange for the weekend rummage sale and for the arrival of niece Hannah — I went early to the Humbug Contour Road and had a pleasant trot to the usual 5-mile turnaround. The flowers up there still are spectacular, here mostly Indian paintbrush and lupine.

It's chilly out (40), and the road is wet (see bottom picture) but not muddy. The air is, of course, crystal clear and aromatic.


The view is good from up there, and the clouds (probably more like fog) surround the peaks on the north side of the Blackfoot Valley.


The road suffered some erosion and the puddles were bigger than usual. Felt good; will try the same tomorrow.

5; 5; 21; 233





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Sunday, June 11, 2017

To the Divide, with beargrass!


I was breathing hard, but I made it all the way to the cairn — or the remains of the cairn — Nora and I built on the Continental Divide 19 years ago. In fact, it was so windy and chilly (38 when I set out) that I went on past to the stand of scrub pine a quarter mile or so past the cairn. This is the place we dubbed "Nora Mountain" and even put a note in a jar to that effect inside the cairn. I brought that back down a few years ago because the lid was rusting so bad, so I'll endeavor to rebuild the cairn and replace the jar with a better lid this summer now that I'm getting back into some kind of shape.

You can see the prairie of the foothills in the distance.

After looking at some old posts, I'm doubting myself about getting to Nora Mountain ... I think it's down from that first ridge and up the next mountain. If that's the case, then maybe the cairn is OK and I just didn't get that far. I got to this cairn in about 27 minutes, and on previous occasions it was more like 44 to her cairn.

Anyway, it was a glorious day, including ...


... the profusion of forget-me-nots. It was so chilly and windy that I didn't get the full effect of the flowers, because I couldn't smell them (they're heavenly).


Here's the profusion, which never comes out in pictures as dazzling as it is in person. This is what Nora and I call "Remember Me Ridge," which is at about 6,400 feet, which is about 800 feet above the trailhead.


I was happy to see some of this not far from the trailhead, so niece Hannah is guaranteed to see plenty of beargrass when she comes next weekend from Nebraska.


These are the "incipient" beargrass flowers that will be fully in bloom in the next week or two. Amazingly, in a patch a couple of hundred feet higher up where I've seen super-thick beargrass in the past, the foliage had frost on it and there were no new stems.


This is at the base of the observation cliff about 15 minutes up. I've identified it before but the best I could do from my books today is something called "Lewisia," which presumably is named for Lewis of Lewis and Clark fame.


There was lots of this, especially on the lower reaches. It's chickweed and this was the thickest patch of it.

I felt good on the run, though I considered stopping at the cliff, which is probably just 3-400 feet up from the trailhead. But I soldiered on, and was rewarded with great views.

I'm going to call it

6; 11; 16; 228
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