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Thursday, July 30, 2015

'Summiting' Baldy


I hate the word "summiting" but used it anyway. Climbers use it, so why not runners? Anyway, I waited until the kids (Hannah and Tony Demma) left to go backpacking to run today, which meant I went up Baldy Mountain (all the way, I might add) in the midday sun. It wasn't too bad for an ascent from the car of probably 1,400 feet or so, but the footing for the last pitch to the top was bad — no road, lots of big clumps of bunch grass, etc. For some reason it was easier going back down (maybe I could see routes better?).

This view is looking west northwest from the top. The distant mountains with snow on them are part of the Swan range, which is 50-60 miles away.


This is turning just a hair south from the previous picture, and the mountains on the far horizon are the Missions, where Hannah and Tony were going. They're 10-20 miles farther away than the Swans, so it's a clear day.


Turning 180 degrees and moving a bit to find a hole through the trees (the back side of Baldy is more wooded), you can see the rocky west face of Crater Mountain from an unusual perspective.

It didn't appear that much of anyone (with the exception of a small herd of horses) had been up here in a long time. The trail was badly overgrown and not mashed at all. Oddly, though, there was a pickup parked at a switchback on the way down. No one was around, and it hadn't been there on the way up, so who knows. It had Missoula plates, so maybe it was someone looking for Ted Kaczynski's old digs. His place used to be directly down the gulch from about where the truck was parked.

Nice day — 65-ish when I started and 80 when I finished. The breeze made it bearable for someone who is usually heat-averse. Before logging off, I'm going to try to post a short video of what I did with the kids on Monday. We just hung out Tuesday and went fishing yesterday.


If it worked, this is doing a "trust fall" (backward) off the tower of the zipline near Gardiner (Yellowstone National Park).

7; 7; 104; 684
Posted by Mose, 2:15 PM | link | 1 comments |

Saturday, July 25, 2015

On the sheep trail


It was a strange run today. A few weeks ago I encountered a herd of sheep up this track. I had intended to take the uphill route that day, but it was apparent from below that there was as large herd up there so I stayed on the lower trails. I had gone higher before and it was a pleasant ramble that I filed away as one to explore more sometime later. The sheep deterred me the last time, but they were gone today so up I went. They had pretty well trampled and shat up the areas where they'd been concentrated.

Unfortunately, I took a wrong turn early on the climb and wound up on overgrown tracks wrapping around to the east flank — where I had seen the sheep, but not where I'd been before.

I wound up bushwhacking to the top of the ridge (photo above), then made my way westward through a stand of tall ponderosas, a park-like area that eventually spilled onto a two-track road that had a familiar feel to it. At the forested peak, I realized why: It's the hill I'd climbed from the opposite side several times in other exploratory efforts. Those were based at the snowmobile clubhouse on Sucker Creek Road several miles west and north of where today's run started.

The peak was nondescript and unrecognizable, except for an old wooden pallet dumped there years ago by someone, probably as campfire wood. I even recognized the Bud Light bottle nearby. My problem today was that this peak put me quite a bit farther west than my return route up would need to be to get me back to my parking place three miles east of Lincoln.


I got to a familiar junction with a sign about logging activity (though none had been done in recent years). This picture was taken May 18, when I came to it from the exact opposite direction. I found a vague track today heading east around the mountain so I followed it, and it turned out to be the right choice, eventually putting me back to the original uphill track where I started.

The upshot is that I got my longer run in today, even though I was thinking not to go longer as I climbed. Nice that I'm able to do it, anyway.


Technical note: I am suddenly having trouble emailing my pictures to myself at my gmail address. They eventually show up (I mean like after hours, not seconds), but it's messing up my running log's timeliness. That's why I had the pic of my table and chairs yesterday. They've finally shown up, but it's more than an hour after I sent them, so I'm going back and editing the post and adding them to it. These are Oregon grapes, which were all over on the east slope.


This is a slit trench on one of the tracks down from the top of the mountain. It was bigger and deeper than the average "tank trap" used to block roads to ATV use, but I doubt if it was a miner's trench.

I'll probably skip tomorrow in order to be fresh for my zipline adventure Monday. Hope I'll be back out running by Tuesday. That'll give me four days to go 23 miles in order to reach 700 by the end of July, which is one of my quiet, OCD goals.

8; 22; 97; 677.
Posted by Mose, 9:52 AM | link | 0 comments |

Friday, July 24, 2015

To the river



This isn't the river, it's the table and chairs I retrieved Wednesday in Missoula instead of running. It's the same dinette set I puked on at about age 3 when my mom made me eat some canned spinach. My spew set off a chain reaction in which my 6-year-old brother followed suit.

Anyway, I posted it because for some reason my Internet has practically stopped working. I emailed a routine picture from today's run to myself, as usual, but it has never shown up in my email. Oh well.

It was a routine run to go with the routine picture. I did take a short detour to look at the water level in the river (low). The cattle seem to be gone from the area, and there was little evidence that anyone besides me has been there in recent weeks. (I was there Saturday — photographed a sandhill crane.)

I skipped yesterday because, oddly for this year, there was a thundershower that went off and on all morning. Will probably try to go long-ish tomorrow because I will want to be rested by Monday when I drive to Yellowstone National Park to spend the afternoon ziplining with my niece and her husband. They'll be here for a couple of days next week.

5; 14; 89; 669
Posted by Mose, 10:07 AM | link | 0 comments |

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Flesher Pass with berries and a trail crew


This is one of my favorite weird plants, an evergreen called pipsisewa. It's common right now in the darkest parts of the Flesher Pass-west trail, which I plied today on my way to Helena (nice routine, btw).

At the trailhead, I encountered probably a dozen, maybe more, people from all over the U.S. (Montana, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Idaho that I remember), a volunteer Continental Divide Trail crew. They'd been working on the other side of the pass (east and north) for the past few days, and were eating breakfast before departing to go to the Stemple Pass area, where I can attest the trail needs some work.

They were very nice and gave me a booklet on what's involved in volunteering. It's a project of the Wilderness Society and I've read about it in the past. Looked like fun, except for the sleeping-on-the-ground part. Maybe next year?

Anyway, the huckleberries (and whortleberries) were going to town today, though I'd say it's probably a week more from prime yet at this altitude (between 6,100 and 6,800 feet). I didn't photograph the hucks; I just ate them.

I went farther than I've gone the past couple of visits here. The trail was just about to go up over a new peak when I turned around.


Here's a sample of the whortleberries. They're still so tiny that even a rich-looking bush like this would yield a thimbleful. I think the bears just suck up the whole plant.


Here's one of the better views on this route, not too far (a mile or so) from the trailhead. It was a nice morning, probably in the 50s when I started and well into the 60s when I finished. It's in the 80s now.

9; 9; 84; 664
Posted by Mose, 3:01 PM | link | 0 comments |

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Ran anyway!


I thought seriously about skipping today because I was watching The Open in St. Andrews and it was pretty exciting. I dragged my sorry self out anyway and drove to Rogers Pass. I didn't want a major effort (like going up the CD Trail either way), so I took the road that winds around east of the Divide, what I think of as the back side, to the country below the cliffs on the CD Trail south of the pass. This picture shows the Divide, where the trail runs right on the ridge top.


This is just turning a little left (southward) from the same spot, and you can see the Divide. The trail is just on the other side of the peaks and right in the saddles.


On this little ridge, there's actually a trail (though I couldn't see it from here today) that goes up the back (east) side to the high trail on the Continental Divide. It's a shorter route than the regular CD Trail, and I've done it once, but it's rough and steep.

The road I ran on today actually winds its way around into the South Fork of the Dearborn drainage, with a side track onto Sunset Mountain where a cluster of radio and microwave towers stand. A short distance up the road, I met a guy from Minnesota who was just heading out to go to the highway and ride back home on Highway 200 to Great Falls and beyond. He was on one of those weird-looking super-fat-tired bikes, and had ridden what's being called the Great Divide Trail, which is not to be confused with the CD Trail. It's a bike trail that starts in Canada and finds its way, on bike trails, down the Swan, over to Ovando and Lincoln, and on. In fact, I've been seeing lots of riders going from Lincoln to Helena on the Stemple Pass (dirt) road, which in years gone by was unusual.

Anyway, we chatted for a bit before I proceeded.


This is looking down on Highway 200's single 20 mph hairpin from near the spot where he and I talked.

I went to the Sunset Mtn spot and peeked down into the Dearborn before turning around. It was a longer run than I originally intended, but I felt good. Beautiful day: started at 45 degrees and finished at 65, with a light breeze. I probably will skip tomorrow to watch the fourth round of The Open, then do a Flesher Pass run Tuesday on the way to Helena for some shopping and banking.

5; 34; 75; 655
Posted by Mose, 9:09 AM | link | 0 comments |

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Short to the river


I would have made it a five-miler but at the far end of my usual jaunt across state land to the Blackfoot River, I decided to explore a bit. I shot this picture just to represent the run, not thinking that it had any significance. But then I realized that the tree-covered ridge opposite me (not the near one but the middle one) was the tree-lined slope down from the huge meadow or pasture I've visited a couple of times in the past week or so, including yesterday.

You can't really see it in the picture, but the trees on the side of that ridge end right where you can see them breaking the horizon, and the vast open area rolls out behind it. Because of the slope you can't see the meadow from below. I now have a better understanding of the area's topography.


My "exploration" had two results:

1) It brought me over a hill to see this guy, a sandhill crane, grazing in the grass. He's near the center of the frame (on a computer click on the picture and click it again to blow it up). As I crept closer to get a better picture, his (or her?) partner flew up from the swale below me and between me and the pictured bird. It was joined by the latter and they disappeared into the trees to the east and north.

2) It turned out to be an unwanted shortcut back to the road that took me away from Herrin Lakes Road, thereby cutting a good mile off my route. I didn't really want to do that, but I also didn't feel like running in circles or retracing my steps, so I baled. Maybe I'll go a bit longer tomorrow.

Nice day — mid-50s and overcast, though no rain is in the forecast.

4; 29; 70; 650

Posted by Mose, 9:04 AM | link | 0 comments |

Friday, July 17, 2015

Loosening up


I returned to the meadow I "discovered" last week, mostly because it wasn't too grueling in the way of elevation changes, and I wanted to break my semi-exhausted legs in gently after Tuesday's marathon. My right knee had stiffened up a bit Wednesday, and the left hammie that cramped right at the end of the long run still is a little sore. This route has a couple of hundred feet of climbing, but it's generally gentle and otherwise flat. I just wanted to work out the kinks, and this route was perfect for it.

It was an uneventful run. No wildlife, though they were moving a sizable herd of cattle far below along Dalton Mountain Road and I could hear their bawling clear up on top of the mountain. I'd guess they were about a mile away.


This is just a little swale that I thought looked pretty on the way back down. Probably the coolest thing about today's weather was the clarity of the air. After a few weeks of hot weather and smoke from fires in Canada, it's been windy and cooler lately and the air was crystalline. I didn't bother photographing the views from on top because I've photographed them in this log so many times before (Stonewall, Blackfoot Valley, Baldy Mountain, etc., all from a distance).


This curved pine caught my attention again today (the photo was taken last Thursday). If I ever need to build an ark (my name is Mose, after all), I have the keel ready-made.

5; 24; 66; 646
Posted by Mose, 9:53 AM | link | 0 comments |