Sunday, October 21, 2007

Hiking in the Tobacco Root Mountains

Well, I'm sitting at my computer at almost 9 p.m. on Sunday night, and though I'm so tired I could crawl into bed right now, I'm going to post about my hike today. It's either that or wash the dishes that have piled up in the sink... and I abhor washing dishes, as my husband well knows. (I've actually been re-using spoons, a bowl, and my travel coffee mug for several days now. I know: ewww.)

Kate and I headed out from Basin--where it was freezing and had snowed--this morning around 8:30 a.m., and took off towards Boulder, where we got onto Hwy 69 and headed south towards the Tobacco Root Mountains. The sky was brilliant blue and the day beautiful despite the biting cold, and we were having such a good time talking while traveling through the golden hills surrounding Hwy 359 that we missed a very large forest service sign with the road name we were looking for on it, and ended up all the way at Jct 283. Laughing, we turned back, enjoyed the views from the other direction, and found our turn-off: South Boulder Rd/ Forest Service Rd 107. We took the unlined paved road--which eventually turned dirt and rutted, and then snowy--through the tiny town of Mammoth with its adorably tiny cedar-planked and aluminum-roofed houses and up into the Tobacco Root Mountains. The road became increasingly deep in snow, and along the way we passed several trucks with orange-hatted and vested hunters inside, and one man unloading his horse. It's a non-motorized vehicle area, which means that most hunters either hike or use pack horses. I was glad I wore my bright yellow vest, no matter how much like a cracked out oompa-loompa it makes me look.

After eating our lunch in Kate's rental Subaru Forrester (which performed admirably in the snow and ice), we headed up the trail. It was bone-chillingly cold: about 25 or so degrees at almost 10,000 feet. We hiked along a half-frozen resevoir, then took the Lake Louise Trail (where the 3 mile standard was scratched and 4 added), crossed a bridge over the snowy Boulder Creek and headed up into the mountains.

The trail became increasingly thick, but gorgeous: snowy Douglass fir-filled woods that made me feel as if I were walking through a C.S. Lewis novel. Pretty soon we were trudging through snow
more than 10 inches deep, but the views out onto the jagged, white-capped Tobacco Roots, blue sky blazing above, was well worth it. We didn't quite make it to Lake Louise--it looked like a snowstorm was blowing up, and it was getting colder--but the hike was incredible, chest-expanding and unforgettable.

We ate delicious pizza in Butte, wet shoes, red faces and all, and headed back to Basin. Along the way we realized, sadly, that we'll only have a few more days left of hiking together. I will sorely miss my newest hiking buddy! But we're going to try to get in a couple more good hikes before the week is out... and hopefully a horseback ride.

Up next: back to the Hot Springs to soak aching muscles tomorrow night, horseback riding, more hikes with Kate, and then my friend Ashley arrives on Thursday for a weekend in Yellowstone. Ain't life a kick?!

1 comment:

Vinegar Martini said...

You didn't think about tipping those cows, didja? LOL - hey - some Clemson habits die hard!

Your hikes sound amazing and the scenery is gorgeous. I'm so glad you're having fun out there. Stu and Scout looked great this weekend but I'm sure both miss you terribly and are anxiously awaiting your return!

Love from your favorite sister in law! :)