Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Hiking the Bitterroots

One of the activities we enjoy most since retirement is the ability to go hiking, and this area is a paradise with trails everywhere. There's a creek exiting the Bitterroots every few miles, and a trail for each one. Most are entrance trails for a large network of trails that wind through the 1.3 million acres of the Selway-Bitterroot wilderness. Many, however, are short hikes of a few miles that let us experience the beauty of the area without having to be hospitalized afterward. Like most trails, almost all of the ones in Montana are uphill both out and back, one of those unexplained phenomena that you just have to learn to live with. One such hike, which turned out to have a terrific viewpoint at the end, was the Blodgett Canyon overlook trail, a moderately easy 3-mile round trip (three miles in Montana equals 5 miles everywhere else). Driving up to the trailhead at about 4000', we were treated to a great view after only traveling a short distance. Further up the trail, the mountainside was covered with wildflowers, which now that we're into this sort of thing, we immediately identified as arrowleaf balsomroot and silvery lupine. Scary, Huh? The trail meandered through a burn area where we saw downy woodpeckers, and we had the chance to say hello to all the people who had left after us, some with children, who passed us on the trail and were now coming back after spending time enjoying the view. We like to think we're studious, not slow. Finally, we reached the overlook where we had these great views:

It was a truly impressive place; the roar of the river below us coupled with the wind rushing in the pines and aspen around us was almost deafening. Rested and refreshed, we started back on the return hike, again uphill, with thoughts of Advil, cold beer, and hot showers keeping us going. What a great place! Wish you were all here to see it with us!

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