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Friday, December 3, 2010

Senior Hiking # 378 - Chimney Rock

Nov 15, 2010…Chimney Rock in the snow…Tr #256
…hike # 378 by Betsy

Whew…I am still in shock over a very unexpected but wonderful surprise over the weekend. On Friday Nov 12, we celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary… and my thought that no one remembered dissolved when all four of our kids and some spouses appeared at our door. We had no clue they had been planning this for almost a year. The ten of us had such a wonderful, and a loud at times, visit…it was so good to see all of them, some of whom we have not seen for quite some time. We have the best kids in the world. Thanks, guys!
Even though it was raining here at home, rather than do one of our rainy day hikes or go up to Schweitzer, where we spend most of the winter, we decided to try one more time for a Selkirk mountain hike. We didn’t know how far we would get but it was worth a try. The forecast for the mountains was 80% snow and 32°…too tempting to resist. Just a short way down Upper Pack River Rd, we spotted a young mama moose and just down the road was her yearling calf. Then at the intersection to the three last trails, we passed a hunter driving out with his loot...a good sized buck in the back of his pick up truck. Most of the road was free of snow…just a smattering along the sides but the road down to Chimney Rock trail head was very snowy with ice underneath.

Jim loaded the snowshoes on to his pack…not enough snow for them at the start. I put on my fleece vest and my orange hat, only to cover it up with me hood. It was about 34° but with a nip in the air and it was not snowing yet. Snow got deeper as we climbed this steep trail, and when we got to the first creek, it began to snow lightly. At Chimney Creek the snow began to come down much harder, enough so that we had to put on the heavy duty precip jackets. We should have put the snowshoes on here too but we didn’t. I was leading and the snow wasn’t too difficult to walk in with my snowshoe boots. Jim had more of a problem in that he sank deeper, even walking in my tracks. Crossing two creeks was tricky.

Lots of bear tracks, and it appeared to be a mama and a cub…and some elk tracks. Took pics, and eventually they all went over the side…the tracks, that is.

By the time we got to spot where we normally would get the first view of Chimney Rock, it was snowing very hard and we were beat from the steep hike up in boots. Everything was totally socked in with fog. Tried unsuccessfully to find some trees for shelter from the snow…ate lunch and then turned around. It took three hours to get here…and we had a long hike back down…not to mention that it gets dark much earlier now. We need to get back into winter mode and be out to the truck by 3:30 or earlier now. Descending was much easier than the ascent, and it was just about dark when we reached the truck. Driving out we saw an elk jump into the woods and the snow turned to hard rain all the way home.

Left home 9:15 (late start today!)
Got to TH 10:15Started up 10:30
Got to lunch spot 1:30 (3 hours up)
Turned around 1:50
Got to truck 3:55 (2 hours, 5 minutes down)
Total miles hiked 8½ miles
Total hiking time 5 hours, 25 minutes

Senior Hiking #377 - Harrison Lake

32° - 35°

Nov 8, 2010…Harrison Lake 1st snow hike …tr #217…
hike # 377
by Betsy
Thinking that this could be our last opportunity to head up to the mountain trail heads, and with snow in the forecast, we headed up Upper Pack River Rd. We brought all our gear, not knowing what to expect…snowshoes, boots, gaiters, and warm clothes. On the last section of road, we began to see snow, not only along the sides of the road but falling from the sky as well. There was no one at the trail head…no surprise here…and we bundled up. I wore my snowshoe boots and gaiters, more for water protection and warmth than for comfort. They are not hiking boots but I can get along with them okay. We left the snowshoes in the truck.

We got so engrossed in all the wildlife tracks, and were studying what looked like a nice bear print when I looked up ahead on the trail and saw two hunters coming down. It scared the daylights out of me as I jumped, thinking it was a bear! They had parked in a spot past the trail head so we hadn’t seen their rig…and took a critter trial up…they had not gone to the lake…not sure if they even knew there was a lake. They were hunting for deer but had seen nothing.

There was so much water on the trails and the creeks were overflowing due to all the rains we have received…it looked more like a heavy spring run off. And stepping in so many mud filled sinkholes was not that much fun. I had to take my fleece vest off at our snack spot.

Plodding on, the snow got deeper and deeper and we guessed it was close to three feet. Post holing slowed us down considerably. By the time we got to the lake, the temperature had dropped down to 33° and we ate our lunch under the big rock overhang before walking over to the lake to take pictures. I put more clothes on before we took off...everything was cold now…my hands, my feet, even my nose. And I stayed cold for most of the way down and figured that from now on I would go into winter clothes mode…warmer long johns on bottom and two or more on top. It snowed for about half the way down.

Left home 9:10Got to trail head 10:05Started up 10:15Got to lake 12:45 (2 hours 30 min)
Headed down 1:00
Got to truck 3:00 (2 hours)
Total miles hiked 6 miles
Total hiking time 4 hours, 45 minutes