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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

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