Sunday, November 7, 2010

Two major hikes

I have been trying to get into a little better shape.... one not quite as round! As luck would have it, I live in the Rocky Mountains and a good hike is only a few minutes away. I did two pretty awesome (for me, anyway) hikes this past summer.

One hike was to Elkhorn Peak. Here I am at the summit... a measly 9,422 feet! LOL This hike took Joe and I all day to do. The pedometer on my cell phone clocked the hike as 11.9 miles from start to finish, and we felt every step of those eleven miles the next day! It was a pretty intense uphill battle, then rock hopping over those boulders you see in the background to reach the top.

The small ghost town of Elkhorn can be seen here as a few white buildings just behind the rocks. That is just about where we started hiking from!!

Now I know that there are hikers out there that could bag this summit in only a few hours, but neither Joe nor I are one of them! As major hikes go, this one ranks up in the top three that we have accomplished. The other two would be the Highline Trail and Quartz Lake-- both in Glacier National Park. The 12-mile Hanging Garden trail near York, MT (Vigilante Campground is the trail head) was a bitch, too, so I better include it for posterity!

A few weeks after hiking Ellkhorn, we chose to tackle a closer to home and lower elevation peak. We hiked to the two highest points in the Scratchgravel Hills. These photos were taken just down from the summit at an elevation of about 5100ft. This is the view from the top looking North:
It is a nice view of the "Sleeping Giant". Can you pick him out? One other item of note-- I can see my house from here!! LOL The road that is very visible is Green Meadow Drive and that is the road I live off of. Not very green, but hey! That is how Montana can be in late August. Here is a photo looking South-East, down onto Helena from the same spot:

From this vantage point, you can see Elkhorn Peak. It is the highest point in the blue mountains that are across the back of the photo.
You can also see some of the damage from the Mountain Bark Beetle. That is what is killing the pine trees in the foreground. There are some areas that the kill is much worse killing the trees on entire mountains. Dead forests don't just look bad, they are dangerous too. One careless smoker or campfire, or even a lightening strike could cause a devistating fire that would burn hot and fast. For this reason, the forest service and parks departments are teaming up with local volunteers to cut down the dead trees and donate the wood to LIEAP (Low Income Energy Assistance Program). LIEAP then doles out cut cords of wood as a heat source for their clients who have fireplaces or wood stoves as a main heating source at no cost. With a cord of wood selling for $150-$250, this program is going to help out many low income families this winter.
With winter fast approaching, I don't think I will have the chance to do much more hiking over the next few months. I did buy a Wii and the Wii Fit and I plan on using it while it is cold outside. I don't want to just sit around and loose the little bit of ground I have gained (or lost, really!) trying to get into better shape. I hope to be able to go cross-country skiing this winter, too. I didn't even go once last winter!! It is something I really enjoy, just didn't have the time while working. One thing I have alot of since being unemployed is time!
Gonna go watch the first snow storm blow through the valley now....and hope it drops more than just a dusting of the white stuff--
Another update soon!