12 July 2011

The Blacktail Trail - Ten Lakes Wilderness

Sunday July 10, 2011

I didn't feel Koty and I got enough exercise yesterday when we went to check out Lake Koocanusa's current water level.

So, we got up bright and early to walk the Blacktail Trail. The hike is pretty much uphill until you get to the draw and then you go down to Blacktail Creek and you can actually take it all the way to Ten Lakes. That's more than a day hike.

We headed out bright and early and made it to the 49th parallel in about and and fifteen minutes. The 49th parallel, as you may know is the line the border with Canada lies. At this point a switchback in the trail falls right on it and the spot has been marked by the Forest Service.

Canadian Border - 49th Parallel

The view of the border from here is really quite beautiful. The line runs through the forest, down the Galtons, onto the Tobacco Plains, across the Koocanusa and up into the mountains again.

Canadian Border-49th Parallel
There still aren't that many wild flowers up here. Mostly Indian Paintbrush and wild Primrose.  My favorites the wood lily are generally out the last of June and first of July. But, I did not see a one this day and already the 10th. Seems they are even later than last year.

The condition of the forest here is pretty sad. Infestations of various beetles assisted by several years of drought conditions have really wreaked havoc. The number of dead standing and dead fall is astounding. Many places along the trail look like a giant game of pick up sticks is going on.

Dead trees along the Blacktail Trail
I was curious to see if we could make it all the way over the pass. The last time we were up here the bush was so thick you'd have to have a machete to get through. I don't much like those spots because they are ideal for startling a bear.  Happily, most of the brush had been cleared but some spots still had quite a bit left.

Blacktail Trail disappearing into the brush. Also Kotys'

I thought we might encounter a bear, we usually do on this trail. And, whilst we didn't actually see one we sure both got a whiff of one. It's amazing how strong a bear's odor can be and it's nasty. Koty went into overdrive wanting to follow the scent. It was all I could do to hold him back. Needless to say I sang off key, the only way I know how, and talked to any bear that might be nearby. I heard a hiker was mauled to death in Yellowstone just in the past week or two when they startled a bear. I don't take any chances with startling a bear. When I get to a bend in the trail I can't see around or the brush gets thick I start singing and hollering. I have noticed that animals find the sound of the human voice quite repugnant and are inclined to move away with great speed.

The Blacktail Trail was actually once and old mining road. I don't think anyone ever made their fortune up here. In fact one of the mountains is called Poorman. Just as you get to the top of the pass is a relic loading dock from those times.

Loading Dock on the Blacktail Trail

I often wonder how it is one seldom ever hears of anyone getting bonked by a falling tree or a boulder coming down the mountain. For all the hiking I do I've never even been close. Thank goodness.

Big boulder having fallen onto the path.
Once through the pass we encountered snow. That was certainly a first for me for this time of year. Koty was really happy to see it too! But, what was so totally awesome was the thunderous sound of water rushing into the valley below. It is beyond belief how much water is still pouring out of these mountains. It gives me goose bumps just recalling it.

Green Mountain ten Lakes Scenic Area Montana

Across the way I could see a still snow covered Green Mountain. Over that ridge and one will be on their way to Ten Lakes. I wanted to get all the way down to Blacktail Creek but I had to meet a carpenter who never bothered to show up.

I never walk in the forest that I don't find some natural design, pattern or still life that catches my eye. The photo below is of small pine cones resting in the trail. I don't know, maybe no one else thinks they're beautiful but I sure do. Nature is so endlessly fascinating to me.

Pine Cone Still Life

©Kinsey Barnard


Pond Leak said...

All these natural landscape photos are really very good thanks for sharing.

Walker said...

I have to laugh at myself. I'm so distracted by my solar installation I completely forgot to upload the little photo of the pine cones.

Weekend Cowgirl said...

Love these photos from your hike! I think those beatles have created lots of bad areas. It seems when I hike in Montana I see more and more diseased trees...