|Steamboat Mountain from Sun River Game Range/Sun Canyon Road|
|Katie and me below Castle Reef Mountain|
|View from Wagner Basin|
|Our Wednesday hiking group on lunch break|
|Sun River in the Canyon|
Not that I'm complaining.
The backcountry ski season was long and wonderful and I'd love to see more of the same in the future.
It's just that we've become used to hiking in late March and early April, and we have been tentative about getting out there this year because there have been wave after wave of storms.
We really began our season with a hike up Mount Sentinel in Missoula on Saturday, about a 2,000 foot gain to the top. The mountain trail, which starts on campus, has a bit of snow on the ridgeline, and I caught flurries when I topped out.
There are several ways to reach the top. My favorite has been to take the trail immediately to the left up the north edge of the mountain. This is very steep.
On Saturday I decided to explore and went to the "M" and above it took the trail to the right (south) that crosses an old road and switchbacks up a ridge and past an abandoned 1890 copper mine. When the ridge top is reached I had a choice of connecting with the north trail or going back south that parallels the ridge and wraps around the east side of the summit cap and then to the top. I went south.
I found this a less strenuous approach than the north ridge line.
I hit only one short patch of snow and ice. We saw three alpine flowers.
On Wednesday, Wayne Phillips led our old-guys hiking group into the Wagner Basin below Castle Reef Mountain in the Sun River Canyon below Gibson Dam and did a roundtrip hike of 5.5 miles, gaining and losing 1,200 feet.
We saw a single dandelion, but numerous bighorn sheep and deer.
I also picked up a couple of ticks.
The weather was superb, with bright sun, blue skies, moderate wind, and the landscape was dappled with abundant snow.
This easily accessible area from Augusta offers some of the best Rocky Mountain Front scenery. It is dominated by Castle Reef and Sawtooth Mountains that flank both sides of the road like a giant gate.
|Mount Sentinel in Missoula|
|From the top of Sentinel in a snow squall|