Sunday, August 10, 2014

Little Blackfoot Meadow Hike

With hillsides covered in purple thistle.

And bees gathering pollen for the winter ahead.  The gentle breeze only needed the sound of bagpipes playing to make it feel like a trip to Scotland.  Of course, a few brawny Scots in kilts striding through the thistle wouldn't have hurt any.  But all the day dreaming aside, this was a FANTASTIC hike!

Once again, Don (and Markey) did a great job.  I know the man must have some magical powers, because the weather couldn't have been nicer.  Just warm enough without being too hot, sunny, and no threat of rain.  The road up to the trail does have several areas for campers and they were pretty full.  In fact, the parking area was lined with several cars.  However, we soon discovered, there was a trail run which was ending about the time we were starting, so, at least going to the meadows, we were alone.

From the parking area it is a short walk into the woods.  Most of the initial trail was very wide to accommodate drive-ins for about a mile.  Saturday did have some remnants of the rain Friday night so Markey was confined to leash.  I was afraid Don would make me walk back to Helena if I decided to wade in the puddles.

The first part of the hike saw very little of Little Blackfoot, it peeped in and out of the woods.   

There were a few little water crossings throughout the hike, but nothing to really get your feet wet.
Most of the hike was through woods, only to open up onto meadows filled with wildflowers. 

The further you get up the trail the narrower the path becomes.  However, it is all fairly level, with only a few inclines.  But nothing which really made me dread going up.

This was the first real 'crossing' and did have a bridge over it.  Off to the left was another trail which circle around and had a 'trail' sign by it.  Don, who was here in September in the snow, didn't remember this bridge and felt maybe they crossed over the creek on the other path.

One concern, or mild disappointment, was the amount of trees which I think were infested with beetles.  Maybe fire. But there were several patches where there were a lot of dead trees and lots of deadfall in the woods.

About four miles in, Blackfoot Meadows is a lush looking area.  However, it is a marsh and you could tell, even with the tall grass, there was a lot of water in there.  I needed a moose standing there eating to complete the picture.  

So this is the view I was forced to look at while eating lunch.  There was a couple there at the turn around point who we talked to while eating.  And a bit before we got to the meadow we passed a man and two teenage boys, camping.  Don marked that stop to come back and visit as a shakedown spot for a longer hike/camping trip.

Savvy, when she was looking at the pictures, called this a bench not a bridge over the creek.  

During the spring when water runs high, I can imagine, based on the creek banks, it is not a hike you would want to make.  Or one you could make without getting really wet.  That said, I really, really want to go back during the first part of June, maybe the very end of May, next year to see it with the wildflowers.  I could see the lupines going to seed, beargrass past it's prime, and tons of other wildflowers.  There were the final lupines, blue bells and some other flowers hanging on.  I imagine in the spring it is just heavenly if you like wildflowers.

On the return trip we did pass several incoming hikers.  Don timed our hike just right so we missed the 'crowds' and pretty much had the trail to ourselves going in.

It is a long hike - about 8 miles for the round trip.  That said, it isn't a hard hike.  There is very little steep elevation changes.  It's just a long hike.  Including lunch (and my picture taking) it was about a 5.5 hour hike, so a pleasant way to spend most of a Saturday.

Come back tomorrow for a post of the wildflowers and butterflies on the hike.

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