Today’s hike was an exploratory one to see if the fall colors had started. Well yes, colors were there, but not the ones I expected.
St. John’s Wort
Knapweed (Nasty weed, but pretty blossoms and heavily visited by bees)
Almosta Flower (Well, as close as I could come to fall leaves!)
The Fall leaves haven’t turned color yet, but the flowers are still pretty and with the Clark Fork River as a background three thousand feet below, it was a great hike!
At first it seemed that an artist had simply painted pictures in white.
Then, as I looked closer, it became clear that the painter was also a sculptor,
and carved the essence of those pieces into Her larger pieces of art.
Along with the white at the top, there were also splashes of color along the way.
The snow-dusted bushes along the lower trail,
the rockslides a little farther up,
some of the autumn reds with ermine trim,
the partially decorated firs near the top,
and Baldy Lake on the other side of the peak which, for the occasion, borrowed a little blue from the sky.
Today was a typical fall day… except at 7,000 feet.
(Today was a very rare opportunity to visit the peak after a snowfall. These are a few of about 80 photos I brought back today from the top of 7,464 foot tall Baldy Mountain.)
Yesterday we covered the first three miles or so of this gorgeous trail. In its entirety it’s quite long, about eleven miles, starting at an elevation of about 2,600 feet where it leaves the Dry Creek road and ending at 6,000 feet at the CC Divide.
At about the three mile point the trail crosses a corner of an isolated section of State land which was logged quite some time ago, leaving a mostly bare ridge and a web of old logging roads (which provides what looks like great feeding grounds for elk).
From the ridge looking north, the small town of Thompson Falls is visible beside the Clark Fork River.
At the skyline to the south the high ridge line of the CC Divide can be seen about eight miles away.
The bad news is that trail 578 is now open to motor vehicles, in this case dirt bikes, and with the trail erosion already beginning to take place because of their careless use on the very steep sections of the trail, this trail will not exist for very long. Its upkeep and repair will be too expensive for the agency already facing budget deficits due to tremendously high fire fighting costs.
Eleven hours of hard work, 50 miles of driving on beautiful high-country roads yields 1 cord of dry, seasoned lodgepole pine; a ton and a half of firewood.
I’d be willing to bet there are lots of folks across this country who would love to work a day like this for a month’s worth of winter heat! Total cost including Forest Service firewood permit, diesel for the truck, chain saw gas and shampoo to get chain and bar oil out of mustache, about $15.