Montana Outdoors

July 12, 2008

Penrose Peak, Part 6

The last section of trail 385 to the top of the peak is about a mile and a half long. It starts at 5,700 feet, reaches 7,073 feet at the top, and gets there rather aggressively. In the next photo, Penrose is the peak to the left and the trail roughly follows the crest of the ridge on up to it, although it does break out into the clear on the left several times, and several other times it was necessary to pick my way through the open area because the trail was still covered with snow, sometimes ten feet deep (20 feet near the top).

Penrose Peak

When in the open, the views were spellbinding. The high country to the left is an un-named peak adjacent to Penrose. Here the trail is fairly easy to see.

On Penrose Peak trail 385

Some of this area is part of Mother Nature’s flower garden. There are many of the natural elements that I love so much in this photo.

On Penrose Peak trail 385

This Forest Service Location Poster is still fastened to a tree beside the trail and at the top is scratched the date “8/23/30”. The tree that it’s fastened to has been dead for perhaps 20 years.

On Penrose Peak trail 385

This section of trail, shaded a little by the fir trees, still holds enough snow to obscure the trail itself, but the old blaze mark on the tree in the foreground shows exactly where it is. I would guess the blaze mark was made perhaps 80 years ago and the tree looks to have been dead for up to 50 years.

Trail 385 to Penrose Peak

Here the peak, which is steadily getting closer, can be seen through a thicket of skeletons of sub-alpine firs. They appear to have been fire-killed, probably from a small fire started by a lightning strike, a fairly common occurrence in this type of country.

Trail 385 to Penrose Peak

In this photo, the coarse-looking grass in the foreground is beargrass that isn’t blooming this year, next, part of the forest at this elevation which is nearly all Sub-alpine Firs, the valley is that of the Clark Fork River, the mountains just beyond it are the eastern end of the Cabinet Mountain range and the dimly visible mountains at the horizon are the Missions. I got a lot for my money in this photo!

Trail 385 to Penrose Peak

I will end this post by a couple of photos of a beautiful little Spruce Grouse (1 – 2 pounds) who paid me a visit while I was taking a rest and scenery stop prior to the final tough climb. Her curiosity and actions told me that she had probably never seen a human before and I hope I didn’t disappoint her too much. 

Ptarmigan

Ptarmigan

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