Montana Outdoors

June 23, 2011

On the second day of summer…

Filed under: Cabinet Mountains — Tags: , — montucky @ 11:42 pm

Soon after this morning began a friend and I embarked on an effort to find the TeePee Creek trail, which is an old trail, now abandoned, that goes up from Weeksville Creek toward Big Hole lookout. It would be a long, steep climb if we found it. After at the first half mile there was a creek crossing but with the high runoff from snow melt, crossing just wasn’t possible. Oh well!

For several years now I’ve wanted to see what Big Hole lookout was like in winter and of course it’s not approachable in winter conditions except perhaps in a small window in late fall and another in late spring, and since plan “A” didn’t work out, hiking the usual trail to Big Hole, trail 368, was a welcome plan”B”.

The road to the trail head became drivable about a week ago and I made an attempt then at the trail, turning back after a short distance because of deep snow. (The trail to the lookout covers 2.7 miles and climbs 1,400 feet in that distance.)

Today, as we approached the end of the first mile, we could hear loud claps of thunder coming from the west and very dark clouds began sweeping over us from the south accompanied with light rain. And then we hit the snow level. This is what it looked like to the south:

Big Hole trail 368 on June 23

We were equipped for the rain and the thunder died away (the ridge that the trail follows is definitely not a good place to be in a lightning storm) and so we continued on the next mile and a half of trail walking on four to six feet of densely packed snow until we reached a saddle on the ridge just below the lookout, a very good place from which to photograph it.

Even though the sky was still very dark and there was a little rain falling, I was happy to finally get to see the old lookout in a winter setting.

Big Hole lookout on June 23

Big Hole lookout on June 23

Soon after these photos were taken the storm reached us from the south, bringing with it a couple minutes of heavy sleet followed by more rain, but as we turned to head back down the clouds moved off to the north as quickly as they came, the rain stopped, and suddenly there was clear, sunny sky over head and the scene at the lookout completely changed. I think we saw the best of two worlds.

Big Hole lookout on June 23

Big Hole lookout on June 23

(The lookout photos were taken from the top of a 20 foot deep snow bank just on the edge of the big hole below the lookout.)

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