Montana Outdoors

April 4, 2015

Fading away

A couple of days ago a friend and I hiked part of an old trail, probably for the last time; the Ashley Creek trail 454. It was created sometime in the 1930s, probably by the Civilian Conservation Corps by the looks of its construction, but apparently hasn’t been tended to for several years and although the Forest Service still shows it on their maps, it is going back to its earlier natural state. I am fearful that it is but one of many that the Forest Service will keep alive only on paper, probably in an attempt to show a larger than actual trail inventory as their department steadily morphs into another hopelessly incompetent and ineffectual bureaucracy. Following are some photos from along the trail.

Ashley Creek trail 454

The old trail sign still exists as it nears the century mark.

Ashley Creek trail 454

Ashley Creek trail 454

Ashley Creek trail 454

Ashley Creek is the water supply for a small Montana town.

Ashley Creek trail 454

Ashley Creek trail 454

Ashley Creek trail 454

Ashley Creek trail 454

Ashley Creek trail 454

It was a very pleasant surprise to see two species of wildflowers in bloom in a sunny spot on the mountainside along the trail, a thousand feet above the trail head. Upon perusing my photo library, I found that this is the earliest bloom for either of them that I’ve encountered by about two weeks. Who’d-a-thunk-it!

Small Bluebells, Long-flowered Lungwort, Trumpet Bluebells ~ Mertensia longiflora

Small Bluebells, Long-flowered Lungwort, Trumpet Bluebells ~ Mertensia longiflora

Small Bluebells, Long-flowered Lungwort, Trumpet Bluebells ~ Mertensia longiflora

Early blue violet, Viola adunca

Early blue violet ~ Viola adunca

Ashley Creek trail 454

Ashley Creek trail 454

Ashley Creek trail 454

It’s sad to lose another such treasure from our early days.

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