Friday, August 27, 2010

Across the Bob—Days 12 and 13

After I'd gone over Larch Hill Pass on Day 10 the mountainous part of the trip was over.  From then on, it was all rivers and one low divide to get to the ending trailhead.  Day 12 was a long hike up the South Fork of the Flathead River and part of the way up Danaher Creek.

White River Park, a huge ponderosa pine savanna.

South Fork of the Flathead River, near the confluence with the White River.

Big Prairie.  The building in the distance at the lower right is a backcountry ranger station.

The Big Prairie Ranger Station, one of few backcountry stations that are staffed (during the summer and the fall hunting season only).

I stopped to chat with the ranger to find out if there were any new forest fires or other things I needed to be aware of.  The only thing was a winter storm warning that had just been issued for the next 36 hours, with up to three inches of snow possible above 7,000 feet.  I was glad to be in lower country.

The ranger asked where I started out, and when I told him Swift Dam his eyes got big.  "That's quite a trip!"  He asked if I'd seen anything, and I told him about the wolverine.  He nodded at my camera and asked if I'd gotten a picture.  I showed him the pic, and he said "Yep. That's a wolverine.  You're a lucky man."

Old corral at the Big Prairie Ranger Station.

Horse gate.

A few miles later I reached the closed trail my new friend from Missoula had told me about on Day 10.  I'd thought it was a recent closure, but it had been closed since 2007.  I'd heard the Forest Service trail maintenance budget had been cut, and this appears to verify that.  I took the closed trail to avoid the several extra miles of the detour.  A lot of dead trees had fallen across the route, so it was a bit of an obstacle course.

Natural reforestation at work.

Red-tailed hawk.

Why the trail was closed.  I had to do a little scrambling and grab onto some of those roots above the "trail" to get across the scree.

Browsing buck about 25 yards from where I was on the trail on the hillside above him. He didn't hear me until I had already taken this picture.

When he saw me he just froze, as though I wouldn't see him if he didn't move.  I wanted to throw a rock at him to get him to run. That foolish behavior is going to get him shot in about a month.

Wild raspberries.

This is where I camped on Danaher Creek.  I didn't get any winter weather, but I got plenty of weather.  Luckily it held off until I had made camp, eaten and made my bear hang.  Then the rain came fast and heavy.  A good rain is nice once camp is made and you're in the tent.  It rained just about all night, so I took Day 13 off to avoid slogging down a muddy trail.  My feet appreciated the break.  I did a food inventory to see how many more days I could go.  I was getting a little low, so I figured I needed to be out by the end of Day 15.

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