We (Barb-AE7AQ & myself) just returned from a fun backpacking-SOTA trip that I thought to share. We had a terrific time, were able to see a lot of new country & reconnoiter some new trails. The area was nicely uncrowded. Two guys walked on the trail past our camp on Day-3, and we saw a few folks along the main trail on the way out (Day-7) – other than that we were wonderfully alone. Following is a summary:
Day-1: Hiked up the N. Fk. Of the Blackfoot to near the Carmichael Guard Station. This is about a 14.5 mi. hike on a nice trail. It rained some & was pouring when we setup our tent. It rained lightly most of the night.
Day-2: It was hard to get started as the morning was cold & rainy. We had planned to climb Evans Pk., but decided to not try it since the ridge looked steep enough to be unpleasant when wet & windy. The Wx was quite variable. We found a decent trail up & some unmarked spur trails that may offer options if/when we return. Activated W7M/CL-195 (on the same ridge) instead. Managed 21 qso’s including several S2S’s.
Day-3: Hiked up the N. Fk. (Tobacco Valley) to activate W7M/CL-074. We had planned to camp up there, but decided to try it as a day-hike. This was a good decision – there were no good, safe campsites due to lots of snags. The summit was super windy – we were staggering about like a couple of drunks! I was able to get 17 qso’s into the log, including a very exciting S2S with Gary-W0MNA & Martha-W0ERI on Strawberry Butte outside of Helena. I was also able to work Bruce-N7RR – whom we are looking forward to seeing again at the Glacier Hamfest.
Day-4: Woke up to a light frost & relocated our camp 2.7 miles up Cooney Creek. Cooney Creek did not burn in 1988 like so much of the Scapegoat & was quite nice. Our campsite was super secluded. We used this as a rest day & I (unfortunately) managed to get an unpleasant puncture wound in the web of my hand when clearing some branches. The hole wouldn’t stay closed - I cleaned it with alcohol & was able to strap it closed with closure strips. Had dinner in a sleet/rain mix.
Day-5: Woke up to heavier frost & hiked up the Cooney Creek trail to the Olson-Crow Saddle. Climbed Olson – this was a nice climb. We used our micro-spikes to cross a gentle snowfield – this saved us some time by avoiding the need to climb down & around. The views were fabulous & I made about 24-qso’s including one 2m qso with Rex-KI0BJ in Helena. We yell “hello” a lot to let the bears know where we are – I think this worked, as we (on the descent) saw a nearby snowfield that had what looked like (without getting too close) fresh grizzly tracks & a spot where he had laid down. The Wx was nice all day.
Day-6: Climbed Galusha Peak. This was a very fun ridge hike (with lots of up & down) that was quite spectacular. One of the high-meadows had been freshly “rototilled” by a grizzly bear digging for roots. The final ascent was a very steep & scenic (with a good trail) traverse of the north-facing cliffs with their snow-filled couloirs. The Wx was quite warm & very fine. I was able to make 25-qso’s, including another fun S2S with Gary & Martha on Granite Butte – where Barb & I stayed in 2017 just before (and for) our 30-year anniversary.
Day-7: Was super-hot. We had planned to camp on the way out & activate Falls Point, but were making such good time hiking that we decided to head out. We saw grizzly tracks in the dried mud from the earlier rains – it is a good reminder that they are sometimes down low also. We were home by 5:00!
Rob – AE7AP