Sunrise over Lower Red Rock Lake

Sunrise over Lower Red Rock Lake
Sunrise over Lower Red Rock Lake

Sunday, July 2, 2017

A Hike on the Hell Roaring Creek Trail

This year, we have two volunteer couples and me. I'm having a good time with all them.  I'm starting to help spray for invasive weeds with Tom and Betsy and am helping Tim put up fencing for the imminent arrival of cattle that graze our fields on four year rotations to help keep down invasive weeds.

Betsy likes to hike while her husband would rather fish, so she invited me on to go hiking on the Hell Roaring Creek trail. Although this is my third summer here, and the trail is just off our lands, I had only been on the lower end of it while spraying for invasives.

We didn't get started real early, so we didn't get to enjoy the beautiful morning light. The climb was short but steep. I couldn't find the altitude and forgot to turn on my GPS so I could gather that data, but the trail switchbacked up the mountain.

But come along and enjoy it. 

I looked up information on Hell Roaring Creek and found there are several in the region, including one in Yellowstone NP.  But this one starts at a springs and is the source of the Missouri River, the longest river in the United States.


You can see how close I live to Montana.  I live just about where the word "Lakes " is in the upper left hand corner. 


This trail crosses the Continental Divide Trail

These were my first columbines of the season

Sticky geranium and visitor

Much of the trail ran through woods interspersed with meadows

Oregon grape

This this is some kind of parasitic plant

First lilies of the season

Betsy under a Continental Divide Trail sigh

Love the craft involved in making these signs

W came through a wooded stretch going down and then found ourselves looking WAY UP to this

And looking on down and across the creek to the last patch of snow

A little longer view

Betsy enjoying the view

The mountains were falling down

The trail went across the talus

The creek was living up to its name

I found the first liatris growing in the shale

Another look up


A butterfly found the last dandelion bloom


The trip up took over two hours.  We enjoyed the area and took a lunch break for almost another hour, then hiked back down, much more quickly.  On the way home we found the only large mammals we saw.

Coyote in heavy coat

Two year old bull moose

Hopefully, this summer I'll get to actually get to Bowers Spring, the ultimate source of the Missouri River. Meanwhile, you might want to enjoy my memory of my failure. Click here.


Meanwhile I'm working almost every day, at least a little bit.  I have to check the gage at the dam on lower lake twice a day, and sometimes have to open or shut the gates on the dam.  Our goal is to hold the lake at 7.5'.  Our flow into the lake is slowing, and the days are getting hot and dry enough to evaporate surface water.  This job takes at least 1.5 hours a day.  Then I spend one day collecting data of the bluebirds and tree swallows and two days catching bees and then taking pictures of all the blooming flowers near them and getting the flowers identified. I'm behind on getting my data into the database and the pictures into folders by site and date. I'm also helping to spray and now to fence the fields the cattle will be using starting in another week.  So I'm not getting out to play much and don't even have time to write up things that have happened here.

But all the volunteers get to go on the BLM Wildflower Tour next Thursday.  Hopefully I'll time to edit the pictures for a blog next Sunday.  And we are going to be playing hard here over the next few days as we have the Rally in the Valley 4th of July Party, which is already underway.  Our population of humans has gone up by at least thirty and the dog population has also gone up by at least ten.

Have a happy July 4th.