May 28, 2012

A hillwalk close to home


When the holiday weekend's rain gave way to a some sun on Monday, we took the dogs out for a walk in the North Hills - our coats in tow, but not on our backs.

I've started to use the Orange Street access to this local open space area when I run because it's just a little more than a mile from our front door. Recently, we've also found it to be an easy way to take out the dogs, too, but being that it's just off Interstate 90 they stay leashed until getting up the hill a ways.


The trail starts out by switchbacking up the slope then splits at about half a mile. The eastern side rises to the popular ridge trail at about 1 mile, and the western side rounds the hill to the Moon-Randolph Homestead at about 1 1/2 miles then reaches the ridgeline. Go either direction and follow the ridge trail for a 4-mile loop.

On our walk, we found death camas and long-plumed avens in the grassy hills near the homestead, and fuzzytongue penstemon, the last of the season's lupine and the first of the bitterroots along the gravelly ridgeline.


The best part of the walk was not having to towel off the dogs before getting back in the car!

More pictures of this North Hills walk are here.

Distance: 4-mile loop.

Trailhead: Park in the lot at the north end of Orange Street, alongside the Interstate 90 on- and off-ramp. The trail starts at a gate at the base of the hill a short distance to the west.

On the run, and on the trail

I ran my first race of the spring/summer season last weekend, and it was a fast, fun one. The 11 Miles to Paradise race takes place on a trail through the Lolo National Forest between St. Regis and Quinn's Hot Springs, outside of Paradise.

Being that it follows the Clark Fork River downstream, there's an overall elevation loss - which probably helped to increase the pace - but there are a few climbs. The first half is fairly level and fast with one notable rise, while the second half has most of the uphill and ends with a quick descent.

This year was only the second for the race, but it's well-organized, with shuttles to the start and back from the finish and lunch and a soak in the hot springs provided for all runners!

May 14, 2012

Flowers, falls and a first hike


We took advantage of a beautiful spring day to drive up the Bitterroot Valley and take our new dog on her first real hike, to Bear Creek.

After a month of walking on leash and getting familiar with her new family, Josey got to run under voice control for the first time last week. After an initial burst of excitement, she did well, sticking close to our other dog Belle.


On Sunday, we went into the woods near Victor, following the trail along Bear Creek an easy 1 1/2 miles up. The creek was full, with two channels spilling over the falls, and along the way we found plenty of wildflowers - fairy bells, fairy slipper orchids and some fading trilliums and glacier lilies.

We also found out a couple of things about Josey: She's a water dog, always looking for a way down to the creek or into a mud puddle. And she's a roller; we'll have to be on the lookout for horse droppings.

Here are more photos from Bear Creek.

Distance: 3 miles round trip.

Trailhead: From Victor, drive 3.3 miles south on U.S. Highway 93, 2.3 miles west on Bear Creek Road, 0.8 miles north on Red Crow Road and 3.2 miles west on Red Crow and Bear Creek roads.