Fast flowers

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I ran my first Pengelly Double Dip half-marathon on Mount Sentinel and University Mountain on Saturday, and while the word “brutal” could be heard around the start/finish area, many people also took note of the beautiful wildflower display near the top.

The arrowleaf balsamroot, death camas, penstemon, larkspur and bluebells are putting on a good show. If you’re looking for a good hike, you might want to head up the Crazy Canyon Road from the Pattee Canyon National Recreation Area – it would cut the mileage and the climb.

My running also frequently takes me through Missoula’s North Hills, where bitterroots, penstemon and cushion plants are blooming right now. The photo above is from the Waterworks Hill Ridge Trail on Sunday.

Another race is coming up that’s known for its wildflower bounty: the Mountain-to-Meadow half-marathon and 5K at Lolo Pass on Saturday, June 26. The course loops through the mountains on forest roads and passes by Packer Meadows, one of the best places around to see camas bloom. Events get under way at 7:30 a.m. PDT (8:30 a.m. MDT).

The camas may be fading by race day, though, so you may want to head up there sooner. As of Monday morning, the plants were still budding and expected to bloom by the end of the week, according to the Lolo Pass Visitor Center phone message. Call (208) 942-1234 for updates.

The visitor center is about 31 miles west of Lolo on U.S. Highway 12. Packer Meadows is about one mile east of the visitor center on Elk Meadows Road.

Of course, if you’re running, you’ll have to make a return trip with a camera.

Update: Another event that likely provides a good opportunity for wildflower viewing is the Celebrate the Swan Race. The distances are half-marathon, 10K, 5K and one mile. The running gets under way at 9 a.m. at the south end of the airstrip along Montana Highway 83 in Condon.

Justin Grigg

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