Spring is here, and trails and dirt roads are clearing of snow – for me, that means it’s time to run!
The following are several western Montana races in places known for their scenery, including wildflowers, beginning this weekend with the Buttercup Run in Arlee. New there this year is a half marathon.
For more information about some of the races listed below, read the full story online or in the spring issue of Missoula magazine around town.
I’ll be running 11 Miles to Paradise in May – received word today that it is now full – and the 50K in the brand-new Trail Rail Run near St. Regis. See you out there!
Saturday, April 6: Buttercup Run, half marathon/10K/5K/1 mile. These race begin at the high school in Arlee and travel roads in the Jocko Valley. New this year is the half marathon.
Saturday, May 11: Montana Spartan Sprint, about 4 miles. This obstacle-style event takes place at Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge, outside of Bigfork.
Sunday, May 19: 11 Miles to Paradise. This trail run courses through the trees along the Clark Fork River between St. Regis and Paradise. Runners can soak at Quinn’s Hot Springs Resort afterward. (This race is full.)
Saturday, June 1, Evaro Mountain Challenge, 10K and 5K runs and walks. In it’s 27th year, this Evaro race includes challenging 10K events on mountain trails and scenic 5Ks on gravel roads, and benefits a historic community center/schoolhouse.
If you’re considering camping in the wilds of Glacier national park, the deadline to apply for advance reservation of backcountry sites is fast approaching.
Glacier will take advance reservation applications through April 15. They’ll be randomly sorted and then processed beginning April 16. Applications received after the 15th will be processed in the order received.
In recent years, my wife Jen and I have gone on a few enjoyable backpacking trips in Glacier’s backcountry.
We’ve crossed Triple Divide Pass, top, where the adjacent peak of the same name sends water into three major North American drainages – the Pacific, Atlantic and Hudson Bay. There, we camped at Atlantic Creek and Red Eagle Lake.
We’ve also hiked over Gunsight Pass, from Going-to-the-Sun Road on the east side of the park to Lake McDonald Lodge on the west. The campsites we stayed at were Gunsight Lake and Lake Ellen Wilson.
Another trip we went on took us out the Highline to Granite Park Chalet – where there’s a nearby campground – then over Swiftcurrent Pass and back to the Many Glacier Hotel.
On Saturday, the group will hike up Trapper Peak, led by botanist Wayne Philips. The trail climbs 3,800 feet over four miles to the 10,157-foot summit. Missoula residents can meet at the southwest corner of the Wal-Mart at 4000 U.S. Highway 93 at 7 a.m. to carpool to the trailhead, while Bitterroot residents can meet at Sam’s Spade, 111 S. Fourth St., in Hamilton at 8 a.m. For more information, call Kelly at 258-5439 or Wayne at 453-0648.
At 6:30 p.m. Monday, botanist will lead a hike and examine the phenology of Mount Sentinel. Krebs will point out which flowers and leaves appear first. Participants can meet at the picnic table east of the U.S. Forest Service research lab near the corner of Beckwith and Madeline avenues on the south side of the University of Montana.
A reminder, though: Roads in the area of the visitor center along U.S. Highway 12 at the Montana-Idaho border to the meadows will be closed Saturday morning, however, to provide for the safety of runners in the Mountain to Meadow Half Marathon and 5K Fun Run. More details are in this earlier post. If you’re in the race, I might see you there!
Here are a few other Missoula area wildflower sighting for you weekend outings:
Western Montana Wildflower Walk for June 28: Pink Clarkia at Mount Jumbo! ht.ly/bTCfe
Features: The Backbone Trail rises slightly to the open Mount Jumbo saddle then climbs through the forest to the top of the mountain, taking in views over Missoula.
Flowers: A lot is in bloom in the saddle right now – red and yellow blanketflower, pink and yellow owl clover, a few pale pink bitterroots and clarkia, Clarkia pulchella. These flowers are hard to miss, with four bright pink, three-lobed petals and a white, four-lobed stigma in the center. The plants are 4 to 20 inches tall and are growing in large patches right now. (“Wildflowers of Montana,” by Donald Anthony Schiemann)
Description: The Jumbo saddle trailhead is 1 1/2 miles east of Rattlesnake Drive up Lower Lincoln Hills Drive and Lincoln Hills Drive. Follow the trail just south of the kiosk as it curves east and then south about two-thirds of a mile into the saddle area, looking for patches of bright pink clarkia on the way. From the saddle, the Backbone Trail rises, sometimes steeply, south through the trees a little more than a mile to the top of Mount Jumbo. From the top of the mountain, explore other trails or return to the trailhead.
The Montana Native Plant Society will hold its annual meeting this weekend on Friday, June 29, through Sunday, July 1, at the Lubrecht Experimental Forest near Greenough.
On Friday, there’s a dinner and directors meeting. After breakfast Saturday, there are field trips, a plant ID contest, dinner, a general membership meeting, silent auction, raffle and slideshow. Breakfast and committee meetings are Sunday morning, then field trips as attendees depart.
Field trips on Saturday will go to the Swan Valley, Garnet Mountains, Kleinschmidt Lake South, Blackfoot Community Conservation Area, Bandy Ranch, Morrell Ridge, Sundance Ranch and Ninemile Prairie. Sunday’s outings will be to Ninemile Prairie and the cliffs along the Blackfoot River.
More information and registration are available on the MNPS website.
The camas bloom has begun at Packer Meadows off U.S. Highway 12 at Lolo Pass, but temporary road closures will limit access to the blue fields on Saturday morning.
The Mountain to Meadow Half Marathon and 5K Fun Run takes place in the area of Packer Meadows, and to ensure the safety of participants, forest roads No. 373 (Packer Meadows Road), No. 5671 (Packer Ridge Road) and No. 5670 (Packer Creek Road) will be closed to motorized use from 6 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. PDT.
If you’re interested in running, more information about the half marathon and fun run is available at www.runlolopass.org. The deadline to register is Wednesday.
The word this morning is now is the time to see the camas in Packer Meadows at Lolo Pass, off U.S. Highway 12 on the Montana-Idaho border! The large field of blue flowers is about 75 percent in bloom, according to the Lolo Pass Visitor Center’s Facebook page. Updates are also available by phone at (208) 942-1234.
Here are some more wildflower reports from western Montana for your weekend viewing:
A lot of bitterroots blooming on the North Hills ridge, and blanketflowers, too!
Features: This trail climbs into the Bitterroot Mountains, passing a nice pond – albeit created by a human-made log dam – and waterfalls on the way to Bass Lake.
Flowers: The primary flower in bloom right now is Albert’s penstemon, Penstemon albertinus. These funnel-shaped, blue to purple flowers have two joined upper petals and three joined lower petals. They bloom from 6- to 12-inch stalks with slender leaves. Albert’s penstemon often hybridizes with Wilcox’s penstemon, which grows taller. We also saw a little bit of arnica, spotted coralroot and roundleaf alumroot. (“Wildflowers of Montana,” by Donald Anthony Schiemann)
Description: The Bass Creek trailhead is located about 4 1/4 miles south of Florence on U.S. Highway 93, then 2 3/4 miles west on Bass Creek Road. For the first 1 3/4 miles, the path climbs west through the forest along the north bank of the creek, passing several spots that provide access to the water. Look for Albert’s penstemon along the uphill side of the trail. The trail levels out as it passes an old log dam with a pond behind it; the valley widens here and provides views of the surrounding mountains. The trail then enters thicker forest, passes into the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness and arrives at a junction. Turn north and switchback up the side of the canyon. After passing a rocky open area with views down the valley, you’ll reach a nice cascade at about 3 3/4 miles. Last weekend, we turned around just short of these falls due to heavy rain. The trail also continues about another 3 1/4 miles to Bass Lake.