Friday, June 4, 2010
Nez Perce Trail Saves Day
What began as fishin' trip in the upper Big Hole quickly deteroiated as a sea of muddy roads foiled access to what most certainly would have been folly anyway--as suddenly, almost overnight--the combination rain and snow melt have the area streams literally ragin'. The Big Hole at Melrose for example two days ago was running in the mid 2000s and yesterday jumped to nearly 4000 and this morning is still rising.
When we hit rain near Wisdom it became obvious as a fishing expedition this one just wasn't going to happen. But with already 60 miles driving invested as Gale said, "Seems pretty dumb to turn around and head back to Dillon, it's been nothing but muddy roads since since we left town."
So we put together a quick Plan B and headed toward Chief Joseph Pass the only hint of clearing skies on the horizon. What the hell we'd do once we got there, who knows?
May Creek, like every other stream in the county was all but over the banks so any idea of fishing was officially declared DIW...literally.
We turned off on the first two track looked rocky enough to allow at least getting off the blacktop not get mired down. At the first pull off we got out more to stretch our legs than anything, also the dogs probably needed to pee. An old forest service jack fence beckoned we take a stroll up the mountain whereupon we soon came on a well-trodden trail. While I went to the truck to grab a camera Gale went down hill to the trailhead. And discovered the trail was none other than the Nez Perce Historic Trail...Imagine.
So off we went.
The trail climbed gently offering a great view east to the Big Hole valley and the West Pioneers beyond. Elk and deer tracks and droppings littered the trail and the mountainside, as did the droppings of coyote and what I think was pine marten but can't prove it.Wildflowers were everywhere, some in full bloom others just starting. Marsh marigold, Nuttall's and blue violet, penstemon, alpine buttercup, spring beauty, a teeny tiny blue flower we couldn't ID and a bunch other stuff just starting to show. All in all, the wildflowers, a few old growth snags such as the one pictured, the music of several small creeks and the constant vista made for a scenic, downright pleasant hike more than making up for the aborted fishing sojourn.