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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Pistol Creek Lookout, Arlee

Pudge checking out the Missions: East and West St. Mary & Gray Wolf
I'm a big fan of the hike to Pistol Creek Lookout, just east of Arlee. It's an equivalent outing, roughly, to the hike to the top of University Mountain in terms of length, elevation gain, and time required to do it. It has the added benefit, though, of being devoid of people and having one of the best views around on a bluebird day. To get there, drive north of Arlee and look for the sign for White Coyote Road (also the turn off for the Buddha Garden) where you'll turn right. Follow White Coyote to its end, turn left and drive to the end of the road, which is at a gate. Go through the gate, gain the ridge on your right, and you're on your way. It's places like this and hikes like these that make me love where I live. 
The Missions and, looking north, Flathead Lake and the Peaks of Glacier in the distance.
The north side of the Rattlesnake from the top. The big peak is McCleod.
The Rattlesnake and the Joko Valley from where I parked. 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Miller Peak via Miller Creek Canyon

Miller Peak with the ridge I hiked to gain the summit in snow and slanting to the right.
At the end of January, I went on a snowshoe outing up Miller Creek on a sunny day. I had a goal, but mostly was just out to explore. The goal wasn't reached, but I caught the above view of Miller Peak and it's west ridge. I immediately thought that I'd like to give it a go, as the drivable route up, which zigzags from the south (on the right in the picture) and then reaches the summit from the east, is boring. The west ridge route is nice, provides solitude and great views, and is accessible from Miller Creek Road. However, it took me two tries to get to the summit using this route. On the first, I was cutting it close for time and the snow was unconsolidated, so the going was slow and strenuous during the last 2000 feet. I turned around about 1/2 mile from the summit, but with a snowshoe track set most of the way up, I returned a couple of days later and reached the summit. This is a nice local outing, though the deep, unconsolidated snow made the route more challenging than expected. 
Upper Miller Creek with the northern Bitterroot giants St. Joseph, Sweeney, and Lolo in the background.
A closeup. 

Pudge on the summit.