Hike 12 — Blue Mountain

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It is the end of October and the weather has fully embraced the Fall.  It has been rainy and cold.  It has become depressing and hard.  The promise of a long winter trapped in our house feeling dark and depressed seems inevitable.  Today the sun came out and Aaron needed the living room to do a live stream thing for high schoolers, so Jorge and I headed out.  I avoid Blue Mountain during the Summer because of its lack of shade.  But today sun was our friend.

We studied the map when we arrived and I realized that most of Blue Mountain I have not explored.  We decided to take the immediate left.  Blue Mountain Recreation Area is a big ol’ maze of trails.  None of them seem to go to anything particular.  I got a little map from the info board.  We were going to do a big circle but instead did a little circle.  We probably walked 1.5 miles.  Jorge is eight years old and not really into hiking that much, so he kept trying to get me to turn on any turn that would take us back to the trail head.

jorgeatbluemountainIt was a nice little escape.

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Hike 11 – Waterworks Hill

panozoo

I lost my hiking book, so I can’t even look at the map for it and the approximated distance and all that.  But it is a short hike as most Missoulians can tell you.  But it is steep.

Last night was date night for Aaron and I.  We have not been able to have a date night in quite awhile, so it was a very nice thing.  We decided that we would make dinner and then go on an evening hike.  We didn’t end up leaving the house till after seven.  It was all the way dark by the time we got back to our car.  I don’t think we have fully adjusted to the fall yet.  In summer land there would have been plenty of light.

aaronsillohette

It was a beautiful night though.  It is fun to look down on Missoula and see all the places.  Waterworks Hill is where the peace sign used to be.  There is a stone one up there now, but it really isn’t the same.

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Hike 10 – Blodgett Canyon

blodgettpanorama

Oh Blodgett Canyon!  I grew up in Hamilton, and Blodgett Canyon is one of the closest hikes and campground to Hamilton.  It was a huge part of my childhood.  I have camped there so many times.  We had picnics there.  We climbed on the big rock slide.  We partied with friends.  There were memorials for people I loved.  We went backpacking up the trail.

I really wanted it to be in this hiking project.  And many times during the hike I thought in my little brain, “Why would you hike anywhere else?”

blodgettcanyonAnd obviously for me it is the hour plus drive.  That is why I haven’t been there in like five years.

Yesterday I drove down to Hamilton and met up with Josh Wagner.  Josh is one of my best friends in all the world.  He actually transcends friendship and is really family.  He has been abroad for the last few years.  He is just spending this month in Montana.  When I had some days off I immediately thought of him and how my number one priority was to get some one on one time with him.  We have travelled all over the American West together.  We have spent weeks on the road together.  So much time just the two of us.  And jeez I don’t remember the last time we hung out one on one.   It has been way too long of a time.

So we hiked Blodgett together.  He told me about hiking mountains in China.  And we talked about what happens when we die.  We talked the whole hike.  It was good.  So good to be in one of the most beautiful places in the world with one of the most beautiful people in the world.

joshinblodgettWe hiked probably 3 miles round trip.  We took it really easy.  At one point we passed someone and they said something like, “You still quite a ways to go.”  I am guessing she was assuming we were going up to the water falls.  But I knew we weren’t and just thought at her, “That is what you think lady!!  I do what I want!”  The best part about Blodgett is that the whole thing is beautiful so it isn’t about hiking to a thing.  Just a nice wander up the canyon and then back.

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Hike 9 — Lake Como

When I was reading through the hiking book months ago.  I stopped on this hike and thought about how I would really like to do this one.  I am pretty sure that I had never done this hike before.  I had been to the the other end of the lake and seen the waterfalls, but I am pretty sure we took a boat there.

This time we did not see the waterfalls.  We did not make it that far.  I think we got pretty close though.  I am guessing here, but I think we got 2 or 3 miles before we turned around.  Which would make the entire hike four to six miles, which is a bunch for me.  I am pretty sure the falls are about 4 miles in.

I have been kinda down on myself for not doing more epic hikes for this project.  I have been reluctant to give an entire day to it, which means I have been staying close by and choosing short hikes.  The one thing that could let me do a whole day was if I made it a Jorge and I experience.  What made it even more ok was to make it a social call as well.  So I didn’t do this one solo.  I brought my eight year old son, and we met my good friend Joel.  Joel is doing the best job at social distancing of any one I know.  Hiking was a good thing for us to do together.

Joelhiking

Lake Como is 59 miles south of Missoula.  I had to give my god daughter, Sydney, a ride to Corvallis anyway, so it wasn’t much farther from there.  Jorge has gotten super good at these fairly long drives and for that I am grateful.

We got to the parking lot the same time as Joel which was nice.  We had to pay.  It is $5 for a day pass at Lake Como.  It is totally worth it.  Funny though, when I was a kid I remember coming to Lake Como all the time.  I grew up in Hamilton, which is only 14 miles from there.  But once the day fee was put into effect, I only remember going there once or twice with other people that weren’t in my family.

The trail starts out as a paved interpretive trail.  For a 1/3 of a mile it is pavement, which I hate.  And signs about the area, which I love.  We learned that if you smell the crack on a Ponderosa Pine that it smells like vanilla.  I can’t believe I didn’t know this previously.  We kept stopping to smell trees.  It was lovely.  The hike is great because it doesn’t have much change in elevation.  The only bad thing was that it was usually steep below the trail and above the trail and when we met other hikers it was hard to get off the trail for them.

Jorge asked why we got off the trail for them and no one gets off the trail for us.   And I told him that it is because we are trying to win at the courtesy game.

We hiked until I felt my body go out of whack and then start to hurt.  And then we climbed down to the lake and played in it a bit.  Jorge and I took our shoes off and waded into it.  But the lake is very low and the floor of the lake it very muddy.  Our feet would sink into it.  But it was still refreshing.  We got our hats wet to cool off.  It was beautiful.

jorgelakecomo

Then we climbed back up the side of the mountain and walked back.  It was a great day trip.  We left at 11a.m. and got back at 7p.m.

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Hike 8 – Maclay Flats

I was hungover and tired and generally unenthused about everything.  For this reason I picked the easiest thing I could find that was close and had water.  What I hadn’t thought about is that it is a river access on one of the last weekends of the summer on a fairly hot day.  I almost couldn’t find a place to park, but I did.  I am not entirely sure it was legal, but there was no sign saying No Parking, so I think I was good.  This hike is a big loop that has surprise surprise a big flat space.   It is 1.8 miles and has is again flat, so no climb or descent which is particularly nice if you are not in good condition.  Fairly quickly in the hike it brings you to the river (Bitterroot). It is a bit upstream from where the river access is, so it was not totally overrun with people, but there were still a bunch of people.  Mostly folks walking their dogs.  I sat on a lovely bench and wrote some.

thebenchThe first line of what I wrote was, “I feel like I am dying.”  It did not lead to deep thoughts or eloquent wordage.  It mostly dissolved into self doubt and then wound back up into me figuring it all out with a solution and everything.  It felt very good to sit there and let the wind blow through me.  I had a nice long day dream about teaching a poetry class.  I really want to do this.  But because of covid it really is only realistic over zoom and I am not tech savvy enough to do that.  But maybe.  We shall see.  Most likely I will just keep dreaming.

The walk after that was mostly dry and hot.

But then there was this grove of trees.  It was an area that I think is usually under water, but since it is the end of summer it has dried up.  The trees are epic.  And it felt important.  It felt holy.  It felt like I was in a place that was made for the gods.  It felt like I was in a sanctuary that was old and made in reverence.   But it was just a bunch of trees, so I don’t know why it felt so special.  But it was.

holyplaceThe rest of the hike follows along the Big Flat irrigation ditch.  I enjoy a good ditch.  The fact that most of them were made really quite some time ago and that they are really complicated things to plan out and execute.  Man as god.  Tale as old as time.

And that is it for this one.

 

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Hello

Hi!  I am an artist and writer in Missoula, MT.

I write and publish a zine every month.  Find out more about it on My Zine link above.

I also make mostly fine art, but occasionally weird art books or sticker sets.  During the xmas season I make funny xmas cards.

Lately I have been doing a hiking project where I go on a hike every week and then blog about it.  So my usual art website is a little full of hiking pictures.

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Hike 7 – Boulder Creek

Boulder Creek isn’t actually in my hiking book.  But it is a hike, and this week is too busy for me to do another one out of the book.  We were camping up the West Fork of the Bitterroot, and this hike was right by our campground.  All the rest of the days of the week I am working or have things going on.

I love this hike.  We camp here often.  So I am pretty familiar with the beginning of the hike.  There are giant boulders here and there along the trail.

boulder

We often only get as far as a little waterfall, and for various reasons have to turn back.  Usually because Jorge is a child and is tired or bored or whatever.  This time I went alone and wanted to make it farther.  But again much like my last hike my bowels had an entirely different idea and this time I had no hope of holding it.  You know how you can just tell.  So I got as far as the little water fall and turned around.

waterfallselfieAll and all it was pretty anti-climatic, which I guess is the best kind of hike.

And there was this tree:

tallasstree

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Beautiful

 

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Hike 6 – Main Corridor of the Rattlesnake Trail

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I am not sure why, but this hike has a spot that reminds me of writers block.  It has a place that I just can’t seem to get past.  We will call it the bubble.  All the hikes in this area always seem to turn around at this basic area, or continue up one of the forks instead or continuing down the main trail.  My goal for this hike was to get father than I have gotten before, which I succeeded in doing.  The main corridor has one big trail that is really the size of a road that is very trafficked by bicycles and then another trail that is small and intimate that mostly follows the creek and tucks in and out of lots of lovely places to sit and enjoy the creek.

I was just getting out of the bubble, and decided it was safe for me to stop and do some writing.  I want to write an epic nature poem inspired by the writing of Mary Oliver.  So, I decided that on my hikes that I want to pick inspiring places to read Mary Oliver poems and then work on writing some of my own.  I started writing and then read a poem to the creek, and wrote some more.  Then my bowels made themselves known.  Oh no!  I had to poop.  This was a problem because 1. I didn’t bring toliet paper.  2. Even if I did, this area is more like a public park lately instead of the great outdoors.  There are too many people for comfortable pooping.  3.  WTF! I still hadn’t quite gotten out of the bubble.

creekcolorpalette

I packed up and resolved to go for as long as I could.  I feel like I can hold a poop for a few hours, so not all was lost.  I followed the little trail to a bigger trail and walked for a bit to a fork in some other trails and behold there was an outhouse.  Holy Holy!  I always scoffed at these bathrooms 1 mile up a trail. Why is it there?  But this time I quickly walked towards it excited.  My body was like yes!!  I went for the handle and …. fuck.  it was locked.  WHY PUT A FUCKING OUTHOUSE THAT FAR UP A TRAIL IF YOU AREN’T GOING TO KEEP IT OPEN AND MAINTAINED!!!! I still wasn’t out of the bubble! Luckily if I kept moving my body forgot about something else it wanted to move.

And I made.  I did.  I got out of the bubble entirely.  Finally.  I was hiking for a really long time on the main trail that is like a road.  It is was dry and very far from the creek and really not my favorite trail.  Finally I saw the smaller cooler trail that follows the creek and I threw caution to the wind and went off trail to get to it.  I just really wanted to find another place by the creek to continue my writing .  I finally found a place.  It was perfect.  It had a perfect sitting log right next to the creek and I was just starting to write when a man showed up.  My bowels also showed up so it wasn’t just this guy that sent me back to the trail before I could get much of anything written.  This was my turn around spot.  I started heading back for the sake of my but, but I still was looking for another inspiring spot.

creekrocksroots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I found one.  I found a place that has a beautiful cliff face that hangs over the creek and was the place that I had made it to the only other time I had busted out of the bubble.  Josh Wagner and Jorge and I had made it that far years ago.  We all threw rock in there and generally enjoyed ourselves until the walk back when young Jorge he was maybe 4 or 5.  Whined terribly because he was tired.  He was only ok if we kicked pine cones down the trail.  So for the majority of the trip back we kicked the damn pine cone.  I remember hating it by the time we got back.

In this place I was just about to sit down and start writing when the same guy showed up.  I decided to wait him out and we had a nice conversation about his dog and bears and then he left and let me get a little bit of writing done.  When I would sit down to write is when my need to shit would be intolerable, so I didn’t linger and got back on the trail and didn’t stop until I got to my car.

I was glad to be on a hike alone.  I love my hikes with other people, but there is a magic that you have a hard time seeing because it is eclipsed by the presence of the other person.

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Hike 5 – Tower Street Open Space

This is less of a hike and more of a meander.  It is a one mile loop.  I am HUNGOVER after a crazy trip to Bigfork yesterday.  Terah had called me on the way home while I was pretty drunk and wanted to know if I wanted to hike or something in the early part of the day and I was like, “I have to go for a hike tomorrow anyway, so lets do that.”

Looking through the book I wanted to find like the easiest and most shaded hike and when I saw the Tower Street one I was like, “yeah.”    Terah did a big project in this open space when she was in her last year of art school.   She built all kinds of earth sculptures with two other people.  That part of the river always makes me think of her.

terahattheriverI was so hungover that I wasn’t the best company.  We dipped our feet in the river and then meandered back.  The river changes coarse every year and there is now a beautiful little off shoot that the trail goes right by.

riveroffshootIt is been really hot and it seems unrelenting.  Hopefully this next week we will find more of a hike hike.

 

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