|Sunrise below Scapegoat Mtn|
We had been encouraging Dona's nephews to come out for a backcountry trip, and this year at least a couple of them took us up on it. Ram Papish and his girlfriend, Dawn, came out for a family visit in late July, as did one of Ram's brothers. They didn't have a lot of time available, but we did have three days. So we planned a "ride and hike" trip into the Scapegoat. We took three horses, Poppie and Scheba as pack horses and Sky to ride. People would alternate riding and hiking.
We asked how far people felt they could hike, and Ram said 16 miles was ok. So we planned a loop, going in over Crown Mountain pass and then up to Half-Moon Park at the foot of Scapegoat Mountain, then out by way of Smith Creek.
Dona's older brother Bob and his wife Ann were also here for the family get-together, along with their kids Julie and Nick. Bob and Ann agreed to help us with a shuttle, which allowed us to go in from one trailhead and come out another. Thank you Bob and Ann!
We drove over Roger's Pass and then headed north. As we were approaching Augusta we noticed a large billowing cloud to the west over the mountains. It didn't look quite right on this cloudless day, and we soon realized it was smoke from a forest fire. At first it looked like it was right where we were going, but as we checked it out closer it appeared to be about ten miles north. We couldn't determine where it was on the east / west axis, and noone in town seemed to know either.
We drove up the Benchmark road to a campsite, where we spent the night. After a good night's sleep and breakfast, we took the horses and all our gear up to the Crown Mountain trailhead where we packed up. I loaded Scheba with the bear-proof panniers, Dona's and my gear, and horse gear; then we put the others' gear into soft panniers slung over Poppie's saddle.
The hikers took off, and after finishing packing, Dona and I headed up the trail with the horses. Bob and Ann waved good-bye and took off in the truck and horse trailer for the trailhead where we would come out in two days.
The wildflowers were blooming in abundance.
| Mountain Gentian
|| Bracted Wintergreen
We had been riding the horses to get them into shape, but they were still a little soft, so they were delighted at the chance to stop and rest and get a little attention from Dawn.
| Poppie gets sympathy from Dawn
|| Attention from Dawn
There's one part of the trail where it goes up fairly steeply in a pile of scree. It's kind of two steps forward, one step back. Scheba was pretty tired, and half-way up broke her pigtail. Fortunately she didn't head down over the side and across the scree, but I had a heck of a time getting her up the rest of the way. I think Dawn may have ended up leading her the last part; I couldn't figure out a way to keep her coming without tieing her hard to Poppie and I didn't want her pulling Poppie over.
| The steep part
Our descent on the west side of Crown Mountain took us down into Straight Creek in the Sun River drainage. We hiked up it a couple of miles, then headed west again up a valley / creek known as Green Fork. It was afternoon, so we stopped for lunch and to swap riders / hikers. Dawn rode Sky for a ways, and then traded off for the trip up Green Fork.
| Dawn on Sky
|| Rest stop, Green Fork Trail
|| Getting ready to ride
|| Trading tired legs
for a sore butt
After about a three mile or so hike up Green Fork, we came to a small lake. There was a waterfall pouring down the cliff on the far side of Green Fork. We swapped riders as we climbed up out of the valley to the bottom of Scapegoat Mountain. Poppie was having a pretty easy time this trip, not too heavily loaded, so we piled a couple of day packs on her to make the climb up a bit easier for the hikers.
| Ram and Dawn
|| Green Fork
| Looking up
at Scapegoat Massif
| Swapping Riders
|| Poppie with some
| Hmmm, is this ok?
As we hiked up out of the Green Fork valley, we got a great view of the waterfall on the other side, and one of the arms of Scapegoat came into view.
| Green Fork Waterfall
|| Green Fork
|| An arm of Scapegoat
Everyone was delighted to see our camp spot at the end of the long day. We had some pretty sore feet and a few blisters, but noone threatened to string Dona or me up so I guess we were ok. It's a good thing Poppie was such a good sport about carrying those extra packs, though!
| The hiking crew
above Green Fork
|| Approaching Camp
after a hard day
on the trail
| Looking down on
Half Moon Park
It was late in the day and everyone was pretty tuckered out, so we set about making camp, cooking dinner, bandaging feet, and lazily enjoying the scenery. I hobbled and belled the horses and turned them out, and they got right down to the task of filling their bellies.
| Scapegoat Summit
|| Scheba and Sky
|| Dawn, Ram, and Gary
|| Dawn, Ram, and Gary
|| Movable houses
| Scapegoat Sunset
|| Scapegoat Sunset
We were expecting nothing but good weather, but we awoke in the morning to totally overcast skies and light rain. We were socked in, as if we were in the Olympics. We spent most of the day hanging around the fire recuperating from the long hike the day before, telling stories, and drying out clothes.
| Discussing the
| Drying Socks
|| Ram and Gary
After a drizzly day and night, we awoke to a clear sky and Scapegoat Mountain all ablaze in the sunrise with the moon overhead. I hobbled the horses and turned them out to graze.
|Sunrise below Scapegoat Mtn|| Moon over Scapegoat
There were a couple of nice Mule deer bucks hanging around camp.
| Muley Buck
We had a pleasant hike out, with spectacular views of the Scapegoat massif slowly receeding as the miles slid by under our boots.
| Happy hikers
|| Dawn, Scapegoat in background
|| Elk Creek Headwaters
South of Crown Mountain
| Dona, Gary, Scapegoat
|| Dona and Gary coming down
It was pretty hot on the trail. Ram detoured off the trail down a hillside to the creek where he had a refreshing dip. Dona and I decided to hold out for a plunge pool below the waterfall further down the creek. When we got to the waterfall, we tied the horses, then scrambled down the bank to the bottom of the pool. Brrr! The water was cold. But it sure was refreshing.
|Waterfall Pool in Smith Creek|
Then there was nothing left but the slow trailer ride home, a hot shower, and fall into bed. We hope everyone had a good time in spite of the long hikes!
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