Saturday, October 01, 2022
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Outdoors: Snowed out on Scapegoat

by CHRIS PETERSON
Editor | September 14, 2022 7:20 AM

The Scapegoat Wilderness turns 50 this year. So the boy and I decided to take a look-see at the Scapegoat, a place I’ve been before, but haven’t visited in a few years.

The plan was to hike to the Scapegoat Mountain plateau and if things worked out and the gods were willing, we’d climb Scapegoat Mountain.

Things didn’t work out.

It snowed.

Hard.

Big flat flakes like Christmas.

The problem with the Scapegoat for local hikers and climbers is it’s a long drive. We left a little later than I wanted at 7 a.m. Thursday morning and didn’t make the Crown Mountain Trailhead until 11:30. It was a cool cloudy day with highs only about 55 — a refreshing change from just the day before when it was in the mid-90s and a wildfire got out of control near Conrad and burned a house down, according to the local radio station.

The Crown Mountain Trail (Trail 270) goes pretty much straight up, but isn’t all that unpleasant, as you gain about 2,300 feet in a hurry and end up in a really pretty pass between Crown Mountain and an unnamed peak that’s simply called 8,446 on the map. (I bet it has a local name).

From there it’s a long glide down to Straight Creek and the Continental Divide Trail.

Wildfires have pretty much roasted the entire area and the landscape is a sea of dead trees and stark views as we headed back east toward Green Fork.

East of the Divide regrowth after wildfires is a slow process and while lodgepole pine are coming back, I’ll be long dead and gone before it’s a forest again.

At any rate we went past the Green Fork, up Trail 228 and made a base camp along a scrubby meadow. A bull elk bugled into the evening and awoke me at dawn scraping a nearby tree. I never did see him, though.

The morning was gray and listless, but really didn’t feel like it would do much. So we left base camp with light packs and headed to the end of Trail 228 which the Forest Service warns is not maintained.

At first the snow was just a flake here or there, but by the time we traversed the cliffs along Flint Mountain, the snow was coming down in huge big flats.

Rats. According to the map, it looked like we just made it through the trickiest part of the journey, only to have to turn around.

Walking up the goat/climbers path was nothing technical, but there were a few spots with some exposure that could have been tricky, if not life-threatening, in a slippery snow.

So we bagged it.

The snow came harder and harder until we made it back to base camp, where it changed to rain.

By 1:30 p.m., the rain had stopped and by 3 p.m. it was bluebird skies.

But our chance at Scapegoat, at least this time around, was shot.

We decided to cut a few miles off the next day’s hike and went back down to the Green Fork, camping on a hill looking over Half Dome Mountain.

That night it was frigid. My shoes froze stiff.

I had on every layer I brought and could have used one more.

The next day we hiked out the way we came. I’m not sure why, but trail miles in the wilderness always seem longer than trail miles in Glacier. I suppose it’s because the trails, on average, are rougher. They see way more horse traffic, which leads to more rocks. Also, the Bob Marshall Wilderness complex has more than 2,000 miles of trails and not enough trail crews, so anything off a main route can be an adventure. That’s why it’s important to support local friends organizations, like the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation and the Backcountry Horsemen groups.

The Scapegoat, especially around the massive Scapegoat Mountain Plateau and surrounding peaks, is a stark and beautiful place.

I just wish it was closer to home.

There’s a celebration of the Scapegoat this weekend in Lincoln. The community has also come up with a plan for more wilderness in the area as well as other recreation areas. Learn more at: https://scapegoat50.orgThe Scapegoat Wilderness turns 50 this year. So the boy and I decided to take a look-see at the Scapegoat, a place I’ve been before, but haven’t visited in a few years.

The plan was to hike to the Scapegoat Mountain plateau and if things worked out and the gods were willing, we’d climb Scapegoat Mountain.

Things didn’t work out.

It snowed.

Hard.

Big flat flakes like Christmas.

The problem with the Scapegoat for local hikers and climbers is it’s a long drive. We left a little later than I wanted at 7 a.m. Thursday morning and didn’t make the Crown Mountain Trailhead until 11:30. It was a cool cloudy day with highs only about 55 — a refreshing change from just the day before when it was in the mid-90s and a wildfire got out of control near Conrad and burned a house down, according to the local radio station.

The Crown Mountain Trail (Trail 270) goes pretty much straight up, but isn’t all that unpleasant, as you gain about 2,300 feet in a hurry and end up in a really pretty pass between Crown Mountain and an unnamed peak that’s simply called 8,446 on the map. (I bet it has a local name).

From there it’s a long glide down to Straight Creek and the Continental Divide Trail.

Wildfires have pretty much roasted the entire area and the landscape is a sea of dead trees and stark views as we headed back east toward Green Fork.

East of the Divide regrowth after wildfires is a slow process and while lodgepole pine are coming back, I’ll be long dead and gone before it’s a forest again.

At any rate we went past the Green Fork, up Trail 228 and made a base camp along a scrubby meadow. A bull elk bugled into the evening and awoke me at dawn scraping a nearby tree. I never did see him, though.

The morning was gray and listless, but really didn’t feel like it would do much. So we left base camp with light packs and headed to the end of Trail 228 which the Forest Service warns is not maintained.

At first the snow was just a flake here or there, but by the time we traversed the cliffs along Flint Mountain, the snow was coming down in huge big flats.

Rats. According to the map, it looked like we just made it through the trickiest part of the journey, only to have to turn around.

Walking up the goat/climbers path was nothing technical, but there were a few spots with some exposure that could have been tricky, if not life-threatening, in a slippery snow.

So we bagged it.

The snow came harder and harder until we made it back to base camp, where it changed to rain.

By 1:30 p.m., the rain had stopped and by 3 p.m. it was bluebird skies.

But our chance at Scapegoat, at least this time around, was shot.

We decided to cut a few miles off the next day’s hike and went back down to the Green Fork, camping on a hill looking over Half Dome Mountain.

That night it was frigid. My shoes froze stiff.

I had on every layer I brought and could have used one more.

The next day we hiked out the way we came. I’m not sure why, but trail miles in the wilderness always seem longer than trail miles in Glacier. I suppose it’s because the trails, on average, are rougher. They see way more horse traffic, which leads to more rocks. Also, the Bob Marshall Wilderness complex has more than 2,000 miles of trails and not enough trail crews, so anything off a main route can be an adventure. That’s why it’s important to support local friends organizations, like the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation and the Backcountry Horsemen groups.

The Scapegoat, especially around the massive Scapegoat Mountain Plateau and surrounding peaks, is a stark and beautiful place.

I just wish it was closer to home.

There’s a celebration of the Scapegoat this weekend in Lincoln. The community has also come up with a plan for more wilderness in the area as well as other recreation areas. Learn more at: https://scapegoat50.org

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