Distance: 10 km
Elevation gain: 410 m View map Download GPS track
A particularly tiring week at work and blah weather in the mountains (again…) had me terribly low on motivation and energy today. Black Mountain, a small forested mountain on the eastern border of the Bob Creek Wildland, thus seemed like a good choice for today. Hoping to avoid the forecast flurries later in the day, Sandra and I left the city early and were treated to a spectacularly colorful sunrise lighting up forests covered in ice crystals as we drove down Highway 22. We also saw 5 moose and several deer and elk near the road.
Black Mountain lies within the Black Creek Heritage Rangeland and is, from what I can tell, part of the Waldron Ranch. Before we set out I confirmed that we could indeed access the land without permission
, and while a couple gates at the beginning seemed to suggest otherwise, the only sign in the area simply banned motorized vehicles.
We parked in a small pullout by a gate near the southern end of Black Mountain and started hiking gently uphill along a gated road. We reached a vast meadow at the top, passed through another gate, and continued following the road west towards Black Mountain. The weather was cold and abysmal with low cloud obscuring everything, but that same cloud was depositing sparkling ice crystals, so the scenery was tolerably nice for such lousy weather. We also saw a couple moose in the distance.
When the road reached the southern end of Black Mountain we turned north and started ascending along the gentle and forested crest of the mountain. Cow trails were prevalent and made travel easy, but a dilapidated barbed wire fence that weaved its way from one side of the crest to the other was quite annoying as it often funneled us into less desirable terrain. We crossed it at least a half dozen times, but most of these crossings were where deadfall had knocked the fence down and so it wasn’t as bad as it might sound.
A few small meadows along the way provided partial views to the east and west, and I was surprised to see that we’d actually climbed above the ground-level cloud. There was still plenty more above us, of course, but at least I was able to see bits of Porcupine and Whaleback Ridges.
We reached the forested and viewless summit after just 90 minutes of slow hiking, then continued a couple hundred meters further to a more open area for a limited view to the west. We had a quick snack in the cold, then retraced our steps back to the truck. It sure wasn’t an exciting trip, but we still managed to get out and explore yet another area!