Monday, October 15, 2012

Fall play time

I've been camera-less for a couple of weeks now, but the adventures continue.

In late September, I was excited to finally check out the stellar limestone climbing at Blackleaf Canyon.  We spent the first day aquanting ourselves with the wall, climbing the quality first four pitches of Bodhisattva (10+) before pulling on chert knobs at the Blow-hard wall to round out to the day.  The following day, after a sunrise run along the front, Leah and I climbed Home Boys on Soy (6 pitches, 11a) and onsighted the challenging, sustained 2-pitch The Deep End (11b),  The grades are quite soft, I think by an average of one or two letter grades.  It's too bad the drive is so long, because the climbing is excellent, interesting, and safe.  And the canyon is spectacular, with a lot of options for hikes and trail runs on the edge of the Bob Marshall Wilderness.
A portion of the main wall at Blackleaf.
Starting up the crux pitch of Bodhisattva.
I celebrated the confluence of the end of wildfire smoke and the beginning of October and fall weather by running the Heart/Pearl lake loop after work.  This 12+-mile, 3,000 vertical foot trail run is one of the best evening outings around Superior, one I like to do in early fall to catch the alpine shrubs in full color.  The most logical trail run is: up to Heart lake, then up to the Stateline trail and out to the Pearl lake juction.  Down to Pearl, then Heart lakes, then down the trail to the car.  A variation of the loop is a fairly popular bike ride as well, starting at Hoodoo pass and traversing the Stateline trail to the Pearl lake junction.    I think the loop goes faster on foot, since the trail is fairly technical.  1h 53 min.
The Heart/Pearl lake loop.  The approximate trail location is in white.
The last few weeks have been pretty laid back.  Lots of family time, including a 3-day visit to check out  Kyle's grad student life in Chicago.  Also, Missoula received its first dusting of snow, and my new powder skis arrived, so it's officially time to start getting psyched for ski season!  Meanwhile, the crisp fall weather has allowed for evening after evening of perfect post-work bike rides and trail runs around Superior.
Trying to get back into the boat during a Flathead river trip with my parents.
Working on the St. Mary's trail in the Missions.

Meredith climbing some fine Montana limestone.


  1. You're doing a nice bit of community service on that St. Mary trail. How far did you get? There will be many appreciative skiers! Sorry I couldn't join you in Blackleaf - I'd already made plans to go mountain biking and was out of town for the weekend. Thanks for the call though. As always, I like reading your blog and keeping up on the adventures.


  2. Thanks Ryan. I made it all the way up the trail, but only did limited hand clearing. More substantial clearing is merited, but would require a saw, and is complicated by wilderness regulations.