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June 8-9, 2017

Along with all the wonderful wedding events in Missoula, I was able to sneak in a few short hikes.  The first hike, Rattlesnake Trail is 34 miles and connects to several other trails.  Kelly, Chelsea, Sara and I simply followed the well-groomed, wide trail for about one hour until we had to turn around as we were limited on time.

The trail led us in and out of lush forest with moss covered trees that shaded a variety of wildflowers.  Upon our return, we detoured off on to a single-track trail which followed the raging river.  It was a lovely outing close to town which was very convenient.  It would be a great place for trail running or biking as well!

The following day, I awoke early and ventured to Morrell Falls located in the Swan Mountain Range.  The drive through farmland and mountain valleys was just spectacular.  What made the drive even better was spotting a black bear who was patiently waiting on the side of the two lane highway for cars to pass so he could cross to the other side.  I don’t know why I didn’t pull off onto the shoulder to snap a photo.  It would have been fantastic!

Anyway, I continued on to Seeley Lake where I continued to final part of the long drive on gravel roads that weaved past campgrounds and through pine forests.  I felt like I was in the middle of nowhere, especially when I arrived at the popular trailhead and didn’t even find a car!

I managed to forget bug spray so the cool, damp morning was perfect as I pulled a hood over my head and kept my arms and legs covered.  The moist trail led me through a pine forest damaged from beetle kill.

The trail was rather flat with exception of one incline, though with the lower elevation, the climb was uneventful.  The path, dotted with wildflowers, soon led me past a few, somewhat stagnant ponds/lakes.

I wasn’t able to spot any wildlife, though it probably didn’t help that I played an audio book on speaker in order to warn any grizzlies of my whereabouts.  I certainly didn’t want to sneak up on one of them while I was hiking alone.

I hiked pretty fast for two reasons.  One:  I had a limited amount of time and I was uncertain of the trail length.  The Forest Service USDA website (which was likely accurate) posted 5.4 miles round trip while the AllTrails website posted 6.9 miles, a good 40 minute swing.  Two: The mosquitoes were relentless!  I had to snap photos fast.

I made it to the falls in a little over an hour and I could hear the falls from a good distance away.  It was roaring!  If a waterfall can be “out of its banks” then I’d say Morrell Falls fit that category.  Mist sprayed at least thirty feet as the river flowed into the campground!  My camera lens was doused in water with each click of the shutter.

While I was expecting not to stay long because of the mosquitoes, the spray kept them away, so I enjoyed the falls until my clothes were damp enough to get chilled, less than ten minutes!  I headed back toward the parking lot.  This time in solitude so I could listen to the birds chirping on the partly cloudy day.  I made it all the way back to the trailhead before I ran into two different groups beginning the hike.  I was so lucky to have this path to myself as it is a popular destination!  Hiking is so peaceful, and this adventure did not disappoint.  I even spotted a deer on my drive out!  It’s amazing how I only see wildlife when I’m in a car…ETB

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