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The Belly River Trail
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mini location map2022-07-19
38 by photographer avatartibber
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The Belly River TrailNorth Central, MT
North Central, MT
Backpack6.25 Miles 492 AEG
Backpack6.25 Miles   4 Hrs   45 Mns   1.56 mph
492 ft AEG
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Written two months later.  The day finally arrived.  Deborah was to meet us at 9:30, coming from Big Arm, to drive to the Canadian Border Chief Customs TH where we would meet Tina who was driving down from Calgary.  And believe it or not, it all worked out perfectly timed.  After introductions and a group photo, we started down the Belly River Trail through the dense Lodgepole forest and what I thought would be a relatively short and easy hike... well maybe not.  It was warmer than we anticipated and it took us a while to get our hiking legs and figure out the hiking order.  It was nice in the shade but that didn't last too long.  Nonetheless, it's nice to hike through the tall trees while being flanked by berryless :( Thimbleberrys on each side.  This area and for that matter, the whole hike, showed off the results from a moist winter, spring and summer.

Wildflowers would abound here and there that caused our brakes to go on; mostly for Ambika and me so it's a good thing we were at the back :lol: .  Tina and Deborah would end up getting a good lead on us several times; especially once we hit the meadows where the views open up as well.  It was warmer than we thot so I'm glad we didn't have to be in a hurry other than we wanted to get to camp to eat a late lunch.  There is a pond about a couple miles into the hike that always causes you to stop and observe.  I've never seen wildlife around it though.  Sentinel and Bear Mountain are to your west and provide a great backdrop for the flowered meadows.  The trail is a bit deep here so you have to be mindful of how you step as it's easy to get your feet tangled as it's also narrow.  

I wasn't feeling it today so I was dragging a bit.  I was disappointed in myself and sadly, I wouldn't do well the next couple days either. Ambika thot it might have to do with the new drug, Lipitor, that I was on so we'll go with that. However, next year I need to do some more serious hiking before this trip; I just didn't think it would be a problem as it certainly isn't a hard backpack!  Fortunately, I would rally for the last and hardest day. We took a break in the shade a little past the 3 mile mark.  There isn't much room to get off the trail for breaks through here and really no place while going through the meadows.  The meadows are separated by areas of trees and hills and a few times you get pretty close to the Belly River which has a beautiful color and a great view when looking west up the Mokowanis Valley.

We continued via the meadows that were loaded with lots of wildflowers in all sorts of glorious colors :) and a changing sky with some big clouds rolling around here and there.  And of course, there are those big old majestic mountains still with lots of snow.  It's like they are all teasing you to come closer, breathe deeper, take it all in.  We crossed a couple little drainage creeks full of water.  It was still a little muddy here and there as it had rained the previous day.  And finally, we see the sign for the campground.  Now it was a matter of getting a big enough space for four tents which we were lucky to find a very large space.  Of course, arriving there in the afternoon gave us a pretty good choice of spots.

We got set up and had lunch.  Our next goal was to figure out our water system.  Ambika brot a collapsible sink to gather the water, Tina brot the big bag, Deborah the Sawyer Squeeze and I had a CNOK so that we could filter a lot of water at a time.  And it is always entertaining to watch swinging the rope for the bear bags.  I worry about it wrapping as that's happened a couple times.  We both took a few times to get the job done.

A little after 7 we headed over to the Ranger Station to look around.  We all enjoyed this very much :y: as we just meandered around.  There were 2 horses and a mule in the pasture eating away and swatting their tails from all the bugs.  This was a buggy area.  We would see the horses and mule and ranger on their ride out on our last day.  There were a couple other backpackers hanging out at the Ranger Station porch.  The views were stunning and the light would shine occasionally on Gable Mountain... and if you've seen Gable Mountain, you know what a show that is!  And, of course, wildflowers everywhere.  What a great first day! even though I did terribly. 

Videos: Part 1  [ youtube video ] down the hill we go
Part 2  [ youtube video ] and by the pond and through the meadows
Part 3  [ youtube video ] more meadows and more mountains and the campsite
Part 4  [ youtube video ] Ranger Station Walkabout - it was fabulously beautiful.  I think you'll really enjoy this one!
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Wildflowers Observation Extreme
For me, sometimes it's just as much about the journey as the destination.
Oh, and once in awhile, don't forget to look back at the trail you've traveled.
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