We did this hike last year, but with considerably less snow. It has really dumped this year in the Bitterroot Mountains, and the Bass Creek drainage is under a blanket of the white stuff. Were we deterred? Oh hell no, Jeff and I made relatively good time to the old log dam where I flew the drone for the first time (not my first time flying, but the first…ever…at this location). The Sun was warm and temperatures remained comfortable all day. From here, the hike is a real cruiser for the next mile and a half to the crossing of Bass Creek, which is marked by a gigantic boulder. Under this chunk of mountain, we spotted a Western jumping mouse (it has been years since I have actually laid eyes upon one of these little critters). It jumped (surprising, I know) into view and within seconds it was gone, but enough of a glance to identify the rodent. Overhead the trees were filled with large mixed species flocks of Pine Siskins, Red Crossbills, Evening Grosbeaks with at the lower levels Golden-crowned Kinglets, Red-breasted Nuthatches, and Mountain Chickadees. Maybe spring is coming after all?
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Up to this point, we had not yet experienced any post-holing, but that soon changed with the trail above the stream being a groin-stretching, shin-scraping test of will. In fact, one of the collapses of ice and snow was large enough to swallow Jeff up to his waist with both legs in the hole. I chuckled and took pictures…help him? I probably should have.
Soon, we arrived at Bass Creek Falls, which was covered mostly with a layer of ice and snow. I waded into the deep, and I mean deep, snow to capture a long exposure of Bass Creek tumbling over the smooth granite of the falls. The view from this point revealed the length of our hike up the valley and its hanging frozen cascades and remnants of several avalanches…time to head down the trail and celebrate a great day spent outside.