Bass Creek Falls Hike – Winter Edition

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?

Grab the image below to view an immersive 360-degree image.

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.

Jeff found the hole...good job

Jeff found the hole…good job

Blue skies and cliffs

Blue skies and cliffs

Timeless clouds over a timeless forest

Timeless clouds over a timeless forest

Bass Creek at the old log dam

Bass Creek at the old log dam

Shadow selfie on Bass Creek trail

Shadow selfie on Bass Creek trail

Spending time in a wilderness is priceless

Spending time in a wilderness is priceless

Bass Creek Falls, or at least the visible portion of it

Bass Creek Falls, or at least the visible portion of it

The view from Bass Creek Falls

The view from Bass Creek Falls

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.

Written by Radd Icenoggle

I am a native Montanan, who has spent a lifetime as an outdoors and wildlife enthusiast. I earned a degree in biology with an emphasis on habitat relations. During my studies, I had the great fortune to research and compose a thesis that explored the effects of slope aspect on...
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