31 Photos - Jul 29, 2015
Photo: Wagner Basin is about 20 miles northwest of Augusta. Ear Mountain is about 20 miles west of Choteau.Photo: Use the arrow on your keyboard to advance.Photo: Atticus and I made it to the true summit via Wagner Basin - 4.5 mile one-way with 3,730 ft. elevation gain. Mardi and I walked through Wagner Basin and then along the cliffs (labelled in the photo). The entrance to Sun River Canyon is on the left edge of the photo.Photo: View from the western edge of Wagner Basin - That feature on the right is "the castle" - We climbed up the pass (left of center), around the castle, and then onto the false summit and eventually, the true summit.Photo: Horn coral in Madison Limestone from 340 million years ago.Photo: Below the castle - false summit on horizon. Atticus (near center of photo) and I scrambled up above the trees (the most challenging part of our hike).Photo: Atticus (near center of photo) on the ridge to the false summitPhoto: View from false summit - You can see Sawtooth Ridge (3 "teeth" near the top of the photo, the cliffs that Mardi, Missy, and I followed below, and the Sun River as it comes out of its canyon.Photo: On way to false summit - Atticus was a student of mine and is now studying geology at Middlebury College (Vermont).Photo: Yours truly.Photo: Other side of the arches. This is all Madison limestone.Photo: Gibson Reservoir in distancePhoto: Those same arches below as we made our way to the true summit.Photo: Atticus was a good peakbagging partner for me in the summer of 2015 - Atticus  is fit, good company, has Mon-Thurs off, and likes geology!Photo: Looking back at where we'd been so far.Photo: Lunch spot on the true summitPhoto: Looking north from true summit - Rocky Mountain is the highest mountain in this range (The Sawtooths). Ear Mountain was featured on one of my earlier posts.Photo: On way down, near false summit - those neat arches are behind his head.Photo: Another photo of Atticus and the arches.Photo: Photo: Fossil coral in the Madison limestone.Photo: More horn coral and a bivalvePhoto: Atticus and I were both wearing old boots to we decided to "scree" down into Wagner Basin - saved us about an hour of down-hiking, but very tough on hiking boots!Photo: Yellow arrow shows part of route to top, black arrow is where we "screed" down.Photo: Best screeing ever! (portion of "the castle" in background)Photo: Parting shot of Castle Reef as we drove over the canal on our way home.Photo: Looking north from summit of Sawtooth. This is a climb that I did several weeks after the Castle Reef and Wagner Basin hikes. It was a little smokey on the day I took this picture. On this hike a friend and I started at the lodge at 7:30 am and reached the top at 10:30. (almost 5 miles and 3,500 ft. gain) - This adventure may be a future blog post.Photo: This map shows where Montana was 340 million years ago (under water). This is when the sediment was deposited that would later become the Madison limestone.Photo: The lay of the land - Some of the water from the Sun River is diverted to the Greenfields Irrigation District west of Fairfield - the self-proclaimed "Malting Barley Capital of the World".Photo: The yellow line shows the approximate route that Atticus and I followed to summit of Castle Reef. The green line is the approximate route that my wife and I followed on our hike earlier that month. The openess of the area makes it easy to pick reasonable routes.Photo: It is exactly a 100-mile drive from Helena to the Wagner Basin Trailhead (yellow asterisk). The area between the arrows is what we (in Montana) refer to as "The Rocky Mountain Front".