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Ross Creek Cedars Snowshoe

Trip date: 01/14/2007
Reported by: Jon Isacoff

Joint event with Friends of Scotchman Peak Wilderness
Participants: Jon Isacoff (leader), Ken Ratz, Todd Dunfield, Jojo Warner, Jim Lindenfelser, Carl Wheatley, Rich Landers, Dolly Owen, Denise Beardsley, Deb Hansen, Phil Hough, Deb Hunsicker, John Harbuck, Susan Harbuck
This event was an awesome success, though it was cold! The event was smack in the middle of the chilly snap we had back in January (think hard and you’ll remember it), and a general truth is that if it’s cold in Spokane, it’s a lot colder in Montana! For weather geeks, the high temperature on the trip was 4.6 degrees – and that was in the middle of the day (not including wind chil!) More importantly, we were privileged to be joined by two outdoors luminaries, Rich Landers (who needs no introduction) and Phil Hough, Chair of the Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness. Rich did a fantastic article on the trip in the January 21 Spokesman Review.
The Ross Creek Cedars Natural Area is one of the centerpieces of the proposed Scotchman Peaks Wilderness. It encompasses the largest intact stand of old growth Cedar in Montan, with trees up to 800 years old. Ross Creek is a great winter destination for many reasons, among them the last 3 miles of road are left unplowed making for a great 6 mile snowshoe (or xc ski) to the grove. 
The grove itself has a picturesque 1-mile interpretive loop that’s perfect for families in the warmer months when you can drive right up to a well-established parking lot. There are also two trails that wind up the Middle and South Forks of Ross Creek for at least 6 additional miles, spurring off the 1-mile loop. Those seeking a bigger excursion can scramble to Sawtooth Mountain from the far reaches of Ross Creek.
On our hike, Rich and Phil were able to share with the group some neat details about the ecology and politics of the area. In addition to the main attraction (the trees), we saw many interesting animal tracks, some of which may have been bobcat, lynx, and/or fisher. Rich and former NOLS leader John Harbuck gave the group a nice tutorial on basic track identification. On the return hike, we were treated to pure white in alpenglow of the sun setting on Snowshoe Peak and the other high peaks of the Cabinet Mountain wilderness.