South Boulder River (Tobacco Root Mountains) day hikes.

John Goering

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Sep 30, 2014
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My wife and I took a day trip up the South Boulder River last week out of Cardwell, Montana. We had two goals: 1) to hike up to a pond a little over a mile south of the old mining town of Mammoth (on FS Road 107), and 2) hike up the East Fork on FS Trail 7154 until we found the snow line. The hike to the pond was off-trail and about a 1000' elevation gain in a half mile, with some serious bushwhacking thrown in.


View up South Boulder from below Mammoth.

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Middle Mountain from above Mammoth.

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We hit the wildflowers near perfect. Calypso bulbosa.

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Fairbells-Disporum trachycarpum.

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Glacier lily. Erythronium grandiflorum. In some places, the ground was totally covered with these.

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The stream downhill of the destination pond.

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The hiking buddies.

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View west across South Boulder River on hike to pond.

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Pond outlet.

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Pond. Alas, no fish but we didn't really expect any. However, it would seem sufficient to support a population of cuts and most certainly would support brookies.

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Another view west across the valley.

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Missy.

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Shooting Star, probably Dodecatheon pulchellum.

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Looking southwest, probably part of Jackson and Lakeshore Mountains.

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More Calypso.

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Back at FS 107 and the faux Jeep.

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South Boulder River.

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Pasqueflowers, Pulsatilla patens, near the trailhead for FS 7154.

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East Fork Boulder River.

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Some call this Blaze Mountain but officially, it isn't named.

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Home brew Wilfley table?

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Remains of a miner's cabin.

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A very well aerated East Fork.

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Looking west from 7154 above the first headwall. There were a lot of deadfall on the trail.

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FS Trail 7154 near the end of our hike at about 7,800'. The snow was totally rotten and we were getting wet feet even in the intermittent piles. Granite Peak (10,590') in background.

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Great pics. The South Boulder drainage is my favorite area in the T-Roots.
 
1000' in 1/2 mile off trail is no joke. I consider anything more than 1000' in a mile to be pretty darn steep, and that's WITH a trail, so kudos to you John for getting up there. I love how off the beaten path, these reports are. How well are the forest service roads and trails maintained? Beautiful border collies. Also, why do you say "faux" jeep? Did you swap out the motor?
 
1000' in 1/2 mile off trail is no joke. I consider anything more than 1000' in a mile to be pretty darn steep, and that's WITH a trail, so kudos to you John for getting up there. I love how off the beaten path, these reports are. How well are the forest service roads and trails maintained? Beautiful border collies. Also, why do you say "faux" jeep? Did you swap out the motor?

That pond access was indeed steep. Probably will not be re-visiting it but had to see what it was like.

As you probably know, the Forest Service doesn't have money for much anything these days, including much trail maintenance. FS 7154 is going to need a couple days of chainsaw work before it's open to anything but foot traffic but I'm actually ok with the way it is. It is open to ATV's and motor bikes-they just need the chainsaws.

Faux Jeep? IMO, the last real one rolled off the Toledo assembly line in 1986. That said, the TJ's and JK's perform rather well off-road, especially the Rubicon versions. Are they ideal? Nope, come up short in a number of catagories. My biggest bitch is the 3.6L current engine-the only current option available. It plain sucks in the rocks because there isn't any torque available below 1,500-2,000 rpm and the lowest factory gear offering is 4.10 which isn't low enough for effectively using that engine. It would be the near perfect vehicle with a Chevy 5.3L and the matched NV4500 five speed transmission. And that will happen to ours when either the 3.6L or it's matching whimpy NSG (read No Significant Gear) 370 transmission bite the dust. Thankfully, there are several vendors now who offer the wiring package to make that happen. That swap will yield all the bottom end torque necessary along with a much better (both gearing and much stronger) transmission. And will no doubt add several miles/gal fuel economy.
 
Oh I see. I'm not really a mopar guy though I had an XJ years ago. I've heard of guys with wranglers swapping in Chevy, Ford, Crate v8 small blocks, so when you said "faux" jeep I thought maybe you were packing a v8 in that thing.
 
Oh I see. I'm not really a mopar guy though I had an XJ years ago. I've heard of guys with wranglers swapping in Chevy, Ford, Crate v8 small blocks, so when you said "faux" jeep I thought maybe you were packing a v8 in that thing.

The V8 swap is in my 55 Willys CJ 3B and although long road trips get old, generally a much more fun ride. And it gets better mileage.
 
Last week I saw ONE Calypso Orchid in Glacier and felt like I found a diamond. I love those things. I have only found them in a group like you had one time.
 
Great post! I'll have to try 7154. Looks quite do-able as a day hike from Helena. Last year I did 7089, 7151, and 7159 ( in/out from 107). Blowdown is terrible everywhere. I went up out of Elkhorn yesterday and took a long way back to avoid doing the tree stuff twice. On the other hand, a few trees keep the ATVs out for a while, so it's a little more peaceful. I pack a Katana and a bow saw, but bought a little Stihl after being stopped by a tree that was too big to cut by hand or pull with the Jeep.

I really like my '15 JKUHR, but I agree that a little more power/torque would be nice, even with the 4.10s. After the winch, tons of gear, and the 18" 35s, it's a little weak! My wife's an orchid freak.
 
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