A break in the rain means a chance to hike Steinbeck Canyon

Big day, big breakfast. We fueled up for a hike in Steinbeck canyon with steak, eggs, and some pan fried potatoes. It was a good start to what would be a great day. This hike is not for the faint of heart with some dangerous sections.

We finally hit the road out of the marina at 9:30 with a plan to be off the trail by 2:00pm, when the chance for rain would increase. It is a boring 40 minute hike first on the road to highway 1 then following a dirt road to the trailhead. Just about there a truck with Montana plates pulled up to ask if this was the way. We talked a little bit and learned they were from Whitefish and escaping the early parts of winter. Interesting, last we saw them was at the trailhead, when we past them putting on their boots, so they must have decided the trail was too challenging.

Making our way into the canyon I was surprised to hear water not far from the start. This could be interesting… Sure enough there was a lot of moving water. It didn’t make a huge impact on the trail but sure was beautiful. About forty minutes in we hit the first challenge, a nearly shear rock wall that you have to find a way up eight feet and then traverse a twenty foot section. A bit nervous watching Vicki navigate it but no problem we were through. Another spot up a boulder using a pile of rocks and a vertical log – not as difficult but still a slow down. Next up was the first rope section. This requires zigzag shuffling up two logs before reaching the rope. I spotted Vicki and then once she started the rope section guided her feet and up, over the top. This took some arm strength but overall not as dangerous as the shear rock wall. Just around the corner is the section rope. This one is a bit trickier with no good footholds in the rock and dependent of logs placed for your feet. Vicki struggled a bit and on her second attempt she was able to make it to the top. Whew. That was the hard section. Now it was just hiking.

We stopped for some snacks and to take in the view a couple times but after 90 minutes it was becoming clear our pace wouldn’t get us to the tip where Juliet and I had lunch last year. Oh well. We continued up and found a nice place with a large pool and waterfall as our turn around spot. For me that lasted about thirty seconds before I told Vicki was going to run to the top, if possible. I huffed it up the boulders as fast as I could safely. First I had planned only 5 minutes more. Then 10, and finally it looked like I was almost there so I push 15 minutes and finally made it there. Being past the time I said I would be I didn’t stick around long before heading back down. It was a good decision to stop where we did because I think it would have been 35-45 minutes for Vicki pushing us well past our 2:00pm departure from the canyon.

One the way down we took more time for photos to rest and enjoy a particularly nice view. Reaching the tough section I down climbed first and was able to guide Vicki. Only the sheer rock face gave her a real challenge as there was no way for me to spot her, but thankfully when she slipped it was only a 3 foot drop, that she was expecting, and not injuries resulted. The last 15 minutes was in misting rain, which made the rock slick and me happy to nearly be finished. All told we hiked five and a half hours before making it back to the marina where Magnum ice cream bars provided our celebration for a truly spectacular hike.

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