Tiny Specks on the Rock Face–God,That’s Tall!

We took a long and rough ride over stony roads to make it all the way to SK Ranch in Bynum Montana, arriving about suppertime. We reached the crest at the top of a bluff and looked down on the ranch, about 100 yards away, in front of a great mass of openness. Steve Skelton is a big friendly and intelligent man who calls himself an amateur geneticist since he breeds Angus cattle. His line is famous for the tenderness gene, which with their grass diet makes for great steaks.

We loaded up in Steve’s big F350 pick-up and drove to where we could see the remnants of the Old North Trail, an old Indian trail and a place where pioneers once rolled their wagons. The limber pines here were stunted, just four or five feet tall, and some were 500 years old. Amidst the bone dry yellow dying grasses was a area with taller trees and green vegetation on the ground, evidence of the water meandering through. Grizzly bears love to come to this water and eat choke cherries, Steve said he seems them pretty regularly but hasn’t seen any yet this year.

We drove on a rutted road to a spectacular sheer cliff called Blackleaf Canyon. It was immense–about 2000 feet up. The size of the walls became clear when Steve took out his binoculars and pointed out microscopic shapes–climbers who were scaling the walls, just little dots of blue and red next to the massive rock face. It was 8:45 pm and one guy was about 200 feet up, barely even connected to a rope.

We hiked up beside a stream with two other ranch guests. They were an 81 and a 75 year olds from Missouri, who had been riding all week. The older woman Edie told us she used to pilot a plane but was too old for that now. So she rides horses and hikes and is a delight!