|Jul 19, 2000
|Hiking, Mountaineering, Scrambling
If you like to avoid popular routes, Blodgett Canyon has virtually endless possibilities for you to enjoy some isolated, top-of-the-world scenery.
Hopefully, the Bitterroot Range page creators will not hound me from the site for saying this, but I have sometimes found the Bitterroots to be underwhelming. Blodgett Canyon, though, is an easily accessible exception to that observation. I have hiked into it twice, but the first journey was the nicer and more exciting one of the two. That first trip was a two-nighter with my wife, and going midweek resulted in the pleasant outcome of spending a full day without seeing another person. And although the views from and on the way to Blodgett Pass were the scenic highlights of the trip, it was my bushwhack/climb to the north rim of the canyon that provided my lasting memories of that foray into the Bitterroots.
The scenic first few miles of the trail through Blodgett Canyon lead to a good bridge over Blodgett Creek, and the trail enters denser forest shortly after that. There was considerable deadfall to cross back in 2000, but nothing made the trail impassable or even difficult. About eight miles from the trailhead, the trail enters the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness and soon leads into an open meadow with nice views of the surrounding peaks and canyon walls. Just before that meadow, there is a flat area with many good camping areas, and the creek is nearby. This spot is where we spent our two nights.
As my wife slept through the early mountain morning, I walked out into the meadow (5500’) to try some dawn shots of the mountains. Before long, a familiar experience ensued. A waterfall on the slopes north of me caught my eye, so I went to check it out. At the waterfall, the views had just gotten better, and I began to eye the steep terrain above me. The canyon rim beckoned, and I really had no choice. Up I went.
There was no discernible route up, which lent the illusion (and who knows? Maybe it was real) that no one else had ever passed this way. Most of the going was just steep Class 2 on good rock, but there were brushy areas calling for route-finding and/or making for slow going, and there were occasional Class 3 spots near the top. Atop the rim, views extended in all directions (nice perspective looking down on Mill Creek Canyon and its lakes), and those views included rocky tors, remote lakes, and untrammeled stretches of forest. It was a moment soaked in secrecy and triumph, and it is my enduring memory of the Bitterroots.
The section of the rim I crested lies at just about 7500’. From the meadow, it’s about a mile to the crest. It’s definitely worth the burning thighs and heaving lungs.
In the afternoon, my wife and I hiked out to Blodgett Pass. The trail to the pass is about 3.5 miles from where we camped (now almost 12 miles upcanyon from the trailhead) and at about 5900'. To reach the pass, the trail climbs 1100' in about a mile. Along the way were the finest trail views of the trip, extending west to the crest of the range and revealing some glistening bare rock reminiscent of the Sierra Nevada. Blodgett Mountain (see photo below) looked like a pretty easy climb from the pass, but storm clouds were moving in, and we headed back to camp (an unfortunate choice since a big storm never materialized, but a wise one nevertheless). Another time...