Sunday, August 28, 2011

Climbing the Sleeping Giant in Montana and never trust a Cowboy!

When you visit or drive through Helena Montana, as we do every year, the mountain range to the east is called the Sleeping Giant. This year we had the opportunity to get on to private family ranch land and hike up to his nose! Their are several family ranches next to each other, this one was built in 1900

Fannie Sperry Steel a famous woman bucking horse rider lived here, on my husbands families old Hilger's ranch

After passing through many gates, we find the final gate to get to our destination. We note a skeleton on the gate and wonder what it could be?
( a llama )

Enter cowboy Wes, he owns some of the land and informs us of the way there, or where that pesky trail could be.

Yup, its up there. He discovered an "easy" way up many many years ago after a night of drinking! So easy, and yet.......

First step, we jump a fence, we couldn't risk a spark from our truck starting a fire. There's a homestead built in 1908 after a big flood, a women homesteaded with 7 kids, I applaud her, it is many miles from town, they lived hard lives.

My son and daughter ready to find the trail, not knowing what lay ahead

Nicole paused and his face looks deceptively close

A skull tied to a tree with barbwire on the way.

Signs on the way, we didn't see any horses, but wild life is definitely around.

The climb up, and up and up. Our truck is just behind the black willows brought from Minnesota in 1860. It still amazes me to have direct descendants who know the history of the land. The trail was hard to find and very steep, shale rock. We soon realize that the "easy" hike was definitely done by horseback, and us pedestrians were feeling a little under prepared, pant pant.

( Hence, cowboys being so rugged are not always the best judges of distance or trail difficulty, but otherwise CAN be trusted! )

Uncle Gary enjoying the view of the Missouri river ( he'd rather be fishing for Walleye), that part is called the Gates to the Mountains, named by Lewis and Clark

My son Jason striking a triumphant pose at the top. There was an old bell at the top. A jar used to be there with a pen and paper to sign dating from the 1920's many names signed, it is now safely ensconced for a future family museum.

Nicole second guessing her decision to pose on a ledge for a photo op. Something about the big steep cliff under her!

Nicole and Uncle Gary showing how the hike turned into rock climbing.

Me on the way down, which was slow going

And finally my view of Dave who led the way, A great trip, short and sweet this year. I got a few more shots to share. He headed out the next morning on his motorcycle to Sturgiss and we headed home. Can't believe summer is fading, I'm still hanging on tight.

Lots of projects and deadlines heading into Fall!


  1. I can't wait for the family reunion this summer. It should be fun. My daughter is ready to try and climb to the top this year.

  2. Looks like a lot of fun when I was younger I remember hiking there with a school friend. How I miss the hikings sleeping giant was a memorable moment. Thank thank for sharing the pictures and the way you introduced the hikings it sure brings back memories pleasant ones at that.