HIKING -- From a distance down at Flathead and Echo lakes, the routes looked clear this week. Only one little snowpatch was visible up in the higher forest openings of a nifty lake-studded mini-wilderness that buffers Kalispell from Hungry Horse Reservoir and the Bob Marshall Wilderness.
But a short hike into the Jewell Basin hiking area revealed that snow still clogs many of the national forest high country routes under the forest canopy.
Twin Lakes, above, were still mostly iced up...although there was enough blue water showing for a few old friends -- who glissaded down to the lake's edge -- to make a quick -- very quick -- skinny dip to remind them they're still mortal.
The snow is compact and it's not difficult to walk over on the flat stretches. But where the snow covers the trail on steep slopes, it's treacherous. Good boots and ice axes required.
I expect this week's heat to resolve the issue pretty much region wide in about 10 days.