March 2007, from Jim and Janet
Latest Reports from Carlton Ridge
Just wanted to tell everyone about the past three monitoring activities on the ridge: 1) An overflight by Lighthawk pilot Chris Boyer on March 5, 2) LightHawk flight with Reg Goodwin on March 8 and 3) A 3-day ski trip along the entire ridge length by Jim and me on the weekend of March 16 - 18.
1) Chris Boyer, a LightHawk pilot from Bozeman who happens to be a professional aerial photographer did a quick fly over road/trail 1311 from the east on March 5. He has a small plane not set up to take passengers, so Jim and I emailed him with a description of what we were looking for. He did see a set of snowmobile tracks going up the trail/road, although he did not take any photos of those tracks.
2) Reg Goodwin, a LightHawk pilot from Helena took Jim and I up for a short flyover of the ridge on the afternoon of March 8. We did not see any tracks from the air. Both along the trail/road and in the Carlton Lake basin we could see no signs of disturbance. It was an awesome flight. We started from the west and flew east along the north side
3) Jim and I took a three-day ski backpack tour of the ridge, ascending via Mill Creek Trail 1310 this past weekend. We wanted to see on the ground if there really had been no activity, or if it just was not visible from the air. I am happy to report that there was no sign of fresh tracks on the ground other than the faintest shadow of a snowmobile track along the crest of the ridge in the 8200' level.
October 2008, From Janet and Jim
Report from the east end of Carlton Ridge
Jim and I hiked up 1311 from the east end to check on the source of the motorcycle tracks we reported finding on Carlton Ridge two weeks ago. There was a skiff of new snow from the level of the Yurt and above, which made it difficult to get good pictures, but it was clear the motorcycle tracks came off the private ranch property.
January 2009, From Steve—8 of us snowshoed up slopes above Clint and Sally’s place headed to Forest Service land overlooking FS Road 1311 as it enters along the RNA. We were checking for snowmobile tracks into that area—did not see any but will continue monitoring trips to this vantage point. It was a long trudge of +7 miles but worth it for the big chili feast at Clint and Sally’s house on our early evening return.
June 2010, From Steve, Janet, Jim—Hi folks, three of us (Janet, Jim, myself) made a recon trip up from Maclain Creek along FS Road 1311 up to where it enters and borders along the RNA. We saw evidence of motorized activity pass the ‘non-motorized’ sign and will follow up with Forest Service folks on the possibility of a gate being installed to prevent further incursions.
June 2018, from Steve
Craig and I finally took off after several postponed flights due to weather for a post-fire recon flight over Lolo Peak and Carlton Ridge. We took off around 6:30 am from the Stevensville Airfield headed northwest toward Lolo Peak with clear skies and a beautiful view of the Bitterroot Mountains. Craig made about 4 passes starting along the south side of Carlton Ridge, over the lake basin and Lolo Peak before swinging around toward the east along Carlton Ridge and the Research Natural Area (RNA). The 2017 Lolo Peak fire left continuous mosaic bands of green threading through burned forest with a good amount of green survivor trees and ground cover on top of the ridge including the RNA.
November 2018 re: 2017 Lolo Peak Fire History from Steve Arno
Bert, you asked about fire history in the vicinity of Carlton Ridge. My Intermtn. For. & Range Exp. Sta. Research Paper -187  on "the Historical Role of Fire on the Bitterroot N.F." has detailed data on 1600s to 1900s fires in Carlton Cr. Canyon and One-horse Ridge, the one immediately S. of Carlton Cr. If this old report isn't available via the Rocky Mtn. Res. Sta. website, you could contact Pam at the Fire Lab, as she knows where the stash of extra older reports is located. I also have a copy you could borrow.
Also, Clint Carlson and I increment-bore dated the three most recent fire scars on trees in the hybrid larch area of the Carlton Ridge RNA. The dates were 1892, 1889, and 1858. This is published in Carlson et al., 1990, Natural Areas Jour. 10:134-139. It appears to me that the 1889 fires burned through much of the white bark pine habitat below the nearly pure alpine larch groves on Carlton Ridge. In some places along the Mormon Saddle-Carlton Ridge trail, the young forest is a result of the 1889 [or 1892] fire. Higher up, there were fire scars on living LPP and white barks, suggesting the approx. 1890 fires were of low intensity.
July 2020, From Steve
Good morning, Friends of Lolo Peak: yesterday we hiked up to the RNA with Mary, Justin, and other Forest Service folks for a basic recon on the terrain we’ll be setting up plots for monitoring. We hiked through and around the RNA and Justin gave a demo on how big one of the plots will be---big but large enough to accommodate subplots within the plot boundary to get a finer picture of reveg patterns by species. We discussed different methods of getting all the rebar up on the ridge to anchor the plots—looking at some motorized access through Met Life ranch roads up to 1311 as it enters and borders the RNA. It was one of the hottest days thus far with valley temps around 100 degrees F and a bit less up where we were—80 degrees perhaps—made for hot hiking and a lot of water consumption.
September 2021, From Janet and Jim
Hi folks, Friday morning Jim and I had a little time to do a reconnaissance to check out the access for Carlton Ridge. We started on the east end of 1311. We were able to drive to the trail head at the first gate. The gate was open - more correctly half of it was missing, whether intentionally or not we don't know, but the part that remained looked even more vandalized than it was last fall. From the trail head we walked up about two miles, observing the new growth that is starting to happen.
October 2021, From Jim and Janet
Jim and I hiked up Carlton Ridge via 1311 from the west last Thursday. Beautiful day with the larch's at their peak. We went x-country from the trail near the top of the ridge to intersect the "road 1311" to the east and followed it to the top of point 8361, then wandered along the crest of the ridge through much of the RNA and then returned via the road. We did not see any fresh tracks or recent damage. Anyway, I am glad both the ranch manager and the Forest Service are aware of the trespassing problem.
October 2021, From Steve
Good evening FOLPers—Janet and Jim Surrena, FOLP’s intrepid hikers, and I hiked, bushwhacked, and pushed our way up 1311 starting from the lower McClain Creek gate on 1311. Nature has reclaimed substantial portions of the road starting around the slide area up to just about the upper gate. 2nd photo shows a pickup truck wide path around the right side of the gate with tread marks going on up the road. We’ll be scheduling meetings with Stephen Brown at Stevensville USFS Office about this and with Jen Hensiek, Missoula District Ranger1311 is basically impassable except for wildlife and hardy hikers for the +3 miles, not to mention some major road slough offs. Scat tracks showed bear, wolf, coyote, and hoof tracks showed elk, deer, and a moose.
August 2022, From Steve
I hiked up to Carlton Lake basin yesterday with Mike Young and Reg Spannaus (Mike’s partner in a marmot monitoring project). I went to the meadow above the lake looking for signs of the Northern Bog Lemming in an incredibly beautiful moss-covered fen. I did not find signs of this little critter but did renew my awe and respect for this vast, wild rugged landscape looked over by a towering Lolo Peak. Carlton Lake is low although there was a brisk, refreshing stream tumbling down the headwall from the meadow into the lake. We did not encounter a single hiker, did spot a marmot, and heard pikas calling along a boulder strewn ridge to north of the lake. There were bicycle tread marks on trail but no serious erosion or dust buildup suggesting some bike activity but not overwhelming level of mountain bike riders.