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Missoula, Montana
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     I could not leave Missoula, Montana without climbing up to see the granite M on Mt. Sentinel.  This was a great climb.  I will admit though that I was out of breath when we first started.  Missoula is at a much higher altitude then I'm used to in Pennsylvania.  Now add climbing a mountain to that.  The thing was that I was in great shape back in 1998.  I was still going to the gym regularly so this was a bit of a shock to me.  My brother Tim had climbed the mountain before and had been in Missoula for a good part of 5 years so he was used to the high altitude.
     I took this picture of the granite M near the Grizzly Bear statue at the University of Montana.
     I copied the following two pictures using Google Earth.  The reason I did this was because I felt that I needed to use some aerial shots to help people viewing this page get a better idea of the size of the mountain and the position of the granite M in relation to the top of Mt. Sentinel.
     The blue and white circles with a cross (which I refer to as compass symbols) are a part of Google Earth that have pictures people have added to Google Earth that you can view when you click on them.  If you look at the bottom center of this picture between the compass symbol and the © 2007, this is where the Grizzly Bear statue is located on campus and the location where I took the first picture on this page of the M.  On the mountain in red is the date 2002-10-04.  This is when this satellite image was taken.  Above that you will see another compass symbol.  This is the top of Mt. Sentinel where Tim and I climbed to.  We actually walked around to the other side of Mt. Sentinel and climbed to the top and then down to the granite M and back down to the university.
     Mt. Sentinel is very steep where the M is located.  I posted this picture to show the Mt. Sentinel M Trail that zig zags up to the M.  When we walked down from the M we took this trail.  On the very left hand side of this picture you will see the beginning of the path we took to get around to the other side and start our climb.  Now back to the pictures I took of our climb.
     Most of the trail up the other side of Mt. Sentinel was like shown in this picture.  Tim waits for me to catch up since I had not caught my breath yet at this point in the climb.  Of course taking pictures is also a good excuse to stop and catch your breath.  Ha. Ha.
     The climb up this side is more scenic and provides a good bit of shade.  Just like on the other side below the M, this path zig zags up the mountain.
     As we went higher up the trail I finally was getting used to the lighter air.  There were also more places we could see through the trees and view the scenery.
     This was one of my favorite scenes.  At this point we started entering an area of Mt. Sentinel where a forest fire had occurred a few years before our climb.  You will see some of that dead forest in these pictures.  Remember this was the middle of August when trees are normally covered with leaves.
Getting close to the top...
     My brother took this picture of me to prove I was actually there.  Ha. Ha.  I am not sure where that blue spot on my shirt came from but I still have that shirt and it is no longer there.
     Even closer...  Shortly after this we arrived at the last section.  It was a very steep slope covered with stone.  I wish I had remembered to take a picture of it but at the time my only thought was about how the hell I was going to get up there.  Ha.  Ha.
     Finally on top!  This and the pictures that follow were ones I took from every side of the mountain.  It really is a fantastic view.
     Tim posing close to the edge which would have given Mom a heart attack.  We hung out and enjoyed the view for a while.  The entire time climbing up we did not run into anyone else.  We did run across a few on the way down to the M.  They decided to climb up to the M, then the top, and down the side we came up.  There were only 3 or 4 of them.
     Here we begin the walk down.  This was the point where I was first able stand and get a picture.  The beginning part of the walk down I actually rolled a few times. It was steeper than this and covered with rocks.  I only slipped twice.  It is sometimes harder to walk down then it is up.  Ha. Ha.  We still are not down far enough to see the granite M.
     We finally get down to the top of the M.  This picture of the university I took from the top right side of the M.
     This is part of the M from the top.  At this point I really could have used a wide angle lens.  You need a wide angle here to be able to get the whole thing in from this close.  This is only the left leg of the M (left when viewing it from the university).
This picture was taken from the base (bottom) of the M.
     This picture was taken from the base of the M looking up the right leg of the M.  OK.  That didn't sound very good.  Ha. Ha.
Tim posing near the M on the beginning of M Trail down the mountain.
     At this point I decided we needed to go back and get a picture of each of us sitting on the M.  This is the one I took of Tim.  I do not have the picture he took of me.  I guess I should have had him take one of them with my camera.
     We are getting closer to the university as we walk down the M Trail.  There were almost a dozen people scattered on this part of the trail.  Most, however, were just climbing up to the M, taking pictures and then going back down unlike the ones we saw earlier who went up to the top then down the other side.
A picture of the university from the last leg of the walk down.
     I had a backpack with me with water and orange juice that I drank along the way but I could feel my blood sugar getting low at this point.  We still had to walk back to Tim's house so we first made a quick stop at a store on campus and I downed a half a bottle of Gatorade.

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