As the National Weather Service predicted, a large storm blew into the southwestern part of Montana and spread across the eastern side of the state, but not before dropping a hefty amount of snow along the way. US 93 at Lost Trail Pass was completely snowcovered Monday morning October 11 (photo above), but winds had blown much of the snow off the roadway by mid-afternoon. The Bitterroot and Sapphire Mountains both received new white tops of snow (photo below) from the passing storm.

Bitterroot Mountains snow southwest of Hamilton on Oct. 11. (Steve Fullerton,Townsquare Media)

In the Big Hole, southeast of the Bitterroot Valley, crews who had been fighting the stubborn Trail Creek and Alder Creek forest fires were happy to see the heavy wet snow. The fire camp at the Wisdom airport was dismantled. The area of the Trail Creek Fire north of Highway 43 was re-opened. However, the area south of the main highway through the Big Hole is still closed. Highway 43, of course, is open. Be ready for winter driving there and on to the east in Montana.

The fire management had been transitioning back to the local Forest Service and BLM teams, but the snow was a nice final touch on that move. Daily updates on the fire will now stop as the teams continue to cleanup and move equipment out of the area. There are still some closures in the area, such as the May Creek Campground and portions of the Continental Divide Trail. Of course, as winter arrives, the cross-country skiers will be happy to see even more snow.

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Even though the forest fire news is good, there are still fire restrictions on public lands in both Montana and Idaho. Be aware of the rules before you head out. And ALWAYS be careful with campfires. Make sure they are completely out before you leave your campsite.

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