The Lookout: A Snowshoe Trip to an Abandoned Fire Tower

Abandoned Fire Tower
Public Land
Northwest United States
December 31, 2015 – January 2, 2016
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It is one thing to conceptually understand that you have the gear to bivy at 7,500 feet in the Northern Rockies with a forecast of six degrees below zero. It is another thing entirely to find yourself in circumstances where you end up having to do exactly that. And it was in such circumstances that I found myself on the last night of 2015. Perhaps I shouldn’t have turned down that invitation to a New Year’s Eve party after all.

I left home that morning later than I would’ve liked and drove for more than five minutes but less than five hours to the trailhead. Montana, Idaho, Washington, Wyoming . . . all within striking distance given the equation of time and space using motorized transportation. Discretion is the better part of many things in life, including keeping special places special by not indiscriminately broadcasting their details on the Internet. Hoisting my pack and stepping into snowshoes shortly after noon, I began what would be one of the most challenging hikes I’ve ever had the joy of undertaking.

Full report here . . . www.trailgroove.com/blogs/entry/64-the-lookout-a-snowshoe-trip-to-an-abandoned-fire-tower/

Skiing to Hogan Cabin

Skiing to Hogan Cabin
Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest
Montana
December 24-26, 2015

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In typical backpacker fashion, I did my solemn duty of taking off the Thursday before a federal holiday falling on a Friday to schedule a two-night trip followed by a day of rest. A stroke of good fortune allowed me to book Christmas Eve and Christmas night at a small, rustic Forest Service rental cabin in the mountains of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest . . . read more at TrailGroove Magazine:

http://www.trailgroove.com/blogs/entry/63-skiing-to-hogan-cabin-beaverhead-deerlodge-national-forest/

Backcountry hot springs, Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness

Hike to Backcountry Hot Springs
Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness
Clearwater National Forest
Idaho
November 26-28, 2015

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Soaking in a hot spring and stargazing on a winter night certainly meets the definition of sublime. When the hot spring is reached after a delightful five-mile hike and you have it all to yourself, the charm of the experience increases exponentially. When there’s just enough snow on the ground to provide a lovely contrast to the lush evergreen forest without causing the slightest inconvenience to camping or hiking, then the setting and experience approaches perfection. It should go without saying that finding myself in such a blissful place on Thanksgiving that I was indeed grateful, peaceful, and content in the utmost. Continue reading

Roaring Lion Creek

Roaring Lion Creek
Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness
Bitterroot National Forest, Montana
October 24-25, 2016

Junction

Autumn is a great time for both backpacking and bicycling, so rather than choose one or the other I decide to combine them on a quick overnight trip to the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. Cool temperatures on Saturday meant that I could enjoy a leisurely morning while waiting for the day to warm up and the short distance to the trailhead (about 10 miles) meant that a postponed departure wouldn’t have significant consequences. Even thought the daylight was dwindling, sunset wouldn’t occur until around 6:30 p.m. My only plans upon reaching the trailhead were to hike as far up Roaring Lion Creek as my energy and/or trail conditions allowed and set up camp. Continue reading

Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness

Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness
Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest
Montana
October 7-11, 2015

Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness

Hiking from one beautiful place to another on pleasant and well-maintained trails is a great way to spend five days. Doing so with a good friend and cooperative weather makes a great experience even better. Throw in a few synchronous strokes of good fortune and you end up with an incredibly rewarding and memorable adventure.  Continue reading

Upper Camas Lake

Upper Camas Lake
Bitterroot National Forest
Montana
September 18-19, 2015

Campsite

A few days before the autumn equinox I took an overnight trip to Upper Camas Lake to give myself some time to admire the scenery and bask in the transition from summer to fall. Upper Camas Lake seemed to be an ideal destination given the relatively brief window of time I had for the trip. I’d passed the lake the previous weekend while on a dayhike with some friends; we summited Ward Mountain from the southeast side (the official trail approaches from the north side) and then worked our way down to the lakes and hiked out from there. The uppermost lake was an exceedingly appealing place for a camp and with the larches just beginning to turn I knew planning a trip sooner rather than later would be advisable if I wanted a decent chance at experiencing one of the highlights of fall in the Northern Rockies.

Continue reading

Upper Miner Lake, Rock Island Lakes and Little Lake

Upper Miner Lake, Rock Island Lakes and Little Lake
Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest
Montana
September 3-6, 2015

Little Lake

Labor Day Weekend usually means crowded trailheads and fairweather backpackers fitting in their last trips of the year, but that’s no reason not to plan a trip and take advantage of the extra day off work. Just something to plan around. I’d chosen a somewhat remote area of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest for a three-night trip in an attempt to lose some of the crowds, but I think the forecast did most of the work in ensuring me a good shot at solitude. Depending on the elevation, the forecast for Thursday to Sunday called for rain, snow, thunderstorms (or a mix of all three) and highs between 45 and 60 degrees. Lows would be dipping below freezing at the higher elevations. Not an ideal forecast by any means, but not miserable enough to completely cancel the trip. As the Scandinavian saying goes, “No such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” Continue reading