Kidney Lake, Bitterroot National Forest, Montana

Kidney Lake
Bitterroot National Forest
July 29-30, 2015


In the interest of making this blog as comprehensive a documentation of my backpacking trips as possible, I’m making this a brief entry of the last overnight trip Justin and I did when he was visiting Montana in July 2015.


We hiked up quickly to Kidney Lake, exchanged pleasantries with a family camped at the lakeside, walked out to the peninsula/island in the lake, set up camp, threw Frisbee, tried to stargaze but the moon was rather bright even though it was hiding behind the mountains, and went to sleep. The next day we hiked up Camas Peak, took a swim, and hiked out to the trailhead.

The next day, we got an alpine start (3:00 a.m.) to head to the Missoula airport, where we flew back to Louisville — Justin to head home and me to attend a friend’s wedding, which in addition to the matrimonial highlights and catching up with old friends, included a tour of the Willet Bourbon Distillery.


And that is the first non-backpacking photo to appear on this blog. Cheers!

[Redacted] Canyon, Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, Montana

[Redacted] Creek Canyon
Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness
July 23-26, 2015

Unnamed Lake

Note: I decided to leave this canyon unidentified; it’s already well-documented in guidebooks and other resources and appears to receive substantial use as it is, no sense in drawing even further attention to it.

There are few things as humbling to experienced backpackers as barely making it a mile or so down the trail and finding yourself completely soaked from the knees down. Especially when the reason you are soaked was entirely avoidable. After several years of backpacking I suppose I’d become a bit complacent, or maybe I was just excited to be on another backpacking with my friend Justin; regardless of the cause I was wringing water out of my socks one mile into a six-mile hike. It was a perfect example of a few ounces of cure (i.e. rain pants) being worth a pound of cure. Continue reading

Torrey Lake, Pioneer Mountains

Pioneer Mountains
Mono Creek Campground, Backpacking to Torrey Lake
Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest
July 17-20, 2015


Experiencing a new landscape with an old friend always makes for a memorable backpacking trip. For this particular trip, the new landscape was the East Pioneer Mountains of Montana and the old friend was Justin, who I’ve known since we bussed tables in Louisville, Kentucky together over a decade ago. This would be Justin’s first trip to Montana and my first trip to the Pioneers. It would also be our first time backpacking together since a trip in Great Smoky Mountains National Park taken shortly before I moved to Montana. I spent a fair amount of time planning this trip and I’d like to think the trip returned results equal to, if not greater than, the effort put into its planning. Continue reading

Dawson Pass-Pitamakin Pass Loop

Dawson Pass-Pitamakin Pass Loop
Glacier National Park
July 9-11, 2015


In my opinion if you can start a backpacking trip with a boat ride, you probably should. There is a certain satisfaction in stepping off a boat and onto a trail that just doesn’t compare to closing a car door at the trailhead. When my permit for a two-night trek in the Two Medicine area of Glacier National Park was approved it didn’t take much effort to convince myself to shave a few miles of shoreline walking from my route by taking the tourist boat across Two Medicine Lake. The fact that I wouldn’t be able to start my hike until late afternoon made this time and energy saving arrangement even more ideal. Continue reading

Kidney Lake and East Camas Peak

Kidney Lake
Bitterroot National Forest, Montana
June 26-28, 2015


A simple description of a pleasant weekend: trail, fainter trail, lake, peak. Reverse. I’ll flesh that description out somewhat in this trip report, but will avoid waxing too poetic about the two-night trip my friend Chris and I took to a subalpine lake in the Bitterroot Mountains on an unseasonably warm weekend at the end of June. Continue reading

Canyon Lake and Wyant Peak

Canyon Creek Trail
Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness
Bitterroot National Forest, Montana
June 19-20, 2015

Canyon Lake

Perhaps more so than any other trail along the west side of the Bitterroots, the route up Canyon Creek has a reputation as a brutally steep and unforgiving footpath. My experience on an early summer overnight trip verified that this reputation was well-deserved. However, the rewards were more than proportionate to the effort required. Rushing waterfalls, vibrant wildflowers, snowcapped mountains, serene lakes — quintessential Rocky Mountain scenery — made this hike one of the most charming, but also one of the most difficult, that I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying in the the Bitterroot Mountains. Continue reading

Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness

East Fork Bitterroot River Trail
Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness
Bitterroot National Forest, Montana
June 5-7, 2015

Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness

As much as I would like to write a lengthy and reflective trip report about this two-night trip into the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness, I’m going to stick to a “just the facts” approach this time around. With another trip coming up this weekend (June 19-20), and likely another trip the following weekend, I risk falling behind on documenting my backpacking trips if I neglect putting fingers to keyboard. I suppose even the most cursory narrative is better than no narrative at all. And after the lengthy Big Creek Lakes Trail to Unnamed Lakes trip report it might be a nice change of pace to maintain a more focused approach to writing about backpacking rather than exploring mental side-trails every few sentences. Continue reading