Upper Camas Lake Bitterroot National Forest Montana September 18-19, 2015
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.
Kidney Lake Bitterroot National Forest Montana 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] Creek Canyon
July 23-26, 2015
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 →
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 Creek Trail Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Bitterroot National Forest, Montana June 19-20, 2015
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 →
East Fork Bitterroot River Trail Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness Bitterroot National Forest, Montana June 5-7, 2015
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 →
Big Creek Lakes Trail to Unnamed Lake Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Bitterroot National Forest, Montana May 21-24, 2015
As a backpacker, few things are as gratifying as when a trip that looks good on paper exceeds expectations to such a degree that it barely resembles the trip you planned. The type of trip where for days afterward your soul glows with the deep, slowly dissipating pleasure of the experience before it fades and becomes internalized and eternalized in memory. The type of trip where you laugh out loud at how woefully unable we are to describe the overwhelming beauty of Nature; its subtlety and majesty. They type of trip that happens with a level of frequency somewhere between rare and seldom, perhaps just often enough to ensure it is never taken for granted. I was fortunate enough to have this type of trip in late May on a three-night solo backpacking trek to an unnamed lake in the Bitterroot Mountains. Continue reading →
Blodgett Canyon Trail Bitterroot National Forest, Montana May 1-2, 2015
A mere two weeks after my previous backpacking trip in Blodgett Canyon, I found myself returning for an overnight trip with my good friend John. Time constraints prevented us from venturing past the five-mile mark up the canyon, but an excellent campsite prevented us from feeling anything remotely close to disappointment. Situated out of sight of the trail, we pitched our tents in a grove of pine trees amidst scattered beds of glacier lilies. Not only was nature’s thermometer set to “Paradise” for our trip, but the wildflowers were near peak, a nearby waterfall rushed with snowmelt, and we caught glimpses of a moose on the trail and elk on the edge of our camp. Not a bad introduction to Montana backpacking for John, especially considering that step-for-step the first five miles of the Blodgett Canyon Trail are some of the most stunning and charming of any path that I’ve had the pleasure of treading.
Sevenmile Meadow Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Bitterroot National Forest, Montana April 17-19, 2015
Although it received only the briefest of mentions in “Hiking the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness”, Sevenmile Meadow in Blodgett Canyon proved to be an exceptionally scenic destination for a relaxed two-night backpacking trip in the Bitterroot Mountains. With the high country still snowbound and creeks swollen with snowmelt from the middle elevations — but our eagerness for backpacking bordering on madness — it took some careful planning for my friend Chris and I to plan a trip that would be achievable and enjoyable. Certain criteria had to be met. No unbridged stream crossings, no elevations above 5,500 feet or so, no shaded canyons with limited sunlight, and so on and so forth. Continue reading →
Fred Burr Canyon (Bikepacking)
Bitterroot National Forest
March 13-14, 2015
I’ve found few things in life as instantly gratifying as getting on a bicycle loaded with backpacking gear on a sunny spring afternoon and pedaling toward the proverbial “hills”. On this particular trip, the Bitterroot Mountains served as the definition of “hills”. Last year it was the Cumberland Plateau of eastern Kentucky. Different locations, same overwhelming sense of joy and freedom that comes with transporting yourself through and to a beautiful landscape and staying for a while. Pedal along . . .