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/

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Skiing to Hogan Cabin

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

Hogan Cabin.jpg

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/

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

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

Unnamed Lake, Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness

Big Creek Lakes Trail to Unnamed Lake
Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness
Bitterroot National Forest, Montana
May 21-24, 2015

Trail and Big Creek Lake

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

Blodgett Canyon Trail
Bitterroot National Forest, Montana
May 1-2, 2015

Wildflowers

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.

Continue reading

Sevenmile Meadow

Sevenmile Meadow
Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness
Bitterroot National Forest, Montana
April 17-19, 2015

 Campsite

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