Pine Creek Dayhike

Story lines. How to present the days happenings?   I sorted through images from the other day to see where they might lead.

The underlying theme for the day was one of sheer beauty.  What a day.  It was another day for a high country hike.  I stretched the distance.  Now up to five miles.  This one, about 3400 feet elevation gain too.  Its not the longest hike, but with the vertical involved, its not a casual stroll.

First up, Pine Creek Falls.  It was quiet this early.  Later, it gets busy with day hikers wanting for a photo.  Not surprisingly, I was the first one on the trail.  Then again, not too many folks are up at three.

Pine Creek Falls, Montana

The Pine Creek area burned in 2012.  The fire took out a goodly amount of timber in the drainage, leaving charred tree skeletons.   A dense undergrowth of vegetation carpeted the formerly vacant  forest floor. Remove the tree canopy, let the light in, and stuff grows.  Bedstraw, arnica and spirea flowered profusely.  Their white or yellow flowers contrasted sharply against the blackened timber.

I walked in on a shaded trail. It was a steady, sweat free grind.  Reaching the lake, I was greeted by the sun and the slight, comfortable breeze that welcomes in summer mornings.  Occasionally, the lake surface would still.  Fish were rising.

How lucky can one be?

More impressions from the day.  Blue sky.  Mountain peaks. Remnant snow. Wildflowers. Reflections.  Serene scenes.

Pine Creek Lake, Montana

A little inspiration.......from "Rocky Mountain Suite - Cold Nights in Canada" by John Denver:
"Clear waters are laughing
they sing to the sky
the Rockies are living
they never will die"
At least I hope not.  A world without mountain grandeur would be a sad place indeed.

And  The fish? Yellowstone cutthroats. Not the biggest, but scrappy.  And pretty. Now three years old, they arrived via airplane as two inch fingerlings.

Yellowstone cutthroat trout, Pine Creek Lake, Montana.

After catching enough, it was time to recline.  Engage in contemplation....

Taking a nap a Pine Creek Lake, Montana

The hike out.  Down, down, down.  The trail winds through rock and meadow and burned timber. I've always thought that the hike out took a lot longer than the walk in.  Then again, hiking out in mid afternoon, through open burned timber, on a west facing slope can get pretty toasty.  Its important to stop at the various springs and filter water.  Drink up.

Tree skeletons along the Pine Creek trail near Livingston, Montana.

There was one more stop to  complete the day.  Marks In and Out in Livingston.  I hadn't been there in a year.  I had a powerful hankering. Burger, fries and chocolate shake.  You know, the requisite fortifications for a trail weary hiker. I finished eating, tossed the food wrappers, got into my car and was smugly thinking "what a great day!"

Then the car wouldn't start.

Huh?  I pondered my fate.  How was I going to get home?  After twenty minutes it turned over. As it turned out, some internal computer needed to be reset (I figured it out when I got home.)

I can still say, "what a great day!"

Arctic gentian.


  1. Lester
    This is the kind of trip that makes hiking worth the effort. The lakes and the streams along the way only add to the beauty of this place. One hates to see the burned areas but in time it will come back. Were you carrying a backpack combo to fish the lake? Thanks for sharing a great adventure

    1. Yes Bill, the burns do come back. Pretty quick actually. Fire has been an important component in shaping natural landscapes. Well, at least until we got involved in fire suppression.

      As for tackle, I use the same four piece, three weight to fish alpine lakes that I use on our spring creeks. Add a 5X leader and just about any fly, and you're good to go.

      Have a good weekend.

  2. Awesome hike. Thanks for the reflections. What are those flowers in the final pic? They remind me a mountain flower I may have seen in alpine country, but I can't place it.

    1. Thanks for coming along Walt. The flowers are arctic gentian.

      By the way, are you able to see captions when you mouse over the photos?


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