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Showing posts with the label Spanish Peaks


A few images from a short day hike to the north flank of Table Mountain in the Spanish Peaks.  Beautiful blue sky day.  Lush greenery.  Flowers galore.  Most hikers call it quits at Lava lake.

Oh yeah, parmesan crusted fish for lunch.

Beehive Basin

Labor day.  What to do?  A hike?  Something short and sweet.  One that didn't involve hours of driving to boot.  I settled on Beehive Basin up near Big Sky.  I've been all over the Spanish Peaks in the last forty years.  But, I've avoided the Big Sky side of the "peaks."  Why?  Hell, there's gobs of people.  But, today I made an exception.

It's an easy hike.  A couple of miles each way.  You won't want for company.
It was deliciously cool when I arrived at the trailhead.  Forty-two degrees. The clouds were just starting to lift.  I started hiking at nine.  Late for me, but with such nice conditions, and for a shortie hike, it was early enough.  Most of the many hiking folk would arrive later.
The trail, nice and wide, winds through open timber and meadow.  This late in the season, most of the flowers had withered. But, I can see this as a nice wildflower hike earlier in the summer. 
It is a pretty basin.  Open.  Easy to get around.
I hiked past the l…

Fly Like A ...... Bighorn?

You run into some pretty neat stuff while heading to the field.  Sometimes it's the high point of the day.  Take this image for instance.  It was recorded on film.  Ah, the good old (if not less convenient) days of photography.  I was driving through the Gallatin Canyon.  A bunch of bighorn sheep were milling along the side of the road.  I found a nearby turnout and pulled over.  Sheep were busy grazing, some were in the river. Eventually, it looked like they wanted to cross the road.   One ewe, then another.  Up and over the barrier.  Maybe the grass was greener.  Maybe they just wanted to live dangerously and dodge traffic.  It's a tough way to make a living.

The Day After

Back to August, and a brief follow-up to my previous post.  Summer had regained its rightful place on the calendar.  It was hard to believe that I'd slogged through several inches of snow just twenty four hours earlier. After a spending a chilly, restless night in the confines of my bivy, I was eager to get up and get going.
By August, the sun rises a little later.  The mornings are slower to warm.  But the sun eventually touches the valley floor.  When it's calm, its heavenly. 
Rising cutthroats dimpled the surface of the placid lake.  A fisherman's invitation.  The fish were good hosts and willingly came to the fly.  I circled the lake, picking off cruising fish. When I reached my starting point below camp, a repeat circumnavigation of the lake was unnecessary. The catching had been easy. I'd already caught my fill. I was content then, to revel in the morning, just as I am now, looking back at these photos.
So here's to alpine lakes and cutthroat trout.  And let…

All In A (Summer) Day

What better thing to do on a subzero Montana day than look at some images from summer?  My motives?  Maybe it's just a longing for the warmth, sunshine, green grass of summer.  But wait, there's ...... snow in the photos too?  Just like in February.  Only these were taken in August.
There is an old saying.  If you don't like the weather in Montana.....wait five minutes. These photos were taken on the same day, over roughly a twelve hour span.  The lesson for all?  Be prepared if you venture into the Montana high country, even in summer.
It was crisp, fall-like when I hit the trail in the morning.  One thing that I learned long ago, always pack gloves, regardless of the season.  The wool mitts felt good and took the chill off of the handles of the hiking poles.  They would prove necessary, as would most of the clothing that I'd packed.  It would soon be donned in order to stay warm and dry.
This particular day didn't take long to turn gray.  The gray soon turned t…


This photo brings back memories of a night spent at Thompson Lake in the Spanish Peaks a couple of years ago.  It was August.  A time of heat, dryness.  When I hit the trail at sunrise, snow dusted the peaks.  Five miles in, it started to rain.  Shortly after, it turned to snow.  August?
This was breakfast.  Bannock.  Simple and good, it's a staple and favorite. Low carb?  Baloney (or rather, bologna for you purists).  Not for me.  When I crave fresh bread, which is often, I'll whip up a batch, even at home.  For this batch, I'd measured enough mix into a snack baggie to make one bannock patty.  First, I made a cup of coffee on the little alcohol stove. Then, mixed the batter, formed it into a patty and popped it into the pan.
My boots?  They're an attempt at a windbreak and the inspiration for this post.  More on this later. Thankfully I didn't burn down the tent.  It was a one man structure.  Still is for that matter, since I didn't burn it down.  Too low t…

Deer Lake Dayhike

It's a nice hike, about six miles or so (each way). The elevation gain is steady but not brutal. An occasional straight stretch in the trail offers respite from the climb.  The prize at the end of the hike is the opportunity to cast a fly to grayling in an alpine lake.

I hit the trail around 7 a.m.  The morning was pleasant, dew or light rain from the previous night clung to the brush that hung over the trail. Along the way, I ran into this fellow rummaging for breakfast. He was unconcerned by my presence, enough so that he turned his back on me, sat, and went back to filling his belly.  I squirted by on the trail.

The rest of the hike was uneventful as regards wildlife.  In and out of the lodgepole timber, the trail follows a stream a good part of the way.  I stopped once to fill my water bottle from a spring (I carry a filter).

I arrived at the lake and found the surface calm.  Here and there grayling were rising. I snapped a few photos and commenced to rigging for the mornings…

Lava Lake Hike

Three miles in, and, not surprisingly, three miles back out, Lava Lake serves as what I would consider the first mountain hike of the year.  It's a popular hike with Bozemanites, as the trailhead into the Spanish Peaks is a short drive from town.

The first part of hike is pretty easy and gains relatively little elevation.  The only major creek crossing is via a footbridge over Cascade Creek.  From there it's a steady pull into the lake.

Early season hikes are usually a matter of chasing the snowline up a muddy trail. Yesterday, the first part of the trail was in pretty good shape, mostly dry as far as the bridge.  From there on, snowpack covered parts of the trail.

Not surprisingly, the lake was still frozen.  The ice typically goes off as early as the third week in May or as late as first week in June.  A narrow band of skim ice covered the lake margin.  It should go off soon with the warm weather.

I didn't see any bears, and, quite frankly, didn't expect to on this…