Montana Outdoors

October 6, 2014

Wanless Lake

Wanless Lake in Cabinet Mountains Wilderness

Photo taken from the Cabinet Divide Trail 360 at Lost Buck Pass; Cabinet Mountains Wilderness


  1. For those who don’t know the Rockies, this photograph is great because it shows the texture of the rock and trees and cirque lakes, all so much different than the forested mountains on the eastern U.S.


    Comment by Malcolm R. Campbell — October 6, 2014 @ 12:39 pm

    • This area is an excellent example of what the Rocky Mountains are all about, isn’t it! The mountains in this wilderness are shorter that those in Glacier, but still have wonderful contrasts.


      Comment by montucky — October 6, 2014 @ 8:06 pm

  2. If “wan” means “Suggesting weariness, illness, unhappiness, or melancholy,” this is a Wan-less lake, for sure! Even if we take “wan” only to mean pale or colorless, this scene doesn’t qualify. It’s such a beautiful photo of an extraordinary place. I’m pretty much convinced there’s no place in those Cabinet Mountains that isn’t special.


    Comment by shoreacres — October 6, 2014 @ 1:09 pm

    • I did a little research on the “Wanless” name. Turns out it was named after a lake and lodge on the Schroeder trail on Lake Superior National Forest, which was named for a Duluthian who had a farm and a summer home on Harriet Lake (I think) in the 1800’s. What the connection is I have no idea.

      I also found a story about how Lost Buck Pass got its name. Seems that around the turn of the century a shepherd was tending his herd in that area when he was struck and killed by lightning. The herd spread out and a crew had to be sent up there to collect them all, which they did finally near the pass. They gave it that name after their hunt for the lost “bucks” (male sheep) and the other sheep. The information came from a collection of stories and history that was put together in 2006 to celebrate the 100th birthday of the Kootenai National Forest. The document is online and I now consider it (for me) a treasure of information and anecdotes about that part of northwest Montana.


      Comment by montucky — October 6, 2014 @ 8:18 pm

      • What interesting connections, Terry. And how great it is that some of those old tales have been collected and made available. There are a lot of dedicated people spending a lot of time doing such things.Genealogy’s another area where volunteers are doing such important work.


        Comment by shoreacres — October 7, 2014 @ 8:08 pm

        • I think the driving force behind this one might have been Rebecca S. Timmons who was the Kootenai National Forest Archaeologist. I sure appreciate her effort!


          Comment by montucky — October 7, 2014 @ 8:23 pm

    • When I saw the name Wanless I immediately thought of Sir John Suckling’s poem that begins: “Why so pale and wan, fond lover? / Prithee, why so pale?” The full 15-line poem is at:


      Comment by Steve Schwartzman — October 7, 2014 @ 7:15 am

      • Sir John certainly was Cavalier, wasn’t he? I’d forgotten that one, and had quite a laugh at the last lines. Here’s another bit of serendipity. He’s claimed to be the inventor of cribbage, the game my dad taught me to play, and whose board and pieces I still have.


        Comment by shoreacres — October 7, 2014 @ 8:04 pm

  3. What a beautiful scene with that lake in the distance! Looks like you’ve been out and about exploring again.


    Comment by Candace — October 6, 2014 @ 3:02 pm

    • Yes Candace, I’m now able to get up into the high places that I love so much again. This Wilderness is one of the most magnificent areas that I’ve ever seen. I will spend many more days in the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness!


      Comment by montucky — October 6, 2014 @ 8:20 pm

  4. Spectacular !


    Comment by Vicki — October 6, 2014 @ 3:37 pm

    • I think so too Vicki. It was worth every minute of the long hike up to the Divide and I had been looking forward to that trip for over a year now. I will post many more photos later.


      Comment by montucky — October 6, 2014 @ 8:21 pm

  5. What a beautiful view. It looks like it might be a rough hike to the lake from where you were though.
    There must not be too many deciduous trees up there-I see mostly evergreens.


    Comment by New Hampshire Garden Solutions — October 6, 2014 @ 4:24 pm

    • Actually, I think the hike to the lake from the Divide is shorter than up the way we came which was a five mile trail with more elevation gain (about 2300 feet). Every second of it was exhilarating though, visiting two cirque lakes en route.

      Yes, nearly all of the trees there are firs, lodgepole pine or hemlocks, although the deciduous larch are represented as well with a small sprinkling of aspen. The larch haven’t turned yellow yet even up high.


      Comment by montucky — October 6, 2014 @ 8:27 pm

  6. Wow. That’s quite a view. It must feel expansive to be standing there … standing in front of the whole world.


    Comment by Teresa Evangeline — October 6, 2014 @ 6:41 pm

    • I have no experience with which to compare the feeling of being in a place like that. It is wild, completely natural beauty for miles in every direction. It sure gives a wonderful perspective of what this planet has been and can be like.


      Comment by montucky — October 6, 2014 @ 8:32 pm

  7. I know it’s shameful but I am deeply jealous. What an amazing place. My mid-life crisis seems to be a kind of panic every time I see a new blog post from you. I need to do all of these hikes before I die or I will not die happy.


    Comment by David — October 6, 2014 @ 7:14 pm

    • Well, I sincerely hope, my friend, that you will be blessed with good health for long enough to enjoy experiencing these places as I have. I have done more hiking and experienced more high country trips in the past ten years than ever before. I keep in the best shape I can throughout the year so I will be able to travel on the trails when they are accessible (clear of snow) in summer. I feel especially blessed this year to be able to hike again after a total knee replacement in January. The rehab took a lot of dedication and effort but it was possible even at my age, and I hope to have perhaps still another decade to enjoy the high wilderness trails.


      Comment by montucky — October 6, 2014 @ 8:46 pm

  8. What a stunning sight. I feel as if I could sit there all day! 🙂


    Comment by Jo Woolf — October 7, 2014 @ 12:19 am

    • We spent as much time there as we could and still descend to the trail head before dark. There was an icy wind at the pass but even that felt good.


      Comment by montucky — October 7, 2014 @ 8:09 am

      • We have had the first snow on the very highest mountains (not that we can see them, but I’ve seen the photos!) The wind certainly is much colder and there was nearly a frost this morning. I love this kind of weather.


        Comment by Jo Woolf — October 7, 2014 @ 8:41 am

        • I love this weather too, Jo. Glacier National Park (about 80 mile NE of this photo) had 6 inches of snow about a week ago. I was happy though that there was no snow for this hike.


          Comment by montucky — October 7, 2014 @ 7:54 pm

  9. Breathtaking…Your photo really captures the amazing felling you have when you get to that point in the trail.


    Comment by Charlie@Seattle Trekker — October 7, 2014 @ 12:49 am

    • That sight was one that I had spent the whole year thinking about, and it was all that I thought it would be.


      Comment by montucky — October 7, 2014 @ 8:13 am

  10. Hi Montucky, Gee you really get to have a lot of fun hiking. Beautiful photograph of that lake in the distance. Have a tremendously nice day tomorrow!


    Comment by wildlifewatcher — October 7, 2014 @ 12:42 pm

    • Thanks wildlifewatcher. Yes, I enjoy wilderness hiking very much. Nothing I would rather do! Have a great day yourself!


      Comment by montucky — October 7, 2014 @ 7:50 pm

  11. absolutely gorgeous!


    Comment by Tammie — October 7, 2014 @ 2:14 pm

    • Thanks Tammie. I fell in love with that Wilderness last year and hope to spend a lot more time there.


      Comment by montucky — October 7, 2014 @ 7:51 pm

  12. An amazing vantage point with a breath taking view! Wod


    Comment by WildBill — October 8, 2014 @ 12:18 pm

    • I’m becoming a real fan of that trail which goes right along the backbone of the Wilderness Area. Bit of a hike to get up there, but you quickly forget that when you see the scenery.


      Comment by montucky — October 8, 2014 @ 8:03 pm

  13. What a view and photo! The crispness and detail makes you go around the photo again and again!


    Comment by Rondje — October 9, 2014 @ 12:25 am

    • That wilderness has become my favorite place. I have now made seven trips into it and if good health obtains, I will make many more.


      Comment by montucky — October 9, 2014 @ 10:10 pm

  14. Majestic place. Your photo was enough big to admire it. Thank You.


    Comment by Sartenada — October 9, 2014 @ 4:45 am

    • Yes, it is indeed a majestic place and worth every effort to visit into the heart of that wilderness.


      Comment by montucky — October 9, 2014 @ 10:12 pm

  15. That is incredible. I would love to see it one day. I would be speechless. Great image!


    Comment by Boyd Greene Fine Art — October 11, 2014 @ 7:34 pm

    • I hope you will be able to experience it, Boyd. Words can describe places like that only to a certain extent and even then only to those who already have experienced such places. The feel of the sun, the rain, the cold wind, the smells, and the body fatigue of getting there and back are also a vital part of the whole scene and those have to be experienced in person.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — October 11, 2014 @ 8:55 pm

      • Indeed! 🙂 I remember showing up to Bald River Falls while it was pitch dark, hearing the roar of the water, and getting the thrill of watching as the sun revealed the great falls. One of my top wilderness experiences.


        Comment by Boyd Greene Fine Art — October 14, 2014 @ 5:56 am

  16. Now THAT is wilderness!


    Comment by Watching Seasons — October 17, 2014 @ 5:32 pm

  17. I’ve hiked to wanless lake several times and have never seen the lake view from lost buck pass.. Great shot! Is there a way to reach wanless lake from that trail? We are planning to hike wanless again this summer and would like to change it up as we have never been to lost buck..

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by jetlaggedinparadise — April 24, 2017 @ 9:14 am

    • I’m not sure. The map shows that the Divide trail (360) intersects with Tr 912 and that goes to Buck Lake but I don’t know what it’s like between that Lake and Wanless. Best to check with the Cabinet Ranger District (406.827.3534). They have always given me good information.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — April 24, 2017 @ 9:25 am

      • Awesome! What’s in your opinion the most scenic hike in the Cabinet Mountains that you’ve been to? We are looking for some more trails for this summer and both like taking photographs.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Micah BOWEN — April 24, 2017 @ 1:25 pm

        • I have barely started exploring this wilderness; only 7 trips so far. This hike to the Lost Buck Pass was very nice because you also see Geiger Lake and Upper Geiger Lake and can spend time on the high trail. Rock Lake is beautiful as is St Paul Lake. I don’t like to run into people on my hikes and so there are several on the east side of the wilderness that I plan to make late in the fall after most hikers have stopped for the winter. The trails on the west side receive fewer visitors and I plan several hikes there too.

          Liked by 1 person

          Comment by montucky — April 24, 2017 @ 8:27 pm

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