Montana Outdoors

May 7, 2015

Early season hiking woes

Filed under: Spring — montucky @ 8:45 pm

On my way this morning to see if a hike to Terrace Lake might be possible I encountered a seasonal road closure a few miles short of the trail head that I hadn’t thought about: closed until June 15 for protection of Grizzly bears. Hiking the extra few miles would not have been too bad, but without knowing the trail status after that, maybe not so good; later perhaps.

While in the neighborhood, a drive to the Four Lakes trail head would be good. Most of the snow was gone from the road and I made it to the trail head OK, but the trails were still snow covered, it was too late by then to start out, and I didn’t have snow shoes with me. Maybe next week if I get up there about daylight…

Four Lakes trail head

Four Lakes trail head

Four Lakes Creek

Four Lakes Creek

Cabin Lake trail

Cabin Lake trail

West Fork of Thompson River

West Fork of Thompson River

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49 Comments »

  1. Protection of grizzlies? What about protection of hikers? Or is it the same thing if you came face to face? What do grizzlies need protection from?

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    Comment by wordsfromanneli — May 7, 2015 @ 8:50 pm

    • Grizzlies, as much as or perhaps even more than, other big game species need lots of space in which to bring up their young, especially in spring as they and the cubs emerge from their winter dens and try to get started with their food stream. They are shy and do not tolerate the noise of vehicles and people well. Montana, as well as most of the American West any more does not have very large areas of true wilderness, expanses where there are 50 miles or so of wilderness in all directions. It is nearly all broken up with roads and now the the Forest Service has seen fit to allow motorcycles on so many trails, that wild country has been broken up even more. We are rapidly losing those species that need wild country space in which to live their normal lives. I expect the Grizzly to become extinct within the next two decades, and the wolf soon thereafter. The wolverine in nearly there now and would be gone except for its tolerance for the extremely cold areas. I’m not exactly a love of the great bears, but I think they deserve to have a place in our ecology, just as we do and probably more so. They are a part of the natural world and we are in opposition to it.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — May 7, 2015 @ 9:27 pm

      • Well said, Terry. I didn’t think about motorcycles and other motorized vehicles. I was thinking only of hikers.

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        Comment by wordsfromanneli — May 7, 2015 @ 9:37 pm

        • It’s a little sad, but there just aren’t that many hikers here, but very good that most of them are really good about taking care of the trails and the ecology… once you get a quarter mile up the trail.

          Liked by 1 person

          Comment by montucky — May 7, 2015 @ 10:01 pm

  2. I am going to hike in to Terrace Lake around the middle of June. I hope I can stay the night up there. If the snow is still on the road, it’s going to be pretty deep in a lot of places up higher. At least you can see what type of animals are around by their tracks in the snow. The last time I drove up Liver Ridge, which is a fork off of the West Fork of the Thompson River road, we saw a very large wolf standing in the middle of the road. I even got a picture. There was wolf sign all over the place up there. We also saw some very large bear tracks in the snow on the hike in to Goat Lake (which is a very pleasant hike BTW). Thanks for all the great pictures and information.

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    Comment by David Q — May 7, 2015 @ 9:22 pm

    • Hi David,
      The gate on the road is about 2.5 miles before the Terrace Lake trail and it should be open after June 15; it was dry all of the way to there. From what I could see, I’ll bet the road will be dry all of the way up by then and I’d even bet this year the trail to the lake will be snow-free too by then. It’s really dry!

      I like the trail to Goat Lake too. One morning I hiked up past the lakes following the tracks of a cougar who had come down through there during the night before.

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      Comment by montucky — May 7, 2015 @ 9:58 pm

    • The wolf is here
      https://www.flickr.com/photos/hawaiianbeach/15465193332/player/

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      Comment by David Q — May 7, 2015 @ 10:18 pm

      • You got a good look at that guy! I didn’t hike a lot today, but I saw no sign of either bear or wolf.

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        Comment by montucky — May 7, 2015 @ 10:49 pm

  3. Or all of my pictures: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hawaiianbeach/

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    Comment by David Q — May 7, 2015 @ 10:22 pm

  4. that looks like a trickster mountain there!

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    Comment by Harold Rhenisch — May 7, 2015 @ 10:24 pm

    • In a way. The trail to the right goes around and far above that little section of cliffs, and a trail to the left goes way up to the top of Cube Iron Peak. Both ways are beautiful, and they do interconnect after the lake. The whole area provides potential for a wonderful back country experience. One of my favorite places, although it is contained in only about 130 square miles.

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      Comment by montucky — May 7, 2015 @ 10:56 pm

  5. Can’t understand why the Forest Service allows motorcycles on the trails, Terry.

    If one is roaring down the trail on a motorised bike, how can one appreciate the beauty of the wilderness. Personally, I think you need to be on foot to use ‘foot’ trails. Surely the roar of an engine would be the worst thing possible for the wild life. It’s their country and home (not ours).

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    Comment by Vicki — May 8, 2015 @ 12:12 am

    • I agree with you, Vicki, but the “thrill machine” industry is a big and rich one, and more and more people have lost respect for our planet and have no compulsion about abusing it. The Forest Service is only a big bureaucracy and they justify destroying much of the forests because of “multiple use”, not seeming to understand that some uses are relatively benign and respect the rights of others and the sanctity of the land while others are strictly selfish and destructive to the things that others cherish.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — May 8, 2015 @ 8:14 am

      • What worries me greatly is that, if the wilderness eventually disappears (which I hope not), the whole balance of the planet will disappear too.

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        Comment by Vicki — May 9, 2015 @ 7:09 pm

        • I am very concerned about the effects of human development and exploitation on the balance of the natural world. I have seen what has happened in this area since the 1940’s and the damage is increasing at an exponential rate, especially the damage to our most vital requirement, the watershed. Seems to me the most likely result will be the extinction of our species, after which the planet will right itself again over a great deal of time.

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          Comment by montucky — May 9, 2015 @ 8:55 pm

  6. Looks like a beautiful area. Certainly a different set of challenges than we encounter in Ohio.

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    Comment by centralohionature — May 8, 2015 @ 3:30 am

    • The challenges here are things that many of us love. The diversity is amazing and things can change dramatically from day to day and place to place.

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      Comment by montucky — May 8, 2015 @ 8:17 am

  7. I could do without meeting a grizzly on the trail so I would have been thankful for the sign. It looks like you got a good bit of snow in places though.

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    Comment by New Hampshire Garden Solutions — May 8, 2015 @ 3:42 am

    • I’m not fond of the idea of a Griz encounter either, but the bears and I actually share the common goal of coexistence. To the extent that we both do our jobs, it is successful. I’ve never encountered a Grizzly on the trail.

      Yes, there’s still snow up high, but far less than normal. I’ve never before seen that road open or that little snow on the trail until late in June. A few years ago I hiked to a peak not far from there near the end of June and walked on 6 feet of packed snow all the way.

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      Comment by montucky — May 8, 2015 @ 8:23 am

  8. I read your comments about Grizzly bears. I hope they don’t become extinct! It’s sad to hear about so many wilderness areas becoming developed. I hope there are some left by the time I make it over to Montana. I would love to walk through country like this one day, and the wildlife certainly need it!

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    Comment by Jane — May 8, 2015 @ 5:01 am

    • Ironically, the development that is and has been the most damaging to the back country is logging and mining. Both create thousands of miles of roads that are devastating to the forests, breaking up necessary ecosystems and creating erosion and other problems. Poorly controlled hunting regulations also lead to the demise of our wildlife. The Indians who were native to this part of the world have always respected the earth and in the history and culture of nearly every tribe there was a common principle of “preserving and protecting the land for the 7th generation”. Most of the people who live here now are so selfish they are willing to sacrifice everything for the “here and now”.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — May 8, 2015 @ 8:32 am

  9. We have a bit of a similar issue with motorized “vehicles” on the water. Many coastal wetlands are being degraded by fishing boat motors (and sometimes jet skis, although that crowd tends to stick closer to populated areas.) There are more and more “paddling trails” being designated, where you can kayak, canoe, wade fish or use a trolling motor, but the twin Evinrudes aren’t allowed. Your third photo is splendiferous. It’s got everything: mountain, trees, snow. Even your “woes” look good to me!

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    Comment by shoreacres — May 8, 2015 @ 6:23 am

    • The “thrill machines” have taken over most of our waterways now too; any place where someone can run a jet boat or even a jet ski. Only the Indian reservation seems to do a fairly good job of controlling the boats.

      The third picture is of the start of a short trail (only 2 miles long) that goes above and past that cliff to a beautiful little lake called Cabin Lake. I would guarantee that once one has hiked to it, they will have a thirst for more and more excursions into that part of the back country. The last time I was there I got a few pictures of a Mountain Goat on those cliffs.

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      Comment by montucky — May 8, 2015 @ 8:37 am

  10. I’m glad the forest service have made some concession for the grizzlies although from what you’ve been writing it sounds like it might be too little too late, I hope not. Such beautiful country you get to hike in

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    Comment by Mike Howe — May 8, 2015 @ 9:55 am

    • The Grizzlies nearly disappeared years ago, and have been slowly brought back, but I have to wonder if they will not be destroyed once they are removed from the endangered species listing.

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      Comment by montucky — May 8, 2015 @ 7:34 pm

  11. We have the same here, a lot of areas are closed for wildlife to have some piece and quiet, especially since it is the time of year when all the small ones are introduced to the world! 🙂 We have only done one hike in the Rockies so far this spring and part of the hike I had snow up to the waist so still a bit early here as well. But we are hoping to get out here again this week:) Lovely photos! What a beautiful area you live in.

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    Comment by Girl Gone Expat — May 8, 2015 @ 10:47 am

    • Thanks for the visit. It’s hard to wait out the snow this time of year, isn’t it! Looks like we are on the verge now, and about a month early here.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — May 8, 2015 @ 7:36 pm

      • We are trying again this Sunday to see if we can find a reasonable snowless trail:)

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        Comment by Girl Gone Expat — May 9, 2015 @ 10:24 am

        • I plan to go out next week and have two possible places I’d like to try: both will likely have some snow and one will probably have down trees to contend with. The trail crews haven’t even started up yet for this summer.

          Liked by 1 person

          Comment by montucky — May 9, 2015 @ 9:00 pm

  12. Hope you’re able to hike there soon Terry – and although I fully understand you’re not keen to run into any Grizzly I’d love to see some shots;)

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    Comment by iAMsafari.com — May 9, 2015 @ 9:31 am

    • Perhaps during the coming year I will spend a day in Glacier Park and possibly see a Griz there, although I have somewhat of an aversion to the National Parks. They are more like amusement places, not wild places.

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      Comment by montucky — May 9, 2015 @ 8:59 pm

  13. I can almost hear the river running…..

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    Comment by seekraz — May 9, 2015 @ 12:41 pm

    • It sounded great! The streams are not high with snow melt this year, but the small ones at least will be able to sustain themselves through the summer, just at reduced rates.

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      Comment by montucky — May 9, 2015 @ 9:02 pm

      • I’m sure it did….and I’ve wondered about the snow melt up there, and in the SLC mountains…from what I’ve heard, the mountain-west didn’t get much snow for the season…..I’m hoping it’s enough to keep you all at least moderately safe with the fire season….

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        Comment by seekraz — May 10, 2015 @ 10:54 am

        • The snowfall seems to have been a very spotty thing this year, at least in this area. A hundred miles south of us, they had a slightly better than average year, while here and to the north a ways, far less than average. The late summer water levels in the streams are a big concern, but my opinion is that the snow pack has less impact on the fires than the weather that comes in during late summer, and much less than the actions of the brainless segment of our species and human-caused fires.

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          Comment by montucky — May 10, 2015 @ 8:05 pm

          • That all makes sense…lightning strikes, scorching temps, and irresponsible people. Hopefully we’ll have less of those…..

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            Comment by seekraz — May 12, 2015 @ 7:25 am

  14. Hi Montucky, For the protection of people as much as the bears! Sorry you had limited hiking opportunities in that area. Your pictures of the streams are lovely! Have a great coming week!

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    Comment by wildlifewatcher — May 11, 2015 @ 7:39 am

    • Thanks wildlifewatcher. I will get a hike in somewhere in that area in the next few days and the snow won’t last forever! Have a great week too!

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      Comment by montucky — May 11, 2015 @ 7:53 pm

  15. I’m always glad when wildlife is protected from humankind. We should do more.

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    Comment by Candace — May 12, 2015 @ 8:57 pm

    • We should do a lot more. The really sad thing is that it takes laws or regulations to protect and conserve wildlife these days, when that should be a normal and reasonable response from the public without having to be legislated. I am a hunter, but there are several species that I will not hunt because there are just not enough of them around any more, for example, moose and sheep. The so-called “hunters” in Montana are screaming incessantly to have every wolf in the state killed because of their effect on the elk population, when the real threat to the elk species is the hunters themselves. Wolves kill the sick and the weak , and of course the young too, but hunters kill the biggest and the best that should be passing their genes on to future generations, taking them out of the gene pool and resulting in a degradation of the entire species. I wonder whatever happened to personal initiative, integrity and responsibility.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — May 12, 2015 @ 9:21 pm

      • I know, I hate how we rationalize everything so we can do what we want. Locally here at the various lakes, the fishermen leave their line and hooks laying around or in the water. So many waterfowl are injured or killed and can’t be rescued by the local rescue groups because they can still fly. How hard is it for fishermen to just pick up their line and properly dispose of it?

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        Comment by Candace — May 12, 2015 @ 9:25 pm

        • We have that here too. There are severe defects in our species.

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          Comment by montucky — May 12, 2015 @ 9:41 pm

  16. Real “primeval forest”. Here it sometimes seems that animals are protected more than human being.

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    Comment by Sartenada — May 13, 2015 @ 12:57 am

    • I suppose, taking root in the colonial days, America has always been a country of exploitation, of the forests, minerals and animal life, all of which are becoming depleted. Over the 70+ years of my experience, I have seen the decline in the numbers of wild animals and it is disheartening. Some have been killed for food, more killed for trophies, and far too many have been killed just to kill something.

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      Comment by montucky — May 13, 2015 @ 8:11 am

  17. What a beautiful place. Your photos are lovely.

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    Comment by Sara — May 15, 2015 @ 8:10 am

    • Thank you Sara. That is indeed a pretty part of Montana’s back country.

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      Comment by montucky — May 15, 2015 @ 7:16 pm

  18. Beautiful images Terry !!

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    Comment by Bernie Kasper — June 3, 2015 @ 11:44 am


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