Montana Outdoors

August 4, 2012

Pear Lake, Blossom Lakes ~ Evan’s Gulch Roadless Area (5)

Filed under: Evans Gulch roadless area — Tags: , — montucky @ 11:17 pm

In northwest Montana, tucked in right next to the Idaho border, there is a small roadless area of only 8,059 acres called the Evan’s Gulch Roadless Area and in the northwest part of it there are three lakes fairly close together and connected by one trail; Blossom Lake, Upper Blossom Lake and Pear Lake (which, by the way, is shaped exactly like a pear).

The trail head for these lakes is located at Thompson Pass which is right on the Montana – Idaho border on Highway 471 (also called Forest Road 7 by the Forest Service) about 20 miles west of the small town of Thompson Falls. Thompson Falls is 100 miles northwest of Missoula on State Highway 200.

Of the three, Blossom Lake is the largest and the closest to the trail head. It gets quite a few visitors who are usually quite tired by the time they hike the approximately three miles to it (the trail has a lot of “up” to it) and so the other lakes farther up the trail get very few.

Following are a few photos of Blossom Lake taken on July 23, 2012.

Blossom Lake

Blossom Lake

Blossom Lake

Blossom Lake

(A small stand of bear grass in bloom on the far slope just above the lake)

Blossom Lake

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July 23, 2012

Pear Lake, Blossom Lakes ~ Evan’s Gulch Roadless Area (1)

For many years I have found it to be true that one of the best parts of an outdoor experience is the night before it starts, and last night’s stay at the Blossom Lakes trail head before today’s hike to Blossom Lakes and Pear Lake in the Evan’s Gulch Roadless Area was not an exception.

Sunset

Sunset from the Montana/Idaho line

Today’s trip was one of those “150 photo” trips and this is the first of a series of posts about the trip and that area of western Montana.

September 1, 2011

Blossom Lake

Filed under: Evans Gulch roadless area — Tags: , — montucky @ 10:17 pm

Blossom Lake

Blossom Lake

Blossom Lake sits in a basin in the Evans Gulch Roadless area just on the Montana side of the Idaho/Montana border at an elevation of 5668 feet. It can be accessed by a hike of about 3 miles (with a bit of “up” to it) on U.S.F.S. Trail 522 from the trail head at Thompson Pass, about 22 miles west of Thompson Falls Montana on highway Mt-471.

Map

July 19, 2009

Evans Gulch roadless area; the flowers.

Perhaps these Subalpine Spirea which grow along its shore right up to the water had something to do with giving Blossom Lake its name.

Subalpine spirea, Rose meadowsweet

Subalpine Spirea, Rose Meadowsweet
Spiraea splendens

Two inches above the sand and about the same distance from the water, these tiny white violets were in full bloom.

Small white violet

Small White Violet
Viola macloskeyi

Along the trail, not far from the trail head, these Pink Wintergreens were blooming in large numbers.

Pink Wintergreen

Pink Wintergreen,
Pyrola asarifolia

Although they finished blooming at lower elevations over a month ago, the Springbeauties were in bloom along the trail.

Alpine Springbeauty

Alpine Springbeauty
Claytonia megarhiza

Another pretty flower, the Jacob’s Ladder, concluded its blooming season two months ago in the valleys, but was flowering in abundance along the trail near the lake.

Showy Jacob's Ladder

Showy Jacob’s Ladder,
Polemonium pulcherrimum

The tiny (1/8 inch) blossoms of the Foamflower which are suspended in big groups on its 6-inch stalks do present the look of ocean foam dancing on the sea of green in little patches of the hillside.

One-leaved foamflower

One-leaved foamflower

One-leaved foamflower,
Tiarella unifoliata

Come to think of it, maybe more than the Spirea had an influence on the naming of Blossom Lake.

(Evans Gulch roadless area is only about 8,000 acres and is located in the Coeur d’Alene Mountains of western Montana.)

September 16, 2008

Chipmunk Creek trail

Yesterday we sawed out (cleared) USFS trail 688 through the bottom of Chipmunk Creek, which is another beautiful, clear and cold little stream that flows north from the CC Divide down into Prospect Creek and then east to the Clark Fork River near the town of Thompson Falls.

The lower part of Chipmunk Creek

Chipmunk Creek

The trail, while it is very pleasant to hike, stays well below the high ridges on either side, and I didn’t take many photos of the trail itself. However, I thought the base and roots of this large cedar were noteworthy, especially where it grew quite around a large rock.

Cedar tree

Because the trail was short and the blow-downs were all small, we cleared the trail by about noon and spent the rest of the day checking on trailheads from Chipmunk Creek on west to Thompson Pass at the Idaho border. Along the border, just barely on the Montana side is the CC Divide trail USFS 404 as it emerges from the back country and crosses the road right at the state line. The two mile section just to the southwest of the border is a gentle trail that gets a fair amount of traffic because it leads to Blossom Lake.

Trail 404 to Blossom Lake

Trail 404 to Blossom Lake

In the above photo, to the right of the trail, you can see the remains of a diversion ditch approximately four feet wide and four feet deep which was dug by Chinese laborers in 1883 to transport water across the state line from Blossom Lake over Thompson Pass to mining operations in Murray Idaho. Apparently it was never used however, because the dam at the mouth of Blossom Lake broke in 1887.

As this sign on trail 404 just off the highway points out, this area is habitat for Canadian Lynx, one of the rarest animals in the mountains of Idaho and Montana.

Canada Lynx habitat

From the continuation of trail 404 as it proceeds northeast of the highway, if you look back toward the northwest, you can look over the border, into the Idaho Panhandle National Forest and the Idaho mountains in the direction of Spokane Washington.

Northwest from Thompson Pass into Idaho

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