Montana Outdoors

September 14, 2012

Evans Lake (2) – The Lake

While studying the USFS map prior to a previous hike to Blossom Lakes and Pear Lake in the Evans Gulch Roadless Area, I also studied the area around Evans Lake which sits just below the high ridge separating Idaho and Montana a few miles east of Pear Lake and made a mental note that I would like to go there some time. Not long after, a hiking friend mentioned it as a possible trip and I jumped at it.

Evans Lake Trail head

August 15, 2012 USFS Trail 696. Elevation at trail head ~ 3500 ft. Elevation at Evans Lake 5500 ft.

For the most part the day was dark and the forest was dark and therefore I didn’t take pictures along the trail even though it is a beautiful trail with some very nice switchbacks just before the lake. I had been cleared recently, but I think by an outfitter because he cut his initials on some of the larger cuts with his chain saw.

Like so many of the mountain lakes in this area the first views of them from the trail are from above.

Evans Lake

Evans Lake

Evans Lake

Evans Lake

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Evans Lake

Evans Lake

Evans Lake

Evans Lake

September 13, 2012

Evans Lake (1)

On August 15th a friend and I hiked to Evans Lake in the Evans Lake Roadless Area, and a half mile or so above the trail head came across this old Cedar stump which still stands as a lonely and rather obscure piece of the history of the area. Its girth is around four feet and the springboard notches in it can still easily be seen. (Loggers in those days cut springboard notches into which they could insert springboards which then could be used as platforms, allowing the loggers to stand and use their cross-cut saws to cut higher-up the base of the tree where the trunk is narrower.)

Cedar stump

In the later part of the 1800’s gold strikes in the Coeur d’Alene Mountains of eastern Idaho were attracting miners from all over the west. In 1883-1884 a road was built up Prospect Creek from the present day town of Thompson Falls Montana which sits beside the Clark Fork of the Columbia River to the foot of the Montana-Idaho divide as access to those Idaho mines. Along that road at Evans Creek, a way-station called Mountain House was built to accommodate those who travelled that road, but it burned in the late 1880s and was not rebuilt. My guess is that this tree was cut and used in the building of that house.

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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