I doubt you, the reader, cares about our injuries, but if not for them, we wouldn't have gone on a backpacking trip together last weekend. And this brings me to another interesting part of the story. I was trying to decide between a trip in the Scapegoat or the Bitterroot and was at the Missoula Public Library printing out maps for both when Ben Horan (one of those handful of Missoula people our lives are intertwined with in various ways) stopped in to print out a map himself. Here was our conversation:
"What trip are you doing?" I asked.
"We're running across the Pintlers from West Fork Fishtrap Creek to Storm Lake."
"Awesome! How are you doing the shuttle?"
"We're driving two cars to Storm Lake, leaving one, and then driving the other to West Fork Fishtrap Creek Trailhead."
I saw an opportunity immediately. "How about we do a car swap instead: we'll leave our car at Storm Lake, you come and get it, leave your car and drive ours to West Fork Fishtrap Creek?"
"That would work," Ben replied.
And that's what we did. I had been dreaming of crossing the Pintlers for years, and the trip was around 28 miles, so I figured Jen and I could take four days and do it at a mellow pace, injuries and all. As it turned out, we put in a long second day, wanting to camp at a lake on the second night, and did it in three. Although we were sore as hell at the end of the trip, we both wondered if we could have done our planned excursions after all (my backpack with Dave and her Butte 50). Also, our kids were both gone, leaving us feeling like empty nesters. So although the trip was great, there was a bittersweet aspect as well.
We left Missoula pretty late on Friday, not reaching Storm Lake until around 5pm. We quickly hit the trail, hiked up and over Storm Lake Pass to the Continental Divide Trail (CDT), then south down to Page Lake.
|Jen at Storm Lake Pass, Little Rainbow Mtn behind.|
|Goat Flat looking North|
|Goat Flat, looking south.|
|Goat Flat looking west, Bitterroots in the distance.|
|Heading down to Page Lake|
|a moment in time captured for ever|
|Setting up the tent at Page Lake.|
The next lake south along the CDT after Page Lake (and it's neighbor Flower Lake) is Warren Lake, which I'd heard is a fantastic place. Unfortunately, it required a 13 mile day to get to from Page. When I do my trip with Dave Sumner, 13 mile days are the norm, but I figured we'd be doing 7 or so miles per day on this trip. However, Jen and I are fit and our injuries didn't flair up, so we went the whole way, at an even pace, starting at 9am and finishing at Warren Lake at 7pm, a long day on the trail by any measure. The hike was fantastic; we traveled through some amazing country, going over two passes and up a third to Warren Lake.
|We passed a ton of avalanche debri|
|First pass, day 2, looking back at Goat Flat, Little Rainbow, and Tiny Mtn.|
|Looking the opposite direction, toward the end of the trail|
|And yet another shot from the pass, Queener Mtn, on my peak bagging list.|
|Yet another crazy beargrass experience in the Pintler|
|At the top of the second pass of the day, Cutaway, looking at West Goat Pk, the tallest in the Pintler|
|And finally, at the end of a long day, Warren Lake.|
|Freeze dried food, more expensive than going out to eat.|
|Just in time for a swim.|
|Pudge was worked after the long day.|
|Camp fire to keep the bugs away -- they were pretty bad at Warren.|
On day 3, it was a 9 mile hike out to the car, all down hill. We figured it would be the easy day, but this was the hard one for us. Our injuries flared and we made slow progress. Also, not many pictures. The last miles of the trip were neat: marshy meadows, lodge pole pine, and even some sage brush high prairie.
It was a great trip: time with Jen, time in awesome country, covering ground, hard physical exertion, seeing new places, as good as it gets.
|Morning shot by Jen|
|another, reflection only|
|on the trail, day 3|
|driving home, West Goat, I think (?)|
|Looking up near Upper Seymour and Storm Lakes, I think (?)|