My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Weekend Adventures Part II: A Marvelous Hike, Even Without a Glimpse of Albro Lake

June 7

I pulled into the trailhead for Willow Creek Trail and immediately was drawn to the sound of rushing water. Even before I got my stuff together, I had to go check out the stream making all the water music.

My first view of Willow Creek from the bridge 

Soon I was checking that I had all my stuff for the day - water, snacks, hat, GPS, camera, extra battery, walking sticks.  I started off in a jacket but it wasn't long before I had to take it off  and before 10:00 A.M., I had to convert my pants to shorts.  The hike went up along Willow Creek for about a mile and a half. The creek was mostly out of sight but the sound was always fortissimo. When I could see it, the water was leaping, boiling, and spraying as it roared down the creek bed.

View near the beginning of the trail

Balsamroot flowers glowed in the early sunlight

View upstream on Willow Creek at one of the few viewing points

Yellow glacier lillies made groundcovers beneath the trees

Close view of yellow glacial lily

Shooting stars

I think this is a uinta chipmunk checking me out

Finally I turned and crossed the creek, following a new trail to Albro Lake, my planned destination. The sign said it was four miles away. After climbing through more forest, and sometimes up very rocky areas, I came to an beautiful meadow, filled with flowers, abuzz with bees and with long views to other mountains, some still snow-covered.

Yodelers  definitely seemed called for here - but alas they were missing - but it should have sounded something like this

View to mountains

Closer look at wildflowers

Bumblebees, as well as smaller bees, were frantically gathering pollen

Another view

Then I reached the far side of the mountain meadow and descended through a mix of forest and meadows. I crossed a couple of streams and passed one area of huge rocky outcropping. Then I came to a series of signs and found the sign for Albro Lake and turned off the two-track trail onto a one track that was decending.

Rocky outcropping

Some streams were also the path

Clark's Nutcracker - one of a pair

Trail along a mix of trees and meadow

Amazing "wall" of stone a long way down in the valley

I continued to cross streams - think I got to five until I reached a really big one with no way to cross without getting wet. That is where I decided to turn back.  The next stream back was only about a quarter of a mile away.  Right after I crossed that, I met the only people I saw all day - three dirt bike riders.

Another stream - this is where I decided not to keep going and try to cross this

One of dirt bike riders crossing a stream

Mushrooms glowing in the evening sun

But where, you say, is the lake?  When I climbed back up from going mostly downhill, and crossing 4 streams, I checked the signs again.  I should NOT have turned on the single track, but stayed on the double track for another mile. However, by the time I figured this out, I just hoped to be able to do another three plus miles and make it back to the car.

Another beautiful mix of wildflowers

Down around the curve will be the trailhead - I'm saved

I hiked this trail in record time - for the slowest time ever.  I did around eleven miles in 11 hours.  I was totally not in shape for all the elevation changes.  Of course, I spent  almost half the time stopping to take pictures, and chase birds, butterflies, and bees.  I was tired for two more days - probably also due to the fact that I slept about 4 hours a night for three days straight.  I drove from the trailhead to my campground, about an hour away, stopping only for supper in Ennis, and barely got my tent up  and my sleeping pad aired up before crashing.  I had to get up at 4:00 A.M. and break camp so I could do a dove survey, so I barely got home, around noon, before I went to bed again.  But this hike was so worth the effort.

This is coming out on June 21. Happy Summer Solstice Day. Hope you take the time to get out and enjoy nature.  I'm planning to work in my garden and take a hike.