Perhaps the most notable aspect of this hike is what occurred AFTER our jaunt - on August 10, lightning ignited a forest fire later named the Sprague Fire. Ultimately, flames consumed sections of the very paths we had trod. But let me start from the beginning.
The trail hugs Snyder Creek for a couple of miles, climbing steadily through dense forests, with cedars, hemlocks and larches of the lower elevations giving way to white pines and Douglas firs.
|Birds-eye view of Snyder Creek; decimated in September by raging flames|
Fire crept close to left-hand side
of this bridge
The last mile winds through a mossy forest to the lake. Did you know that two trees rubbing together can sound a lot like a grizzly? I became Snow White in the scene when she is lost in the wood and imagines monsters with creepy eyes, and willow branches that snatch at her clothes. Bear spray in hand and senses on high alert, we finally relaxed when we arrived at the lake with no bear in sight. (On the return, we heard the same sound and had a good laugh at ourselves!)
|Fish Lake, looking north|
|Fish Lake, looking west; forest at west end of lake was consumed in the fire|
Perhaps the depth of the forest explains the quantity of beaver chomping near the lake, although a lodge was not visible. Given the fire, I wonder about the fortunes of the beaver and other wildlife in the vicinity.
Spousal Unit and Number One Son (#1S) tried their hands at fishing (it IS called FISH Lake), with no luck. Perhaps the cold front that had passed through the night before put the trout off their appetites. A few snow flakes (more akin to miniscule ice balls) fell during our time at the lake. We had not planned for frigid temperatures; the forecast earlier in the week called for better weather. Memo to us!
As we returned to the trail head, we met a crew clearing the 'ditches' designed to drain water off the trail. Looking closely in one, we spied a frog that we later identified as a Pacific Chorus Frog.
To top off our day, we popped in to Lake McDonald Lodge, a short walk from the trail head. The historic lodge is a 3 1/2-story structure built in 1913; in 1987 it was designated a National Historic Landmark as one of the nation's finest examples of large-scale Swiss chalet architecture. The lobby is a large, open space that extends to the third story. A massive fireplace anchors one side of the lobby, with its concrete floor scored in a flagstone pattern and inscribed with messages in several American Indian languages.
Clockwise from left: chandelier in lobby; huckleberry lemonade; Jammer touring bus; Salmon pate platter;
public jigsaw puzzle in the lobby; flowers on back patio