Around our house, the snow has long since fed the roots of trees and plants, and the ice left the lake mid-April. The sun caressing my arms and the green brightening the hillsides brings on the itch to go to the mountains and HIKE! Of course, with three years of Montana hiking notched in our belts, we know that even in early June, snow can still be deep at higher elevations. So, we consult my hiking journal, pore over our maps, and manage our expectations of what we may find! In this post, I will feature photos from four hikes, all completed in May or early June, including our latest adventure on Thursday of this week. Enjoy!
On June 7, 2018, we were joined by the couple who built our house. It was a unique day because we racked up not one but TWO hikes. The first, to Stanton Lake, is a short four miles out and back with minimal elevation gain. The outstanding feature of this lake is the view of Great Northern Mountain at the west end.
As I noted in my journal - "lake was very calm - great for reflections." The picture below was taken looking to the east, toward Glacier National Park.
I also wrote that "mosquitoes were troublesome when standing still", which may explain why there were no other photos from this hike!
Next, we went to Marion Lake, 6 miles out and back. On the lower part of the trail, trillium, spring beauty, and stream violets were blooming.Further up, the ground was deep in snow; we estimated up to six feet based on the tree wells (the space around a tree under its branches that does not get the same amount of snow as the surrounding open space). Although the trail was undiscernible, we made our way successfully to the lake because we had hiked this trail before in October 2017! Only the outlet to the lake flowed free of ice.
On May 17, 2021, Spousal Unit and I repeated the Stanton Lake hike - we knew the lake would be open so that he could fish. I brought reading material and a fold-up camp chair - we both would be happy!!! And there were no mosquitoes. Maybe I had more time to take photos - hence more flowers - or maybe timing our hike three weeks earlier meant these flowers were in bloom. Whatever - I was thrilled to see my absolute favorite plant - the Fairy Slipper (Calypso) Orchid!
And the reflections were still as good!
this post). As you will see, the lakes are free of ice and snow early in the season, and Finger Lake in particular has good fishing, too! Many flowers were in full bloom. What more could a couple want?
Finger Lake has a dramatic rocky outcropping which makes a great snack spot/overlook. Serviceberry was prolific.
The trail to Hole in the Wall, the third lake, leads through a marshy area, and thankfully a log boardwalk was built in 2015 to get over it with dry feet. As you approach, you can detect a skunk aroma emanating from the abundant skunk cabbage in the marsh.
And now to our latest hiking adventure, Bramlet Lake in the Cabinet Mountains! Yes, there was snow, and maybe a little bit of ice. And maybe Man with Hat did not get to fish -- but we saw no-one, and we were in the mountains, living our dream. It doesn't get any better than that!