We are happy that we made it to Montana. Yeah! The smoke is building and it is quite hot. Boooooo. I was angsting about what to do if the smoke kept getting worse as I didn’t want a repeat of last year which was just absolutely miserable. The smoke plume seems to be covering about 1/4 of the world right now and the heat dome is about all of the Pacific Northwest. Almost every possibility requires a 12 to 14 hour drive, and I was not thrilled by that prospect.

Smoky sunrise, Madison Valley, Montana

After some reflection and a review of the weather forecast we decided it was worth sticking it out at least until the cold front came so that we could see if that would improve things. At the very least it would open up a great number of places in Nevada for boondocking. Being in the trailer off the grid in 95 degree heat is not pleasant, so the prospect of 70’s boosted my spirits.

Laura wanted to do a hard hike up to a lake called Sheep Lake. It is about 12 miles round trip with 2500′ of elevation gain. It was supposed get up to 93 degrees, so we got a pretty early start at 7:00 am to avoid the worst of the heat.

The hike profile

It is always a bit intimidating hiking in grizzly bear territory and the Madison Range is definitely a place with a lot of grizzlies. That said, with the four people and three dogs, it was extremely unlikely that we would have an issue.

We made noise as we went and there was not trouble. I think we were all glad for that. Laura and Frank had encountered a Grizzly on this trail once before, so our caution seemed justified.

It took us about 3 hrs to hike up to the lake. It was really a beautiful trail and the smoke wasn’t too bad which was nice. We were all glad that we started early, because it was quite pleasant at that high altitude.

Frank set us up for fishing. He is a world class gilly. He warned me to watch my backcast as it was pretty tight getting a good toss into the lake. The first cast I failed to heed this advice and promptly put a fly into a dead spruce. Doh! Things went a bit better after that. Laura caught all kinds of fish! She has become a fishing master.

Happy fisherperson

We hung around the lake enjoying the fishing and nice weather. I didn’t catch many, but enjoyed getting back out. Before we packed up, I decided to go for a swim. I didn’t really test how cold the water was for fear I wouldn’t get in. I stripped down and perched on a rock and got ready to dive in. I finally got up the nerve and did. Woooohhooooo! It was cold, but not quite as bad as I thought. It was refreshing and made me feel better considering how hot the hike down was going to be.

On the way down, the thunderstorms started to build around us and the sound of thunder sent poor Hankie (Laura’s Maltipoo) into a state of terror. Poor Frank had to carry him down the last 3 miles of the mountain. Poor guy….both Hankie and Frankie.

We got home, exhausted but glad we had a chance to do such a great hike. It did feel good to rest the feet in a chair with a nice glass of wine.

Sadie enjoying the cool mountain water of Sheep Lake
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