Yesterday was a bit of wash of a day. The weather was improving and Laura really wanted to do the hike up to Avalanche lake. However, it rained hard all night and it was quite cold in the morning. The rest of us voted to wait a day for it warm up a bit. This bummed Laura out.

Since all of us had some cabin fever and the hike got voted down, we gathered up a bunch of gear and went down to the lake to fish and tool about. Sadly, the wind came up and we got blown out pretty quickly. So back to cabin. I did a ride around the ranch in the afternoon, but mostly it was a pretty boring day. I guess life can’t always be a party.

Nice view from the bike and not too much smoke!

Today the weather was much better although the smoke had moved back in. Bummer. We had our coffee and got on the road about 8 am and headed over to the trailhead. The hike is about 12 miles round trip with 2400′ of elevation gain — not killer, but definitely not easy.

Start of the hike

It was pretty hazy from the smoke, but it was definitely better tucked back in the mountains. We headed up the trail and I wanted to try to work on some photos of all the gorgeous berries and the start of the fall colors.

I had a number of technical issues with the camera, the main one being that I hadn’t reformatted the memory card, so the camera thought it was full. I tried a few workarounds, but to no avail. Only choice was to reformat and lose what I had shot already. Bummer.

The trail followed along the side of a steep canyon with lots of avalanche chutes. It left me wondering why the lake got the name that it did. A few of places were pretty narrow and exposed but not too bad. I don’t think Susanne was overly amused by them.

A few narrow exposed places on the trail

I tried to get a some photos of the berries and cool colors, but I spent a lot of time racing to catch up with the group. This is just not the environment to lag too far behind on your own, lest you get a close-up shot of grizzly bear.

Cool fall colors
Thimble berries, yummy!
Mountain cherries — very poisonous
Beautiful color on the wood

As we climbed, the surrounding peaks started to come into to view. They were gorgeous despite the constant haze from the smoke. The last bit of the climb was quite steep and we fell a bit behind Laura and Frank. Sadie, being the good Border Collie that she is, kept racing back and forth between us to make sure that the pack was all staying together. It was very cute.

Upper basin. Getting close to the lake!

We got to the lake and found a nice place to have lunch while Frank, always the diligent gilly, set us up for fishing. Susanne has really never fly fished before other than just a couple of times learning to cast. Frank set her up and gave her some pointers and she worked on casting her Parachute Adams. It was amazing how good she was! Gorgeous-looking casts with wonderful form — a natural. Right away she got a fish on the line.

First wild trout!

Although Frank is a wonderful teacher for fly fishing, he hadn’t expected Susanne to catch a fish so quickly, so had not progressed from chapter 1, “How to Cast,” into chapter 2 “What to do when you hook a fish.” Susanne gamely tried to reel the fish in, but that was bit slow and the fish got away.

A quick briefing on chapter 2 ensued and she cast her fly back into the water. Right away, she had another fish on the line and this time ended up successfully catching her first wild trout! Bravo! We were all excited…even the dogs.

The fishing was a bit slow, but everyone caught a few. The dogs caught some rays and enjoyed the sun while we fished.

Sadie enjoying the sun
Hank, the amazing maltipoo

Hank is an amazing dog. Weird, a bit of a terrorist, but amazing none the less. He has to be the most fit Maltipoo on the planet. With those tiny little legs, he effortlessly hikes 10, 12, 15 miles. I watched him jump up on a log that was 3′ above him. But if thunder is heard…the world comes to an end.

We wrapped up our fishing, packed up and headed back down. All the hikes in Montana are long. Unlike Colorado where the mountains are very approachable and you start the hike much closer to the destination, all of these have long approaches and end up being 10 to 15 miles.

By the time we got back to car, our feet were sore and we were all dreaming of a glass of wine on the deck. A great day.

Weird minerals that I should know what they are, but I don’t
Indian Paintbrush
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