|Mark Hertenstein atop Lake Mountain in the Scapegoat Wilderness|
We usually are.
There's snow, but up high and too little.
So, Saturday we opted for a hike and scrambled up Lake Mountain in the Scapegoat Wilderness Area north of Ovando in the Lolo National Forest, gaining some 3,600 feet over 10 miles on a great Forest Service Trail that begins at the North Fork Trailhead site.
The peak appears to the the site of a former fire lookout.
It was overcast and cool when we started ---- 27 degrees. When we reached the top of this 8,351 feet mountain, I could swear that it was much colder and we didn't linger much to savor the views.
|Larch still had their needles|
The larch still haven't lost their needles, although they have changed their color from golden to a rust brown. Where the needles of this deciduous pine-looking trees have fallen, the ground looks like a yellow carpet.
The snow is at the 7,500 feet level and provides a beautiful mantle to the high ridge lines.
We were worried that we would find many hunters making their way into the Bob Marshall and Scapegoat wilderness areas whose boundaries meet here.
Instead, we found two horse trailers and only one car in the ample parking lot and didn't see a single person the entire day.
Using caution, we dressed in hunter orange to prevent being mistaken for hunter prey
This area burned pretty thoroughly in 1988 during the historic Canyon Creek fire, but in many spots has returned, although there is evidence of the conflagration.
|Lake Mountain from below|
|Looking south and east from on top. That ribbon of water is North Fork Blackfoot|
|Approaching the top|
All this did was pique my curiosity and desire to get back into this country, particularly into the Danaher, the headwaters of the South Fork Flathead, the Scapegoat/Flint/Observation basin.
|The blue line is our route; the red, the Scapegoat boundary|