14 August 2008

Diller Lake, Pintler Wilderness Backpacking

Most every day -- whether at home or work -- I look over toward our backyard wilderness, the Pintler, and imagine myself there. Life in Butte America is good knowing that Montana is just 15 minutes away.

My daughter Emily Munday is home for a few weeks and wanted to visit her favorite spot in the Pintler: Ennea Odoi Lake (you mythology fans will figure it out) in the heart of the wilderness. There are nine routes out of this lake that lead to interesting places just a day hike away, such as peaks and other lakes. It is a lovely place, Ennea Odoi Lake:

We started out with Don and Andrea Stierle:

And here's a pic of Emily Munday with Chooka (DnA's faithful pack dog) and RTD:

Dave and Chelsea Carter got an earlier start and met us a quarter-mile from the lake, where they prepared a fantastic supper (thick cut pork chops and baked potatoes on a backpack trip!):

I'm glad we are very careful and hang all of our food at night. There be bears about:

The areas was heavily glaciated not so long ago. Along with the granite and limestone, you run into interesting glacial erratics. Norman Maclean, in A River Runs Through It, writes about, "...rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs." Here are some timeless ripples, wave packets of a message from long ago:

Some of the messages from the past are more frivolous, perhaps, such as this puddingstone or conglomerate erratic:

The air was cool when we arrived, but what boy and his dog can resist a swim in an ice cold lake?

Or what maids, for that matter?

I think Chelsea is saying "It's cold!," though not with those exact words:

That evening, some big cutthroats were feeding on spruce moths and emerging caddis. Here's Emily just before the big one that got away took the fly and broke the tippet:

The next day we hiked over to nearby Pan Lake. This place was great fishing a few years ago, but like Warren seems to have frozen out and is now fishless. Good for the mayflies:

And if one cannot fish, there's always swimming:

RTD was once a great swimmer of lakes. Now the old dog watches from the top of the cliff:

Pan Lake has interesting geology, too, such as this vein of white rippling throught some underwater rock:

Flowers are bloomin' and bees are buzzin'. The humblebees seem especially fond of the Tall Larkspur (Dephinium occidentale):

Humblebees also love the native Elk Thistle (Cirsium scariosum):

Whereas butterflies, like this Painted Lady, prefer Groundsel (Senecio sp.):

Butterflies don't spend all their time feeding. These Fritillaries (not sure what species) are busy making little copies of themselves:

Along Ennea Odoi Lake, there are several patches of splendid, incredibly beautiful Subalpine Spiraea (Spiraera splendens):

And the wonderful herbal tea plant, Mountain Gentian (Gentiana calycosa):

In the meadows, along with the Tall Larkspur, the Mountain Death Camas (Camas Zigadenus elegans) is abundant as well as elegant (and deadly):

In the wetter areas, the False Hellebore (Veratrum viride? there seem to be several varieties or species) is in bloom:

In drier areas, the tiny flowers of Selfheal(Prunella vulgaris), a great herbal as the common name implies, call out to you:

It's late August and time is running out for pollination, and for fruiting fungus too, as this Puffball "knows:"

And this Coral Fungus, too:

Aptly named, as this close-up shows:

Elk hunting season is not far off, as I was reminded by the frequent sign and smell (the early morning meadows literally reeked of elk). There is some incredibly good elk habitat in this area:

As a group we talk a lot on the trail, which cuts down a lot on game sightings. On the other hand, the birds don't seem to mind, and Don & Andrea pointed out the hummingbirds and the many species of siskins and sparrows and grosbeaks etc. It was a pleasant three days, and all too soon we returned to the trailhead, chilled six-pack hidden in the nearby creek, and ice cream on the way home at the Anaconda Dairy Queen.

Life is sweet during the brief Montana summer.


Professor said...

What a great post! The trip sounds delightful and the pictures are gorgeous!

Lamnidae said...

I'm thinking about checking out the grayling in Fuse Lake in the Skalkaho this weekend. I'll be crossing my fingers that it hasn't befallen the same fate as Warren and Pan.

troutbirder said...

Thanks for the hike, the fishing and the flowers. Enjoyable as always. Summer in Montana. Wish I could be there

EcoRover said...

Lamnidae, only the higher elevation lakes seem to have suffered. Mussigbrod (which I refer to in my blog as “Dr. Anaconda” Lake) still has many, many grayling, as does Agnes Lake (above Browns Lake). I'm figuring casual readers don't check out the comments--don't want to be a "kiss & tell" angler!

Stu said...

It was a pleasure meeting you at Ennea Odoi Lake. Remember, I was the guy with the dog that looks like a coyote. Her name is Lucy and she's one of the best backpacking dogs ever as well as my bear alert. As the Pintlers are my favorite range I'm sure I'll run into you again. One of these days I'll be asking you for more specific directions to Lost Lakes and Hicks Lake.

EcoRover said...

Hi Stu, good to hear from you. I do a lot of solitary backpacking, but not really solitary with RTD. She's 12 and this might be her last year, though.

I'd be happy to talk with you about some of the superb off-trail places to go in the Pintler. I used to be very secretive about them (and still am, in a public forum like this), but I like the oral culture of outdoors-people and after all, people who will make the effort to visit such places are also people who will stand up to protect wilderness and nature.

Kathleen said...

What a beautiful place. Of course, I love the plant photos, especially that false hellebore! wow! Gorgeous.

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