Montana’s far southwest is dominated by the Bitterroot Range, into whose river valley we drove. Past Darby we went (great burgers at the saloon btw), where Lewis and Clark celebrated America’s 30th birthday, and along to Painted Rocks Lake, formed by the dammed West Fork.
Our campground on Painted Rocks Lake was down Slate Creek, in an isolated pocket of quaking aspens just beginning to turn, with bugling elks scaring the bejeezus out of Denver and a nice bench carved out with our initial (not our doing – I swear!).
Scared up a cutthroat dinner from the inflow of Boulder Creek (there’s a lot of Boulder Creeks in MT) into the drawn-down lake. Beautiful in its own right.
After two days in our holler, we moved down the road to Sam Billings Campground, right at the doorstep of the Boulder Lake trailhead. This is the downstream view of (yet another) Boulder Creek as we ate our lunch on the way up to the falls.
Peaks peek through the aspens on our way up the 5 mile, 1200′ elevation to the falls.
The stream careens across slickrock before funneling down a 100′ drop to thunder down the valley we’d just hiked up.
The flow from below.
The next day found us enjoying breathtaking views while driving up a narrow path that hugged the mountain as we climbed over 3ooo’ feet from the valley floor. Destination was a trailhead that would take us up another 2 miles and 1000′ to Baker Lake to do some-what else-fishing!
The colors of the understory reminded us that Fall is falling as we drove through a series of controlled burns on the mountainside.
After we attained the elevation on the trail, this view east greeted us.
High mountain meadows were thick with spruce and larch trees, just turning.
Our reward was a small cirque glacier lake, as pretty as it was fruitful, as we took a trout dinner home that night for a cookout over the campfire.