Trailhead: S. Fork Teton/Headquarters Pass
Length 8.25 m
Elevation gain: 2650 (5,800 – 8450)
The other day I realized I hadn’t been up to Our Lake (AKA Hidden Lake) since I was little. For those who aren’t familiar with the Rocky Mountain Front, Our Lake is the only alpine lake in the Bob Marshall Wilderness and arguably one of the most hiked since it is a fairly short drive (30 miles from Choteau) and short hike (3.5 miles one way).
Itching to get to the mountains, I decided to sashay westward after finishing my hour-long CrossFit methods workout at Eastside Fitness (shameless shout out: if you are in the area and want a good sweat session, hit them up!). A roast beef sandwich for lunch and a chocolate doughnut with chocolate glaze for pregame, and I was on the trail.
Beargrass is arriving its peak season, and I proceeded to take way too many photos of what some call the “boob flower” (if you can’t see why then you have obviously not been around enough adolescent boys). I will say my frequent stops were for photo ops, but, truth be told, the trail is a steady climb!
After getting my momentary fill of bear grass pics, we stumbled upon a trail buddy. Almost literally. The area is known for bears and mountain goats, and luckily we met the latter. The fluffy little guy hopped down the trail pretty quickly after being spotted while I bemoaned the achingly painful absence of a zoom lens on my Galaxy s7.
We proceeded to hike through more trees, I in my mind and Zeus blissfully sniffing all the smells. At a creek crossing our reveries were jolted when we spied the goats again. This time I got a better look and saw there were seven, one a good-sized nanny with a small kid. Again, sorry for lack of photos. I just wasn’t close enough. I swear they were there though. The trials of the dog being my only story corroborator.
We stopped to gaze at a towering waterfall before eventually topping out to the pristine lake and were almost blown over by a gale of wind (a common occurrence for anyone hiking this area – it becomes instinctual to grab your hat or just turn it around before you make your final crest).
I had the lake all to myself, which is par for the course hiking the Front. I rarely have to share any of my mountain bliss with “strangers”. While the lake is gorgeous, the weather wasn’t conducive to reclining much longer than necessary to eat a PowerBar, so I scanned for an ascent. The trail thus far had been good, but I craved some height and more lung burn. Snowpack still hugged the lake in many areas, leaving my choices fairly limited, so I decided to head up the south slope drainage. It looked like a scramble over the scree and scrub pine.
Halfway up, as customary, my legs said they’d already done enough today, what with the workout earlier and all. However, the lust for views took over and we crested a saddle and scrambled up the east side of a no named “hill” at roughly 8,400 ft where we got a good look to Headquarters Pass and checked out the north side of Rocky Mountain (the tallest and most cleverly named peak in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, standing at 9,392 feet. Tangent alert – for those who want to get technical, Red Mountain (9,411 ft) in the Scapegoat Wilderness is the tallest peak in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, which includes the Great Bear and Scapegoat Wilderness Areas). Someday I will plant my feet on top of ol’ Rocky, but today was not that day.
My legs held up through the jarring descent to the shore and we were home free on another great day spent in the Bob. I readied myself to take in one more wonderful vista of the lake when who do we run into – the goats a third time! The same seven had made their way up to the water, and I realized I would have missed them if I hadn’t done my foray to the clouds. This time I was able to gain enough of their trust to catch a semi-decent photo. Proof that no tall tales were told today!
Last mile craving: the glazed old-fashioned doughnut sitting in the pickup.