The Travelogues of Diane and Dave
Travelogue Index
D & D Home


Chapter 1: Backpacking in the Beartooth Wilderness, Part 1








Day 1) Sat, Drive from Bozeman to Box Canyon Trailhead, Hike to Lake Kathleen

Our first day in Bozeman and we had several things to do before we could start our drive to the trailhead. First, I had to unpack my luggage and load up my backpack. Second, we had to find the local outdoorsy store to get a Gaz canister and a lighter for the stove, both of which are items we can't take on the plane. We also bought some additional trail snack food. Then it was a 61 mile drive along the interstate to Big Timber where we got off at the exit and headed south down Rte 298 into Box Canyon following the Boulder River.

It was 48 miles from the interstate to the end of the road at Box Canyon trailhead. At first the road meandered down the wide, open valley. Slowly the valley got narrower, the road got rougher, and the terrain got more forested. Along the way we passed by the McLeod Bar and Roadkill Café. We kept the place in mind for lunch on the way back out.

Heading to Box Canyon
Roadkill Cafe

Driving south from Big Timber

The Roadkill Cafe in McLeod.

We finally arrived at the Box Canyon trailhead. We got our gear out of the car and then I drove the empty car back up the valley about 1.5 miles to the UpsideDown Creek trailhead where we'd be coming out 5 days from now. Then I walked back the 1.5 miles to re-join Diane who had stayed back at the Box Canyon trailhead. We slung our backpacks over our backs and took off. It was a nice, easy, gentle 7.6 mile uphill trek to lake Kathleen, our first campsite. Lake Kathleen was a small lake nestled up against the side of a mountain. Three sides of the lake were forested and the fourth side was a rocky steep slope. We found a nice campsite along the lake shoreline in the woods.

Box Canyon Trailhead parking lot Box Canyon Trailhead parking lot.

Lake Kathleen campsite
Our campsite on the shores of Lake Kathleen.

View of Lake Kathleen
View of Lake Kathleen

Day 2) Sun, Backpack from Lake Kathleen to Lake Pentad

Our morning peace and quiet was disrupted by a lot of loud crashing noises outside. It sounded like a elephant was running around smashing thru the bushes all around us. We were too afraid to look outside. After it was quiet for some time, we went out and looked around. We didn't see anything except a peaceful large deer or elk grazing on a hillside behind the tent. It glanced at us and calmly trotted off over the hill. That was it. What ever had made all the noise earlier had thankfully left.

We left Lake Kathleen and followed the trail to the southwest for Lake Columbine. The grade was more gradual, easy, uphill. We stopped at the lovely lake for a long lunch break. Across the lake we could see the hillside we were gonna have to hike up to get to Columbine Pass. This was our first real uphill climb. When we reached Columbine Pass, we had great views to the north of Favonius Lake. From there it was a short gentle descent down to Pentad Lake where we camped for the evening. There were several other people camped at the lake that evening. We could see the glow of their campfires at night.

Lake Columbine

Lake Columbine from our lunch stop.

Columbine Pass

Columbine Pass looking to the North-East

Approaching Favonius Lake

Here we are approaching Favonius Lake. Pentad Lake is barely visible thru the trees to the left.

Lake Pentad campsite

Our campsite at Lake Pentad.

Day 3) Mon, Backpack to Lake Pinchot

Again in the morning, I heard something moving around outside the tent, but the warmth and comfort of my sleeping bag was greater than my curiosity. When we finally got up and out it was another beautiful day. We followed the trail down a gentle descent to Jordan Lake. It was small lake similar to Lake Kathleen. It was nestled up against a steep rocky slope. The far side was an open forested area with large camp areas that appeared to be heavily used.

Leaving Pentad Lake

Here we are leaving Pentad Lake. The trail follows the righthand shoreline to Jordan Lake.

From Jordan Lake it was a moderate climb up thru some woods, then across a meadow and over to Jordan Pass. There was no real view at Jordan Pass, but once we started down the steep switchbacks, the views to the north opened up. Then, before we knew it, we were at Wounded Man Lake where we took the small side trail off to the east towards Lake Pinchot. It was about 0.8 miles to Pinchot.

When we got to the lake, the trail followed the shoreline off to the left. I figured we should try following the shoreline around to the right to find a nice secluded campsite, figuring everyone else would continue along the trail to the left. Well, there were no suitable sites off to the right, so we ended up hiking back to our starting point and then following the trail off to the left. Off in that direction we found a few sites, but nothing to write home about. We eventually settled on a so-so site. We were tired of wandering about looking for a great spot, plus we wanted to set up camp and make supper. According to the guide book we had read, Pinchot Lake was supposed to be the "crown jewel" of the Lake Plateau area. We were somewhat dissapointed in the area.

Lunch at Jordan Lake

Jordan Pass

Here we are descending Jordan Pass. I was very happy we didn't have to climb these switchbacks.

Wounded Man Lake

Diane walking along the shores of Wounded Man Lake heading for Pinchot Lake to the left.

Arriving at Pinchot Lake

Arriving at Lake Pinchot.

Day 4) Tues, Dayhike to Lake Surrender

Today we woke up to an overcast sky and snow flurries. We were planning on doing a day hike from Lake Pinchot. According to the map, there's a stream valley leading down from Lake Pinchot past several remote lakes. Our guide book also mentioned it as a good bushwhack route. So, we buttoned up the tent, put on our warmest clothes, and headed of to the outlet of Pinchot Lake to find the stream valley.

We found the lake outlet easily and started bushwhacking down the valley following the stream. The going wasn't easy till "Lo and Behold!" we found an old trail that was leading the way we wanted to go! The trail was not on any map we had, but we decided to follow it. It sure made the going a whole lot easier. We soon came to the first remote lake, "Dreary Lake". It was hard to get a good vantage point to see the whole lake.

We continued along the fairly well maintained unofficial trail with occasional snow showers coming and going. The trail was real clear all the way past Ravin Lake to Surrender Lake. We came out onto the western shore of Surrender Lake, a large, grassy, marshy area. It appeared that the trail faintly skirted the marshes to the north. We tried the faint route, but soon ended up following a creek north, away from the way we wanted to go. Unfortunately the on/off snow showers were getting worse. At times it was near white out conditions. Beyond Lake Surrender was Cimmerian Lake, our final destination before turning around and returning to camp. With our destination so near, we decided to abandon the faint trail and bushwhack to Cimmerian Lake.

Fortunately, it was a short distance. It meant skirting the marsh to the south of Lake Surrender, crossing a feeder stream, and making our way around a rocky knob, but we finally made it to Cimmerian Lake. Just as we broke out into the open shoreline, a Bald Eagle flew overhead. He probably saw us coming thru the woods and flew over to check us out before we made it to the shoreline. While exploring the end of the lake I crossed a stream and found another faint trail back to Lake Surrender. This was probably the continuation of the trail that we had been looking for. We easily followed it back to Lake Surrender and found out where we had gone astray earlier in the northern marshes.

Hiking in the snow.

Hiking in snow-showers.

Cimmerian Lake

The west end of Lake Cimmerian.

We eventually made it back to our campsite, following the trail the whole way. By backtracking on the trail, we found out where it originated at Lake Pinchot. When we got back to camp, the whole tent was frosted from the snow showers. I was glad I had left up the dining fly, because it meant that we had a dry place to eat our well deserved supper that night.

We were so glad that we had found that old unofficial trail. It had made the day's hike so much easier. If it hadn't existed or if we hadn't found it, we would never have been able to cover the distance we had, a total of about 7.4 miles.

Frosted tent at Pinchot Lake

This is what our tent looked like when we returned from our day hike.

Frosted dining fly at Pinchot Lake

The dining fly provided us a dry spot to sit and eat.




Travelogue Index
D & D Home
last revised : February 8, 2006