Monday, May 18, 2009

Lake McDonald west side

Monday May 18, 2009 I hiked 7 miles along the west side of Lake McDonald. The day was gorgeous: 82 degrees, sunny and no wind. Joyce and Sue Ann wanted to go hiking; I had stuff to do, but we hadn't hiked for a while and the weather was great so I relented and went hiking.

Here is a photo taken the prior Saturday by a friend from Apgar Lookout. (Yes, there was still snow up there). We hiked the left side (west shore) of Lake McDonald.

I feed my cattle four times a day with the first time after 9 am. Since we were meeting at 8 am I fed the cattle at 6:45 am right after I got up; then gave them one more hay bale just before 8 am when I left. The cattle were puzzled at seeing me so early. They were still relaxing and in no hurry to eat - different than usual.

Because the hike was a point-to-point hike we needed a vehicle at both ends of the hike. Joyce and I both drove our vehicles.

We stopped at the Apgar Ranger station to ask about the trail. The ranger volunteer told us to hike from the south to the north along the lake so we can see the mountain views before us as we walked.

We left Joyce's car at the northwest end of the trail where the road ends. There are still private cabins along this part of Lake McDonald as they were grandfathered in when the Park was created.

The road along the cabins is one lane and not all that level. My car has a low clearance and I scraped the car's bottom once and also briefly drug a small branch laying in the road.

The southern end of the trail starts at the Fish Creek campground. The campground looks quite nice.

One other couple were out and about and starting on the trail when we were there. It is a small world as I knew them from several contra dances. They also perform at the annual German food festival and dancing at the Whitefish Senior Center. Joyce invited them to join us but they only planned to hike to Rocky Point as they were scheduled to dance at a local Norwegian celebration of Norway's independence day.

Shortly after we began out hike we passed the building that stores over the winter the boat that gives tours on Lake McDonald during the summer.

The building was open and several people were working on cleaning the boat up and preparing it for this summer's season.

The lake is shallow where the building is located and in the clear water we could see how far out into the lake the tracks lay used to pull the boat from the lake.

Most of the hike was through dead and black trees. This was a result of the Robert Fire in 2003. Along parts of the trail young pine trees were numerous and growing well. Along other parts of the trail were no pines, but aspens and other leafy trees and bushes. They later we came to where lots of young larch trees were growing. Not a whole lot of intermixing of tree varieties.

The trail is relatively flat. The trail comes to the lake some times but for the most part is set back from the lake. Having the forest burnt was good in one aspect as it allowed us to have views of the lake and mountains which normally would be hidden in the trees.

A downside of the burnt and blackened trees was that we all got smudged and blackened when either stepping over fallen trees or somehow touching them. We all wore light colored clothes too and that easily showed the marks.

Sue Ann fell hard face first when stepping over a fallen tree as her trailing foot caught the tree trunk. The good news is that she didn't break anything and the crick in her neck from an earlier fall this year is now gone. The bad news is her jaw is sore when she opens her mouth wide.

At one point where the trail came near the lake we saw rocks balanced in an unusual and incredible stack. Someone put effort into making the stack. The location was not near either end of the trail.

The firefighters must have put in a great deal of effort to save the private cabins as when we got near them we were back into the forest.

I must be getting out of shape as the 7 miles felt longer. The trail sign lists the trail as 6.8 miles, but I feel we added a couple tenths of a mile taking the side trip to Rocky Point.

Here are a few photos from along the lake.

Photo 1: looking south to Apgar Mountain.
Photo 2: looking south. Far mountains are outside the Park.

The following photos are looking NE.