09 October 2008
Hungry Horse and the Jewel Basin - Day 2
Next day we got up bright and early with the mission on our minds of hiking the Clayton Creek trail to Clayton Lake in the Jewel Basin. But, our first stop was a reprise of Lion Lake. The water was like glass and, as you can see, it made for a perfect mirror. Mornings like this make a person mighty glad to be alive.
The trailhead for Clayton Lake is about 20 miles in from Hwy 2. Once we got underway on the trail we were immediately treated to a riot of fall color. The mountain ash were just drooping with berries and we thought we might see a grizzly because the picking was certainly easy. But, unfortunately, we saw very little wildlife signs on this trail. A few elk tracks and one, two or three day old, bear scat at the lake.
Above is my handy dandy bear detector Koty Bear. And, in fact, this is exactly where we saw the scat but Koty is more interested in something he sees across the way. Koty is a great hiking companion, drawing my attention to things I might not otherwise see. Of course, this is a double edged sword as he can make it a little tough to capture wildlife photos. But, it is a price I gladly pay. To see more of Koty at Hungry Horse go to Koty's Korner New Photos
The hike to Clayton Lake is mostly up hill but it's a very easy hike. The distance from the trailhead is a little less than three miles. I'd reckon for the determined the hike wouldn't take an hour but for dawdlers like us it took and hour and a half as we have to investigate and admire everything along the way.
Mother Nature did a cleansing operation in the area about three years ago. You can see the bare trees on the mountain in the distance. It's just amazing how quickly things have come back. And, how beautiful it still is in it's own special way. Clayton Lake is a little Jewel and one of the things we so love about Montana is we mostly have these fabulous places to ourselves, especially in the off season. You can hike around the lake using either the west trail or the east trail. We chose the eastern trail.
We stayed at the lake for a couple of hours exploring and having a little lunch. On the way back down we were treated to this view of the Flathead Range and the Great Bear Wilderness. You can't see it but this view is looking east across Hungry Horse Reservoir. You can see on the left the dead trees that didn't survive the fire. More Mountain Landscapes
And, lo and behold what did we see on the way down but another human being! This fellow was a local and he was using this trail to get in shape for hunting season. Looked to us as though he had a way to go. ;)
And, so, we bid adieu to the beautiful Clayton Trail. Another day in paradise under our belts.
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