After the gorgeous morning hike to Delyle Ridge, coffee & breakfast awaited at Clark Fork. Then on to Lightning Creek Road which was a lovely drive on good gravel I stretched my legs at a few streams tumbling into Lightning Creek. The hike began at the end of the road. The map indicated Moose Lake dead ahead flanked on the left by Lake Estell and on the right by Blacktail Lake. There was a loop trail out and back from Moose Lake, which I assumed would be about 3 miles or a bit more. I figured I had plenty of time to get to and from Moose Lake with maybe a side trip to one of the other lakes.
Once again, the trail was mostly flat, rolly polly, and expertly groomed. I discovered why when I encountered four young Forest Service employees hiking back out with their tools. In no time I was at Moose Lake.
The trail continue to the right of the lake, across another beautifully built boardwalk protecting a riparian meadow. Now I was in the shade of Moose Mountain. A patch of snow gave me pause. But I figured I’d probably gain a little altitude and come out of the shade soon and back onto the trail I’d come in on.
That was not to be. There was more snow. And frigid melt-water cascading down the trail. The Forest Service crew hadn’t gone this far with their maintenance. I almost lost the trail when it switch-backed under a snowbank. It was time to reconnoiter with my map. This was NOT working out to be a simple round trip hike. Upon looking more closely at the map, I saw what I’d missed back in the parking lot. The round trip entailed summitting Moose Mountain! As my readers probably know, I’m no peak-bagger. I’m more of an old bag who avoids peaks. This far into it and thinking I was halfway to the saddle with fully drenched feet already, I decided to keep going—up. And up. And up.