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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.

Awe, cute.
This gave me pause, but I confidently patted the bear spray my ITA crew leader had insisted I borrow.

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.

Of course, the views were spectacular.
Cool, there’s Moose Lake down there.
Nature’s natural rock wall. Pretty cool. I’ve gotta be getting close to the top.
Aha! That must be the saddle right up ahead.
Man am I glad I don’t have to go all the way to the top of that snowy ridgeline on the right!
Except, guess what? I DID have to go to the very top of that snowy ridgeline. The snow is just on the other side of this drop off.
Moose Lake from the top of Moose Mountain! Sheesh. On the way down from this summit, I found the sign pointing to Blacktail Lake. It was only half a mile. But after what I’d just been through, with my feet squishing and the sun dropping fast, I resolutely pointed myself back to the parking lot. It was still a long way down through vast brush fields that nearly hid the trail. I was glad it wasn’t berry season. For the first time in my life, I trudged as noisily as I could. The ultimate final straw would be surprising mama bear and cubs! I made it back to the car with about 45 minutes of daylight to spare. The next day Lunch Peak was on the menu.