Lower Cold Lake Hike, Mission Mountains Wilderness, Montana

     We woke up a little early today for we had a lot to do. After breakfast we grabbed our backpacks and jumped in the truck.  We hit the highway north in the direction of the Cold Lakes trailhead which we found almost an hour later.

     It was another beautiful day, how did we get so lucky with the weather this trip, every day had been perfect.  After lacing the boots and shouldering the packs I quickly realized that I had left my trekking poles at the Crystal Lake trailhead two days before, I was pissed, those poles were my favorite piece of gear and had taken me a lot of places. Realizing there was nothing I could do about the poles we hit the trail, and a more accurate description would be the trail hit us, this sucker was steep. I haven’t hiked too many trails that were this steep, but we were committed. It didn’t take long to find the huckleberries, a good reason to slow down and take our time.  We weren’t long into the hike before Kylie started to complain of ankle pain, we pressed on as long as we could with the whining before something had to be done, so we sat her down and removed her boot thinking something was in the shoe that was bothering her, nothing was found. We talked her up and she pressed on, albeit with a little limp. I knew she wasn’t super excited to be hiking today so I sort of figured maybe she was faking it in the hopes we would turn around.

    We passed a sign entering the Mission Mountains Wilderness.  This is downright grizzly country so were extra diligent making noise to avoid a surprise encounter with the man eating mammal.  The grade had become much more tolerable and Kylie was doing much better. Eventually we crossed a creek and shortly after found a massive bloom of bear grass that remained almost constant right up the edge of a beautiful parkland meadow.  A short ways after the meadow we could make out the shimmering waters of Lower Cold Lake through the trees. The lower lake is heavily forested and surrounded by towering peaks on all sides, we could make out the faint sound of the inlet creek on the far end of the lake but were not willing to bushwack our way to it, somewhere out there there is an upper lake, but for our little family the journey to the lower lake would have to be enough.

    We found a sweet lunch rock where we relaxed in the sun taking in the views, surprisingly the bugs were not too bad, maybe it was the breeze that was knocking them down. We lingered a bit before heading out, the hike back to the car was good until we reached the really steep part where we slowed way down and took more time eating berries. Back at the trailhead we changed out of our boots and into sandals and quickly discovered why Kylie’s ankle hurt, she had a big blister on her heel that had already rubbed away the top layer of skin exposing the delicate tissue below.  Robin and I felt horrible, we learned a good lesson that day, if a kid complains about ankle pain make sure you check the heel just incase. The hike was good we covered about 3.5 miles and about 500 feet of elevation gain.

    After the hike we explored the House of Mystery near Columbia Falls before stopping at the Flathead Lake Brewing Company for burgers and brews in Big Fork.  After dinner we made the long drive back to camp at Lindbergh Lake.  As a last ditch effort to find my poles I made the short drive back to the Crystal Lake trailhead to see if they were still there, and sure enough, they were gone. For more pics click the link. https://www.flickr.com/photos/tannergrant/albums/72157689529308390




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