Our Escapes

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Basin Lake

Cabin Fever: Basin Lake Hike – Part 2


For part 1 click here

Finally we came into a big open clearing at the peak of the mountain and by this time we were both ready to find the trail and get back to the car. Then just as we were going back into the trees I looked around us and realized that at that moment we were standing in the middle of a cloud that had rolled in over the tree tops. Not only that, but the cloud was starting to drop flakes of snow all around us.

Jack hurried me onward, going in front and making ‘post holes’ in the knee deep snow so that I could follow in his tracks.

“Come on, we need to keep moving to stay warm.” He prodded as I stopped to take another hasty picture and I knew he was right. We were both only wearing light jackets, our jeans were hopelessly wet and I began to take note that all of the snow that lodged in my shoes earlier as I tripped and climbed my way up to this point had now melted, soaking my socks and making a swimming pool in my shoes. Despite that, I was surprisingly warm now – but I knew it wouldn’t last.


Sure enough as we moved I felt my ankles beginning to numb and Jack was beginning to tire. I thought of the other two hikers and wondered where they were and hoped they had better luck than we were. Nothing around us was familiar and I was starting to get anxious as the water in my shoes began to drop in temperature and turn more and more icy.

We regained the trail however and I caught the sound of a creek, which meant that we must be close to where we started earlier and then I heard birds chirping happily before we broke back out into the sunlight. But still, nothing was familiar. So we walked and hurried as much as our tired feet would go. We listened to the crunching of the snow which was often followed by a jerking feeling as it gave way beneath us and we slipped forward.


At one point Jack came to a sudden halt that alarmed me and when I asked what was wrong he said that he saw fresh signs of moose.

Soon after that we came along side the creek and to my joy found a bridge we had passed earlier. Once across it we were home free. We sloshed and slid our way back along the trail that we had hiked up earlier. Trying to hurry on  finally we saw the other two hikers from earlier headed down the slope.

They pulled away as we trudged into the parking lot. Apparently they didn’t want to talk to us – maybe they were upset that we mislead them – but I wasn’t too worried at this point because all I wanted was to sit in the car with the heater on full blast. (But if you two guys with the three legged dog who followed a couple up the mountain in Red Lodge ever do read this, please know that we are very sorry and now we really do know where the trail leads).

Cabin Fever: Basin Lake Hike

Cabin Fever has hit. Okay, it hit several months back if you really want to know, but the weather has not cooperated very well. But this last weekend we decided that we were done waiting. We were going out – even if it was just for the day. So without much planning we hit the road and found ourselves outside of Red Lodge, Montana.

The road was closed so we couldn’t go all the way up it, but there was a little pull off at a trailhead that said it went up to Basin Lake. Never having been there, but having our fishing gear handy we decided that it would be a good hike for us. It started out perfect – great views, some small waterfalls with ice bridges spanning across them, easy trek – but uphill enough that it gave our legs a good stretch.


I stopped to take some pictures and feeling a little artistic I knelt in the snow to get a better picture of a bright orange leaf.

“Don’t be stupid.” Jack, lovingly, chided me. “Now you will be wet and cold.”

But I wasn’t too worried.

The trouble came when we lost the trail under a little snow. Then we weren’t sure where to go and neither were the other two guys out hiking with their dogs. However, we did buy a GPS for days like these and after a little consultation with it, Jack assured me and the other two guys that up was the way to go.

Not a trail that inclined easily up though.


So up we went and I tried to keep positive by thinking what good exercise this was, rather than on focusing on the burn that told me that I should have been better at getting in shape for hiking season.

Once we did reach the top I realized we weren’t really on top of much, but the trail was supposed to be over the next crest – which was farther away than it looked.


Instead we found snow, but we kept pushing on. “The trail is just another 200 feet.” Jack assured me.

“This better be one heck of a lake.” I said as we continued up another crest.

But all we found was a maze of fallen trees and branches to climb over. And more snow. Soon it became so bad that the snow was thigh deep and I was thankful that Jack had made me put on my Under Armor before we headed out because my jeans were soaked through. My faith in the GPS was falling every moment and I wondered what would happen if we had to stay overnight. I realized how little we had thought to bring were that the case.

But I wasn’t too worried and I was determined to find the lake, despite Jack beginning to think that maybe we should head back – but sure as heck not the way that we came from.

To Be Continued…

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