Rhoda Lake,
Lewis & Clark National Forest, MT

Saturday, July 30, 1994

Redwood and I left early in the morning. It was going to be a hot weekend, 95 degrees plus in Great Falls, so I thought the mountains would be cooler.

I read about this lake in The Montanans' Fishing Guide. Although the book was few years old, it said the lake had been planted for many years.

From Highway 89, it took about an hour to drive the two-track that followed the high ridge-lines. Drove through a flock of sheep with a native-American shepherder and Australian cattle dog in attendance.

I started hiking up and up and up Trail 416. The trail died out near the summit of Big Baldy Mt (elev. 9,175) so I headed east where the lake would be.

At the edge of the ridge, I looked way down at the lake and didn't see any adventageous route. So I went straight down from the south west of the lake. Very hairy, lots of loose rock and scree. Not a good idea, especially with Redwood. The guide book said to do this?

Made it safely to the lake in about two hours and spotted two nice sites. Since I just had my tarp, I took the one with the most trees.

While sitting and eating lunch, I noticed another group heading into the bowl the lake occupied. They were headed straight down from the northwest. The bottom 2/3 looked OK, but the top third seemed vertical.

Turned out to be some parents, 2 teenage boys and a dog. They made it just fine in about a half hour. Of course, they didn't have packs &emdash; which I was glad to see.

With me on one side of the lake and them on the other, we all fished. With very little luck. I landed one palm-sized trout, and I saw them land about the same. At least fish were surfacing.

uddenly a cold wind started blowing in and the fish stopped surfacing. For the rest of the time I fished, I would only see a few more surface. As the weather turned worse, they quickly scrambled up the bowl, a little further north this time.

Had rice for dinner and some leftovers Melissa left me. As the wind howled, I read Jim Harrison's Wolf by candlelight.


Sunday, July 31, 1994

Redwood wouldn't sleep right away. I thinked he chased off two deer as I saw by the light of my flashlight one eye and then another eye gracefully bound into the woods.

I awoke at 4 am to see the half moon illuminating the forest. I could have easily gone hiking by its light. In the morning, tried in vain for more fish.

Decided not to risk life and limb by hiking back up the scree slope. Instead, I hiked down the drainage and up the drainage south of me. In retrospect, there was no good decision to be made.

It took about 3 1/2 hours to get back to the car, and not once did I follow a trail created by man. My feet got blisters from the continuous incline to the left. My shins had scraps from the deadfall. My body was just plain tired.

All along, I thought I could easily find some unmarked trails down the drainage, bushwack south for a half mile, and take the Dry Wolf Creek trail back to the car.

It would take a massive human effort to create a trail in the Rhoda Lake drainage. It's filled with loose rock and boulders from side to side. I've never seen so much loose rock. Even where stands of trees grew, the rock was loose. Not one easy stepping surface all the way down.

Bushwacking over the low part of the ridge wasn't bad, but I wish I could have found that trail. It turns out I would have needed to go further down into the drainage to hook up with it. If I had known, I would have done it and saved my body the wear.

I don't think I'd go back to this lake again, but I might like to do some hiking elsewhere in the area.

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