This was my dog Snow’s first backpacking trip and she was so excited she barely laid down the entire drive! I have been training her with a dog backpack and every time I get it out she goes nuts. “Oh boy, we’re goin’ on a hike!”. Little did she know that it was an over-nighter in Big Sky Country. Montana!
I’ve been all over the Cabinet Mountains but had never been to Leigh Lake. I’ve summited Snowshoe Peak several times and looked down on the 2nd largest lake in the Cabinets, but never actually stood on it’s shores. It has a very short (but steep) 1 mile trail to get to it, which has always turned me off. Generally the shorter the hike, the more people you’ll see – not my cup of tea.
With this season’s massive snowpack there was a definite possibility that we might not even be able to drive all the way to the trial head. We just figured it would keep a lot of people out and create a little more solitude (bonus). After a little pre-planning I got out of work early last Friday, grabbed my gear, grabbed my dog, picked up Jon and headed to Montana.
It turns out we were able to drive all the way to the trailhead. The hike itself was pretty easy until the last quarter mile. We had to negotiate snowfields, raging waterfalls and some light scrambling. The entire lake was still frozen over and there were very few spots to put a tent down without being on the snow. Avalanches rumbling off of Snowshoe Peak were frequent and amazing. Nearly our entire time there was spent taking pictures and watching the avalanches.
While we were there a local photographer, Bob Hosea, hiked up for the day. He stayed for a few hours and we chatted with him a bit. He gave me his business card and once I got home I emailed him. He sent me a few of the photos he took that day and they were incredible. How lucky is he to live so close to such a great area?
As for my dog, Snow, she did great. She carried all of her own stuff and probably ran about 200 miles in total. When we got home she slept for three days. I’m pretty sure she had fun.