Glen Lake in the Bitterroots

Entering the Bitterroot-Selway Wilderness

Entering the Bitterroot-Selway Wilderness

On Sunday, I undertook a “short” hike up to Glen Lake in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area. I was told that the hike was 2.5 miles, but it is closer to 3.25 miles and bit more uphill than I had anticipated. Almost the entirety of the trail takes you through the post-fire environment left by the massive conflagration of 2000. Tens of thousands of acre of lodgepole pine, ponderosa pine, and Douglas-fir were left a charred spires. The soil was left almost inert, but the forest is re-vitalizing. The understory is covered with beargrass, willows, and other re-colonizing plants. The forest is renewing, born anew from the ash and soot of supposed destruction. The entire length of the trail is the affirmation of the story of forest succession.

Clark's Nutcracker - who's watching who?

Clark’s Nutcracker – who’s watching who?

The weather is very clear and very hot as I started up the trail. The sunburn on my neck is testament of the conditions. My lungs heaved and sweat poured down my face as I forced tired legs over the first mile and half. My company was a smattering of Mountain Chickadees, Dark-eyed Juncos, and Chipping Sparrows. They sang intermittently as if to punctuate the silence. Then a pair of Clark’s Nutcrackers shattered the soundscape with their calls. I have always had a rather soft spot for these Corvids with their inquisitive nature and intelligence – they are the PhDs of the avian world. The pair flew placidly around me, and they would occasionally land in a tree in order to get a closer look at the geek with a camera. One would come surprisingly close, within 10 feet – only to spring into the air in a manner of seconds.

Glen Lake and its crags

Glen Lake and its crags

Glen Lake itself is small (roughly 2.5 acres of surface), surrounded by a ring of crags that still hold some snow. From the snow fields, ephemeral streams pour forth and they enter into a lake that is still one-quarter covered with a layer of slushy ice. I think the water might be a tad too cold for a swim. The surface of the lake possesses the translucent mirror that comes with only the cleanest, coldest waters. Glen Lake reminds me very much of the IceBerg Lake in Glacier National Park (previous images of Iceberg Lake).

 

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Glen Lake Trail

Glen Lake Trail

Glen Lake solitude

Glen Lake solitude

The remains of the fire

The remains of the fire

Written by Radd Icenoggle

I am a native Montanan, who has spent a lifetime as an outdoors and wildlife enthusiast. I earned a degree in biology with an emphasis on habitat relations. During my studies, I had the great fortune to research and compose a thesis that explored the effects of slope aspect on...
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