Tuesday, October 2, 2018

the spine of the imnaha divide

I dragged myself toward Dollar Lake. I had hiked many more miles than I had planned, the result of not taking a map seriously when it looked like a long climb. Water had been scarce and the side trails unmarked. When I had approached my originally determined camp spot, the lovely and remote Jewett Lake, I had that feeling.

Dog above Jewett Lake
You know the one. Or, maybe you don't. There are some people who can just plop down anywhere without a care. Unfortunately, I am not one of those. As much as I love Jewett Lake, it just didn't feel "right". I can't explain why, but Ruby looked at me with a puzzled expression as we retraced our steps back to the trail. Dollar Lake it would be, another hour and a pass away.

I had already climbed up the North Imnaha Divide, not seeing another soul as the trail wrapped around magnificent tawny and gold vistas, the North Fork Imnaha River glinting far below. This part of the mountain range sees few visitors. It feels ancient and wild. I passed a small wildfire, smoldering in some trees, and stopped to call it in. A small spring, the only water for miles, glittered across the endless flat. It is a magical place.

Tenderfoot Pass, not a soul in sight
But I had miles to go. At Dollar Lake, a couple, the only people I saw for two days, regaled me with their weeklong adventure. They had been places few tourists go, the best kind of people to talk to. Although, they asked me if I were retired. Granted, I probably looked like I had been on a rough journey, but did I really look like I was retirement age? Retreating, I set up my tent on the sandy beach rimming the lake. A stiff breeze buffeted the tent--a major backpacking fail. I had pitched my tent in the only windy place in the whole area. Too lazy to move, I huddled in my backpacking quilt and waited for morning.

Dog on horizon

Dog in water
As I hiked down Dollar Pass and toward Bonny Lake in the early morning, elk bugles split the air. Bonny Lakes themselves were much more gorgeous than they ever are in the middle of summer. In summer, you are plagued with mosquitoes and swampland, but now it was an autumn paradise. It was hard to leave, but as usual I had places to go, things to do. You need to leave a place while you still love it, so I moved on, only to discover a herd of illegal cows munching their way through the wilderness. Herding them along, I made quick time.
Bonny Lakes, why do you make it so hard to leave?
There's places you go when you need wide open spaces. This place is one of those. Luckily, the lack of water and of alpine lakes (these are mainly ponds) will keep most people out. They'll never know what they are missing.


  1. Fall hikes are the best...no mosquitoes, no tourists!
    Box Canyon

  2. I just love fall hiking! Too bad the season doesn't last a little bit longer.

  3. I don't think I've ever changed a plan because of intuition. Anything I might identify as a "gut feeling" would be met with lots of questioning and doubt ... not that I can claim to have ever had a strong feeling of this sort. It's an interesting concept to me.

  4. Great selfie! Hard to imagine this will soon be covered in snow.

  5. You are having quite a fall up there! My favorite time of year, for sure. Sadly, we probably won't get out on too many hikes this month or next, even though we're in Colorado.

  6. Maybe they were just hoping you were retired because they sensed you were doing what you were superposed to be doing....or because they wished they were retired.

    The only time I've had a really strong bad intuition was years ago in Colorado. I'd driven way back into remote country, planning on camping for a few days and day hiking. But the place just felt spooky--not a feeling I normally have. After a bit I did go elsewhere--and felt fine.



Hello out there. If you liked this post, please leave a comment so I keep writing!