Backpacking to Clayton
It’s always exciting as the weekend gets closer and you know that you’re going in to the woods…. this weekend, however, was not one of those. With work I was unsure what the status of my weekend was until Saturday afternoon. I was pretty happy to find that Matt and I would have Sunday to do as we pleased. On short notice and not having scoped out trails though, hm.
Well, Clayton Lake as I recalled fondly had some really nice camp spots. The only “problem” being work obligations Monday morning, so we couldn’t camp Sunday night.
I got off work at 6pm Sat, rushed home and packed up my bag. By 7:45 we were at Snappy Sports Center replacing a broken fishing rod and by 8:15 on our way to the Clayton trail head. We arrived quarter to ten, by then it was almost totally dark, the sun had set and light was dissipating quickly.
To be honest, it was somewhat intimidating hiking in the dark. We had on head lamp and many flashlights but you loose you peripheral sight which makes me feel nervous. I don’t expect anything to be jumping out at me but the fact that I wouldn’t see something lurking puts me on edge a bit. After a mile or so I began to loosen up a bit, we had a bear bell and an extra on on the dog so that helped. Any animal would have heard us coming from a ways off, we were very loud.
Coming up on the lake I saw a light in the distance on the far side. After a few more minutes it became clear that it was a camp fire and a flash light. As we moved along the side of the lake jingling and talking loudly, the campers across the lake became pretty curious about us. Of course, I probably would be a bit interested to see someone come in to camp in the middle of the night too.
We made it to the head of the lake and began setting up at the spot I had scoped out with eagerness a few weeks prior. Set up was surprisingly easy despite it being night. My Eureka tent is a breeze to set up and we had the head lamp and 3 more flashlights out to illuminate the area.
We hit the sack around 12:30 am that night.
It was a stormy night, it rained off and on until morning. At one point it sounded like it was coming down pretty good. Thankfully the tent didn’t leak a bit, we stayed totally dry and warm inside.
In the morning you could see the rain beaded over the tent and the the ground was damp. The vestibules on the tent were great, lots of room for our gear and they stayed dry.
Matt got up for I did and was out fishing early in the morning, he caught a couple of smaller trout. They were delicious of course, I must say the garlic pepper seasoning is one of my favorite all around for an easy camping spice.
We are notorious at forgetting silverware and this trip was no exception. Easy solution if you have some tin foil though, just use a stick as the handle. I fashioned this one real quickly as I heated some oatmeal over the fire.
After breakfast we began to get ready for our planned hike that day. The trail on the west side of the lake leads up to several, including a trail to Tongue Mountain. I filtered some water for the excursion while Ron took a morning nap.
Ron woke up full of piss and vinegar, tearing around the camp site and messing with the tent. He tuckered himself out by 9 and was napping away until the hike.
There’s a cute little spot where a creek runs over the trail before you even hit the Tongue Mountain split off.
On the way up there are a lot of deer flies, I was glad to have pants on. There are wild onions growing in some areas, their purple flowers were very pretty.
Once hitting the ridge there was a surprising amount of snow for August, on a hot August day though it was much appreciated.
Now we’re up above my beloved Clayton Lake and it only seems to get more beautiful, if you can believe it.
It’s quite fun hiking up around the snow. There are trees bent over in to the snow, every so often one will snap back up! Try not to get too close… I have a feeling that would hurt!
Another big highlight to the trip for me, huckleberries! These delicious little morsels are so much fun to find, it’s like a little prize every time you find a big ripe one!
Healthy trail snack too!
This lovely little lady bug was hanging out on some bear grass along side the trial.
Lovely view of the valley from our mountain top perch!
Wooh, lets go!
The nerd comes out… Neat rocks!
You can see the Hungry Horse Reservoir just barely through the haze.
There it is folks! Tongue Mountain… maybe not the most glorious portion of the hike but with a name like that, it’s still a bit amusing ;)
It was a killer hot day so I was thankful for the snow or we wouldn’t have been able to get to the top. Ron was getting pretty warm in between the big patches of snow. He took a rest before we headed down.
There you have it! We crammed a weekend of backpacking, camping, hiking and fishing in to just one day… so even if you only get one day off this week, make it happen!