SEELEY LAKE — Close enough to host a bachelor party, but far enough to experience the Bob Marshall Wilderness, Pyramid Lake serves many people their first taste of Montana’s backcountry.
A steep but relatively short hike from a trailhead above Seeley Lake, Pyramid Lake has a couple different trails to its basin. One has been decommissioned, but tracks show continued stock use on that most-direct route. The more recent alternative packs some nasty switchbacks, but nothing as rugged as the incline they replace.
There’s even an extra lake involved, although this can be a hazard if you’re hiking with younger packers. The unnamed water appears right at the point where it seems like a really good idea to quit carrying a heavy backpack. The fact that several nice campsites dot its shore and fish dimple its surface doesn’t help the argument that there’s more climbing to do.
Nor does the fact that the spur trail to Pyramid Lake has often lost its sign. While almost everyone passes near the Seeley Lake Ranger Station en route to the trailhead, that’s in the Lolo National Forest. Pyramid Lake resides in the Flathead National Forest, but is so far down its southern extent that maintenance crews from Kalispell don’t get there too often.
Keep an eye out for the spur shortly after cresting the ridge that guards the interior of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. It’s on the left, and delivers you to the lakeshore in a few minutes. Continuing down the main trail may deliver you to Choteau in a few days, if you brought enough food.
POLEBRIDGE — It doesn’t have to be an “official” wilderness for your destination to provide a wild Montana experience.
Federally designated wild and scenic rivers run alongside many wilderness areas. The Flathead drainage provides three such waterways.
The Flathead River’s branches include 219 miles of wild, scenic or recreational passage. The Middle and South forks originate in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex. Hungry Horse Reservoir drowned almost half of the South Fork, but its upper reaches still qualify for wild and scenic designation. The Middle Fork has some of northwest Montana’s fiercest whitewater.
The North Fork is generally considered the main stem of the Flathead, and originates in British Columbia. Its entire 58-mile length along Glacier National Park’s western border has wild and scenic designation. While Fool Hen Rapids just north of Columbia Falls flips plenty of inexperienced boaters, only two other Class II rapids complicate the waters farther north.
The river’s west bank passes a mix of private and U.S. Forest Service land. Glacier Park manages the whole east bank, and requires backcountry permits to camp there. The passes cost $5 per person, and require users to bring a bear-resistant cooler, fire pan and personal waste removal system.
Even Hitler can't draw a tag in Wyoming. OK, so the video is politically correct, but the writing is very funny and any hunter who has applied for a tag will get the humor.
Adjustments were approved Thursday to yellow perch and walleye bag limits on Canyon Ferry, Holter and Hauser reservoirs in light of reduced perch numbers.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks fisheries biologists say that perch in Hauser and Canyon Ferry have tripped low-population trigger points and walleye numbers in Holter hit upper trigger points, which prompted them to propose changes in bag limits. The Fish and Wildlife Commission agreed with that rationale and approved the changes without comments. The changes go into effect March 1.
Walleye numbers on all three reservoirs are trending upward, and since perch are below trigger levels in the management plan, FWP is trying to help them out. Biologists believe that if they modify walleye limits now, it will reduce walleye abundance and increase perch numbers.
FWP officials believe that walleye, which were introduced into Canyon Ferry decades ago and are voracious predators, are eating the yellow perch and lowering their numbers. The state stocks trout into the fishery, but doesn’t have the capability to stock perch.
The perch bag limit on Canyon Ferry dropped from 15 to 10, and the walleye limit increased from 10 to 12. In addition, the slot limit for walleye has gone from one more than 25 inches rather than one more than 28 inches and there no longer is a limit of no more than four larger than 16 inches.
Backpacker magazine’s “Get Out More” tour will make a stop in Billings at 6 p.m. on Monday at The Base Camp, 1730 Grand Ave.
Randy and Sheri Propster will present a 75-minute seminar covering these topics: Backpacking essentials, the latest in gear and apparel, survival skills and trail-tested tips. There’s no cost to attend.
The “Get out more” tour is stopping at more than 70 venues across the country over a nine-month period, inspiring hikers and backpackers to get out and explore the great outdoors.
For more information, go to: www.backpacker.com/getoutmore
The Beartooth Ranger District of the Custer National Forest is hosting a community field day on June 6 to review and gather input on the Greater Red Lodge Area Project.
The 2,150-acre fuel reduction project includes Red Lodge Creek, Nichols Creek and Willow Creek along the Beartooth Face in Carbon County.
Specialists with the Custer Forest have hosted community meetings, conducted public scoping and reviewed comments on the proposal, and this field day provides an opportunity for people to learn more about it, Beartooth District Ranger Traute Parrie, wrote in a press release.
The field trip also will provide district specialists with more information so they may incorporate comments into alternatives, she said.
Those attending the tour will be able to see firsthand many of the units where treatment is proposed.
If a double-barrel shotgun isn't comforting enough for self-defense, the Turkish gun manufacturer Chiappa has produced a shotgun with three barrels.
The Triple Threat retails for $1,629. There's also a sporting version called the Triple Crown. To see a video on it, check out the Field and Stream and Outdoor Life magazines' coverage of the 2013 SHOT Show in Las Vegas.
The Senate Fish and Game Committee and the House Fish, Wildlife and Parks Committee will hold their first meetings of the 2013 legislative session on Thursday. Both groups meet at 3 p.m.
On the agenda for the House committee are two bills dealing with revisions to wolf hunting laws in Montana, HB 31 sponsored by Rep. Ted Washburn, R-Bozeman, and HB 73 sponsored by Rep. Kelly Flynn, R-Townsend.
Among other provisions, Washburn's bill would inrease the number of wolf licenses, allow electronic calls for wolf hunting and exempt hunters from wearing orange outside of the general deer and elk seasons.
Flynn's bill includes some of the same language as Washburn's and also includes reducing the cost of a wolf hunting license for nonresidents.
One of the bills the Senate committee will consider is SB 83, sponsored by Sen. Terry Murphy, R-Cardwell, that would set down new rules about transplanting bighorn sheep. Included in the bill's language is this statement: "with an emphasis on avoiding conflicts in existing land management practices and competition between mountain sheep and other species that may be detrimental to the success of the project."
If you've ever wanted to go to Mount Everest, or just like amazing photos, check out this gigapixel photo of the Khumbu Glacier.
According to the website, the photo was shot by David Breashears during the spring of 2012 from the Pumori viewpoint near Mount Everest.
The detail is so good that you can zoom in on the Everest Basecamp to the right and see individuals, buildings and paths.
Hunters who download the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation's new Lethal Shot app to their iPhone or iPad will be able to navigate 360 degrees around a virtual elk to gauge a shot's effectiveness.
Three-dimensional images allow the hunter to see an elk's body structure, both internally and externally, and improve his or her ability to acquire proficiency on shot angles. The app also provides a post-shot analysis by simulating the trajectory and learning what vital organs the bullet or arrow may have struck.
More than a year in the making, Lethal Shot is not a game. Instead, it shows elk anatomy and shot angles.
An Android version is soon to follow. The cost to download is $2.99. For more information, log on to iTunes and search for Lethal Shot.
With snowpack building in the mountains, the article is a good reminder to be safe in the backcountry. One way to do that is to heed avalanche warnings. In the southwestern corner of the state, the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center produces a daily report with detailed information.
The other key is to be prepared with proper gear, including a shovel, probe, beacon and possibly one of the newer safety devices like an Avalung to increase the chances of survival if caught in a slide. It's also important to remember to not overload a slope, such as several snowmobilers playing at the same time on a hillside, and to remain out of a possible slide's travel path while others are playing.
Last week was great for Montana ski resorts as snow fell fairly steadily.
Big Sky Resort has 75 percent (2,866 acres) of its mountain open and is ahead of schedule for opening up more terrain. Last week, the mountain collected 20 inches in 10 hours at midmountain on Wednesday alone. That made for some great powder skiing.
At nearby Bridger Bowl Ski Area, the mountain is closing in on 100 inches of snow this season. Check out this crazy flyover video of the ski area.
BOISE -- There’s a lot to experience before the hunt begins
I stared at the 3 a.m. flashing on my bed-side clock as I set the alarm. The hour stressed me so bad I worried it would keep me awake. To make matters worse, I’m a night person, so dozing before about 10 p.m. is out of the question.
But my marching orders were clear. Be at the boat ramp on the Snake River at 5 a.m., and it takes about an hour and a half to get there.
My friend Joe Maloney of Mountain Home invited me to go duck hunting, and I wasn’t going to let a short night’s sleep stop me from going. Aside from being a great guy, he knows the Snake well, and I figured he would get us into some birds.
But 3 a.m.? Man, that gave me second thoughts. Was it worth it?
Bridger Bowl Ski Area is set to open on Friday after receiving 9 more inches of wet snow since last Thursday.
The Bozeman-area ski hill is reporting a 24-inch base at the top of its Alpine lift. However, the snowpack for the most part is still thin, so early season conditions are the norm.
The mountain will be open from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. with all lifts running except for the Virginia City and Schlasman lifts.
If you thought Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyo., was an elk mecca in the fall, check out this BBC video from Estes Park, Colo.
I was particularly amazed by the people laughing after being chased by bulls. They wouldn't be laughing if the elk hooked them.
I feel sorry for the police in Estes Park, they must get tired of herding people and elk.
State game wardens are asking for help in finding who poached three white-tailed deer alongside a road south of Conrad.
On Nov. 15 an area landowner discovered two whitetail does and a fawn shot and left about 5 miles south of Conrad along a road known locally as Gravel Pit Road.
“They were shot multiple times,” said Fish, Wildlife and Parks game warden Rod Duty. “It was a senseless shooting.”
Anyone with information about this incident is urged to call 1-800-TIPMONT. Rewards are available through the TIPMONT program and informants are kept confidential.
Montana Sen. Jon Tester's Sportsmen's Act of 2012 gained the support of two biggies in the outdoor publishing industry on Thursday.
The bill was blocked earlier this week by Repbulican senators who said it cost too much money, although it originally had bipartisan support.
“The Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 is so important to outdoor sports that it prompted us out of our reporting role and turned us into advocates,” said Anthony Licata, editorial director for Field & Stream and Outdoor Life. “This is not the time to be divisive or partisan because this is likely the most important piece of hunting and fishing legislation of our generation.”
According to Licata, the magazines do not typically endorse political candidates or legislation, so this move marks the first time in recent history that they have changed that policy.
The fall mating season can be a dangerous, exhausting and sometimes deadly time of the year for our treasured big game species.
Sometimes we forget that until a reminder comes along like the one provided a few weeks ago by Wyoming Game and Fish warden Jerry Longobardi. Unfortunately, his note got buried in my email so you are only getting to see the photos now. He had responded to a call on Sept. 29 about two dead bull moose that had been found with their antlers fatally locked.
"Both were mature bulls ... 5 plus years old," Longobardi wrote.
A full-grown bull moose can weigh close to 1,000 pounds, so a battle between two of the behemoths is close to a ton of pushing, snorting, grunting muscle.
"The more typical palmated bull had a 45-inch spread, several points broken off. The other bull was kind of nontypical, deeper indentations in his palms that I think allowed the antlers to become locked," he wrote.
BONNER, Mont. -- A boy with his first deer, hoping for more.
A man with his first mountain lion, hoping never again.
It may not have been the busiest opening day of big game season at the Fish, Wildlife and Parks check station in Bonner on Saturday, but - at least for some of the people passing through - it was one of the most memorable.
Twelve-year-old Tucker Johnson presented a nice-sized 3-by-4-point buck that was -- as his mom helpfully pointed out -- just a little bigger than his dad's 2-by-3.
The whole family came through the check station late Saturday afternoon -- Tyler, his 10-year-old sister Jaci, dad Josh and mom Natalie, along with Lily the yellow Lab.
Remember way back when the opening day of the big game rifle season always seemed to be accompanied by a huge blizzard. I can remember driving through Judith Gap on the way east and not being able to see the highway, or getting stuck in snow drifts on the way out. More recently, the hunting openers have been T-shirt weather.
Well, according to the National Weather Service, Montana may be in for another such stormy opener this weekend. The forecast sounds like if the rain or snow doesn't hit on Saturday, it will surely settle in by Sunday and possibly continue into the following week.
You know that that means: Tracking snow! Better dig out those tire chains. Luckily, it could also bury the leaves in my yard so I won't have to rake them. Here's the forecast:
ANOTHER PACIFIC COLD FRONT WILL MOVE SOUTHWARD THROUGH THE REGION ON SATURDAY...BRINGING WITH IT COOLER TEMPERATURES AND A CHANCE FOR RAIN AND SNOW. THE CHANCES FOR WIDESPREAD ACCUMULATING SNOW WILL INCREASE MID TO LATE NEXT WEEK...ALONG WITH MORE LATE FALL-LIKE TEMPERATURES.
Brett French, the Gazette outdoor editor, brings you great outdoor info, advice, and events in addition to what you get in the Billings Gazette.