“The Eagle looked down on the river below,
and he wrapped his wings ‘round him and fell like a stone.
The big salmon fought, but the talons held true.
Suddenly the world turned from silver to blue.”
Steve Earle, “Me and The Eagle”
Needless to say I was tired when we finally reached Bryant
Lake. It had been a long day. We started hiking before 9 a.m.
and arrived at the lake late in the afternoon. My feet, legs,
shoulders and back were all sore, but the view was invigorating.
The crystal-blue mountain lake reflected the surrounding
granite cliffs and peaks perfectly on its glassy surface. The
wildflowers bloomed around the shores and somewhere across the
water a fish jumped.
We set up camp near the head of the lake, erecting our tent
in a small grassy meadow surrounded by alpine shrubs. We filtered
our drinking water form the small stream that fed the lake.
I spent the afternoon casting flies in the shallow water around
the edge of the lake and was delighted, over and over, at seeing
the small rainbow trout rise to my imitations. At night the
world was silent – only the sound of the wind on the rocks and
through the trees.
Bryant Lake sits high in the Bear Creek Drainage, west of
Victor. The hike in is about nine miles and the trail is clearly
marked. And as peaceful as the lake is, late during the second
night, we did get a thunderstorm through the basin and the thunder
shattered the silence over and over, like a big base drum. Lightning
danced on the rocks way overhead and rain came down in wild
sheets. This world, miles away from civilization, is anything
But living in the Bitterroot Valley provides us quick access
to this unique world – a world still natural and untrammeled
by man. It’s not always easy, some of the trails on the west
side of the valley can be very difficult, but the challenge
is part of the reward.
Camping in the Bitterroot Valley and surrounding mountains
can range from the backpacking trips to RV and car camping.
The Forest Service has several campgrounds appropriate for RVs
and tents: Lake Como, Blodgett and Rombo being three of the
more popular campgrounds. These campgrounds have designated
fire rings, campsites and toilets. They also charge a nominal
Camping is of course allowed almost anywhere on the National
Forest, but campers must take responsibility for their camps.
During the late summer, campfires are often outlawed on the
forest due to fire danger. When campfires are allowed, making
sure they are out cold before you move on is essential.
Also take the extra time to make sure all the trash is picked
up and when camping in the wilderness make sure you employ “Leave
No Trace,” tactics.
Valley Montana Activities, Sports and Things To Do
Camping | Canoeing
| Conservation |
Cross Country Skiing
| Downhill Skiing |
Fly Fishing |
Hiking | Horse
Care | Hunting |
Look Outs |