Barbara and I got an early start – Jerry and Cherie had gotten up but were still in camp when we left. After dropping down a bit in elevation we got to a dramatic lake – we were a bit confused and realized that this lake was Bald Knob – not where we’d camped the night before. Hikers have to cross over two outlets, which could be tricky when water is high. This meant we had more miles than we had planned for the last day!
We stopped to make some coffee near a stream on some flat rock slabs and then off we went. The trail goes through some craggy stuff here and then enters mostly wooded terrain. Russell Lake was nice, but after the drama of the lakes the day before, seemed ho-hum. Camp sites were in the woods – no view of the lake. We saw many backpackers coming in – glad we were heading out! The Labor Day weekend was starting! One of the backpackers turned out to be a fitness instructor Barbara knew from her Y!
We got out just after 1pm, telling Jeff that Jerry and Cherie had left camp later and would be out by 3pm or so. He hiked in to meet them and we found out later they did get out by 3pm. They got margaritas – we had to be good as we both had to drive home, so no wine with dinner.
After stowing our gear in my car, off we went to drive the same route to East Rosebud to get Barbara’s car. Again we stopped for a meal at another Italian restaurant called POM (pizza and really good salad) and great cappucino’s from a gourmet deli, Babcock & Miles. The parking lot was totally overflowing when we got there. We hit the road as soon as possible – Hwy 78 to Columbus and then I90 to Bozeman. Got to the interstate about 7:30pm and so that meant getting home pretty late after dark. As I approached Bozeman I could see smoke and near the Bear Creek Road exit, I could see a hillside near the M on fire! What a calamity….dry conditions and wind fueled this fire. Got home at 9:30pm – glad to be there. But, a fabulous trip. I will be back on and off the Beaten Path in future! Yeti was asleep when I got home, so I didn’t get to tell him about the trek until next day. He didn’t know about the fire either.