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Hike To Upper Sheepherder Lake

Kelly's Field Studies
by Dan Hartman

Aug. 5, 2010

   The girls (Kelly & Cassie) and I hiked out to Upper Sheepherder Lake in The Beartooths today. We parked above the upper end of Long Lake and stared down through a mix of stunted spruce and fir. Almost immediately we came across owl sign. Probably saw-whet. I was surprised to find them this high as we were easily 9000 ft. In the scattered meadows, we walked through carpets of Asters, Paintbrush, and Clover. Along the streams we found Bluebells and Lewis Monkey flower. We topped one high slope and came face to face with an elephant. We decided it must be a wooly mammoth. Then we realized there was a whole herd. We then found there were only heads. Sheepishly we decided they were just elephant head flowers. As a matter of fact the whole slope was covered with them. We reached Lower Sheepherder Lake after an hour and a half. Trout were jumping, as it was still early. A water vole struggled upstream at an inlet. While Kelly took time to do a quick watercolor of the lake, I scanned the high banks of snow for goats. Moving along the west side of the water we found a shady spot for our lunch. As it was starting to heat up, mosquitoes and biting flies were becoming a problem. When we moved back out into the sun, the insects weren’t so bad. We passed the lake then climbed the steep boulder strewn slope that led to the upper lake. Pika and marmots called to us from the rockslides to our right. We finally reached Upper Sheepherder Lake around noon. There was very little shade as we were near timberline. I dipped my hat in the lake to cool my head. The girls talked me into circling the lake. Kelly stopped often to do studies of flowers and trees with her watercolors. The short breaks didn’t bother me! At the back of the lake Kelly and Cassie climbed a rocky ridge to check out the other side. What they found was another ridge above that one. As it was getting hot we started back and when it clouded up and began to spit rain we didn’t mind at all. A few more flower studies by Kelly and we reached our car around 3pm. Tired and covered with bug bites, Kelly and Cassie remarked, it was their favorite hike of this summer

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Lower Sheepherder Lake


Lewis Monkey Flower