Summiting a Mountain | Sacajawea Peak, Montana

So, I found this post in my drafts from just over a year ago, when I lived in the mountains of Montana. Thought I’d share it anyway, cause it was such a lovely day!

 

After numerous hikes and adventurous outdoors activities during our time in Montana, S and I finally decided to hike up to the very top of a mountain. In fact, the highest peak in Bozeman’s local range: the Bridger mountains. The mountain is called Sacajawea peak and the hike is only 4 miles round trip so as mountains go, I guess its not so bad. But it’s still tough and therefore so worth it when you reach the top.

Beautiful spot for camping

We arrived the evening before after some crazy driving and deer spotting on the 7 mile dirt road to the bottom of the peak which is also home to Fairy Lake; a beautiful mountain lake with glistening turquoise waters and mountains goats trotting around the edges.We walked around the edge and vowed to swim after our hike the following day. Although, the contents of the lake is snowmelt meaning that it is pretty much like having an ice bath! That evening, we cooked a curry on our stove at sunset and made a fire which we kept going all night. We read our books beside it before retiring into the tiniest tent lent to us by my boss/professor!

Fairy Lake, Montana
Fairy lake Campsite – Montana
Tiny tent – Montana
hiking, camping, montana
Fire burning – Montana
Sunset in the forest

The next morning, we awoke early after a pretty good nights sleep bar one incident where S & I both thought that there was a bear snuggling up on the outside of the tent (foreigners paranoia I guess – though there are lots of bear sightings in the area, regularly so I guess it wasn’t too far from the truth!). We made some oats for breakfast, got our hiking packs sorted and off we went. S gifted me a camelpak for my birthday a few weeks before, and this was the first opportunity I had to use it so that was pretty exciting (and so useful for getting a sip of water on the steep parts!). Looking up at the mountain before us, I was amazed, it was so huge and overwhelming. It seemed far off that we would reach the top in just an hour or so. Also, something else that I found crazy was that there was still snow – in mid-July! Having not grown up near mountains, most things amaze me about them but this was really special to me. They were only tiny patches but still snow!

Sacajawea Peak – Montana
Hiking
Walking in the Mountains – Montana

We began the climb, and immediately there was elevation gain – it was so steep! But the views kept getting better and better. It felt like we were walking up into the clouds. The higher we got the more it looked as though we were peeking out of a plane window.

Plane, hiking
Views like we were in a Plane
Sean on Sacajawea
Not quite at the peak – Sacajawea Peak, Montana

The hike was tough, lots and lots of switchbacks, with rocks underfoot making it difficult to navigate sometime. There were a few other groups hiking but most were coming down or far ahead of us. No one was right by us which was nice (and something I love about hiking in Montana!). As we climbed higher, three mountains goats appeared peeking their heads over the summit. It was so funny to see. They were so sweet and such agile climbers!

A mountain goat peeking over the Summit – Sacajawea Peak, Montana
A goat on sac
Mountain Goat on Sacajawea – Montana

The final push for the summit was difficult, a real climb and scrabble towards the end when we had to grab crumbling rocks for balance. The goats stayed put as we climbed, looking down at us from the top. They were so agile; despite the fact that they may not look like it. I was so happy to reach the top, and we had the summit to ourselves. We sat up there for a while, just taking in the views of a state I have come to love and feel so at home in.

The Rocky Summit – Sacajawea Peak, Montana
On the Sac summit
At the top of the summit – Sacajawea Peak, Montana

It was so cool to look down and point out the mountains we had climbed on before, the ones nearer to town and figure out where we were in relation to Bozeman.

Sacajawea hike views
The way we climbed – Sacajawea Peak

The views from the top were absolutely incredible, you could see for miles. I guess they don’t call it big sky country for nothing! Even just looking down at where we had started was crazy, I could hardly believe that we climbed so far. It really made me think about how small we are in relation to the world around us. What a beautiful place to be. 

IMG_7898mountain goats being goats

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The goats also kept us company and were so sweet! They ran away whenever we moved and we were amazed at their balance too! I loved seeing them though! However, there were also tons of horseflies at the top so we had to avoid those a fair bit! After a while, we started to head back down, and definitely underestimated how hard it would be on the knees! We also were followed by a raging pack of horseflies – it was like a cartoon! The closer down we got, the more flies seemed to swarm towards us and we ended up having to run to the car and jump in and slam the doors and they all flew up against the door trying to get in! We quickly changed into swimming gear and then had to run to the lake as they were STILL following us (!!) and it wasn’t until we jumped in the lake (so chilly!!) that they actually left us alone! Fairy Lake - Tree into water Fairy Lake - Green waters                      

Fairy lake is so stunning! The green water and the mountains behind it! It is so cold to swim in but also so refreshing! There were lots of little mountain goat families between the trees hopping around and we practically had the whole place to ourselves. We both had a few goes at the rope swing and had to get out immediately each time as the water was so numbingly cold! Despite that, it was so much fun and we kept going! So nice after the long hike to, to dunk our tired muscles in the water!

IMG_7236

On the way back up the hill to the car, S’s flip flops start breaking so we ended up making a towel shoe for him as shown in the photo above! Too funny!

Montana is such a beautiful place to be living and I’ll be so sad to go in a couple of weeks!

[Update: Leaving was really sad and I want to return – anyone know of any bozeman based video positions?]

 

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