Tom Beal & Warm Springs
Friday, May 26, 1995
Our party included Terbo, Rando, Marvo, Ron, Frank, Dave, Jolly, Alan and another Dave (also known as T-Bone, a New York friend of Frank's). The dogs were Redwood, Jack, Bailey and Elroy.
I skied most of the way the first day, and nearly all the guys used snowshoes. We climbed the road until we could see over the ridge into Walton Lakes and the backside of the Bitterroots.
On the way we checked out a nice snowcat someone had left alongside the road. We considered descending to the Lakes but decided against it as it was pretty hairy. Instead we went into the drainage around Tom Beal Park. Camped on snow that night.
Saturday, May 27, 1995
We began descending into the drainage for about a mile and then began a steep climb to the southern ridge. It was tough to do on skis, but by traversing a lot and sidestepping some I could keep up with the others.
About half way up, we rested and decided to go back down and camp low, so Frank and T-Bone could camp with us for the night before leaving. (T-Bone had to be back at work, and they had to drive to Spokane to catch the plane.) Those with therma-rests sledded down where they could. I skied down best I could, but it was very difficult.
When we finally camped along a thawing Beal Creek, we had covered maybe two miles all day. At least there was more dry ground here. Sing-sang caught a 5-inch brookie using a tree branch, fishing line and a fly.
Sunday, May 28, 1995
Dave and T-Bone left us fairly early for their hike back to the vehicles. I was able to ski half the day until we hit dry ground. Carrying the skis wasn't easy. It was easier much of the time to take it nice and easy and ski down the gentle slope.
After only two or three miles we found a campsite that an outfitter had earlier used. It was complete with split logs and kindling which we depleted with joy.
On the knoll behind camp I found an elk skull broken in two. Further down the knoll, I found the lower jaw and eight of the front teeth. I gave one to everyone, although Jolly didn't want one.
The creek ran though a steep canyon here and the trail crossed the creek. Watched shooting stars and satellites at night. Sing-sang shot a grouse earlier in the day and we all shared the delicous meat.
Monday, May 29, 1995
Leaving camp, we bushwacked for a mile before finding the trail again. Lots of good views of the canyon along the trail. We never got to see many peaks or awesome views because we stayed low most of the time. The good trail allowed my mind to wander a bit and enjoy moving.
Redwood was pretty tired today. I don't think he had been eating as well as the other dogs. All day the dogs kept scaring up elk and deer.
But at one point, their noses were really active. They sniffed branches all along the trail, but wouldn't run into the brush. We could see bear tracks along the trail. Soon Sing-sang spotted the huge black bear 50 yards through the woods. It was a sow with two cubs. The cubs were easily twice as big as our dogs, and she dwarfed her cubs. We watched the bears for a few minutes and the dogs sat by our sides. The bears moved around a bit and began ambling down the drainage - the same way we were going. We let them get a good head start and moved cautiously and noisily. The dogs kept smelling the bear for about a half mile. It seemed like the bear crossed the trail once or twice.
Marvo put his boot along one of the bear's footprints and they were the same size. It was an exhilirating experience - anything could have happenned.
We finally reached the hot springs and soaked our filthy bodies for about 20 minutes. There were lots of people all around, so we left earlier than we really wanted.
On the way back to Terbo's we stopped at the Lochsa Lodge for beers and burgers. Great place in a great setting. Dave and Alan then left for Boise. The rest of us stopped at Lolo Hot Springs for more beer. I drove home to Great Falls the next morning.