The Lee Metcalf Wilderness

Date Posted: 7-8-12

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At the end of June, as a birthday present to myself, I drove up to Big Sky, Montana and met up with the owner of Backcountry Journeys, Russ Nordstrand.  He is guiding this summer in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, and on this weekend his girlfriend happened to be visiting from Arizona.  All three of us have been friends for quite awhile, and we took the opportunity to catch up, swap stories, and make some plans for hiking into the Montana backcountry.


Initially, we had planned on a trip into Yellowstone.  However, permits were scarce and fires were banned, so we made a last minute decision to venture into the Spanish Peaks unit of the Lee Metcalf wilderness.  This area is named for US Senator Lee Metcalf, a pioneer of the conservation movement who loved the wilderness and Montana.  In 1983 land bordering Yellowstone and the Gallatin National forest was designated an official wilderness area in his honor.


Lee Metcalf | Montana | Yellowstone
Deciding On Our Route


We got up early, ate, packed, and went to pick up a few supplies before hitting the Deer Creek trailhead.  Armed with plenty of food, bear spray, and whiskey we hit the trail.


Lee Metcalf | Montana | Mystery Ranch
Mystery Ranch and Roughstock, Two Great Things From Montana!


It was about 5 miles and 3000 vertical feet back to Moon Lake where we set up camp.  Along the way we came across a beautiful mountain meadow where we stopped for lunch.


Lee Metcalf | Montana
I’m A Bit Jealous That This Is Russ’s Normal Office


Lee Metcalf | Montana| Spanish Peaks
Farther On We Crossed Below A Small Waterfall


We set up camp and took in our surroundings.  I hadn’t been to this area of Montana, or anywhere near Big Sky before.  I was entranced by the beauty of the area, the forest, and the lake.



Lee Metcalf | Montana | Big Sky
The View From Our Camp



Lee Metcalf | Montana | Moon Lake
Patches Of Snow Linger At The Edge Of Moon Lake



Lee Metcalf | Montana | Moon Lake
Flowers In Full Bloom


We did a short out and back overnight trip because we wanted to be sure to save time for mountain biking the following day (A post on the amazing trails near Big Sky is forthcoming).  As I hoped, the trip was absolutely spectacular!  I will be spending a lot more time in Montana in the coming months and years.


For information about the Lee Metcalf wilderness visit here.  And be sure to look up Russ if you’re headed to Montana this summer!

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