31 June 2016 – This morning we visited with a ranger about where to hike. Avoiding the “bear sighting” notices, we decided on the Rocky Point Trail. It is a short 1.9 miles with a moderate elevation gain of 350 feet. The trailhead begins from the North Fork Road near the Fish Creek Campground. There is plenty of parking with only one other vehicle already there. That means someone is ahead of us … good for the bears.
Shortly after we enter the trail we cross over Fern Creek.
At about a third of the way we begin to get a view of Lake McDonald. There is a short trail that leads down to the shore. This allows stunning views of the mountain range in the Sperry Glacier region.
We reach a high point for a look in the other direction just before the halfway marker. Heading downhill on the path. That is short-lived as we now have a very steep climb on about 30 yards.
Along the path we notice the scorched trees as a result of the Robert Fire in 2003 that burned about 40,000 acres. The flames reached a height of 500 feet along the northern portion of the trail. We can see the beauty of the process of regeneration as many of the new saplings are 5-6 feet tall. Among these are Douglas fir, lodgepole pine, western larch and ponderosa pine growing in soils enriched with nutrients from ash.
We cross paths with a couple of other hikers just at the Fish Creek Campground. Shortly after we come upon our only wildlife spotting. A ruffed Grouse with four of her chicks are scratching around for a meal. She is very calm given our proximity and allows us a photo op.
Lake McDonald Lodge
Later that evening we left the KOA for the Lodge and dinner at Russell’s fireside Restaurant in Lake McDonald Lodge. About a half mile down the road turns sharply to the right. As we come out of the turn a Grey Wolf darts across our path. It moved so quickly that we only got a brief look, and, of course, no chance for a photo. I add this from the internet as the closest to what we saw. i later confirmed the sighting with a ranger.
Now, we did not stay at the Lodge. A person who did was on the Red Jammer tour with us. She did not speak highly of it, but the location is great. You can go to Trip Advisor to get the scoop. Still, it comes with quite a history. Built in 1913 it was originally named the Lewis Glacier Hotel after its builder John Lewis. The name changed to Lake McDonald Lodge in 1957. It was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1987. Built in the method of a Swiss chalet, popular at that time, the ambiance reflects its style with mounted elk and moose heads, wolf, eagles and other game across the walls. Each floor has a couple of oil paintings depicting Indian life. Overall, one can imagine a hunting party sitting around the huge open fireplace telling stories of the day.
We dined at Russell’s Fireside Restaurant, although it was a bit warm for a fire. Even though we had a wait of 30 minutes, the dining room was half empty throughout our meal. Becky ordered the Oregon Dungeness Crab Stuffed Alaska Pollock with Parslied Fingerling Potatoes and I the Montana Highland Lamb Chops Rosemary Garlic Demi-Glace with Fingerling Potatoes as well. With a bottle of an Oregon Pinot to begin I must say that the meal was quite tasty.
We returned to the KOA for our nightly delight of huckleberry ice cream. As I said in an earlier account, this stuff is addictive. Afterwards we began stowing items for our early departure tomorrow.