Storm Lake, Horseshoes

Thursday, I picked up Morning Kid early to drive out to Storm Lake about 10 miles south of Anaconda, turn left onto a dirt road, inexplicably paved for a short distance, to climb from about 5,500 feet to 8,000 feet and the Lake, except the road turns rough, increasingly steeper, rockier, more rutted, and covered in more snow and ice until even with 4-wheel drive, the truck slides sideways, gets stuck, roll back down a ways, try again, and finally give up, back into a slot on the uphill side of the road, get out and walk the last mile to the Lake. Someone has been up there, we walked in the tire tracks, through running water, mud, and snow, and over slippery ice. I’m sucking wind and need to stop frequently. MK is breathing heavily but doesn’t need to stop.

The Lake, but for the edges, is covered in ice. The next day I would learn that a man died fishing there in recent years, falling out of the boat, the shock of the cold or something getting him. His friend watched helplessly as his body sunk into the clear, deep lake. Looking across the lake, piles of snow surround the shore. We start the loop around then see fishermen behind us on the other side. We backtrack to say “hello.” They lock their truck as we approach, “Beep.” Aha!, the wheels to their truck wear chains. We all wonder if they are the first to try fishing up there this year.

We continue, finding many flowers on the clear, high banks, water and snow in the slots below. At one spot, water bubbling up from the bottom of the lake indicates a spring emerging under water. We make our way, sinking in the snow, rock-hopping and jumping across streams and water. We start to post-hole, which is a safety issue, because we don’t know whether a rock or stick will slice a leg or water will soak us. From a high bank, looking down, the snow is deeper, streams coming out from underneath the snow. We decide it isn’t worth going further. We turn back and go back in our original direction. The fishermen have given up fishing, because the fish remain in deep water. The fishermen are at the outlet, taking pictures of the water cascading down the hillside. They follow the water down hill, while we cross the snow bridge over the running water to go around the other side of the lake. We don’t get far before encountering deep snow again. There is too much snow to make it around the lake, way too much to do the 3.5 miles out to the Continental Divide Trail.

In the evening, I meet Bamboo at Club Moderne, a bar from the late 1800’s that sadly burned down last year but has been rebuilt. In an unusual twist of fate, the roof collapsed quickly, burying the bar and some of the items inside, thereby saving them.

We reminisce and shares stories of adventures since the Appalachian Trail. He shows me a video from the PCT which has a secret, surprise happy ending.

Anaconda has a horseshoe league with different facilities providing horseshoe pits and serving as “home” for one of the teams. Bamboo easily beat me in three games before league play started. They had a little fun with me about the “hookers,” which are sticks with a hook on end for picking up the horseshoes without bending over. There appears to be a competition developing in terms of who has the nicest “hooker.” A shout-out to Bamboo’s team mates: Mike, Laura, Brit, and Sandy; also to John the owner of Club Moderne.

That’s me on the snow standing on the snow bridge, the main bar at Club Moderne, and a picture of a hooker made from willow by Mike.


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