Thursday, August 06, 2009

Elsina, Dina, & the Lunker

After planning this day hike for about 2 weeks, my friend Kristin & I awoke early to a complete downpour in Missoula this morning. I called the Seeley Lake ranger station & was told the forecast at out destination was the same. We mulled it over for a few minutes & finally concluded that we needed to do something on our day off. So we waited an hour for the temperature to warm up a bit & decided to stick to our original plan, come rain or shine, with rain slickers in hand. We packed up the pups into Kristin's monster truck & took off for Lake Elsina, a mountainous lake just north of Seeley Lake.We arrived to a completely dry environment. Although we could tell it had rained all morning up there as well, there was not a drop of water falling from the sky when we arrived at the trail head. The air was however heavy with mosquitoes. We loaded up on plenty of bug spray not only for ourselves but Kristin thankfully had a mosquito spray for the dogs as well as they were out in full force on such a wet & muggy day.

The hike starts at Lake Elsina & winds through the mountains to Lake Dina, another hidden gem.
Because of the wet summer in Western Montana the wildflowers were all blooming a little later than normal on our hike. Around every turn was another collection of bear grass, indian painbrushes, columbines, & many other assortments of purple, reds, yellows, green, & blues that we could not identify.We stopped on a peninsula jutting out into Dina for a snack the pups packed in for us & to let Ulla play with her new retrieving toy, the lunker. As we munched on granola, amazing corn snack, & sixtlets, Ulla was content to continuously retrieve the lunker from the water as the rest of the pups found other ways to entertain themselves. videoAt one point during a game of fetch a beautiful golden eagle flew about 20 feet directly over our heads, circled a few times, then proceeded to circle over Ulla as only her head bobbed in the water as she retrieved her lunker. It then decided better of itself & flew to a nearby try directly across the lake. Kristin & I were both so dumbfounded by the awesomeness of it being so close that neither of us even thought to reach for our cameras till it had landed on the tree. The pictures are grainy b/c I zoomed in as far as I could & then still had to crop them. The golden eagle then flew to a small island on the lake & walked around for a bit on the shores. Magnificent creatures! videoAfter watching the eagle for a while hop about the island we decided to see if we could find a path that would lead us the entire way around the lake. Kristin chucked the lunker out far into the water to give Ulla one last chance to sink her teeth into it. The wind picked up creating a riple across the lakes otherwise glassy surface & Ulla could not find the lunker. We threw rocks to try & guide her out towards the lunker but after several minutes of this Ulla was loosing strength & swam back to shore empty handed. We saw which way the wind was blowing the lunker & decided to go check the shore line near that direction in a little while. We were unsuccessful in finding a trail that went completely around the lake, so after bushwacking for a while, decided to head back to try & find the lost lunker. We spotted it right where we predicted, but the wind had died down & it was still decently far out in the water. We threw several rocks in its general area till we finally lead Ulla to the lunker with splashes. She snatched it up as soon as she spotted it & about an hour after initiailly loosing it, we had it back in hand! After a successfull retrieval we decided it was time to hit the trail again & hoofed it back to the truck.The entire time we were out not a single drop of rain hit us. Kristin dropped Skyler, Boscarelli, & myself back off at the house (well, we did stop for icecream in Seeley first, thanks again Kristin), we walked inside, took off our muddy clothes, & heard a noise outside... the rain had started pouring from the sky once again.

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