Tobacco Root Mountains, South Willow Creek

John Goering

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Just a few photos from our day hike yesterday to Bell Lake. It is a modest 6 mile round trip with about 2,000' of elevation gain. While back in the late 60's and early 70's there was a Jeep trail all the way to Bell Lake and I did have my CJ5 up to the lake, I must profess a bit of guilt. Looking at some of that road 4 decades later, it's another case where it is hard to argue it should still be open-an unadulterated mess.

A little east of Pony, MT on MT Highway 283. Hollowtop Mountain (10,604'-highest peak in the Roots) for a backdrop. Pony is a quaint old mining town about 6 miles west of Harrison, MT on US 287. While not a ghost town, it is a shallow shell of what it once was. There are a number of interesting buildings and well worth poking around for a time if you haven't been there before-and maybe imbibing one at the Pony Bar (http://www.ponybarmontana.com/).
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Hollowtop again, from Potosi Road.
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Potosi Road (here, FS 160).
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Horse Mountain and Potosi Peak.
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About 3/4 mile from the trail head-north side of Branham Peaks.
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Upper South Willow Creek heading off the first hanging valley headwall.
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The token canine photo. We did run into a little snow but in a normal year, there would still be 4 to 8' of it over all this area.
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Bell Lake and un-named mountain (about 10,400').
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Branham Peaks. The slope failure on the right has dumped a lot of sediment in the lake and it would appear that catastrophic failure at some point is likely.
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Another shot of Bell Lake.
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While we were at the lake, the wind pushed the ice away from the outlet so my wife got a little time in with the fly rod. Yellowstone cutthroats. And it was a bit nippy.
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South Willow Creek near the trail head.
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I've got family that lives across from the Madison River Range, and I've passed by the Tobacco Roots several times. Looks like a place I need to get out and see more of!
 
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