This marmot stood upright to keep an eye on us
Dramatic backdrop!
Alan stands on a rock at the base, giving some perspective on the Wall's size
Where We Be
Chinese Wall -- "The Bob," Montana
After a short interlude in St. Ignatius, the three
of us headed into the Bob Marshall Wilderness
(or "The Bob" as the locals call it) for a week-
long backpack in early September. "The Bob" is
located relatively close to where Alan and
Robert live and they've always wanted to
explore it. All told, we hiked 60 miles in 6 days,
with two hard 14- and 15-mile days in the middle.
The 14-mile day involved 2500 feet of elevation
gain, which is a good amount with a pack on.
Most of the hike was through woods following
along the Spotted Bear River. The highlight was
the Chinese Wall, a thousand-foot-high scarp of
limestone that stretches unbroken for a dozen
miles. Our Falcon Guide says, "It is arguably the
most dramatic manifestation of the Continental
Divide between Mexico and the Arctic Ocean."

[Note: Robin is caring for her mom in Maine so
she couldn't join us. She was sorely missed!]
We drove 50 miles along the east side of Hungry Horse Reservoir on a well-maintained gravel road
The Great Bear Wilderness is contiguous with the Bob Marshall Wilderness. As soon as we entered it, we saw this pile of berry-filled bear scat.
This Gray's Jay paid us a visit as we packed up our tents at My Lake and headed back the way we came
We were all anxious to leave the burned-out forest
Long stretch of limestone cliff on the far side of the river
We set up tents in a lovely meadow complete with fire pit and seating. (There’s even an outhouse near the cabin!)
We took turns bathing in the crystal-clear river water, which was waist-deep in places
We followed Spotted Bear River Trail #83 most of the way
Alan made sure there was a fire each night of the trip (by the way, that's our teensy-tiny stove on top of the log)
Who brought the marshmallows?
It's always fun to take before and after pictures when venturing into the wilderness
Our first day's hike started at Beaver Creek Trailhead and tracked high above the Spotted Bear River
Because of the long drive from home, we didn't start hiking until 4:15 pm. We had hoped to camp at Blue Lake (the topo map looked promising),
but there were no sites at all for camping there. We pressed on, and by 7:30 pm it was getting dark. In desperation we settled for this burned-out forest.
Possibly the ugliest campsite ever!
This was our first backpacking trip using MSR's "Pocket Rocket" -- so tiny!
Spotted Bear River at dawn
Start of a HARD day -- we hiked 14 miles with 2500 feet of elevation gain, from Pentagon Cabin to Spotted Bear Pass to My Lake
This thousand-foot-high scarp of limestone stretches unbroken for a dozen miles (this is the northern end where it's most dramatic)
Robert is the king of Larch Hill
Best day of the trip! We left our packs behind and climbed Larch Hill in the morning for beautiful views of the Chinese Wall.
Our destination on our second day was Pentagon Cabin, at the confluence of Spotted Bear River and Pentagon Creek
Most of the hike was through deep forest. This certainly felt like the bears' woods!
While Robert and I took a much-needed gorp break, Alan hiked back to the river to pump more water. Go Alan!
Grizzly print in the mud (note the claw marks)
Our pace slowed dramatically when we came across a patch of huckleberries growing trailside
This one seems ready to make his home in my tent
Our water filter broke earlier that evening (arrgh!), and since the creek coming out of My Lake was anemic at best, we had to boil all our water
The climb to the top of Spotted Bear Pass was steady and not too painful. What surprised us was the strenuous climb from the pass to My Lake.
At last! My Lake! We reached it around 6 pm after a long day. Two resident deer seem to call My Lake their lake.
Alan tries (with limited success) to keep his boots dry through a particularly muddy patch
The Hoop Creek campsite offered easy river access, a fire pit, sitting logs, a food hanging post, and flat grassy ground
Alan & Robert started a campfire around 5 pm and we kept it burning all the way until bedtime at 10 pm
Stepping carefully at the end of a long day's hike
Setting up my Black Diamond tent near Hoop Creek
We had our most deluxe meal of the trip that night -- salmon pesto with pasta, yum!
Alan collects even more firewood to keep the blaze going
The Chinese Wall is easily the most popular and best-known destination in the Bob Marshall Wilderness
Robert found this "bobble compass" along the trail and began collecting supplies to serve as a artistic "mounting" for it back home
The longer we stayed in the wilderness, the more casual we got about river crossings. Here Robert just sloshes through.
We loved the colorful rocks in Spotted Bear River -- quite beautiful
Lovely view of the limestone cliffs at sunrise from my final campsite
We managed to fit all our trash into one ziplock bag
Robert spotted this grouse perched on a tree limb just a few feet away from us
By this point our packs were lighter, so we made great time
We hiked 15 miles on Day 5 but it was mostly downhill or flat, so fairly easy
Back at the edge of the Bob Marshall Wilderness -- but we still have 9 or 10 miles to go to the trailhead
Alan ponders his last snack of the trip -- we're running low on food by this point!
Alan was dismayed to find no fire ring at our final campsite so he built this one from scratch. That night we watched the embers burn down.
Back at the trailhead -- hooray!
We got cleaned up in the river, then snacked on the last
of our food -- including homemade jam with crackers
Then we threw everything into the
back of our car and headed for home
We had dinner that night at Ninepipes Restaurant -- this was the
gorgeous view of the Mission Range from the picture windows
This is the Chinese Wall as seen from the top of Larch Hill in the morning
Great photo op
We found this discarded shovel on top of Larch Hill
Underside of an uprooted tree trunk
Each night we hung our food -- required here!
Trail #83 is also popular with hikers using pack animals
Feeling fit and happy after nearly two weeks of backpacking