VTC #9 – Mystic Lake Clearing

Home Discover the Wild Volunteer Trail Crew VTC #9 – Mystic Lake Clearing
Photo by Meg Killen

Project: Mystic Lake Clearing 

Landscape: Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness

Dates: July 27 – August 3, 2019

Location: Continental Divide Trail – Wisdom R.D.
Project Work: Clearing & Trail Maintenance
Camping: Backcountry (stock supported)
Project Difficulty: Very Strenuous
**Daily hikes on this trip range from 10-18 miles**
Volunteer Limit: 5
Volunteer Slots Available: 2
Meeting Time & Place: Saturday, July 27th, 6:00 p.m. @ Mystic Lake TH



Project Description

MWA is headed back to Mystic Lake for our annual clearing project on the Continental Divide Trail. The crew will depart each morning from base camp at the Mystic Lake Guard Station armed with our trusty crosscut saws. We'll log out downed trees across the CDT as we venture west past Continental Lake, through Buck Ridge Meadows, and on towards Mussigbrod Creek. Much of our daily hiking and sawing will take place atop a ridge offering views of the Big Hole Valley and further north into the heart of the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness. If time allows, we will also clear towards Lion Lake.

Clearing deadfall ensures this trail remains accessible for all users looking to explore the AP Wilderness. Due to the remoteness of this stretch of trail, clearing it can be a physical and logistical challenge. The work will require long daily hikes, especially as we progress further west toward Mussigbrod later in the week. Please make sure you are up for the task before signing up - this is the most strenuous project on our schedule.

With great challenge comes great reward. On this trip you will travel through pristine wilderness with soaring views. You'll work side by side with passionate, generous crew members. Most importantly, you'll leave knowing you made a difference along this vital corridor in the AP!

About the Area

One of the jewels of the Northern Rockies, the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness, managed by the Forest Service, encompasses 158,615 acres. It was designated in 1964, the year the Wilderness Act was certified.

The Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness straddles the Continental Divide along the crest of the Anaconda Range in southwestern Montana, positioned between the Bitterroot Valley to the northwest and the Big Hole Valley to the south. Streams and rivers drain to the Bitterroot and Big Hole rivers as well as Rock Creek. While the Anaconda Range’s permanent snowfields today are modest, the Wilderness protects a spectacular array of glacially carved landforms. These include tarn-pocked cirques, huge U-shaped valleys, knife-edged ridges (arêtes), and moraines. Elevations stretch from 5,100 feet along the canyon bottoms to 10,893 feet at West Goat Peak (one of several 10,000-plus-footers in the Wilderness).

Geologically, the Anacondas include Precambrian and Paleozoic limestones, sandstones, and other sedimentary layers struck with igneous intrusions. Canyon bottoms support riparian forests and willow thickets, while vegetation on the mountain slopes ranges from sagebrush in the foothills through spruce-fir and pine forests to subalpine communities of quaking aspen, whitebark pine, and alpine larch. Along the high Divide, bare rock, tundra, and snowfields reign.

Native wildlife includes many of the large mammals indigenous to the Rockies at the time of Euro-American settlement, among them mule deer, elk, moose, mountain goat, bighorn sheep, wolverine, gray wolf, puma, black bear, and the odd grizzly bear. – Wilderness.net.

Meeting Time & Place

Saturday, July 27th, 6:00 p.m. @ Mystic Lake Trailhead

Directions from Wisdom, MT:
Head East on Hwy 43
Turn Left onto North Fork Road after aprox 15.5 miles
Continue for 5 miles, then Turn Right on FSR 185 toward Pintler Campground
Turn Left onto FSR 1278/Howell Crk Rd
Continue approx. 7 miles and Mystic Lake TH is on the right

Directions from Wise River, MT:
Head West on Hwy 43
Turn Right onto North Fork Road after aprox 22.8 miles
Continue for 5 miles, then Turn Right on FSR 185 toward Pintler Campground
Turn Left onto FSR 1278/Howell Crk Rd
Continue approximately 7 miles and Mystic Lake TH is on the right

Camping Details

On Saturday evening, we will car camp at the Mystic Lake TH. Monday morning we will pack into our backcountry camp at Mystic Lake. This will be a cabin-supported backcountry camp. We will be based out of the Mystic Lake Guard Station. Food and smellies will be stored in the cabin and the cabin will be used for cooking. We will set up tents nearby and be sleeping outside all week. Upon arriving at camp we will dig a latrine, establish a kitchen in the cabin, and begin filtering water for the week. Leave No Trace and Bear Safety practices will be strictly followed.

This is a stock-supported trip, meaning packers will be bringing in all of our group gear and food. Volunteers must be prepared to carry in all of their own personal gear in addition to a trail tool. There is always a chance packers will be able to take a tent or sleeping bag off your back, but do not bank on this. A huge thanks to our packer friends with the Back Country Horsemen!

Hike to Camp: 5 miles, 1500' elevation gain

Project Difficulty

This will be a Very Strenuous project. The hike into camp is 5 miles with 1500' elevation gain in the first three miles. Daily hikes will be long and sawing is challenging work. Our crew will need to cover a lot of ground which means you must be able to keep pace. Please reach out if you have any questions or concerns about your ability to participate safely in this project.

*Note: project work is subject to change. Our tasks may become easier or more challenging. Your flexibility in the field is appreciated as we adapt to changing conditions.

Food and Water

MWA will provide all food and cooking equipment. No dinner will be provided Saturday evening, so please arrive having made arrangements independently. First meal provided will be breakfast Sunday morning and last meal will be lunch on our pack-out day.

Volunteers are expected to help with food preparation and clean up on a rotating basis, but your crew leader will handle primary kitchen responsibilities. We will be filtering drinking water for the week and everyone's help in keeping the cubies full will be appreciated (MWA provides group water filters).

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