VTC – Pintler Creek

Photo by Meg Killen

Project: Pintler Creek

Landscape: Anaconda Pintler Wilderness

Dates: July 11 - 18, 2020

Location: Continental Divide Trail – Wisdom R.D.
Project Work: Clearing & Trail Maintenance
Camping: Backcountry (stock supported)
Project Difficulty: Very Strenuous
Volunteer Limit: 7
Volunteer Slots Available: FULL
Meeting Time: Saturday, July 11 at 7 p.m.
Meeting Place: Pintler Creek Trailhead



Project Description

Each summer, MWA volunteers help open the Continental Divide Trail in the Anaconda Pintler Wilderness. The CDT winds through the heart of the AP, providing its travellers grand views and a profound sense of solitude. The remote setting makes this trail particularly challenging to maintain. Our crews help alleviate the maintenance backlog on this trail by establishing a backcountry camp below the Divide where we can more readily access needed work.

Our project work this year will focus on the segment of the CDT from Pintler Pass to Bear Lake. We will clear deadfall from the trail with crosscut saws, brush back encroaching vegetation, and improve drainage structures. Our camp along Pintler Creek lies in the middle of this segment, providing convenient access to points both east and west on the CDT. Even with the ideal camp location, we'll still have long daily hikes to reach the work. Volunteers can expect to hike 10 - 20 miles daily as our work progresses over the course of the week. This is by far our most strenuous trip.

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 encompasses 158,615 acres and contains 45 miles of the Continental Divide Trail. It is one of the OG wilderness areas designated with the passage of the Wilderness Act of 1964.

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 11. 7 p.m. at Pintler Creek Trailhead, just past Pintler Lake Campground

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
Continue north for aprox. 7 miles. The road dead ends at the trailhead.

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
Continue north for aprox. 7 miles. The road dead ends at the trailhead.

Camping Details

On Saturday evening, we will car camp at the Pintler Creek Trailhead. Sunday morning we will pack into our backcountry camp up Pintler Creek. This will be a primitive, backcountry camp. We will set up camp at an old outfitter camp near the junction of the Pintler Creek trail and the CDT. 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: 6 miles, 1000' elevation gain

Project Difficulty

This will be a Very Strenuous project. The hike into camp is 6 miles with 1000' of gradual elevation gain. 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 fixings 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).

More Information