VTC #9 - Mystic Lake Fire Rehab

Photo by Meg Killen

Project: Mystic Lake Fire Rehab

Landscape: Anaconda Pintler Wilderness

Dates: August 5 - 11, 2018

Location: Continental Divide Trail - Wisdom R.D.
Project Work: Trail Maintenance & Clearing
Camping: Backcountry (stock supported)
Project Difficulty: Strenuous
Volunteer Limit: 7
Volunteer Slots Available: FULL
Meeting Time & Place: Sun. Aug 5, 11:00 AM @ Mystic Lake TH




Project Description

Last summer's Meyers Fire altered the landscape of the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness. Trails were not spared. Many of the established routes in the AP, including a stretch of the Continental Divide Trail, were severely damaged by the wildfire. Now, the Forest Service is calling on MWA's Volunteer Trail Crew to help repair damaged stretches of the CDT north of Mystic Lake. Our crew will dig to re-establish tread, install new drainage features to replace ones that burned out and clear deadfall over the trail. This rehab work is crucial to preserving access for day trippers, pack trains and thru-hikers. 

Our crew will establish base camp at the Mystic Lake Guard Station and work north on the CDT toward Bear Lake. Mystic Lake is a gorgeous camp spot and basing out of a cabin makes life in the backcountry a little more homey. The trail we are working lies directly beside the Continental Divide and features some impressive vistas.

In the wake of big wildfires, if you're left wondering how you can help, here's your chance! Do your part to help the Forest Service and protect our public lands on this adventure into 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. -Description from Wilderness.net

Meeting Time & Place

Sunday August 5, 11:00 AM @ 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 approx. 7 miles and Mystic Lake TH is on the right

Camping Details

Sunday morning, we will hike into our backcountry camp at Mystic Lake shortly after meeting. This will be a cabin-supported backcountry camp, 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 our group gear and food. Packers will be dropping our camp prior to our hike-in, meaning all volunteers will absolutely 100% need to carry all their own personal gear to Mystic Lake. A huge thanks to our packer friends with the Back Country Horsemen!

If you are interested in camping before our Sunday morning meeting at the Mystic Lake TH, the nearby Pintler Lake Campground is a good option.

Food and Water

MWA will provide all food and cooking equipment. First meal provided will be dinner Sunday evening after we arrive at camp. Your last provided 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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