Lava Lake

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Words and Photos by Doug Brown


I was sitting at my desk on my computer yesterday afternoon and I suddenly had the urge to get outside. Since I arrived in Bozeman at the end of May, I had always heard about how great Lava Lake was; and having the itch to do all that I can before I go back to school in Ohio at the end of the month, I decided to finally hike up to the lake.

I went back to my apartment to pack up my 5-weight 3-piece T&T fly rod--just in case the usual fly fishing urge comes over me--and headed off down 191 to the Lava Lake trail head and parked my Chevy HHR in the packed lot full of Subarus and minivans. At 4:15 I strapped my fly rod tube on my backpack and headed up the trail, passing a mix of experienced hikers and overwhelmed tourists with their tiny little dogs coming back down from their day on the trail.

The last person I saw for the rest of the day--about two miles into the three mile hike--laughed and said "hope it doesn't rain on ya" as they were passing. They were right. A couple minutes later it started pouring, and continued until the end of the trail.

I reached Lava Lake after 6pm; about two hours after I began. That three mile hike up was a long three miles. I was pretty exhausted. But the rain had let up and the sun came out again just as I had my first look at the water, so my mood was restored.

I walked around the lake and took a seat on a tree that had fallen over to put my fly rod together, but mostly to rest my legs and take in the beautiful scenery. It wasn't until after 7pm and a few fruitless casts later that I realized I should start heading down soon if I wanted to have some daylight to aide my journey back.

It rained my entire way. Mixed with decreasing sunlight and increasing clouds, it got dark on the trail pretty quickly. I got back to the trail head at at around 8:45, with my lonely car waiting for me in the lot.

I headed back towards Bozeman, making a stop at Stacey's in Gallatin Gateway for a Jalapeno Burger and a couple Moose Drools. I wasn't there 10 minutes before a bus of several dozen 20 and 3o-somethings from a wedding party got dropped off at the bar. It was very funny seeing fancily dressed New Jersey and Philly natives ordering equally as fancy mixed-drinks at a place like Stacey's.

Yesterday was a great day. I'm glad I got to experience Lava Lake before I go back to the flatlands of the midwest.

The sun came out when I was at the topResting/getting my flyrod readyOn my way back downMy trusty HHR waiting for me at the end day.
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