A Visit To Sheep Lake (Part 2)After posting Part One, I realized I did not share the location of my new favorite lake. Sheep Lake is nestled beneath Coffin Mountain's overhanging brow. While it is shown on the Lee Metcalf Wilderness map - an area which encompasses much to the west of Yellowstone National Park; is located only about 20 miles from Elk Lake (as the crow flies - but only the crow travels straight in this mountainous country); and is in Montana (never a given around here), I am not certain to which mountains it belongs. Is it in the Lionshead mountains? The Henry's Lake Mountains? The beginning of the Madison Range? All three intersect near Raynolds Pass where one finds Sheep Lake's trailhead.
The map showed the junction. We looked for it, but not seriously as we were not planning to head that direction. I'm just glad we did not have to find this junction to reach our intended destination because, it is WELL HIDDEN! In fact, when the USFS horseback team finally reached Sheep Lake, I asked them about the trail junction. They responded: We discussed how difficult the sign is to spot on our way up today. And, it was difficult. While we might have spotted it if we had not been watching our step on the rocky trail, I'm not certain. The trail jutted off at a sharp angle to our left, nearly parallel the trail we were hiking and in a seemingly unlikely location. The trail sign (which we nearly missed although we were looking carefully on our way back) had fallen over and was nearly overgrown by the surrounding short but heavy foliage. All-in-all, unless they fix the sign (and the crew we met were doing trail work but had left this sign lay so. . .), if you plan to make the loop, be aware the junction is difficult to spot, especially if you are heading up the hill.
impression. With ease we could imagine ourselves tucked away in a fairy
kingdom with castle walls and giant mountains. Further down the valley
we had even spotted what looked like a giant rock chair perched high on
the mountain side.
landscape. Coffin Mountain looms ahead - the ever protective uncle. Rocky
arms encircle the lake with a posessive air. Beautiful fish work the shoreline
flashing their colors up through the clear waters.
Lady of the Lake