August Overnight into the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness

It’s been a summer of weddings on the weekends and work on the weekdays. My fiance, our friends, and I have managed to get out for a fair number of car camping overnighters with some good mountain biking and hiking during the days but the backpacking has been a bit sparse so far this summer. We penciled in a weekend trip to the Bitterroot valley to visit my long time friend Casey at the farm she’s been living and working on and to spend a night a short distance into the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Complex – a land I’ve not yet explored but have wanted to.

Peterson Lake

Casey and I have been friends since the late 90s having met in Fargo, ND during college. Luck would have it that we both found employement in Glacier National Park in 2004 without knowing the other was doing the same and since then we’ve managed to stay in touch every year or so when our paths could cross. It was serendipitous hearing Casey would be only a few hours away this summer so a meetup was definitely in order.

Sam, Torie, Casey, and Gus

We toured the small, farm that is being worked by the sweat (and tears) of just two gals who put in long, hot hours in the SW Montana sun to bring fresh, organic vegetables to the tables of people in the Bitterroot Valley. It’s about as honest of work as one can find.


Living in tents and teepees, and cooking at an outdoor cook shanty is about all the camping most people would need but Casey still enjoys getting away from it all and was amped to join us on a short trek up to Peterson Lake in the Sweeney Creek drainage of the Bitterroots.

Cook Shanty

Peterson Lake, Sweeney Creek, Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness

We arrived at the lake about an hour before dark and Torie picked a spectacular zone on the East shore of the lake. The former marshy end of the lake had dried up in the past decades leaving a flat, soft, dry, and grassy acreage perfect for our tents.

Golite Shangri-La 3

We dined on couscous and fresh, organic veggies (of course) and shared whiskey and hard cider after. Fire danger has reached it’s height in SW Montana and with restrictions and a high wind we opted to enjoy the light of the nearly full moon as opposed to some good ol’ “Ranger TV”. The noobs at the other end of the lake must have been blissfully unaware of the fire restrictions for we could see their “TV” blazing from the tree’d zone to the West.

Wood texture

Morning was relaxed, the hike was mostly cool and breezy, and we had time in the late afternoon to swing through Missoula for a late lunch with yet another friend. A weekend full of good times for sure.