2020 Montana Road Trip: Day 4 – Akokala Lake

After 4 days of no signal and no showering, I am alive, hale, and hearty despite a minor black bear encounter. My muscles ache but my spirit endures. We are currently en route to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho where I am looking forward to a nice hot shower. I wasn’t sure how exactly to summarize my last 3 nights of backpacking, but I think I’ll give each excursion its own blog post; the biggest obstacle being that I took upwards of 600 pictures that I need to sort through. Will probably only post a handful for each post, if you want to see more definitely ask me about them when we have a conversation. I’ve picked the ones I think best summarize our experience of each trip.

The first night of our backpacking adventure was at Akokala Lake. This lake is a small alpine lake in the north fork region of the park. It was really peaceful and picturesque. Before drove to the trailhead (2 hr drive) we grabbed some food at Eddie’s Café. Some last-minute fuel before our 5.8 mile hike to the campsite.

I think we definitely underestimated how soon it got dark in Montana. As we had to hike the last mile in the dark. Despite this hiccup, it was a beautiful alpine hike. The scenery didn’t change much and it felt like a lot of my pictures looked the same. Occasionally though, the trees would open up and you’d be treated with a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains.

When we got to the campsite it was dark and we were exhausted. We had to hang our food before we could set up tents, but we decided to just eat first instead. Ben brought a crème brûlée backpacking dessert, it turned out surprisingly good. Despite not needing to, Ben found a way to use fire to melt the sugar. It definitely was getting colder, but we put on some warmer clothes and ventured to the lake. The stars were really pretty and I managed to get a few choice shots with the lake.

We retired to our tents and awoke the next morning to a very cold morning, probably in the high 30s. I definitely need to bring a thermometer with me next time we go backpacking. We ate some breakfast and took some shots by the lake.

After we felt warmed up we started our 3 hour hike back to the car. We started our hike with the sun still rising, and as it was coming up it warmed up more than I thought it would. The stark contrast between the two situations was pretty enlightening.

On our way out to the next trailhead, we passed a small “town” called Polebridge. Inside the mercantile was a bakery that made huckleberry bearclaws. Ben and I were first introduced to Huckleberries in Olympic National Park on our first backpacking trip. We were very pleased to see the massive amount of huckleberry product and food that existed in Montana, and so we had to stop by the bakery to try this out. Turns out, the bakery also made a great many other things and it all smelled and looked delicious. What started as a short stop to buy one bearclaw turned into me getting a hot meatball sandwich (more of a bun), pizza roll, spinach and artichoke roll, au gratin roll, and some butter french top bread. I was planning on eating the various rolls as lunch between backcountry hikes. I have since eaten them all, and can attest that they are all equally delicious. Gives me inspiration for some baking projects when I get back.

Overall Akokala Lake was a good first day hike, and was picturesque. I was pretty blown away by the first clearing on the trail that showcased the nearby mountains as well as how scenic the lake itself was. It was all quite charming. Little did I know what wonders awaited me. Our flattop mountain expedition in the next post!


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