Westward adventures – Colter Bay, Swan Lake, Herron Pond & Trapper Lake night #1

Tuesday morning I headed to get a backcountry permit for my next 3 nights ($25 per continuous trip) and ended up with a permit for Tuesday and Thursday night at Trapper Lake and Wednesday night at Leigh Lake. Originally I was going to try to stay at Hermitage Point on Tuesday night, but apparently it was closed because of a wolf den. The trail was open to Swan Lake and Heron Pond, so I decided to start my morning at the Colter Bay trail and just make a good 5 mile hike out of it. 

I really think that Colter Bay is an underrated part of the park. The trail is pretty flat and gives amazing views of the mountains over the water.

After the Colter Bay loop, I had a little trouble finding the start of the Swan Lake / Heron Pond loop, but eventually I made it onto the right loop. The trails were mostly single-track and there are a lot of unofficial paths that wander off, so sometimes it’s hard to tell which direction to go. I would definitely recommend taking a map on this hike. 

Both Swan Lake and Heron Pond seem like they’d be good places to view wildlife in the early morning or evening.

You can also get good views of the mountains along with lots of lily pads. 

I also saw another trail friend, though this one didn’t “scurry” off.

After completing the loop, I headed down to the Leigh Lake trailhead which would take me to my campsite at Trapper Lake for the night. I stopped to take a lot of pictures around Leigh Lake and was really excited that I would be able to spend some more time there the next day.

On my way to Trapper Lake, I could hear thunder in the distance and it started to get cloudy, so I kept moving as fast as I could so that I could get to camp before it started raining. Luckily, the weather held off all evening and while it got really windy and sprinkled a little bit, it never turned nasty.

As I was going to get water the first time, I thought I saw a baby bear on its hind legs in the grass, but then it turned and I saw a big fluffy tail, so I knew it wasn’t a bear. Shortly after that, I had a visitor to my campsite – another marmot, this one all black. He spent a lot of time hanging out at the campsite along with a few friends. I think the designated campsite must be pretty close to their home because they just hung out both nights I was there. He would run onto a rock, then flatten out and just look at me and watch what I was doing.

He also made the craziest noise! I don’t know if this was a mating call or a warning to the others that there was a human in the vicinity, but it was interesting, nonetheless.

It was a quiet night for me – the weather made for an early evening with no good sunset views. I was also very aware of how remote I was – the campsite was the only one at that lake with only two other campsites at Beartrap Lake about three-quarters of a mile away, so I was definitely alone in the woods. It was a peaceful night, without even the chirping of the marmots to keep me awake, and the next morning, the only wildlife I saw was a deer who had wandered near camp.

Next up: Jenny Lake loop and more changing plans…

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