One of the access areas is called Tom Beal Park which is driveable from highway 12 on a good gravel road up to 7000' from near The Lochsa Lodge.
We had attempted to start the hike a day earlier but massive lightning storms forced us to camp along the river at Powell. The morning was calm so we drove the 11-mile Rd 362 to the Trailhead.
Tom Beal trail drops about 1000' in two miles to the junction with Wind Lakes trail.
Tom Beal Park.
There were many giant mushrooms along the trail.
Tom Beal Creek.
From The Tom Beal Trail we arrived to the junction with The Wind Lakes Trail after losing 1100' in three miles. The next two miles regains that elevation and brought us to Lower Wind Lake at 6800.'
At the junction with The Wind Lakes Trail. This is our low point. We must now gain about 1100' in two miles to reach lower Wind Lake.
First views of Grave Peak.
Lower Wind Lake at 6800.'
Grave Peak rises about 1500' above Lower Wind Lake.
The bugs weren't terrible but they were vicious.
After setting up camp we watched a group of otters frolicking and feeding in the lake.
Otters at Lower Wind.
These guys have no lack of fish to eat in Lower Wind Lake.
I believe there was a mom and three babies. They were more curious than shy as we watched them fish with the utmost of ease.
Cruising Lower Wind Lake and grabbing some fish.
The following morning we started off for Grave Peak some 2.5 miles away which has an historic lookout built in 1924. It served until 1967 and has seen some recent restoration work including a new roof and flooring.
Zoom of Grave peak Lookout.
Upper Wind Lake, 7100' and Grave Peak. We will be hiking to the summit.
Grave Peak and Upper Wind Lake from The Friday Pass Trail.
Some subalpine (Lyalls) larches grow near Grave Peak.
Upper Wind Lake.
Friday Ridge ahead.
Friday Pass, 7900' and the crest of The Bitterroot Range.
Grave Peak from near Friday Pass. The trail loses a few hundred feet here to traverse through the forest below.
On the trail...
Nearing the top with Lake 7367 below and Friday Ridge behind.
Colt Lake to the north of Grave Peak.
Last bit to the top.
A cupula style lookout built in 1924.
Wind Lakes below. We are camped at the middle lake.
Colt Lake, 6978' below.
Some recent restoration work took place in July. A new roof and floor was installed by volunteers.
Far off views from Grave Peak, 8282.' An unnamed 7367' lake on the southeast flank of Grave Peak below. Looks like a nice area to visit.
Friday Ridge, 8118.'
Unnamed lake 7426' below Grave Peak. We took a cross-country route on our return and avoided having to climb the ridge above.
On the way down we took a spur trail at an obvious junction near the summit that dropped us down to a small, unnamed lake on the southwest flank of Grave Peak. This was likely used by the lookout as it's the nearest water source. It eventually brought us back to the main trail after passing by the unnamed lake and saved us from several hundred feet of climbing back up to Friday Pass.
In spite of this being a summer weekend and a relatively short hike, we only saw two people and a trail crew from The Selway-Bitterroot/Frank Church Foundation.
http://www.selwaybitterroot.org. I am friends with one of the board members and they do good
I'm a member and think their program for wilderness interns is an excellent idea. It's like graduate school for aspiring wilderness rangers. An excellent opportunity for college students and military veterans. I'm surprised The WTA doesn't do something like this.
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