The hike starts by leaving Bozeman around 5:30 am. Commencing with two flashlights in the pitch dark, Dan and I cross a few trickling streams along the way, the morning light welcomes us as we progress up the 5 mile trail (3,400 vertical feet) to Pine Creek Lake. Arriving at the lake around 9:30 am, Dan and I stop for a quick break and to take in the lovely ridges and mountains that now encircle us.
Observing a few trout splashing near the lake shoreline, both of us ponder as to why we forgot to bring fly rods. At 10 am, we leave the lake and circle around the northern edge of the lake headed west. By staying between the rock ridge (which emanates from the northwestern corner of the lake) and the lake, we scramble through a mixture of boulder fields and steep grassy areas, pushing for the grassy spot just below the rock fields (elevation 10,000 feet). Once there, Dan and I head to our right, utilizing the small gentle ridge up to the larger ridge that connects to the peak. Hiking along the large ridge produces windy conditions, but blesses us with spectacular views overlooking the complex system of canyons. To the south-southwest Mt. Cowen (11,200+ feet) pierces the sky with sharp spires; resembling something of a castle. After topping out on the false summit, we press for the final summit ascent. Once on top of 10,941 foot tall Black Mountain, Dan and I relax for an hour on the peak loving every minute of it. It is now 12:15 pm and we decide to rest and enjoy the views from high above the valley. Total elevation gain was roughly 5,300 vertical feet with the 8 mile ascent.
Often in life, we question why we do things. Why do we head out long before the sunrise; to physically exhaust ourselves until the sun goes down? Why do we fight the bitter elements that Mother Nature throws at us, in the attempt to summit a peak? The answer for me is simple. There is truly no better feeling than summiting a peak after a long and grueling approach. The sense of accomplishment is overwhelming. Regardless of the season, disconnecting from society and enjoying nature for the day recharges and transforms the soul. Out here, there is no need to worry about: homework, work, or any other distractions. On top of mountains, we are humbled by not only their beauty but also by their immensity. This immensity makes us feel quite small, and becomes a humbling experience. The mountains provide the purest form of life, which we should all respect. In the wise words of John Muir, “The Mountains are calling and I must go.”