Cold Lakes: Mission Mts.

John Magilke
2 min readAug 23, 2020
Photo: John Lambing~ Upper Cold Lake Mission Mtns., MT

It was July 1982. Dave & I had hiked into the Mission Mountain Wilderness west & north of Seeley Lake, MT.

We were headed for a couple small lakes called Upper & Lower Cold Lake.

We’d run out of trail a couple times only to pick it back up again a little further up the mountainside. We were lucky that way. This was wild country.

It had happened before, but we’d never gotten lost. And, no doubt it would happen again.

Now Dave was a Nam Vet. He hated tents!

He said, “Over there, guys that slept in tents had permanent smiles just below there chin in the morning. Better to sleep under the bushes.”

All the camping Dave & I did together he never slept in a tent; he just slept on the ground in his bag.

I, however, brought a canvas tarp to sleep under on such occasions. Never knew when it was going to rain.

We found Lower Cold Lake late in the evening. It was all we’d hoped it would be. It was spell binding with the snow capped mountains reflecting off the icy, still water. There was a south cove where the sun never hit that was still covered in ice.

Photo by Sergey Pesterev on Unsplash

We did a little casting, but never caught anything. Dave made some supper and we sat around the fire for a while and turned in; I under my tarp and Dave in his sleeping bag.

The evening had proved to be the makings of a cold night. We expected that. It was July but in Montana, at 8–9000 feet of altitude, it was normal really.

We laid there watching the stars & visiting for a bit and soon we were asleep. It had been a long hard climb up there and we were worn out.

The next morning I woke up to a bit of a chill. I tried to pull my tarp up over me further but couldn’t so I crawled out and looked around.

It had snowed 5–6 inches overnight and Dave was wrapped under my tarp snug next to me sound asleep.

I teased him about it for the rest of the weekend. I told him he had to pack the tarp out if I was going to be sharing it with him.

Dave just threw his head back and laughed that big toothy laugh of his as he picked up his rod & headed for the lake.



John Magilke

Copywriter in the Automotive, Agriculture, & Natural health & wellness industry. Helping clients understand the products they need.