An Eight Day Excursion to the Chinese Wall
in the Bob Marshall Wilderness of Montana

July 24 - 31, 2012
Copyright Notice

I've made numerous visit to the Chinese Wall in the Bob Marshall Wilderness but this was my first summer exploration there. Nancy and I spent a relaxing eight days hiking to the Wall, exploring the countryside and hiking out.
Photos by Ralph Thornton and Nancy Thornton.

Nancy looks pretty sharp at the trailhead (left). We decided to make this a fairly casual, if somewhat long, trip to allow plenty of time to explore and enjoy the wilderness.
Left: Nancy on the pack bridge over the South Fork of the Sun River.

Below: Signs at the first trail junction warning us about the Elbow Pass fire burning to the south. we were not going that way!

Enjoying a resting break along the trail.
A view from near our first night's camp. I call this Red Butte Meadow. It's the first spot one gets a view of Red Butte which is next to the Chinese Wall.
Our second night's camp on the West Fork of the Sun River. We camped a total of four nights along the West fork of the Sun River. Each camp featured an open shaded area, a nice place to prepare our meals, a flat spot for the tent and a nice spot to dip in the cold river.
Nancy enjoys a break after wading the West Fork of the Sun River on our third day.
Above: An interesting piece of weather wood we found along Burnt Creek.

Left: A morning view of the Chinese Wall at the head of Burnt Creek.

Above: A thunderstorm brought lightning and rain to the south but the morning sun managed to brilliantly illuminate the Wall.

During the morning of our fifth day several passing showers brought only short periods of drizzle.

We day hiked along the Wall. This view is looking north to Larch Hill Pass from near Cliff Mountain.

Not sure about the monkey clinging to a tree along the trail. I guess you do see some unusual things in the wilderness.

Early morning near the Chinese Wall.
Left and Below Left: The pond at the head of Moose Creek.

Below: We found many faces on the wall. Sort of like looking for shapes in the clouds.

Heading back to camp from our day hike to the head of Moose Creek we crossed over the saddle near Cliff Mountain as the sun lit up the cliffs.

Below: An aster blooms through a crack in an old log.

We walked up to the Wall again before beginning our trek back down toward the West Fork of the Sun River.

Below Left: The trail to Burnt Creek provides some last glimpses of the Chinese Wall.

Below: A waterfall on Burnt Creek.

The air had been quite clear except for the few showers. But we saw some big smoke plumes from our second to last camp.

The next evening we were treated to smoke and falling ash.

Below Left: Smoke from the Elbow Pass Complex of fires fills the sky south of Red Butte Meadows.

Below: Burned pine needles from the Prisoner Lake fire settled onto our tent in the evening.

The ripples in the creek reflected the copper color of the sky as the Prisoner Lake Fire produced some spectacular smoke plumes.
Above: The smoke provided an for some interesting light as the sun set over the West Fork of the Sun River.

Left: The sky was fairly clear the following morning.

Fireweed in bloom along the South Fork of the Sun River.
As we approached the trailhead on our last day the Elbow Pass Fire began to produce more smoke. We definitely thought it was time to leave.

As we drove away from the trailhead the whole area around Benchmark was being evacuated in case the fire crossed the divide to the west.