Hiking to Tendoy Lake

I wish that hiking season wasn’t disappearing so rapidly behind us. But with fall setting in, early snows on the mountains, bears preparing to hibernate, and some buck-crazed hunters out on the prowl, hiking up into the Pioneer Mountains probably isn’t the greatest idea. Not that I wouldn’t go anyway if I had a pistol and a few buddies willing to join me…. Honestly, the  hike I took up there this fall with some friends was so incredible that I literally feel a little desperate to get back there again.

Tendoy Lake

After driving on a dirt road (a dashboard-duster dirt road, by the way) for probably forty minutes and climbing up the mountain for about 2,000 feet, we set out to hike up another 1,000 feet or so on the three-mile trail to Tendoy Lake. None of us had been there before, but one of the guys knew about the lake from his boss.

Initially the path started out as an easy hike meandering along through a forest of lodgepole pines.


But then the trail became harder and steeper; there was a wider variety of pine trees and the terrain grew more rocky. (Plus there was snow!!!) And considering that most of us weren’t in great shape and that we were more than 2,000 feet above Dillon, we were all panting pretty hard. But with occasional breaks we clambered onward, enjoying the scenery and chatting about anything.

As we came around a bend in the trail, there was a break in the trees. Beyond the opening was a valley and towering in the background were the snow-skiffed mountains we had been climbing towards.

View of Pioneer Mountains from the trail

Wow. Just…wow.

I can’t help but feel God’s presence in a place like that. I wanted to just stand there with my face to the wind, shut my eyes, and feel the beauty and breath of God’s creation surround me. Someday, maybe, I’ll go back and do exactly that.

Pioneer Mountains and a valley

A little further on up the trail, about two hours into our hike (if I remember correctly), we finally reached Tendoy Lake itself.  Wow…again. More of God’s overwhelmingly beautiful creation on display.

Tendoy Lake and snow-covered mountains  Tendoy Lake and background mountains

And yes, that is snow on those mountains, right where we were at, in early October. I have an excuse for why my fingers were numb.

Sun angling down on Tendoy Lake and a fishing friend

Being as we were freezing and starving, we tried to build a fire and catch some fish but both attempts were total fails so we shared the fruit and trail bars we’d packed along (I felt a little like the people Jesus fed with five loaves of bread and two fish) before heading back down the mountain.

To be honest, that may be one of the best hiking trips I’ve ever taken. It was undoubtedly one of the highlights of this fall and I often wish I could replay the day. But each day is a unique gift, never to be lived again. God gave me so much joy, refreshment, and wonder on that hike….a little bit of it still comes back when I look at the pictures.

My friends and I at Tendoy Lake

Someday I’ll go back. But until then, I’ll cherish the memories we made there.

Have you ever been in a place where you were completely awed by God’s creation?

How does God refresh you?

Are you the person who asks everybody if you can take a group selfie just so you can have the memory?



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