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The Camp At Lost Creek

September 24, 2021

Outside of Anaconda, Montana there is a state park called Lost Creek. My family has a lot of history there as over a hundred years ago it was the favorite place to hunt for my grandfather Lee Allen. Back then he lived in Anaconda and went to the Lost Creek area often to hunt. It was not a state park back then. The preferred prey was mountain goat, a species that is now protected in this area. Over a hundred years ago, my grandfather, his brother and their father thought nothing of shooting three of these magnificent animals a day. I still have a set of horns from that period as a testament to the days before the dawn of environmental awareness. I must interject here that my grandfather’s family hunted for meat and hides and not for sport.

In 1994, I took my wife on her first visit to the area. It was kind of a walk down memory lane for me. Things had changed a lot. The slag piles in Anaconda were being turned onto a golf course and progress seemed to be everywhere. After we toured the museum there and visited nearby Deer Lodge, we decided to camp at Lost Creek for the night. It was late in the season and a little cold but we both felt up for exchanging our hotel in Deer Lodge for a night in the woods. I had regaled my wife with our family history in the area and wanted to show her a bit of the “real” Montana.

We tried to buy firewood in Anaconda but none was available. We arrived at the camp ground just before dusk only to discover there was no wood there either. I blew off the whole wood idea as I had an ancient Coleman stove with us. As I unpacked the tent, I noticed the sky was getting black and then Boom! One of those famous Rocky Mountain thunderstorms was upon us in an instant. I struggled with the tent poles and one broke in typical “Made In China” fashion. I managed a temporary splint and hung a tarp between three trees for extra insurance.

When I finally got the whole camp set up, my wife and dog were both unhappily in the tent waiting for me. Our dog wanted to get back in the car and go back to the hotel. My wife was probably thinking the same. However, I wanted to show them both what pioneering stock I was from. Our dog became fixed on leaving to the point of whining until at last I produce a package of hot dogs and began cooking them on the stove. He settled right in. My wife followed and we all sat around with the rain pouring down to have a typical camp meal of hot dogs and beans.

After dinner, we decided to turn in. I forgot to mention to my wife that I had purposely pitched the tent square on a moose path for added authenticity. “What’s that?” My wife jumped up. I told her that it was only a moose rubbing against of tent. Our dog didn’t seem bothered but then again his belly was full of hot dogs.

When at last everyone was finally settled down and peace had pervaded, my wife jumped up again, this time with her .38 in hand. “I hear something coming in the door of the tent!” she exclaimed. I grabbed a flashlight and put the beam to the tent fly. Sure enough, there was an intruder: A deer mouse looking startled in the light. I finally convinced my wife not to blow away the rodent, shoed it out of the tent and we all went to sleep.

I woke up early the next morning to see if I could scrounge up some dry firewood. I finally made a small fire but I literally had to drag our dog out of the tent. It seemed he had gotten pretty content with the idea of a sleeping bag. Again, food was the bait! I put on some bacon and eggs and finally both my wife and dog reluctantly joined me.

As the day warmed up, we explored the Lost Creek canyon and its small stream. We even saw a couple of mountain goats on the steep canyon’s walls. That was a big treat and after a few hours we broke camp and decided to go down to the Clark’s Fork for some fishing. As we were leaving the campground we saw something unbelievable. Next to the road was a large big horned sheep. He was just sitting there enjoying the fact that he too was protected in this environment. At first I thought he might be ill as he didn’t move when I approached with a camera. No, he was fine all right. The day was getting hot and he was in his favorite resting place and was not going to be bothered by the likes of me. I took a lot of photos and even some video footage. The big boy never budged an inch.


As we left for the valley below us, I couldn’t help thinking what my grandfather would have done after seeing a sitting big horned sheep a century ago. I squeezed the sound of that shot out of my mind and off we went toward Drummond and the waiting trout.

For more on this area, read my book The Horse Whisperers from Anaconda

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  1. Oh My!! As a woman, all I knew was ‘camping’ wasn’t ANY form of vacation for me! I cook, clean, manage heat, work on infrastructure all day long! LOL – on the other hand, I have to say, that poor deer mouse, staring at a .38 had to have looked like a human staring at a sawed off shotgun OR hearing the ‘rack ’em/load ’em’ of a single load behind them – :D. Maybe, I need to write a post/story about the time I waited in the dark, with a small knife, and scared the beejeezus out of a family member that decided to come in the back door and made a lot of scraping/fumbling with keys, instead of their usual routine of blowing easy peasy with muscle memory, in through the front door – – Moral of the story? 4-way size tire changing irons, crow bars and hori-hori gardening knife right next to my bed…I SIMPLY have to wake up and be a little more awake, before I can grab the gun – LOL – – just because, well – less chance of ‘oops!’ – – LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We drove through Anaconda about six years ago. I’m sure it looks vastly different today than a century ago! Beans and weenies, huh? I wouldn’t want to camp with you, either!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sounds great, Allen. To me, camping is great family time. No electronic distractions.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. KiM permalink

    Well that all sounds like a great trip except for the camping parts 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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