Jerome Rock Lakes Overnight Solo and Gear Overview

Falls Creek Trail #410 on the approach to Jerome Rock Lakes (straight back and center in the mountains)

In less than 24 hours from house-back-to-house, I took a quick trip into the Spanish Peaks in the Lee Metcalf Wilderness to Jerome Rock Lakes. This is a fairly easy sub-20 miler that gets one into the high country quickly and directly. I had been up both of the adjacent drainages with Julia over the last few years, but we had not checked out the Jerome Rock Lakes so I figured a recon was due. The area is absolutely stunning, given our prior forays, and is deserved of multiple trips/angles.

High meadows and snow below the upper lake

Nature’s paper mache

This weekend trip was looking to be a wash, as J nor I were feeling well Friday eve/Sat morn. But as Sat afternoon came around, I felt the urge to move and proceeded to quickly throw together an overnight kit and managed to set off around 2pm despite nagging reservations of health. This put me at the trailhead by 3pm and up at above 9000′ before dark. For metrics’ sake, Bozeman sits just below 5000′. I came across very few people given the poor weekend forecast, with the most (4 peeps) being in the first couple of miles on horseback. After that, it was just me, two dayhikers, and the trail until camp at the upper Jerome Rock Lake.

Self-portrait on trail

Scenery just below Lower Jerome Rock Lake

Their are three lakes of the JRL namesake, with the lower and the upper being the most suited to camping/scenery. I chose the upper, as it was secluded and elevated, and largely cause I was curious to see what the area had to offer. Upper JRL offered a choice campsite amongst the three after some perusing and wandering. So here I set up camp.

HMG Summit Pack at lakeside

HMG Cuben Flat Tarp, Summit Pack, and Rab Survival Zone Lite bivy at camp

Gear-wise, I carried a minimal kit which consisted of a few new pieces – namely my 20° Feathered Friends Hummingbird, a soon to be released HMG Cuben Fiber flat tarp (6×8′), and the Sawyer Water Treatment Filter Bottle. All three were winners, with the Hummingbird being plenty warm in the freezing temps, the HMG flat tarp providing for more than adequate shelter, and the Sawyer bottle giving potable water whenever I came across running sources (which was frequently). Of all my carried gear, the only pieces not used were the CAMP Windmitn’s (a scant 14g/.5oz), a Platypus 1L (38g/1.3oz) and my OR Helium II (172g/6.1oz). Despite some on and off precip en route that my oft-used Patagonia Houdini took care of, the only weather that I encountered at camp was temperamental high winds all night and into the morning. The winds were somewhat stout, with freight train gusts coming with regularity after every few min/sec lull. Despite the winds, the HMG tarp held its ground with a modified A-frame pitch and rocks over my ti-stakes. Here is a picture of my sub 10 lb base kit yard sale at lake side, starting clockwise from top at the Sawyer Bottle:

Yard sale – 11.4 lbs including consumables. Summary below:

Sawyer water filter bottle, cut down topo, HMG summit pack (heavily modified, including re-sewn shoulder straps), RAB Xenon Jacket with Petzl Tikka XP2 and OR liner gloves in pockets, Feathered Friends Hummingbird in HMG CF stuffsack, OR Helium II, Montbell Dynamo Wind Pants, NeoAir X-Therm, Exped UL Air Pillow, Black Diamond Ultra Distance Trekking Poles, RAB Survival Zone Lite Bivy, Hyperlite Mountain Gear Cuben 6X8′ Flat Tarp proto, bearspray, FAK/repair kit, Platypus Plus 1L, Z-Packs Tent Stake Sack with 8 stakes, Granite Gear CTF3 Drysack w/food (not the current eVent version – older all Cuben version), UL flask with single-malt, and a Jetboil Sol-Ti with wooden spoon, CAMP Windmitn’s, and fuel canister inside.

Checking in at trailhead departure

As for worn clothing, I had on Patagonia Traverse Pants (awesome!), Patagonia Cap 4 Hoody (also amazing), Patagonia Houdini (need I say more), and La Sportiva Crossleathers with RAB Scree Gaiters. As for the footwear, the Crossleathers are amazing per the LS norm. Traction, grip, durable upper, and a low delta make this shoe a winner in my book. While the leather does not offer the best breathability, it makes up for this in durability and keeping debris/dust out. A keeper, after many miles, in my book. As for the RAB Scree Gaiters, I believe that they rival the cottage Dirty Girl Gaiters and the mainstream OR Ultra Trail Gaiters, but with a flaw. The stretch underfoot cord is disposable, with RAB giving the user an extra set with the original product. This cord was shredded completely through on my first use of the Scree Gaiter with less than 10 miles on them.

Shredded cord on RAB Scree Gaiter in Beehive Basin the weekend prior

Albeit a minor issue, the gaiter should include a reliable underfoot cord (spectra, or similar). Besides this minor gripe, the Scree Gaiter still performed extremely well, even without the aforementioned cord on one of the gaiters for a couple of trips now. The cord-less gaiter still held tight to my runner, and continued to do so after many miles of use. So, it may be a wash in regards to my cord nitpicks. For $25 retail, I shouldn’t complain!

La Sportiva Crossleather and RAB Scree gaiter

All in all, I wouldn’t replace one bit of my kit this time around…especially the single malt! Everything used performed tremendously and without any issues. That which was not used, was called for given the season and potential nasty weather. Overall, the trip was full of flavor, and an excellent shakedown of some new gear.

Remnants of summer

Fall glory in the high country

Random color at the upper lake – the only remaining lupine that I saw

After dinner fire and libations


  1. Reply
    John October 22, 2012

    What was your malt of choice? Just want to know, so that I can get a real flavour of your trip. Greetings from Inverness, Scottish Highlands.

    • Reply
      nicktruax October 22, 2012

      Greetings John! Glenfiddich 15 Year Malt was the chosen flavour. Somewhat spicy, but readily available here stateside at the right price. I’m always open to suggestion though, as I often trend towards what I am already accustomed to. The Scottish Highlands are on my alpine climbing radar, as I spent some time in and around the Lowlands of Edinburgh this summer. A lovely part of the world, if I do say so.

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