Wednesday, July 12, 2006

When they pulled you out of the oxygen tent, you asked for the latest party

O.K., O.K.


En Garde!

beartooth wilderness beartooth wilderness

beartooth wilderness beartooth wilderness
The Beartooth Wilderness is a gi-normous land mass, thrust up to 10-11,000 feet, forming a huge plateau. It is behind me in the picture above. Part of it, anyway.
beartooth wilderness beartooth wilderness

beartooth wilderness beartooth wilderness
(Don't be fooled. When you hike it, you hike up and down, and up and down, and up and down, and up and down, and up and down, and up, and, finally down.)
beartooth wilderness beartooth wilderness
The Beartooth Highway is a famous drive, and is often included in the Top Five Drives in the United States, along with Highway 1 in California and the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier.
beartooth wilderness beartooth wilderness
Will Dnager and I drove in on our first day, and hiked in 5 or 6 miles. Our packs were about 55 pounds at that point.
beartooth wilderness beartooth wilderness
We set forth, into the great unknown.
beartooth wilderness beartooth wilderness

beartooth wilderness beartooth wilderness

beartooth wilderness beartooth wilderness
Will brought the smokewagon, because he thought he needed to carry an extra five pounds of metal.
beartooth wilderness beartooth wilderness

beartooth wilderness beartooth wilderness
I mapped out a hike that went past lake, after lake, after lake.
beartooth wilderness beartooth wilderness

beartooth wilderness beartooth wilderness

beartooth wilderness beartooth wilderness

beartooth wilderness beartooth wilderness

beartooth wilderness beartooth wilderness
The cool part about this hike was that we were only on the trail for part of Day One, and part of the final day. The rest of the trip involved route finding with a (very shitty) topographic map, a compass, and two of the finest minds west of the Mississippi. (Ha!)
beartooth wilderness beartooth wilderness
Incidentally, and no surprise, we saw one old coot in the first hour of Day One, and that was the only other human we saw for the next five days.
beartooth wilderness beartooth wilderness
The first night we camped at a place called Albino Lake. There were no fish there, but we did have a visitor.
beartooth wilderness beartooth wilderness

beartooth wilderness beartooth wilderness

beartooth wilderness beartooth wilderness

beartooth wilderness beartooth wilderness
She circled our campsite for about an hour, checking us out.
beartooth wilderness beartooth wilderness

beartooth wilderness beartooth wilderness

beartooth wilderness beartooth wilderness
When we woke up in the morning, she came back... with twelve friends.
beartooth wilderness beartooth wilderness
Yes, there were thirteen mountain goats milling about our campsite.
beartooth wilderness beartooth wilderness

beartooth wilderness beartooth wilderness

beartooth wilderness beartooth wilderness

beartooth wilderness beartooth wilderness

beartooth wilderness beartooth wilderness
We contemplated dining on roast goat haunch.
beartooth wilderness beartooth wilderness

beartooth wilderness beartooth wilderness
We got on our giddyup and got out of there.
beartooth wilderness beartooth wilderness
This picture should give you an idea of what our "trail" was like.
beartooth wilderness beartooth wilderness

beartooth wilderness beartooth wilderness
There was a lot of scrambling over rocks like that, which took for-fucking-ever. We also had to scramble sidehill across some snowfields, both of which were quite hair raising with a large pack.
beartooth wilderness beartooth wilderness

beartooth wilderness beartooth wilderness

We skeedaddled and left the goats to paw up the ground where we had peed the night before. Yes, they were licking every place we had peed, pawing up dirt, eating the dirt, ostensibly for the salt. They jockeyed for position and the dominant goats pushed the submissive goats out of the way. It was fascinating. There were a couple brave, little shavers who bulled in. Eventually, a big goat would nudge them in the arse and they would hop off all four feet straight into the air.

On our way out, we stopped and took off our boots and put on our Teva sandals for the first of many (FRFEEEEEZING) stream crossings. It looked really tempting, so we fished.

Then it sarted to rain.

Hard.

Then the rain turned to hail.

We scrambled into our packs for our Gore Tex.

It wasn't enough, so we pulled out the rain fly and stood beneath it, on the side of the mountain.

Lightning struck and thunder boomed.

This was straight-up adventure, kids.

Eventually, we found our way to Cloverleaf Lakes.

It felt like Middle Earth. I expected a hobbit to pop out from behind a rock.







We hurried to set up camp, because more weather was coming.

It was a Prime site.



On such hikes, you have to pump filtered water, becasue carrying enough for several would be prohibitively heavy. Despite the pristine environment, you can still catch nasty bugs like cryptosporidium and giardia.

(Foreshadowing.)

Now sooner did we get the tent pitched and fresh water, when it started to rain, and rain, and rain.

We ended up laughing our asses off, playing cards, reading Ernest Hemingway short stories out loud, and cooking dinner.




Will constructed a Great Wall of China to expand our square footage under the rain fly.

(Yes, we cooked under the rain fly, a HUGE no-no in Montana, due to Bears. But Fuck It.)



Those are cutthroat trout, cookin' away.


The sky cleared and we fished.



Oh, did we fish.



We ended up staying and fishing the three lakes (and the streams that flowed between) all night, and all day and into the next evening. It was that good.



It was a veritable smorgasboard of cutthroat trout, as well as some incredible scrambling and hiking.









(In case you were wondering, the Dude caught the two Trophy Trout of the trip... 16 & 18 inch, 2 pound cutthroats. Will caught many more fish, but I take solace in landing the Whoppers of the trip.)



The red slash under the jaw is the origin of the name, "cutthroat." They are beautiful fish. I felt bad killing the few we kept, but hey... top of the food chain, baby.

(Before you tree-hugging hippies email me, we fished with barbless hooks, and released 95% of the fish we caught. The rest? Well, we were hungry. Hiking is hungry work.)

One of the Whoppers the Duder caught...


To Be Continued...

9 Comments:

Blogger outdoorspro said...

Dude! I am thoroughly impressed. Gonna have to hike up there someday. Maybe some decent rafting?

Just had one question: The place you camped where the goats hung out. From the photos and the goats behavior, you were obviously camping in a prime grazing area that they weren't going to just, you know, leave. I've been to meadows like that in Alaska where the same goats graze.

So back to my question.

Wasn't there just an amazing amount of goat shit all over and around your campsite?

Seriously.

Did it smell?

I bet you slept real well, what with the extra padding 'n stuff in the grass.

I'm just sayin'.

10:52 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

No, they came down in the morning. For our piss.

I swear.

They were crazy for that shit.

They didn't appear until after we had camped (and pissed), and there was no scat in that camp.

And, yes, there is good rafting in Southwestern Montana...

11:11 PM  
Anonymous Lost Dog said...

That Danger character sure looks like ME!

4:59 AM  
Blogger P. said...

What an amazing adventure! Gorgeous scenery.

I expected to see whiskers a la Danger on the Dude, but you obviously keep up on the grooming.

They make barbless hooks? Wow. That's some good-looking trout.

Any bear encounters? Or are they busy this time of year with...what's the word? Hyperphagia?

7:46 AM  
Blogger Sassy Brown said...

Wow, while reading that I could almost smell the air. Totally awesome dude.

2:18 PM  
Blogger Motor City Monk said...

WOW!

This hi-speed internet is pure speed. Ba-bye dial-up! Now I can see Joe's amazing photos. Cool trip.

4:07 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Awesome pictures!

I fell in love with Montana taking a spring break trip about 10 years ago. We drove from Grand Forks, ND to Jackson, WY. Luckily we drove the ND and eastern Montana trip overnight. We stopped in Bozeman for gas and a soda. When we came out of the gas station the sun was just coming up. The trip south from Bozeman into West Yellowstone and into Idaho was one of the most picturesque drives I've ever experienced. I've been through a couple other times since and would quit my job in a minute if I got the OK from my wife to move there.

I've got you as a favorite blog on my blog. I hope that's ok.

10:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I say briefly: Best! Useful information. Good job guys.
»

8:16 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

My boyfriend is up on Beartooth all summer, so I've been researching it here and there. Let me tell you - I would love to hike and camp all over like you two did. Looks beautiful, looks like you guys had a blast!

1:13 PM  

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