Let's go for a nice walk, shall we? An hour or two, all day if you like. Feeling ambitious? Well, how about grabbing the big pack and throwing in a tent too?
Jo and I got away for a few days of backpacking early last August. We'd originally planned a longer trip. But, as the departure date neared, we decided on a "tamer" venture. So, off to the Red Lodge side of Beartooths we went.
A big burn swept through the area in 2008, leaving a ghostly forest of standing dead timber. Interested in fire ecology and plant succession? Well, this is a good place to observe the process. Dead trees are being replaced by lots of little ones. Then there's the namesake fireweed that blooms profusely after a fire. Farther up the drainage, the forest is unburned, wildflower aficionados will be pleased by the riot of color that awaits in the meadows.
There's a nice trail. It's quite popular with day hikers and backpackers alike. You won't be wanting for company.
Ambitious folks do a "through hike". It's nineteen miles over the top of Sundance Pass and into the Lake Fork. We decided to stay in the West Fork. One day, we watched a jogger traverse the switchbacks at Sundance and disappear over the top.
We found a secluded spot in the trees and set up a base camp. A short stroll to the creek provided nice views, a few fish, and water for our morning coffee. Not surprisingly, the mosquitos were kind enough to share this spot with us.
The next couple of days were spent exploring the drainage. We hiked to several lakes. Trails led to some, but most required cross country travel, and a bit of a climb. Toil is good. One appreciates earned views a bit more.
The fishing? Well, it was pretty good. The cutthroat lakes are all stocked from the air. So, it's best to check the stocking schedules. The brook trout do just fine without any additional help. Regardless of the fishing, the trip was more than worth it just for the scenery. It is alpine grandeur at its finest.