Thursday, August 3, 2017

Backpacking the Beartooths: A Photo Journal

For four days and three nights, my friend (Greg) and I backpacked through the Beartooth Mountains. What's not to love about backpacking in a place where the sunsets look like this?

The sun sets in the Beartooth Mountains.

Located just to the northeast of Yellowstone National Park, the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness straddles the border of south central Montana and northwest Wyoming. The Beartooth Plateau is the largest high elevation plateau in the United States. Exceeding 10,000 feet in elevation, the plateau has more than 300 lakes and more than 25 peaks greater than 12,000 feet in elevation. Can you say "hubba hubba"?

Here is a photo journal of our trip:

So who's this Greg guy?
I met Greg on my two Montana-based Adventure Cycling trips this summer.
Greg gave a presentation on bears and reenacted the life
 of Jim Deakins, a fictional fur trader from 1879.
Greg spent nearly 20 years working as a naturalist and
backcountry ranger at Glacier National Park,
so he's no stranger to being in the wilderness.
What a perfect adventure buddy!

The Beartooths offer an endless array of drool-worthy vistas.
After considering numerous options, we decided to forge our own route,
opting for quality over quantity.

As we took our first steps into the Beartooths,
I was instantly reminded of hiking through The Enchantments,
a wilderness heaven in the Cascade mountains of Washington.
Like The Enchantments, the Beartooths are chock-full of alpine lakes and rocky peaks.

The blankets of wildflowers were jaw-dropping --
Bluebells, Lousewort, magenta-colored Indian Paintbrush...

...and brilliant yellow Buttercups.

As if the wildflowers weren't enough,
I found a heart-shaped rock!

Water-filled trenches cobwebbed through the grass surrounding the lakes...

...some of which contained spawning trout.
(Greg gets credit for spotting the trout; he's the fisherman.)

Greg brought along his collapsible fly-fishing rod.

In the evenings, Greg threw his rod.

He caught some fish and released them all.

While Greg fished, I practiced my yoga...

...and my photography.
Greg made for an interesting subject... did his shadow.

Of course the sunsets made for an amazing backdrop.

I couldn't get enough.

More amazingness.

Having spent the first night at Becker Lake,
we moseyed on to the Jasper Lake Basin.
Our spot at Jasper was so enticing that we decided to stay for two nights.

Our "camp kitchen" -- a stove, a pot, and two Ursack bear-proof bags,
filled with backpacking goodies.

Lots of snow melt made for soggy trekking and soggy shoes.
It felt delicious to let the feet breathe for a bit.
Every morning, Greg enjoyed a cup of coffee, and I enjoyed a cup of tea.

Every afternoon, we watched storm clouds move across the plateau.

And every day we saw evidence of shrinking snow piles
as the warm sun transformed the solid mounds into water.
On our third day, we packed up some food and hiked a loop
up and around the Cloverleaf Lakes.

We traversed all sorts of terrain -- rivers, rocks, boulders the size of cars...

...and even some snow fields, too.

As we gained elevation, the wildflowers nearly disappeared.
A smile crossed my face when I saw this sweet patch of yellow
proudly standing by itself.

Greg spotted a number of cutthroat trout swimming in one of the Cloverleaf Lakes.
He was confident I would catch my first fish.
Having learned to backcast the evening before, I cast the fly right on top of a fish...
...and the fish bit! My first fish!

Thank you, Greg, for sharing one of your favorite places with me. I had a fabulous time backpacking with you. The Beartooths are truly amazing, and I look forward to exploring more of them in the future.


  1. Lovely photos, looks like an amazing trip, but it's really more of a reflection/silhouette than a shadow :p.

    1. Thanks for keeping me on my toes, Mr. Brownson. 😀

  2. Very cool hike and pix! Glad you had the chance to fly fish (successfully too!) up in an area like that!

    1. Thanks. I would have never thought I would have enjoyed fly fishing. But after I caught that first fish, it was hard to put the rod away and continue on the hike. 😀

  3. Even more gorgeous country. What spectacular views.

  4. Congratulations: Your sunset photo has won a spot as my Wallpaper!

  5. Looks like a great trip Sarah!

    1. Indeed, Scott. Thanks for stopping by. 😀

  6. Great photos, Sarah!! Looks like a really wonderful time!

  7. Wow! I have heard of the Beartooth wilderness but wasnt sure where it was nor had any idea how amazing it is! Thank you for sharing!!!

    Always amazes me that in other states they have vast tracts of wildness at an altitude we can only reach on Mt Rainier!

    1. Ha, I thought the same thing about Rainier. :)


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