THE BEATEN PATH – 26 MILES IN 14 HOURS

sm-3852The Beaten Path is a well used path from Cook City Montana (North East corner of Yellowstone) to East Rosebud Lake Montana through the Beartooth Mountains and the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness.  It is usually backpacked in a couple or three days.  But we felt up to the challenge of doing the whole thing in one day.

We got to the trail head at 6:20 a.m., took a few photos and started walking.  It was barely light outside.

sm-3855This hike was a jubilee – celebration of 7 x 7 years – but some of us were older than 49 (not me).

sm-3862Much of the trail was mucky from the rains the days before.

sm-3869There was morning mist on the meadows.

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And above 8000 feet the wild flowers were still blooming on August 16th.

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sm-3896The lakes were stunning and often dotted with the endless circles of fish jumping.

sm-3897But we didn’t have time to wet a fly, had to keep moving to get it all done in a day, since that was the challenge.

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Sometimes it was hard to tell where the lake ended and the river began.

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Sometimes I was ahead of others . . .

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And sometimes I brought up the rear.

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It was 10 miles up to the highest pass – where we had lunch at a little after noon.  Only 16 miles to go!

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There was snow way up there at 10,000 feet.

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One of us may have learned that snow in August is not particularly soft to plop down into, but a snow angel was made regardless of the hard landing.

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It was all beautiful! And then . . .sm-4022

We ran into two of the ladies’ husbands who were hiking the whole thing in reverse.  It was a nice little short visit – we didn’t even sit down.  They still were headed up and we were about a mile into our downward trek.

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Waterfalls were a theme on the 16 mile down hill section – I lost count, but I bet it was more than a dozen waterfalls, some of them so large that I couldn’t fit them into the view of my 50mm lens.  I selected this lens because it was the lightest weight one I have, and mounted on my camera it all fit into my fanny pack worn turned to the front for easy access.

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Along with the waterfalls, the views on the down hill section continued to be breath-taking.  If we had more time I’m sure each of us would have jumped in a lake and/or river, and would have just sat on a rock and contemplated the beauty of God’s creation as it was being revealed to us.  But we were trying to be done by dark (which we were, but just barely).

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The last 4 or 5 miles were pretty rocky on the down hill, and it was a bear to deal with as by that time the knees were hurting pretty bad.  Nothing 800 mg of ibuprofen couldn’t address, but the going was slow as the trail was steep (lots of stair-step type trail with uneven landings and rocks galore!)  With about 2 miles of this left my Andy met us on the trail.sm-4091

By the time we finished the sun was gone from the canon, but the peaks were still glowing.

When we were all done Andy had ice cream sandwiches waiting for us kept frozen with dry ice, and then he took us all out to a famous burger place called the Grizzly Bar in Roscoe Montana.  It was delicious.

Amazingly, not as sore as I expected the next day, and by 48 hours later, not sore at all.  Those knees recover quicker than I think they will.

So, this hike was the reason I hiked and hiked and hiked all summer long – I was in training.  Now just back to daily walks, and the 4 – 5 miles seems like such a small endeavor now.

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Categories: Bear Tooth Mountains, Beaten Path, flowers, Hiking, Montana, Montana summers, Outdoors, Photography, River, snow, Summer, Travel | Leave a comment

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