Here are some pictures from our last day on the trail in Montana. Enjoy!
Here are some pictures from our last day on the trail in Montana. Enjoy!
Our fourth day on the East Rosebud Trail found us walking over a snowfield and peaking out at the Continental Divide, made obvious by a large rock cairn that we each contributed to. It felt great to know that we’d climbed all the way to the top, and that in front of us the trail would descend again. However, the effort of walking downhill is not negligible, just different, from walking uphill. Your back feels it differently. Your toes do too. Your lungs though, they get a rest.
We came upon Russell Creek, every bit as beautiful as East Rosebud Creek, and flowing westward into the Pacific. More flowering meadows were laid out before us, and the rocks took on a different color and tone. Things looked a bit more rounded at their tops, and angular along their faces.
We passed a few hiking parties on the way to Bald Knob Lake, all of whom were headed “over the top” to the East Rosebud trailhead. Many people choose to start at Cooke City and end at East Rosebud, due to the fact that the elevation gain is significantly less.
We arrived at Bald Knob Lake and put down our packs and got out our fishing rods. The Brook Trout were rising everywhere and we had no trouble catching them, either on flies or spinners. They were all about six inches long, making them a bit ineffective as a main course for dinner, so we put them all back. They were all beautiful though, with their blue and red dots and silvery bodies.
I took a swim in the lake, finding an island to dive off of into a deep pool. The water was cold, but the refreshment overpowered the chill and I stayed in for ten minutes and relaxed. “No worse than Lake Michigan” I told myself.
Heron joined me for a very brief moment, throwing himself in and immediately getting back out. Bode came along too and waded carefully into the water, only going up to his knees until a little encouragement from Heron and me got him in up to his neck. He also got back out quickly but we all found the swim fun.
Our campsite was well suited for a campfire, so we indulged and got warmed up after swimming. The night brought fierce winds and we were all relieved to find the next morning that none of us was blown off the cliff and down the waterfall adjacent to camp.
Knob Lake was a beautiful enchanted place to visit and I’m glad we stopped there. Ouzel Lake is just a bit further down the trail, and it too looked to be a gem, so consider it for camping, swimming, or fishing as well.
After our night at Bald Knob Lake our final day on the trail lay ahead of us, another big hike of seven or eight miles.
Last we left off our troupe had just arrived at the unparalleled Fossil Lake. The guidebook stated that the lake is full of Cutthroat Trout, but they are often hard to locate as they tend to school together. Well, somehow, whether because of our superior collective intellect or our luck, we happened to camp in the vicinity of a very large school of these delightful and delicious fish. Bode and Heron were thrilled to have another dynamo fishing spot and were more than happy to put 5 tasty trout in our frying pan.
The boys started off fishing with their spinning rods and an assortment of old reliable Panther Martin Spinners (#6 sized). Stephen, after having set up hammocks for he and Heron, came down to the lake and assembled his fly rod, topped off with a size 14 adams parachute. His first three casts yielded him three nice trout and the boys picked up on this. They demanded to use their daddys’ fly rods and were given them unflinchingly. Some instruction ensued and before long each of these young men were catching 12″-14″ Cutthroat Trout with ease on dry flies. After our first night at Rainbow Lake the boys decided it would be worthwhile to tally the number of fish the boys had caught versus the number the men had caught. At this point I think the score was something like 70-10, in the boys’ favor. What more could a fisherman father want than for his son to catch the trout fishing fever at age 11?
After dinner we wandered across the way to the snowfield to have a snowball fight and look around. This was a moment we’d all been hoping to have and it was a great time. Afterward Bode and Heron and I walked up to the top of a prominent dome overlooking Fossil Lake. The flora was incredible and setting sun gave the surrounding peaks that wonderful warm hue that seems to make them glow. As we were sitting on top of this knob taking in the view I noticed a marmot not ten feet away resting on a rock, joining us in our repose. We sat there for a while admiring one another and then Heron grabbed my camera and tried to see how close he could get to snap some photos. As it turns out, Heron is good with marmots, so now we call him “The Marmot Whisperer”.
Night fell and all went to bed, but I decided to lay back on a slab of rock above our campsite to watch the stars pop out and see the moon rise over in the East. I saw one shooting star and couldn’t help but think to myself how fortunate I was to have taken on this new and unfamiliar challenge with my mates. We hadn’t really known what we were going to find or how our bodies would perform on the climb, but now with over half the trip behind us and each of us settling in to our routine I felt assurance that we wouldn’t run into undue hardship.
I was awoken at Dewey Lake in the morning by my son Bode, asking me if he thought it would be okay to wake his friend Heron to go down to the lake and fish. I said it was, then got up myself and started breaking camp, packing away hammocks and sleeping bags, getting things organized for the day’s hike.
I walked up to the top of the knoll to see about my dad. He was sound asleep, and I left him alone. Today was going to be the push up to the “top of the world”, Fossil Lake, at 10,000 feet. Billed in the guidebook as the gem of this route, I was looking forward to seeing it, but worried about cold winds and high elevation.
Down to the lake shore I strolled ready to make coffee and oatmeal. It was a glorious morning with fish rising all around, and a little arctic tern was swimming just out of reach, picking away at the insects rising from the depths, wondering if we had anything to offer it.
Coffee was made, and oatmeal was eaten, though to the dismay of the boys who would have preferred bacon and eggs. I dunked my head in the lake to give my hair a wash, and then Wes came down to say hello. He ate and drank and dunked as well, and we cleaned up, packed up, and headed on our way, hoping for an enjoyable and rewarding day, ambling toward the headwaters of East Rosebud Creek.
We headed up the trail toward Fossil Lake, passing through incredible alpine meadows filled with flowers, spotting Pika and Marmots, and pushing our legs upward and onward. We made it to Fossil Lake by about 2pm, which was a welcome change to the previous two days’ hikes when we arrived after 7pm.
Adequate trees were located to hang our hammocks, the fishing rods came out, and we all enjoyed a relaxing afternoon on top of the world. I even took in a swim in crisp and refreshing water only feet from a snowfield. Fossil Lake is truly a crown jewel.
Below, some photos of our hike and a teaser of more Fossil Lake photos that I’ll post tomorrow. Enjoy!
After setting up camp and staying put, cooking dinner in the meadow, cleaning up and getting to bed, we all woke up leisurely and packed our sleeping bags, hammocks and tents back up.
While we were eating I asked my dad how he slept. “Fine” he said, “Except for that bear I saw last night.”
We all got wide-eyed and pressed him for details. He had been dozing and had to get up to water the flowers, so to speak. He unzipped the tent fly and started walking out of the wood toward the meadow where we’d made dinner. He looked up and fifty feet ahead of him a “huge damn bear” was sniffing around our cook spot under the full moon. He said it had to have been a grizzly because of its size, as big as a cow.
He backed up slowly and the bear took no notice of him, or if it had, it didn’t pay him any mind.
A bit of envy and some relief flowed through me upon hearing this. Bears are something you don’t want to see because of the perceived danger, but I still wish I’d seen the bear.
His story was supported a bit later when Ranger Jenny May came back around to check on things and break up the fire ring in the non-campsite we’d used. My dad told her about the bear-sighting and she said “Yep, that same bear was sniffing around my tent last night.” One night out and we’d already run into a grizzly.
Our second day on the trail brought another long hike from Rainbow Lake up to Dewey Lake. From Rainbow to Lake-at-Falls we’d had a pretty nice hike. Our party had been somewhat rejuvenated by the night of sleep and warm breakfast. But as the day wore on we pushed forward past Impasse Falls, past Twin Outlets Lake and on up to Dewey. The scenery along this stretch gets better and better and it would have been great to fish for Golden Trout in Twin Outlets and take a hike down underneath Impasse Falls. But, the day stretched out and we needed to make it to Dewey.
We finally made it, finding a good camping spot up on a knob. The boys caught more fish for dinner, this time Cutthroats, and we all made it to bed an hour earlier than we had the night before.
Another incredible day on the trail, with many waterfalls and amazing snowfields dotting the peaks.
Enjoy the photos!
Here are pictures of our hike from East Rosebud Lake up to Rainbow Lake.
What had seemed reasonable at 9am that morning turned into a death march as the sun fell toward the west. The hike from the trail head to the campsites on the west side of Rainbow Lake is eight miles. There is some significant elevation gain, nearly 2,000 feet, from East Rosebud Lake up to Rainbow Lake. Much of the upward climb is tempered by descents on the backsides of ridges, so actual elevation gain and lost is perhaps 3,000 feet.
But, we were all struck by the beauty around us and amazed that we were in such a place. The trail between East Rosebud Lake and Elk Lake is lined with berries. We had some ripe raspberries, but for those of you who might go in a week or two, you’ll have a real treat! Just watch out for bears munching berries right along with you.
We arrived, finally, at the far end of Rainbow Lake where a sign says “Remember, you must not camp within 200 feet of the water”, or some such thing. Well, we went right for a site that looked to have been a camping spot since the beginning of time, with nice trees from which to hang our hammocks, a fire pit, and water access.
Meanwhile the boys caught Rainbow Trout for supper, including a few large fish. Bode’s was eaten, and Heron’s was returned to the water. They were thrilled! Real Trout Fisherman!
Having set up camp in this lovely spot and contending with a little alpine sickness and serious fatigue, fish were cleaned and dinner was prepared in the meadow some distance from our sleeping area.
Ranger Jenny May stopped by to say hello and said “I’ll bet you guys know what I’m going to tell you…” We had no clue. Really. We were tired and could think of no rule we’d broken.
“You’re too close to the water and you’ll have to move your camp” she said. We all hung our heads and perhaps shed a few tears. Stephen and I proceeded to gather up our bags and begin hauling them into the woods. But Wes came to the rescue, saying that “you’re an EMT, you have to recognize that we could really get into trouble if we don’t get fed and get to bed.”
Somehow he convinced Jenny May to let us stay put. Amazing.
Enjoy the pics.
On July 19th, Stephen Rose, Wes Anderson, Stephen’s son Heron and my son Bode all loaded up in Madison and headed west to Montana. We overnighted near Sturgis, SD, then pushed through Billings to Roscoe, MT and on to the trailhead at East Rosebud Lake.
We then hiked 26 miles over the Beartooths to a trailhead on the west side of the range near Cooke City. The experience was incredible, challenging, and a lot of fun.
Afterward we toured Yellowstone and the Tetons while enjoying real beds and a hot tub.
Below, some pictures from our trip. These will come in installments each day, so stay tuned for images from our grand adventure.
I took a little time to get out to my home waters and I didn’t see a lot of action, but there were beautiful swallows swooping all around, the trees were flowering and smelling like honey, and the air breathed crisp and fresh.
I hope you can get out to catch some trout this weekend. I’m likely to be seen on the shores of Monona Bay, chasing down a hunch overheard by my ten-year-old son at school about big bass being caught at sunrise. Hopefully I can convince him that Sunday will be the better day to fish. Saturday morning looks like rain and cold. I’d prefer to read the paper and drink my coffee in that kind of weather. But it ain’t easy to make an eager kid wait.
Last weekend Stephen Rose and I took our boys on another close-to-home road trip to see if we could find some reptiles and amphibians. Our first stop was Spring Green Prairie, a dry hillside full of Prickly Pear Cactus and, if you’re lucky, Box Turtles and Bull Snakes.
We walked along carefully, trying to spy a living creature, but didn’t have any luck. It’s a wonderful place though, with a landscape unlike any other in Wisconsin. I highly recommend you go check it out.
Our second stop was Otter Creek in the Baraboo Hills, a sure bet for frogs, creek bugs and wonderful plants. And sure enough, we found lots of frogs, lots of creek bugs, and lots of plants. I wish I knew the names of most of the things I’ve taken pictures of below, but I don’t.
Maybe my friend Stephen, or perhaps one of you, would be kind enough to post a comment if you know the name of something you see in the pictures below.
Spring is springing and it’s a great time to get out and explore.
It’s the regular season trout opener today too. For those of you heading out, good luck!
Sunday, by all accounts, was a day everyone should have stayed inside. It was 34° and raining. A friend of mine cleaned out his gutters on Sunday, so I suppose you could do worse than taking a hike through the woods.
That’s where our troop was, tromping through the woods enjoying the sights and having a good time.
I hope you enjoy the photos!