Archive for August 2013

Montana’s Beartooth Mountains – Installment 5   1 comment

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.

 

Heron and Bode fish Fossil Lake barefoot, East Rosebud Trail

Heron and Bode fish Fossil Lake barefoot, East Rosebud Trail

 

The headwaters of East Rosebud Creek trickle down the moutain into Fossil Lake

The headwaters of East Rosebud Creek trickle down the mountain into Fossil Lake

 

Stephen with a nice Fossil Lake Cutthroat, East Rosebud Trail

Stephen with a nice Fossil Lake Cutthroat, East Rosebud Trail

 

Dinner at Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

Dinner at Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

 

How's that for backcountry cooking? (East Rosebud Trail)

How’s that for backcountry cooking? (East Rosebud Trail)

 

Bode chills at Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

Bode chills at Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

 

Wes watching over Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

Wes watching over Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

 

Snowfield on Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

Snowfield on Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

 

Let the snowball fight begin! (Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail)

Let the snowball fight begin! (Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail)

 

Let the snowball fight begin! (Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail)

Let the snowball fight begin! (Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail)

 

Stephen brings out the big guns, Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

Stephen brings out the big guns, Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

 

Round two, this time with feeling (Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail)

Round two, this time with feeling (Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail)

 

Where's Wes? Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

Where’s Wes? Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

 

Castle Peak and Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

Castle Peak and Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

 

Heron wandering the alpine wonderland around Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

Heron wandering the alpine wonderland around Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

 

Bode and Heron at Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

Bode and Heron at Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

 

Incredible wilderness all around, Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

Marmot spotted, Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

 

Amazing tiny flowers at Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

Amazing tiny flowers at Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

 

Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

 

Our campsite was in the trees above Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

Our campsite was in the trees above Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

 

Heron's marmot, photo 1, East Rosebud Trail

Heron’s marmot, photo 1, East Rosebud Trail

 

Heron's marmot, photo 2, East Rosebud Trail

Heron’s marmot, photo 2, East Rosebud Trail

 

The marmots ducked for cover when a hawk was spotted overhead. East Rosebud Trail

The marmots ducked for cover when a hawk was spotted overhead. East Rosebud Trail

 

A baby marmot at Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

A baby marmot at Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

 

Montana’s Beartooth Mountains – Installment 4   Leave a comment

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!

 

Through the meadows along the East Rosebud Trail we go.

Through the meadows along the East Rosebud Trail we go.

 

Wes and Heron on the East Rosebud Trail above Dewey Lake

Wes and Heron on the East Rosebud Trail above Dewey Lake

 

Bode and Stephen admire the high alpine meadows on the East Rosebud Trail

Bode and Stephen admire the high alpine meadows on the East Rosebud Trail

 

Upward toward Fossil Lake on the East Rosebud Trail

Upward toward Fossil Lake on the East Rosebud Trail

 

Up switchbacks and back down to cross a creek on the East Rosebud Trail

Up switchbacks and back down to cross a creek on the East Rosebud Trail

 

Incredible views along the East Rosebud Trail

Incredible views along the East Rosebud Trail

 

Heron clowns it up on the East Rosebud Trail

Heron clowns it up on the East Rosebud Trail

 

Tom on the East Rosebud Trail near Fossil Lake

Tom on the East Rosebud Trail near Fossil Lake

 

Wes on the East Rosebud Trail near Fossil Lake

Wes on the East Rosebud Trail near Fossil Lake

 

Stephen on the East Rosebud Trail near Fossil Lake

Stephen on the East Rosebud Trail near Fossil Lake

 

Bode on the East Rosebud Trail near Fossil Lake

Bode on the East Rosebud Trail near Fossil Lake

 

A broad beautiful meadow on the East Rosebud Trail

A broad beautiful meadow on the East Rosebud Trail

 

The snowfields get closer on the East Rosebud Trail

The snowfields get closer on the East Rosebud Trail

 

Amazing alpine wildflowers on the East Rosebud Trail

Amazing alpine wildflowers on the East Rosebud Trail

 

Bode and Wes resting along the East Rosebud Trail

Bode and Wes resting along the East Rosebud Trail

 

A long view up high on the East Rosebud Trail

A long view up high on the East Rosebud Trail

 

Heron and Stephen hike up to Fossil Lake on the East Rosebud Trail

Heron and Stephen hike up to Fossil Lake on the East Rosebud Trail

 

Amazing alpine meadow blooms on the East Rosebud Trail

Amazing alpine meadow blooms on the East Rosebud Trail

 

Bode with the first Cutthroat Trout from Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

Bode with the first Cutthroat Trout from Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail