Author Archives: chris

Fox Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Fox Lake

Fox Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Fox Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Fox Lake, located in the Beartooth Mountains, is suitable for a day hike, an overnight stay, or a base camp. Located just 4 miles from the trailhead, Fox Lake is a quick hike for conditioned hikers. In the mid season (July), the busy trail is easy to follow, and well marked. This may not be true in the early season (early June), where traffic is almost nonexistent, the trail is harder to follow, and snow drifts still block the trail in many places.

Regardless of when you hike to Fox Lake, you’ll want to bring proper protection against bears. Grizzly bears are common in the area, as are moose. You’ll want to be prepared for this with either bear spray, or a suitable alternative. This area (Cooke City) is notorious for bear attacks, and this trail will lead you 4 miles into bear country. When you drive to the trailhead, you’ll be reminded of this fact. Campgrounds in the area do not allow tent camping because of bear attacks, and many signs along the highway will remind you to properly store your food when camping.

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01 Jul 2015

Rock Island Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Rock Island Lake

Rock Island Lake

Located near Cooke City on the famous Beartooth Highway, Rock Island Lake is an excellent choice for a day hike, or relaxed fishing in the wilderness. The hike is relatively short (6 miles round trip), on a trail that is mostly level (only gaining 270 feet at it’s highest point). The hike to Rock Island Lake also offers an excellent opportunity to view wildlife such as moose and deer. The trail is easy to follow, as long as you pay attention to the signs along the trail.

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08 Jun 2015

Kersey Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Kersey Lake

Kersey Lake

You will rarely find a lake that offers fishing, good wildlife viewing opportunities, and is close to a major highway. Kersey Lake, located near Cooke City, Montana, is a relaxed day hike with the all of these features. The hike is an easy hike (3 miles round trip), and gains less than 200 feet of elevation. This makes the hike a perfect first hike for small children, or a quick hike for travellers passing through the area. The road to the trailhead is paved, so any motor vehicle can make the drive- something that is rare for a lake next to the Beartooth Absaroka Wilderness.

Driving to the trailhead can be considered an adventure itself. Whether if you are headed from Red Lodge, Yellowstone National Park, or Cody, you will pass trout filled lakes along the way, scenic alpine vistas, and glacier fed streams. Access to the trailhead is possible most of the time from late May to early October, but it is always best to check the Montana Road Conditions Map before you head out. The well signed Clarks Fork Trailhead is located 58.1 miles from Red Lodge, or 3.4 miles from Cooke City, on US 212.

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06 Jun 2015

Passage Falls- Absaroka Range

Passage Falls

Passage Falls

Passage Falls

Standing beneath the falls, a whirlwind of mist covers you. The mist clings to anything that isn’t already wet, and the roar of the falls deafens you. Looking up, it’s hard to imagine how many hundreds of gallons of water are pouring over the falls, or how this waterfall managed to drastically change the volcanic outcrops that you cling to. Passage Creek beneath the falls becomes a torrent, as the water rushes out of the narrow valley. This place is Passage Falls, a popular hiking destination in the Absaroka Range, and a great place for a short day hike.

Located South of Livingston, Passage Falls is an easy to find hike that offers a spectacular waterfall. The short length (4.2 miles), easy to follow trail, and low gain in elevation (490 ft) makes Passage Falls an excellent hike for hikers of any level. Although this is an excellent trail most of the year, the best times to visit are between mid-May and mid-June, when the water levels are at their highest. In addition, the trail is quite busy later in the summer, so spring tends to be my preferred season for hiking this short trail.

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26 May 2015

What to do When You’re Lost in the Woods

what to do when you're lost in the woods

You feel your chest tighten up, your heart races, and your eyes dart back and forth trying to find a way out. You’ve become lost in the woods, and you just realized that you can’t find the way out. As the terror subsides, there’s the urge to just run- your adrenaline starts pumping, and your body tries to fix the problem by telling you to go as far as you can in a single direction. When the adrenaline wears off, you realize how hopeless your situation is. The landscape seems alien to you- did you cross this path before? The woods close in on you, and the trail seems miles away. What do you do, now?

 

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19 Mar 2015

How to Make a Hobo Stove

Completed Hobo Stove with Soda Can Pot

Completed Hobo Stove with Soda Can Pot

There we were- ten miles from the trailhead, and even further from civilization.  We were all staring down in disbelief at what we saw.  Our only pot for boiling water had a large crack in it, rendering it worthless.  We tried to patch it together with tin foil, but the truth of the situation was that we were in trouble.  We were in one of the most remote places in the Beartooth Mountains, and we were without a method of boiling water.  Since our freeze dried foods required boiling water to make, we could not use much of the food we had brought on that hike.  We had to leave early, and quickly.

That hike out was a death march- 12 miles in one day, through a huge rain storm that lasted over 6 hours.  When we arrived to the vehicle I had parked at the trailhead, we were exhausted, soaking wet, and hungry.  This all could have been prevented, if we just had a reliable backup method of boiling water.  This was an easily preventable emergency, and I’m now going to show you how to make one of the easiest stove/pot combinations to make, in case you are in a similar situation.

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19 Mar 2015

How to Start a Fire

We’ve all been there- you’re down to your last match, and you want to start a fire.  You strike the match, only to be left with disappointment, when the match burns out.  Building a fire is not an easy task- but it’s a crucial one.  Campfires bring warmth, morale, and a way to cook your meals.  Whether if you are starting a fire for survival, or for entertainment, all fires are built the same basic way.  Read on, if you want to know how to properly start a fire.

The first step of starting a fire is to find good quality firewood.  This is relatively easy, since you’re usually in a forested area, if you are trying to start a fire.  The general rule that I use is simple- gather a lot of little pieces of dry firewood, and a little of the larger pieces.  You’ll have plenty of time to gradually gather more firewood once the fire is started, and you’ll conserve energy for the important part- building the fire.  Remember that even if you cannot find a dry source of firewood, you can always split dry dead standing trees, and burn the insides of the trees (which will usually be dry).  In a desert/dry environment, dead stems and roots of bushes can be used, in lieu of wood.
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19 Mar 2015

How to Build a Backpacking First Aid Kit

We’ve all been there- you’re 50 miles from home, and you forgot to bring your contact lens solution with you.  Worse yet, you may have needed something like medication for a heart condition.  Wherever you’ve been, and had a medical emergency, you’ve wished that you had the right medical supplies for that emergency.  It’s this exact reason that experts recommend packing a first aid kit in your vehicle, when you take long trips.  When you hike into a wilderness area, or other remote area, and are miles from civilization, there is even more of a need for basic first aid supplies.  Often times, you’re days away from civilization.  You don’t have the convenience of being able to walk into a store and buying supplies, when you’re in the wilderness.  It’s for this reason that having a backpacking first aid kit is crucial.  Once you’ve come to the realization that you need a first aid kit for backpacking, you have to determine what contents that kit will contain.  When I build a first aid kit, I like to first examine what unique specialty items to include in the kit.

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19 Mar 2015

Winter Hiking- Gear for the Weather

I have always loved winter hiking.  Nothing beats the feeling of snow under your boot, and knowing that you probably won’t see another person all day long.  These once busy mountains are now devoid of any sign of human influence, and the scenery this time of year is absolutely amazing.  Hiking in this alpine paradise has one major drawback- the unpredictable and deadly weather.  If you want to enjoy the beautiful winter views in relative safety, you need to plan your hike ahead of time- and that plan will include extra gear.
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18 Mar 2015

Hiking Gear List

We’ve all been there- you’re standing in front of your backpack, and you sigh while looking at it’s contents.  “Do I really need all of this crap”, you say to yourself.  Well, let’s break down what you need, and what you don’t need.  Even if you travel light, you’ll still want to check out this list.  This is a list of all the hiking gear you need to hike with, whether if you are doing a day hike, or an overnighter.  This is some essential gear that can save your life one day, if you need it.  I’m also going to talk about some of the things that I’ve left off of this list, so you can also see what I don’t put in my pack.  Just for fun, I’ve also included a list of the treats of modern life that I haul up mountains.
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18 Mar 2015

Emergency Supplies to Take Backpacking

One of the best reasons to go backpacking,  is to get away from society.  To me, there is no other feeling that is greater than the peace and tranquility achieved in the wilderness.  The down side of this nirvana is that if you need something in the wilderness, it had better be in your backpack.  You have to plan to have every possible supply that you need, because there are no retail stores in the wilderness.  This is why the planning stage of a hike is the most important- you have to plan ahead for your needs and supplies.  As an example of some of the supplies you should carry in your backpack, let’s take a look at what I carry in mine:
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18 Mar 2015

Day Hiking Gear

Hiking gear can be a very sensitive topic- some hikers believe in being prepared for even the most unlikely of catastrophes, while others prefer to pack little more than a water bottle.  You can load 40 pounds worth of gear in your pack, and be prepared for anything, but what’s the fun in that?  Likewise, you can just take a few items in your pockets, but what happens if it rains?  When you’re hiking in high elevations, you need to take extra precaution.  So, here is a short list of gear that you should absolutely bring with you while hiking.

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18 Mar 2015

Backpacking Water Purification

We all know that you can’t safely drink water out of a river.  Sure, you might know someone who swears that they don’t need to filter their water, but let’s face it- that “one guy” is always at least a little bit crazy.  Water purification when hiking is absolutely a critical need on the trail.  It doesn’t matter if you’re taking a couple mile day hike, or if you’re planning a multiple day hike- you need to always bring at least one method of water purification.  Let’s talk about backpacking water purification, and specifically what I carry in my backpack.

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18 Mar 2015

Glacier Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Glacier Lake

Glacier Lake



Glacier Lake offers an afternoon of fishing, hiking, and photography.  Located close to Red Lodge, Glacier Lake is also an extremely popular lake- so expect some company on the trail.  The trail is short (but steep), the scenery beautiful, and the trout willing.  Thankfully, the road to the trailhead (forest service road 421) helps limit the traffic on the trail.  To be sure, your car will take more abuse on the ride to the trailhead, than you will on the trail itself.

If your truck or SUV can handle the road, you’ll be rewarded with the opportunity to hike to four different lakes in the basin.  Anglers will love the fishing opportunities in these lakes.  Climbers will love the seemingly endless supply of boulders, spires, and peaks to climb.  Photographers will enjoy the stunning scenery.  All of these lakes are located near each other, so this makes for a great day of exploring an alpine paradise.
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01 Feb 2015

Huckleberry Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Huckleberry Lake

Huckleberry Lake

If the trail at Mystic Lake isn’t remote enough for you, you only have to hike an extra mile to Huckleberry Lake for a better chance at solitude. Even though Huckleberry Lake is only 7 miles from the West Rosebud trailhead, it is not visited nearly as much as Mystic Lake and nearby Island Lake. You might ask, “Why is this?”. The simple answer is that Huckleberry Lake is not particularly easy to find, it isn’t on an official trail, and it’s not really popular. That being said, it is an absolute must-see in the Beartooth Mountains- the narrow canyon walls combined with the nearby mature forest leaves an impression that you soon won’t forget. The fishing usually won’t disappoint, either.

Another attraction to Huckleberry Lake is that it is on the way to other destinations up the valley including Princess Lake, Avalanche Lake, and Granite Peak (a popular climbing destination, and Montana’s highest mountain). Oh- did I mention that the fishing was good? Well, enough about why you should visit Huckleberry Lake- let’s tackle the hike itself.
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28 Jan 2015

Crow Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Crow Lake

Crow Lake

There are few places that truly take your breath away; few places that absolutely leave you unable to describe their awesome beauty. Crow Lake, located at the mouth of a glacier carved cirque, is certainly one of those places. If the blue-green waters, dense lodgepole forests, and jagged granite spires of the East Rosebud Plateau don’t take your breath away, the hike there certainly will. The 6 miles of trail to Crow Lake climb more than 2,700 feet, most of which is in the first few miles.

Although this trail presents a few difficulties, finding the trailhead is not one of them. Start off by entering the East Rosebud campground, and drive all the way to the northwestern corner (far back) of the campground, parking in the well marked trailhead parking lot. You can easily tell that this trail is going to be steep at this point- even the trailhead itself is on a hill! Continue reading “Crow Lake- Beartooth Mountains” »

25 Jan 2015

Sylvan Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Sylvan Lake

Sylvan Lake

Shimmering beneath Sylvan Lake lies the prize most anglers and hikers seek- the California Golden Trout. First stocked in 1938, the golden trout at Sylvan Lake are well known in Montana for their genetic purity. Sylvan Lake’s golden population is so pure that the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks regularly uses the eggs laid by goldens at Sylvan Lake for stocking other lakes in Montana. If you seek the purest golden trout in the Beartooths, you should look no further than Sylvan Lake.

Although this trail presents a few difficulties, finding the trailhead is not one of them. Start off by entering the East Rosebud campground, and drive all the way to the northwestern corner (far back) of the campground, parking in the well marked trailhead parking lot. You can easily tell that this trail is going to be steep at this point- even the trailhead itself is on a hill! Continue reading “Sylvan Lake- Beartooth Mountains” »

24 Jan 2015

West Boulder Meadows- Absaroka Range

West Boulder Meadows- Absaroka Range

Boulder Meadows

Boulder Meadows

Located south of Big Timber, the north end of the Absaroka Range is best described as a typical western mountain range.  Instead of the numerous lakes, and tall, jagged peaks of the Beartooth Mountains; the northern end of the Absaroka Range’s peaks are much lower in elevation, and few lakes are present.  The lakes that have formed in this part of the Absaroka Range are usually high elevation lakes, and usually involve quite the hike to reach.  For these reasons, most anglers and hikers in the Absaroka Range tend to hike and fish near streams and rivers.  A popular destination in all seasons, the West Boulder Meadows is an excellent choice for hiking, snowshoeing, wildlife photography, climbing, or fishing- whatever suits your fancy.
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22 Jun 2014

Blackmore Lake- Gallatin Range

Blackmore Lake

Blackmore Lake, as seen from the North side of the lake.

Blackmore Lake, as seen from the North side of the lake.

Blackmore lake is an easy, albeit mostly uphill, hike located near scenic Bozeman, Montana.  Located just 30 minutes outside of town, Blackmore Lake is a beautiful lake back dropped by a jagged peak.  Although Blackmore Lake has little to offer fishermen, it does offer the opportunity to observe wildlife, and rockhound.

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18 Jun 2014

Lady of the Lake- Beartooth Mountains

Lady of the Lake

Lady  of the Lake

Lady of the Lake

An easy day hike in the Beartooth Mountains, Lady of the Lake is a great hike for small children or beginners.  The trail climbs very little elevation (the high point in the trail is only a few hundred feet above the trailhead), and the lake rests at nearly the same altitude as the trailhead.  Despite the short length, this trail has a couple of small creek crossings, so make sure that you are wearing a good pair of boots.

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07 Feb 2014