|Elk Lake, elevation 6800'ft.|
Busy is a choice. Stress is a choice. Joy is a choice. Choose well.
JUST GO HIKING.
It has become a yearly tradition to hike "The Beaten Path" once every summer. I hiked it last year - you can read a detailed post about that experience here.
AHHHHH! I love hiking - getting up into the mountains & total wilderness — feeling like a little ant walking on the earth — the size of these rocks is awesome! Creation is amazing, & God is good. I'm super blessed & thankful to have the health & life that I have. I'm trying to make the most of summer while it lasts!
For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. - Colossians 1:16
This year I hiked The Beaten Path with 2 friends - We started at the Clarks Fork Trailhead, just past the Chief Joseph Campground on July 16th & finished on the 18th at East Rosebud Lake.
This hike is "approximately" 26 miles long, not counting any side trips off trail. It is a strenuous hike, but not technically difficult or dangerous. It is also a well-traveled path, & perhaps the best way to experience the diversity & beauty of the Beartooths.
If starting at the Clarks Fork trailhead the elevation is 8000'ft - the peak elevation on the trail is just over 10000'ft, & finishing elevation is 6000'ft. You get more downhill hiking starting on the side we did. You hike uphill 90% of the first 10 miles, then from there its like 85% downhill for the remaining 16 miles. (As opposed to starting at East Rosebud, where you hike a steep long uphill for the first 16 miles.)
In a nutshell: We hiked The Beaten Path in 3 days, 2 nights. The first day (starting at the Clarks Fork Trailhead, 9:40am), it took us about 9 hours to hike 12 miles to Dewey Lake, our camp site for the night. (10 of the 12 miles were uphill. We hiked about 2mph the first 7 miles, & also took numerous little breaks along the way. Stopped at Russell Lake for about 30min too.) The next morning, it was an easy 7 miles downhill (9am-1pm) to Rainbow Lake & our camp site. The 3rd day we hiked 7 more downhill miles, finishing the hike by 12pm at East Rosebud Lake. We rested for about 40min at Elk Lake on the way.
|Impasse Falls - around 300ft tall.|
Honestly, no one likes hiking in the rain, things get slick! Bring good rain gear so you stay dry & warm! Also, make sure you know what to do if caught on the plateau in a storm. Don't make yourself a lighting target!
The mosquitoes are bad. Take strong bug repellent. I brought repellent that was 25% deet, it seemed to work ok, but I still got more bites then I liked. The bugs are blood thirsty up there! They only seemed worse on the higher lakes, near the plateau. The lower we got, towards Rainbow Lake, the fewer they become. (At least during this time of year.)
All around the trailhead (Cooke City side) the bugs were bad. East Rosebud side, no bugs.
Obviously is grizzly country - proper food storage, bear spray & guns are a really good idea, & safety precaution. When I hike, I'm packing a .357 & bear spray. (Better to be safe then sorry!!!) I hang my food at night too.
Last year when I hiked in July - there were still HUGE snow drifts we had to hike over. This year there wasn't ANY snow we had to hike over. (Dryer winter….) Having a walking pole could be helpful for some people. There are 3 major water crossings, & depending on the snowmelt, the water could be over knee deep or you could "rock-hop" across with shoes left on. Hiking in "convertible" short/pants works great, & keeps you dry.
This year water levels were very low, so nothing was very hard to get across. Last year however, the water was almost thigh deep in places, so it was much harder getting across the "rivers" as the current was swift.
I found it interesting when reading about The Beaten Path in hiking books, "river/lake" crossings were NOT mentioned…. Make sure you pack some water shoes!
There are countless beautiful lakes, several note-worthy waterfalls, endless views & wildflowers galore on this trail. I would suggest taking a longer time to hike The Beaten Path - & setting a camp somewhere near Fossil Lake - from there, there are numerous day hikes & other lakes to hike to.
Here are some pics for you to enjoy!
|The trail between Elk Lake & East Rosebud - 3 miles from the finish.|
|Ouzel Lake, elevation 9445'ft.|
|Twin Outlets Lake, elevation 9200'ft.|
|My hiking buddies JohnRoss & Jessica!|
|Hiking on the beautiful plateau, just past Fossil Lake (elev. 10,000+ft) |
- With storm clouds chasing us! We got stormed on (thunder / hail / rain / sleet) the last 2mi of the 12 miles we hiked the first day. The temperature got down to 42'F.
|Camp site 2nd night at Rainbow Lake.|
We hung our damp clothes out to dry at our camp site. The storm soaked us pretty good the night before. There are many great camp sites by Rainbow Lake.
|Rainbow Lake, elevation 7700'ft. |
Rainbow lake displays a beautiful blue-green color (often called "glacier milk") indicative of a glacier-fed lake. The water felt wonderful on my tired feet & sore knee. :)
|Hiking around Fossil Lake, elevation 10000'ft.|
If ya have any questions, lemme know in comments below & I'll do my best to answer!
Some good resources for hiking in or around the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness: