The Beaten Path, 2016

Leftover snow from a September storm that came through a few days before us.
My husband and I hiked the Beaten Path on September 19th-20. We hiked the entire 26 mile trail in under 32 hours (Whew!) and camped one night on the trail. Hiking in late September could be a little risky, as there could easily be an early snow storm and cold temps. We had watched the forecast closely & were blessed with wonderful spring-like temperatures and lots of sunshine.

I had previously hiked the trail in 2014 and 2015 during mid-July. The first time I spent 3 nights on the trail, the second time I spent 2 nights on the trail, and this third time, I spent 1 night on the trail!

Personally I think only spending 1 night is too rushed; it didn't leave enough time to appreciate the scenery, and its a lot harder on the ole' bones. But it was still very fun.

We pushed hard and hiked fast, while still taking the necessary photo/snack/water breaks along the trail whenever needed. We camped at Dewey Lake, which is about the half way point on the trail.

In a nutshell this was our trip schedule:

A friend met us in the morning at our house and we then caravanned in two cars to East Rosebud, where we left one vehicle in the recreational parking area. Then we all road together in our 2nd vehicle over the Beartooth Pass to the Clarks Fork Trailhead. Our friend dropped us off at around 11:20am. (And then he drove our car back to our house.) All total driving time was around 4hrs.

We were on the trail by 11:30am and we arrived at the camp site at Dewey Lake at around 6pm.
My husband and I made pretty good time. I was very tired by the time we reached Dewey. The last 2.5 of the 12 miles to Dewey we were hiking in a thunder storm. It rained/hailed pretty hard, making the downhill trail pretty slick and got cold. But it slacked off just enough for us to get camp set up and to make a quick Mountain House supper with the JetBoil. We cleaned up our supper mess, hung our food bag, stashed our backpacks, and just as we were crawling into our tent for the night, the storm picked back up. We watched lightening flash and listened to thunder shaking the mountains. It stormed long into the night. Thankfully we stayed pretty dry and warm.

The next morning at around 9am we were ready to hit the trail again. It was partly cloudy with the sun shining - it was beautiful. We took 40min lunch break at Rainbow Lake. We arrived to East Rosebud at around 4pm. I was pretty exhausted and had a few large blisters on my feet. (Even using moleskin!!) My husband didn't get any blisters, but was pretty tired. It felt really good to change out of my hiking boots and into the sandals I had left in the car. I recommend having a change of shoes for the car, regardless of how fast you hike this trail.

Again, here are additional detailed accounts from hiking the Beaten Path in 2015 and 2014.

Below are photos from the hike.
Somewhere along the trail... Heading down to Rainbow Lake.
Just after Impasse Falls. Standing on the edge of the tail, looking down on the lake below. 
Storm clouds chasing us. This is one of the water crossings. In late September the water levels are very low. We rock-hopped across ALL the water crossings and didn't get our shoes wet or had to take them off!
The fall color was beautiful on the East Rosebud side of the hike.
Impass Falls.
Hiking Around Fossil Lake. All the grass had turned golden, it was so beautiful and different from hiking the trail in July, when everything is very fresh and green. 

My husband experienced some mild, but annoying altitude sickness around Fossil Lake.  While Jonny is an extremely active, fit person,  it did slow us down a little bit. 
Just as the storm was starting... (We used the rainflys and black garbage bags to keep our packs dry. It got very pretty dark and the trail was pretty slick in places.)
On the Cooke City side, bears are more of a threat. We saw quite a few large black bear prints right on the trail. 
More fall foliage. 
Jonathan and myself.
Along the final stretch of the hike, descending to East Rosebud through the canyon. 

Almost at East Rosebud, looking back up the canyon. SO BEAUTIFUL! 

If you have any questions, let me know and I'll do my best to answer.

My previous two posts on hiking the Beaten Path have received a lot of comments from fellow hikers - you should read the comments on those posts if you have any questions, and maybe you'll find some answers there.

Below is my list of MUST HAVE hiking gear when I hike the Beaten Path:

  • sleeping bag (my bag is good down to 21 degrees, fahrenheit) 
  • tent
  • sleeping mat 
  • Jetboil & extra fuel tank 
  • proper amount of Mountain House food & high protein snacks
  • rain gear / pants & coat 
  • bear spray & gun 
  • first aid kit (My husband is an EMT, so he packs a very well-rounded kit.)
  • moleskin 
  • water bottle & water filter
  • one change of clothes, extra hiking socks, underwear, plus long underwear & socks for sleeping in
  • bug spray 
  • biodegradable toilet paper and liquid hand-sanitizer 
  • compas & trailmap 
  • flashlight
  • leather-man knife
  •  paracord (for hanging the food bag)
  • a few carabiners 
  • waterproof matches & lighter 
  • beanie (no matter the season), baseball hat & sunglasses 
  • phone, camera & ID
  • spork
  • warm but lightweight coat
  • a small waterproof bag for stashing electronic items
  • a large black garbage bag (for keeping my backpack dry if it rains)