Touring the Tetons

The third and final leg of the big late-summer ’22 trip is the Tetons Range. We were mostly playing tourist this time but there has already been a bit of discussion about returning to get up-close and personal with the Tetons on a backpacking trip.

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Touring Yellowstone NP

The second leg of the big late-summer ’22 trip. We came in the East Entrance from Cody WY after our Beartooth Plateau backpacking trip and drove all the way across the park to the West Entrance to get to our KOA cabins (and a shower!) outside West Yellowstone MT.

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Beartooth Plateau Loop

Rather than make trip #7 to the Wind River Range, RC, TC, CC, and I opted this year to begin our late-summer trip with a 4-day, 21-mile loop across the Beartooth Plateau in the Beartooth Mountains of NW Wyoming & SW Montana.

This trip is described in Doug Lorain’s Backpacking Wyoming (trip #6 in first edition) and Beartooth Publishing has a great map for this area. Here’s one I made for the trip. Much of the route is in or on the edge of the Absoroka-Beartooth Wilderness. It begins at Beartooth Lake in Wyoming (in the shadow of Beartooth Butte) and crosses into Montana before returning to Beartooth Lake. This is an area where everything seems to be named Beartooth-something. Indeed, it’s accessed from the super-scenic Beartooth Highway.

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Lost Creek Wilderness, CO – Goose Creek, McCurdy Park, Hankins Pass Loop

The Lost Creek Wilderness covers about 120K acres of the Pike-San Isabel National Forest northwest of Colorado Springs and southwest of Denver. It’s a popular place due to its proximity to those population centers.

The recently-retired TC and I did this 20-mile loop in the southern part of the Wilderness over 3.5 days. We had pretty good weather – mostly clear skies with no rain. A high of about 90F on day 1 but only about 80F on the other days. Lows in the 38-45F range made for great sleeping. A full moon made the headlamp redundant.

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Autumn color in the Eagles Nest Wilderness (Colorado)

The Eagles Nest Wilderness is about 133K acres in north central Colorado encompassing the Gore Range, just north of Silverthorne and Dillon. A friend (JH) and I planned a 4-day excursion there for September 27-30. This was the first time I’ve been in the Rockies late in the season to see some of the autumn color. Unfortunately, something went wrong when recharging my camera after the last trip and I was unable to get as many photos as I would have liked.

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Wind River Range: Scab Creek to Middle Fork, Rainbow, and Raid Lakes plus others

Wind River trip #6 is in the bag. I and 3 of the usual suspects (RC, TC, & PDC) did a 6-night 35-mile “lollipop” (Aug 29 – Sep 4 2021) that took us past Toboggan, Little Divide, Lightning, Dream, Bobs, Sandpoint, Middle Fork, Rainbow, Dream, Raid, and South Fork Lakes, and then out past Lightning, Little Divide, and Toboggan Lakes again. We spent an extra day at Middle Fork Lake with a day-hike up to Donna Lake at the base of Pronghorn Peak.

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Black Canyon of the Gunnison

We’re driving for miles across a gently-rolling landscape covered with sage brush and an occasional small shrub. Suddenly, there’s a giant crack in the earth. We’ve arrived at Black Canyon of the Gunnison, specifically the North Rim of the National Park. It’s not really a crack but the result of millions of years of the Gunnison River cutting down as the surrounding land was uplifted. However it formed, the result is pretty awe-inspiring.

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West Elk Wilderness, CO – a Cliff Creek, Castle Creek, and Lowline loop

Colorado’s West Elk Wilderness covers over 176K acres of the Gunnison National Forest north of Gunnison and west of Crested Butte. Outdoor Trail Maps LLC has a good map of the area. See also Trails Illustrated maps # 133 and 134 for less-accurate alternatives.

Some friends and I did a 5-day, 24-mile “lollipop” starting July 25 at the Cliff Creek trail head on County Road 12 aka Kebler Pass Road, headed south over Beckwith Pass into a counter-clockwise loop consisting of the remainder of the Cliff Creek trail, Castle Creek trail, and Lowline trail, then back north over Beckwith Pass to return to the trail head July 29.

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Upper Buffalo Wilderness – Compton, Wild Burro, and Beagle Point Falls

It was a great weekend for checking out some more waterfalls in the Upper Buffalo Wilderness, with a bit of rain a couple days before the trip and relatively good weather during.  The targets this time were Compton Double Falls (39′), Wild Burro Falls (21′), and Beagle Point Falls (76′) – all on or near Whitaker Creek.

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Upper Buffalo Wilderness – a Boen Gulf bushwhack

The Boen Gulf access point for the Upper Buffalo Wilderness is the primary way of accessing 4 nearby waterfalls – Magnolia, Woods Boys, Stahle, and Hadlock Cascade, though you can also get to Paradise Falls with a bit more walking.  I’ve day-hiked this area 2 or 3 times but this was first time backpacking there – a 2-nighter accompanied by RC and CC.  Rain the previous day had the creeks flowing well.

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