Wyoming 2012:The Beartooths, Yellowstone, Wind River Range, and Grand Tetons
In August 2012 we made our fourth annual trip to Montana and Wyoming for two weeks of outdoor adventure. For our first week we were again based at Two Rib Cabin with my parents in Cooke City, MT. Cooke City is a one road town nestled in the Beartooth Mountains near the Montana/Wyoming border and located five miles from the northeast entrance of Yellowstone. With unparalleled hiking, fishing, wildlife, and scenery at our fingertips, it made the perfect base for exploring the Beartooth Mountains and northern Yellowstone. Steve had the opportunity for several long runs in the Beartooths and his favorite was a run from Island Lake he dubbed the 26 Lake Hike (the Beartooth Plateau has around a thousand lakes!). While Steve and I did a loop hike past Beauty Lake, Norah enjoyed playing with Grandma. She also had fun fishing with Grandpa and we dined on the fresh trout she caught.
The main attraction of our second week was a five day backpacking trip in the Wind River Range. Last year was our first time visiting the Wind River Range and we were immediately hooked. This time we planned a trip out of the Big Sandy trailhead with camping at Big Sandy Lake, Deep Lake, and a day hike to Jackass Pass in the Cirque of the Towers. The scenery was amazing, the weather beautiful; we saw moose, short tailed weasels, pikas, and marmots; and there were no bugs. In short, it was an awesome five days!
Before returning to Billings after our Wind River excursion, we had a few days to sightsee in Yellowstone and the Tetons. During our first week we were in and out of Yellowstone for day trips and at the end of our trip we stayed at Old Faithful Inn for one night. We love all that Yellowstone has to offer: scenery, wildlife, and especially the thermal features. Steve and I enjoyed a hike along the north rim of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and we all liked the various pools and geysers we saw; the standouts being the Grand Prismatic (or the Problematic as Norah kept calling it) and the geysers in the Upper Geyser Basin. Two new geysers for us this year were Grand and Riverside Geysers. Last year a highlight was watching Castle Geyser erupt at night with a full moon and this year I had the chance to watch it erupt at sunrise. Pretty incredible!
Steve was able to fit in one last run in the Tetons and really liked his twenty five mile run through Cascade and Paintbrush Canyons (including seeing a mother moose and her baby and a black bear on the trail). Norah and I were a lot less ambitious and joined a ranger led hike to Inspiration Point. It was a pretty hike and I really enjoyed the ranger talk on the geology of the Tetons. The lack of foothills, the dramatic rise of the mountains, and the relatively small size of the range make the Tetons a very photogenic park. We made sure to stop at many of the viewpoints and overlooks, especially at sunrise and sunset, to take in the beautiful scenery.
All in all we really enjoyed our two weeks and look forward to another western adventure in 2013!