Trip Pictures

Jess

Absaroka-Beartooth

Wilderness

Lady of the Lake

Lady of the Lake

Lady of the Lake

Lady of the Lake

Lady of the Lake

Beartooth Mountains

Jess in boulders

Jess in boulders

Wrong trail through

boulders

Boulders

Jess climbing to plateau

Jess climbing to plateau

Lower Aero Lake

Lower Aero Lake

Jess @ Lower Aero

Lower Aero Lake

Lower Aero Lake

Lower Aero Lake

Lower Aero Lake

Lower Aero Lake

Lower Aero Lake

Beartooth Mountains

Beartooth Mountains

Beartooth Mountains

Fuzzy camp site

Snow

Snow

Fuzzy camp site

Jess crossing creek

Lady of the Lake

Bison

Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness

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On 4 Sep 08, Jess and I headed to the Beartooths for a four day backpacking loop.  We had

tried to go the weekend before, but the weather forecast called for some nasty winter weather

(yeah, just 3 weeks after the last winter weather stopped...), so we re-scheduled for the

following weekend.  The weather forecast for this weekend looked pretty good, with only a

20% chance of snow and showers.

We drove all the way to Cooke City on Thursday, and then hit the trail to Lady of the Lake

(Google Map) by 10 am on Friday.  Soon after we started the trail the 20% chance of snow

began.  It was off and on, though, so we pressed on.  We had the trail completely to ourselves,

and we only saw one set of boot prints heading out.  After a few miles we began the short but

very steep climb up to Lower Aero Lake on the plateau.  The trail gains about 1,200 feet in 3/4

of a mile, and the higher we got the worse the weather got.  By the time we arrived at Lower

Aero, the snow was coming down hard, we couldn't even see 50 yards out into the lake, and

the wind was howling.  We spent an hour or so looking for a good camp site, but couldn't find

any around the southwest corner of the lake that would afford any protection from the wind.

After realizing the temperature was around 38 without the wind chill at 3 pm, we decided we

didn't really want to spend the night in those conditions.  So we dropped back down to Zimmer

Creek and set up camp.  We found what looked like some nice bear scat just a few yards from

our tents, so that was nice!

We awoke Saturday morning to almost 3 inches of snow...and it was still coming down.  We

messed around for a couple of hours waiting to see if the weather would break.  It didn't.  So

around 10 am we decided that the weather, which was forecasted to be worse on Sunday, was

already worse than we wanted to deal with.  So we grudgingly made the decision to call the trip

a bust and head home.

There were a few breaks in the snow on the hike back, but for the most part it snowed non-

stop for the entire hike back.  We figure we made the right decision.  When we got back to

Cooke City the weather looked like it had changed to be much colder and snowier over the

weekend.  So we headed into Yellowstone to head back home.  We saw a black wolf in Lamar

Valley, so that was good.

That was the trip.  We had hoped to hike through Upper Aero Lake, Sky Top Basin, Fossil

Lake, and back down to the Clarks Fork trail head.  Unfortunately, winter left way too late this

year and arrived way too early.  The area was still incredible, so I'm sure I'll try again next

year.  The biggest disappointment was that I had planned three long trips for this summer, and

weather cut them all short.  I don't think I'm a fair weather backpacker, but the weather just

kept sending me back home early.  Oh well.  Maybe next year will be better.