Beartooth loop

John Goering

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Sep 30, 2014
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My wife and I did a loop in the Tooth's last summer starting and ending at the Chief Joseph trail head just east of Cooke City. We utilized the Russell Creek trail, camping the first night between Ouzel and Bald Knob Lakes.
Day 1
Broadwater River 100 yards from the trail head.


Kersey Lake with Sheep Mountain in the distance.


Russell Creek






Russell Lake


Wet meadow between Russell and Ouzel Lakes


Ouzel Lake


Cascades between Ouzel and Bald Knob Lakes. We listened to these all night-between the rain drops


Bald Knob Lake


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scatman

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@John Goering - Nice report and great scenery. The Beartooths have been on my bucket list for a few years now; I just need to find the time to fit them into my schedule.
 

John Goering

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Day 2
Day 2 began with a futile effort to dry out the tent after an all night rain. In the end, the pack increased in weight a couple pounds but didn't want to wait any longer. We continued on the Russell Lake trail past Skull and Fizzle Lakes and crested the summit into the East Rosebud drainage at Fossil Lake. About a half mile above Dewey Lake we departed the trail for 3 plus days of off-trail travel. We camped above Oly Lake for two nights.

Looking back at Bald Knob Lake



Below Skull Lake


Skull Lake


Fizzle Lake


Fossil Lake


East Rosebud drainage

East Rosebud Creek below Fossil Lake


Off trail Below Oly Lake


Cascades/plunge pool below Oly Lake


Oly Lake from camp
 
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Ben

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The photos captioned "looking back at bald knob lake" and "skull lake" are the same picture, I'm pretty sure. But I like the picture, so if it's intentional, I don't mind.
 

John Goering

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Day 3
Day 3 consisted of a day hike from Oly up to Cairn Lake and return. Cairn is probably my favorite place in the Beartooths.

Valley above Oly




Cairn Mountain


Cairn Lake "afterbay"



Lower end of Cairn Lake with the Spires in the background


More Cairn Lake


Headed back to Oly, Summit Mountain behind




Small cascades near camp
 

John Goering

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Day 4

Day 4 was supposed to be a rather easy boulder bashing day up the drainage northwest of Oly topping out at Lower Skytop Lake and then down Skytop Creek past Rough Lake with a camp at Lone Elk Lake. Turned out that small drainage above Oly was a bit of a handful.

Leaving Oly
 

John Goering

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Day 4 continued

Working our way up into the basin






There were several small lakes in the basin





We crested at about 10,300 feet at Lower Skytop Lake


Heading down Skytop Creek with Rough Lake behind


Lone Elk Lake, Mount Villard on far left, Spires middle
 

John Goering

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Day 5

The fifth day travels were from Lone Elk, down Skytop Creek about a mile, and then cut to the south out of the Skytop drainage, past Pneumonia, Splinter, and Finger Lakes with a camp just below Moccasin Lake. There were a few rough stretches in that route also.

Skytop Creek below Lone Elk Lake


Skytop Creek. Our route passed beside that snowbank on the low ridge to the right


Looking back at Skytop Creek. Spires on far left, the flat topped Granite Peak (highest point in Montana), un-named peak, and Cairn Mountain right.


Pneumonia Lake


Descending to Splinter Lake


Finger Lake


Outlet of Finger Lake with Mount Zimmer in the distance


Moccasin Lake


Camp at Moccasin


 

John Goering

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Day 6

Ah, the last day. We dropped off the shelf where Moccasin sits into the Broadwater River Drainage, climbed over, around, and occasionally under all the deadfall around Broadwater and Curl Lakes (88 Yellowstone fire victim) and finally hit FS trail 564 back to the trail head. That trail is not cleared above the mouth of Curl and we spent 2.5 hours making 1.5 miles in that mess.

Pilot and Index Peaks from Moccasin Lake


Below Moccasin. Broadwater and Curl Lakes in distance.


Broadwater Lake and Middle Mountain


Curl Lake with Pilot and Index behind


Broadwater River below Curl Lake


A very welcome if not well traveled FS 564


More Broadwater River


Wet meadow on Sedge Creek below Kersey Lake-a mile and a half to the trail head-Henderson Mountain behind
 

Tye Dye Twins

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Sep 30, 2014
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Heck of a trip! Beautuful country up there. You make me wanna re-visit Montana again!
 

DrNed

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Fantastic trip! What was your mileage?
 

Artemus

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Thanks John Goering. Great Trip! We haven't had a whole lot on the Beartooth's posted here. x2 on "what was your mileage?". I agree Cairn Mtn and Lake look awesome. What would you figure would be the shortest mileage in from a trailhead to it? Did you see much bear sign?
 
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Bob

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Mar 3, 2013
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oh oh gears turning ...... :cautious:
 

TannerT

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Great trip report. We need more beta on Montana. I'm glad you're here to oblige. Pneumonia Lake calls to me, it's probably my inner Respiratory Therapist. Thanks for sharing.
 

John Goering

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Sep 30, 2014
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Fantastic trip! What was your mileage?

I'm guessing the total was someplace around 30 miles with about 12 of that on-trail. Cairn Lake is about 12 to 13 miles in from the Cooke City side and maybe a mile or so farther from East Rosebud trail head. It could be a very long day hike but in my opinion, the longer I can stay in that area, the better.

Somewhat amazing, but we didn't run across any bear sign the entire trip which was ok with us. The only big critters observed were goats although there were plenty of elk tracks and a few moose tracks, the latter in the Broadwater River area. When you have canines along, it doesn't in any way augment wildlife observation.
 

andyjaggy

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Dec 2, 2013
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Pretty country. I've only been in the Beartooth's once. When I was a teenager I went up to Froze to Death lake. It was pretty dang cold, but amazingly pretty.
 
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