Greybull River July 2018

Georgia Yankee

Member
.
Joined
Aug 23, 2016
Messages
90
My wife and I took a week-long trip up the Greybull River into the southeastern Absarokas the last week of July, 2018. We hiked in two days from the Jack Creek campground/trailhead and camped near the confluence of the Greybull River and Cow Creek. We day-hiked from there for three days and took two more days to hike out. The lower Greybull turned out to be surprisingly tough terrain and it beat us up. Part of the challenge was the heat. The forest was patchy to begin with and was decimated by a beetle infestation. Then, as is common across this region, the gods held a Viking Funeral and burned it all. There were only a small handful of shady patches on the first two days of walking. It was much cooler higher up.

The terrain here is wider and more open than other places we have hiked. Instead of spectacular vertical expanses of granite there are very long, wide valleys that give a real feeling of vastness. The peaks are high (a lot 12K+ feet) and the valleys deep but the overall impression is just vast open space. According to locals we spoke with the area does not get much use except during hunting season, when it's quite busy. And the lower part of the Greybull on this hike is world-class fishing so people come out for that, but past the first few miles it's pretty empty. From the pictures you can see that the area is dryer than, say, the Winds or Tetons or even the western Absarokas. We were there in late July and probably could have come earlier, although the river fords may have been dicey. But no bugs!

The trail climbs right from the trailhead and remains high above the river for the first several miles. There were lots of small creeks crossing the trail so water was not a problem. Note classic pack--lately we have resurrected our 1970s Jansport external frame packs. In my experience these packs are better than modern internal frame packs for trail-walking. Internal frames are better for skiing, climbing and bushwhacking but for just walking external frames carry the load much more comfortably. They are also lighter than most equivalent-capacity internal frame packs and cooler because there is not much contact with your back. Our $.02, anyway.
1534863588391.jpeg

Continuing up the Greybull.
1534863723604.jpeg

Raspberries all along the lower trail.
1534863757909.jpeg

We camped after about 6 or 7 miles at what was really the first decent campsite we came to. Actually it was quite nice. Maybe if we were actively looking we would have found something earlier but I don't think so.
1534863889144.jpeg

Rained almost every afternoon. Perfect for pre-dinner naps. This is from camp after the storm passed. Looking north, downstream.
1534864236388.jpeg

Looks like Easter Island!
1534864273415.jpeg

Lots of fireweed everywhere
1534864311517.jpeg

Typical terrain here. Large alluvial fan at confluence with Venus Creek. I think a lot of these side valleys were only glaciated in their upper reaches. This and some others are very steep and narrow where they meet the main valley.
1534864359840.jpeg

Looking back the way we came... The lumpy ground in the middle distance is a big landslide deposit. You can see how it has pushed the river to the far side of the valley. I suppose it could have temporarily dammed it but we saw no evidence of that.
1534864403087.jpeg

Ok--more geology--I can't help it. Looking upstream now, you can see where the river has cut through some resistant rock layers. Instead of the wide, flat valley, the river is confined to a narrow gorge.
1534864438241.jpeg

The tops of the resistant layers create weird plateaus on the valley floor. The river is over a cliff off to the right
1534864476013.jpeg

Here's the gorge.
1534864520749.jpeg

This sure had us worried! But it turned out not to be true--there were more creeks after this one.
1534864723847.jpeg

Here's the gorge for the last time and a view ahead to where the valley widens out again
1534864548327.jpeg

We camped just where the valley widens above the gorge.
1534864610366.jpeg

Greybull River near camp, looking upstream
1534865031388.jpeg

Igneous dike across from camp
1534865094568.jpeg

The next day we day-hiked up the strange-looking, crumbling, white valley in the background.
1534865139375.jpeg

Started up dry creekbed but found a little springfed oasis up there
1534865172792.jpeg

On day 4 we hiked further up the Greybull. That's Steer Creek valley branching off to the right (west)
1534865235546.jpeg

View up Steer Creek
1534865280032.jpeg

Further up Greybull R. Many of the clumps of yellow flowers mark locations of springs
1534865416444.jpeg

We stopped for lunch here then turned around and hiked back to camp. There were about a dozen elk on the far slope. With binoculars we could see the trail up to Greybull Pass on the far skyline. It looked horrific.
1534865470037.jpeg

A spring on the valley wall.
1534865515322.jpeg

View down the valley (north)
1534865548079.jpeg

I guess this is day 5. It had been pretty hazy from the California fires. But this morning it was super clear.
1534865636746.jpeg

We're getting ready to cross the Greybull and head up Cow Creek. You can see our tent on top of the eroded riverbank.
1534865818993.jpeg

View up Cow Creek. At the end of the canyon the trail goes over Burwell Pass. We didn't go that far.
1534865904220.jpeg

Cow Creek scenery
1534865940776.jpeg

We stopped for lunch at the next little rise in the middle distance.
1534865967254.jpeg

There's a spring up there and just a ribbon of flowers all along the outflow stream
1534865987115.jpeg

More flowers
1534866011651.jpeg

Scenery on the way down
1534866065468.jpeg

More scenery
1534866104207.jpeg

On the way out we retraced our path and even camped at the same site we used on the way up. On the last day we broke camp and hiked to the first river crossing of the day. We had breakfast there before wading across. Here I am enjoying my morning tea. I have already "enjoyed" my oatmeal.
1534866155544.jpeg

View down Greybull River on the hike out.
1534866276896.jpeg

The trailhead
1534866420586.jpeg

This trip was really just a taste of the region. There are possibilities for all sorts of big hikes up, over, around and connecting all across the region. I hope to get deeper into this area some time.
 
Last edited:
This trip was really just a taste of the region. There are possibilities for all sorts of big hikes up, over, around and connecting all across the region. I hope to get deeper into this area some time.

Great report. Probably not an area I would ever choose to go, so thanks for the introduction to a great area.
 
Great post thanks for the TR! Confession : i've never worn an external frame pack. But your post intrigues me to at least demo one.

I don't think anyone makes an external frame pack any more. But you can still get those Jansports on ebay. I want to see about upgrading the hip belts--the ones on newer packs are so much better. My pet theory is the external frames lost out to the sleek aesthetics of internal frame packs. Never mind that many people end up hanging all manner of junk on the outside of those packs anyway!
 
I don't think anyone makes an external frame pack any more. But you can still get those Jansports on ebay. I want to see about upgrading the hip belts--the ones on newer packs are so much better. My pet theory is the external frames lost out to the sleek aesthetics of internal frame packs. Never mind that many people end up hanging all manner of junk on the outside of those packs anyway!

I used both metal and plastic external frame packs way back in the day. I remember them being very creaky with every step and always having painful shoulders and hips. I did like being able to grab the base of the frame and lift the weight off my back while walking, but I was pretty happy when they started making more internal frame packs.

I did always wonder if the external frame packs had potential had they created a much better suspension system, but pretty content with my Atmos these days.
 
I used both metal and plastic external frame packs way back in the day. I remember them being very creaky with every step and always having painful shoulders and hips. I did like being able to grab the base of the frame and lift the weight off my back while walking, but I was pretty happy when they started making more internal frame packs.

I did always wonder if the external frame packs had potential had they created a much better suspension system, but pretty content with my Atmos these days.
I think the perfect trail pack would be a modernized external frame (carbon fiber?) with a modern suspension system. I guess I should get to work on that!
 
Very nice Yankee! Thanks for the pics and the geology. Looks like that entire valley burned. Have any idea what your total mileage was and what the elevation of your highest camp was?

It looks like there was an established and maintained trail the whole way? Was that the same trail you saw going up to Greybull pass? Looks like the pass is about 11,5K'.
 
Last edited:
Any animal sightings or was it too hot? Any wolf or bear sign?
 
I don't think anyone makes an external frame pack any more. But you can still get those Jansports on ebay. I want to see about upgrading the hip belts--the ones on newer packs are so much better. My pet theory is the external frames lost out to the sleek aesthetics of internal frame packs. Never mind that many people end up hanging all manner of junk on the outside of those packs anyway!

Alps Mountaineering makes a line of external pack frames. I have the Zion and LOVE it. It is so comfortable! Even though I got a new light pack, I am keeping the external. I feel like I will switch back and forth.

Thanks for your trip report! There were some really unique, and stunning views! Naps before dinner sounds like a good time.
 
Very nice Yankee! Thanks for the pics and the geology. Looks like that entire valley burned. Have any idea what your total mileage was and what the elevation of your highest camp was?

It looks like there was an established and maintained trail the whole way? Was that the same trail you saw going up to Greybull pass? Looks like the pass is about 11,5K'.
Our total mileage was about 50. Highest camp was 9200'. Yes, nice trails all the way. The area is popular with hunters in the fall and they all go up on horseback. So the trails need to be good for that. I said the climb up to Greybull pass looked horrific, but I think I need to modify that. From where we stopped we could see a bunch of switchbacks that went up a very steep, unstable-looking valley wall. But the fact that the switchbacks were so prominent from that distance suggests that the trail is very well maintained. So it would probably not qualify as horrific. I think I will change my assessment from "horrific" to merely "awful".
 
Any animal sightings or was it too hot? Any wolf or bear sign?
Deer and elk plus we almost saw a moose--some fishermen we met said we spooked one out of some willows but we never saw it. Saw bear poop of indeterminate age. With all the raspberries and other berries (gooseberries?) just ripe we wondered if bears would be coming down to have some. No sign of wolves.
 
Similar threads
Thread starter Title Forum Replies Date
TractorDoc Yellowstone's Gallatin River -- September 7-9th 2023 Backpacking 12
BJett Rockcastle River No Shuttle Packrafting - Kentucky On The Water 2
Janice Such a GRAND Canyon - Deer Creek / Tapeats / Thunder River Backpacking 21
Kullaberg63 Suggestions for Escalante east of river, south of Choprock Trip Planning 4
scatman The Gallatin River, Bighorn and Fawn Passes, Yellowstone National Park - September 7, 2023 Backpacking 14
shredhiker Thorofare, Heart Lake, Snake River Sept. 2023 Backpacking 15
Ugly Headless Valley- Film about traveling the Nahanni River General Discussion 5
meowtaingal Wind river high route mid september Trip Planning 7
BJett Packrafting the Obed National Wild & Scenic River - Tennessee On The Water 1
kwc Savage River, Denali NP Hiking & Camping 1
D Wind River offtrail route questions Trip Planning 28
Rockskipper You think you found a pithouse, or maybe an Ancestral Puebloan tower near Green River, UT? It's maybe something even more interesting... General Discussion 3
SteveR Sheep River Road Ride on May Day Everything Else 2
F Upper Escalante River Backpack conditions Trip Planning 6
W Greetings from the West Side of the Winds (Wind River range) Noobs: Introduce yourself! 5
marquiri Wind River Range - Angel Pass Trip Planning 24
Writhdar Day hikes in the White Clouds and Lost River Range Hiking & Camping 1
BJett Packrafting the Cumberland River Below the Falls - Kentucky On The Water 6
Mikjik86 Backpacking The Wind River Range - Wyoming, September 2022 Trip Reports 3
kwc Cedar River Flow, Central Adirondacks On The Water 1
kwc Fall paddle on the West Branch of the Sacandaga River 10/23/22 On The Water 0
Jackson Heart Lake and Snake River for Labor Day Backpacking 23
Stephanie B Dirty Devil River Impassible at Poison Springs Canyon Off Road 0
R Wind River Range: Green River Lakes/Clarks Trail/Porcupine Creek Trail Trip Planning 3
BJett Amazing Appalachians - Backpacking/Packrafting the AT and Nantahala River Backpacking 5
Georgia Yankee Snake River; Wolverine, Coulter, Pilgrim Creeks, July-Aug. 2022 Backpacking 18
Mikjik86 Another Wind River Trip Planning! Elkhart/Titcomb/Knapsack/Shannons Pass loop back to Elkhart, or continue to Green River Lakes Trailhead? Trip Planning 10
wsp_scott Wind River Range Sept 2021 (part 2) Backpacking 4
wsp_scott Wind River Range Sept 2021 (part 1) Backpacking 16
WasatchWill WRHR - Day 7: Beaver Park to Green River Lakes Backpacking 15
BJett Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area Packraft/Backpack Loop (TN) Backpacking 6
BJett Red River Gorge/Red Byrd Arch Packraft Trip - Kentucky Hiking & Camping 9
scatman Gila River - Gila Wilderness, New Mexico - April 18, 2022 Backpacking 61
B Wind river range mid sept. Trip Planning 8
andyjaggy Wind River Range Roberts Mountain Trip Planning 4
Rockskipper Application Period Open For 2023 Private River Trips Through Grand Canyon National Park General Discussion 0
marquiri Wind River Range - September 2022 Trip Planning 31
P Yellowstone Snake River weekend Backpacking 7
TheMountainRabbit Northern Wind River Traverse (Bridger/Fitzpatrick Wilderness) - September 2021 Backpacking 16
scatman North Pitchstone Trail, Headwaters of Ouzel Creek, Bechler River and Mr. Bubbles(?) - Yellowstone National Park - September 13, 2021 Backpacking 36
stretch Grand Canyon Loop: Thunder River -> Tapeats -> Kanab -> Sowats Backpacking 22
Janice Cosmic Ashtray via Wolverine/Little Death Hollow & Escalante River? Trip Planning 16
scatman Snake River Lollipop Loop - Yellowstone National Park - August 8, 2021 Backpacking 45
Noun Sequitur Jemez River, Las Conchas Trail and Beyond Hiking & Camping 1
D Wind River Blowdown Trip Planning 2
priz1234 Pine River, Lake Creek, Flint Creek Loop San Juan. 7/3-7/5 Backpacking 6
travel2walk Lamar River, Pelican Valley, & Speciman Ridge loop - Yellowstone, Jun 29 to Jul 3, 2021 Backpacking 15
westy Wind River Range Backpacking 4
Artemus Wind River Mountains Conditions 2021 Trip Planning 17
Janice Manistee River Loop in Michigan Backpacking 9

Similar threads

Back
Top