Yellowstone's Thorofare, Headwaters of Thorofare Creek, Majo Pass, Younts Peak, Bob's Canyon, and Cub Creek - August 9, 2023 - Days 7 through 10

scatman

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Now where was I before I was so rudely interrupted? Oh yes, day seven of a ten day adventure.

First, here is the link to days 1 trough 6

Days 1 through 6


Day 7 - Campsite on Tributary of the North Fork of the Yellowstone to Campsite on Unnamed Pond below Unnamed Peak 10,962 - 8.46 Miles

Another big day today as we would make our way down to the North Fork of the Yellowstone, then hike up to the pass between Younts Peak and Thorofare Mountain before traversing the bowl above the headwaters of the South Fork of the Yellowstone, dropping down towards Marston Pass, and on to our campsite at an unnamed pond at the foot of unnamed peak 10,962.

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Overview map for Day 7

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First view of Younts Peak as we make our way down to the North Fork of the Yellowstone

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Falls on a side stream to the west of us

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Looking back up (north) the drainage of the tributary that flows into the North Fork of the Yellowstone

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Younts Peak, and the pass that we will climb up to later in the day

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Zoomed in on the pass

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Grizzly dig along the North Fork

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The beautiful view from the North Fork of the Yellowstone

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The North Fork of the Yellowstone

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The North Fork of the Yellowstone and Younts Peak

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Thorofare Mountain above with some falls running down the west side

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Younts Peak

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Approaching our climb to the pass

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Falls on the North Fork. Those snowfields are the part of the headwaters.

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Bob, starting his climb to the pass, looking down the North Fork Drainage

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Another angle of Younts. We thought we might catch the tail end of the grizzlies feeding on the cutworm moths as we passed
through, but we were a little to late to see them.


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Headwaters basin

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Elephant heads near the pass

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Scott, climbing up to the pass

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I have no idea who this is, but she made it to the pass, with an unfocused Younts for proof. Also notice the stink bug on my hand
to keep her company.


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Looking down on the headwaters of the South Fork of the Yellowstone and beyond

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Younts from the other side

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Zoomed in on the Tetons through the hazy skies

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A tarn down below as we made our way to the South Fork Trail

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Bob on the South Fork Trail

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Another tarn

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View to the south, with the trail up Marston Pass visible it you squint long enough. :)

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Better view of the trail

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Hillside full of wildflowers, and then around the corner in the trail . . . . . . . . . . . .

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Another grizzly!
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It took this bear about twenty seconds to run up the mountain and clear the ridge. Just amazing.

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Looking over into the Washakie Wilderness

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Unnamed Peak 10,962 ahead. We will be skirting around the right hand side of it to get to our campsite for the night.

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The unnamed pond we will stay at for the night

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Dinner time. I had my second Beef Stroganoff of the trip for dinner



Day 8 - Campsite at Unnamed Pond to Campsite at the headwaters of the South Buffalo Fork - 11.32 miles

The plan for day eight was originally to hike up on top of the Buffalo Plateau, head over to Turner Fork and down the canyon. The problem was that we, or better yet I, had no idea where to pick up the trail up top on the plateau. And since Turner Fork is a rugged canyon, to not find the trail right off could be perilous. So we changed plans and went south across the plateau two more canyons and descended into what we named Bob's Canyon, for this was Bob's intended route for the day. Everything that needed a name once in the canyon was named after @Bob :) Like Bob's Trail, Bob's Waterfall, well, you get the idea.

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100K map overview for day 8

Broken up into 24K parts - A and B
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Thorofare_2023_08b.jpg

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Climbing up on to the Buffalo Plateau

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Drop down into Lost Creek Drainage across the way

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Originally driving to this pond to drop down into Turner Fork

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Look the Turner Fork Drainage

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A lot of up and down heading to Bob's Canyon

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More ponds up top

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Another hill to climb

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Looking back (north) at Younts Peak

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Bob, making his way across the plateau

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Not sure why, but I like this picture

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The pond we have been searching for to drop down into Bob's Canyon

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Looking down into Bob's Canyon

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Reaching the stream in upper Bob's Canyon. We will be heading downstream from here.

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The beginnings of the trail down the canyon

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Looking back up canyon

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Heading towards the South Buffalo Fork

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Bob's Trail

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Bob's Falls

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Bob's Fork

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Looking up to the top of the plateau

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Leaving the canyon and about to reach the South Buffalo Fork

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Crossing the South Buffalo Fork

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Looking back down the South Buffalo Fork

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Our pitched tents at the headwaters of the South Buffalo Fork

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Eating dinner

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My dinner for night eight

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And a circus peanut for good measure

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A visitor at camp



Day 9 - Campsite at the Headwaters of South Buffalo Fork to Campsite on Cub Creek - 9.38 miles

In the early morning hours I got that feeling that I'm sure most backpackers dread. I had to use the bathroom and I had to use it now. Normally, I don't use my headlamp when I have to go in the night, but I needed to go ways to find a proper location. I'm pretty sure I woke Bob or Dave, maybe even both as I fast walked past their tents. Usually Scatman doesn't move that fast. :) After doing my business I returned to my tent for a restless rest of the night.

When I awoke in the morning, I just plain didn't feel well, as I made my way over to the group to eat breakfast. Two packets of oatmeal in my standard backcountry breakfast, but today I only had one, not sure if I could keep it down, or that it might possibly just pass straight through me.

Bob was ahead of the rest of us, as we had one more night in the backcountry, Bob was headed all the way out a day early, which meant he had a big mileage day ahead of him. We said our goodbyes as I headed back to the trees once again.

Dave and were way ahead of me in the packing department too, and they headed up the trail saying that they would meet me at the top of the hill. I positioned my shovel (like I would have time to dig a hole) and toilet paper in my backpack so that I could get to it quickly if need be. I then proceeded to make my way up the hill that separated the South Buffalo Fork drainage from the Cub Creek drainage. It sure felt like it took me a long time to top that hill. :)

Once at the top, we had to find the trail down Cub Creek, as it wasn't obvious to us. After hooking up with the trail we made our way down Cub Creek. I wasn't eating or drinking much thinking that whatever I put into my stomach wasn't going to stay long, so the nine mile day turned out to be a long one for me. As a matter of fact, this day turned out to be the hardest for me.

At some point those who designed the Cub Creek Trail decided that they would make the trail start to climb up to the top of the ridge instead of just following the creek. Brilliant! Just at the point where the trail leaves the creek and starts ascending, there was an intersection. Now I was way behind @wsp_scott and @TractorDoc at this point and earlier they had talked about a cutoff trail somewhere along our route today. I was only half paying attention, as I was concentrating on not having to go to the bathroom and just simply moving my feet. So I let out a barbaric yawl to see if they would respond. No response. I then made a command decision to take the ascending trail. Every now and then I would yell "Yo!" at the top of my lungs, but still no response. I hadn't run into any boot prints on this upper trail, so I turned around and headed back to the intersection and took the path less travelled. Maybe twenty feet along the trail I ran into a boot print and felt better about my decision to turn around. But it soon became apparent that this trail was in bad shape. Even though it had sewn logs along it, I felt that this was probably the old trail and that the Forest Service must have moved it uphill into the forest at some point. I gave out one last "Yo!", and was semi shocked when I got a reply. Dave answered and said that they were on the upper trail, which meant turning back around for me and retracing my footsteps again. I think it might have been possible that I did 10.5 miles this day. :)

Once I hooked back up with Scott and Dave, we continued to climb until we reached essentially the top of the ridge. The day was clear, sunny and hot and I was losing energy. We eventually reached an unofficial cutoff trail (elk trail maybe?) that looked like it would cutoff some distance between the Cub Creek Trail and the Brooks Lake Trail. At first this seemed like a good choice, but eventually we ran into a downfall mess.

We eventually made it to the trail we wanted, took it back down to Cub Creek, crossed the creek and set up camp in a small meadow with some CDT hikers to keep us company.

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Day 9 overview map

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Looking back down on the headwaters of the South Buffalo Fork where we had camped last night

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Junction sign at the top of the hill

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View down the Cub Creek Drainage. Now we just have to find the trail. :)

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On trail. :thumbsup:

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Cub Creek

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I call this Fireweed Shadow. :)

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Mountain dandelion

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View down Cub Creek

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This is the old trail that I thought might be the discussed cutoff trail

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Looking back up Cub Creek, and as you can see we are gaining elevation

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View up the Cub Creek Drainage

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Not the best shot, but some FS trail crew workers passed me on the trail heading back down to Cub Creek. On is carrying a
crosscut saw or misery whip


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Looking down on Cub Creek and our eventual campsite

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Time for dinner

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My dinner.


Day 10 - Campsite on Cub Creek to the Brooks Lake Trailhead - 5.41 miles

Day ten would be the shortest day of our trip. I had eaten dinner the previous night and gotten a good night's sleep without having any emergencies, and I woke up feeling better than I had the day before. I wasn't quite 100%, but I felt I had some energy that I hadn't had the previous day. Of course, we had to start out our last day by climbing again. This time making our way up from the Cub Creek Drainage and dropping down into the Brooks Lake Creek Drainage.

Our eight days without rain came to an abrupt end during the night as it poured. Fortunately for us, it let up before we got up. It did leave everything wet though and made for a muddy climb up to the pass.

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Day 10 overview map

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The trail crew once again. The camped just to the west of us in an adjacent meadow

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We were now on the CDT route as we made our way to Brooks Lake

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Sign high in a tree along the trail

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Muddy conditions heading up thanks to the overnight rain

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Crossing out of the wilderness

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Upper Brooks Lake

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View to the west from Upper Brooks Lake

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The meadows that Brooks Lake Creek flows through. Our trailhead is at the south end of the meadow.

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Mules on day one, and mules on day ten. In other words bookended by mules. Now that is hard to beat. :heart_eyes:

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Crossing Brooks Lake Creek

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Some real cowboys and cowgirls

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Trail sign in the middle of the meadow

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Looking back north

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My dream house.

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Brooks Lake

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View to the west of the lake

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The trailhead gate

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Back at the Sube in one piece. I think. :)

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Settling in at Signal Mountain Lodge for . . . . . . . . .

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Wait, who is this? :D

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Celebratory Nachos! And fries? And salad? :D

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And I couldn't resist taking a picture of this on our way out. Scatman Yoga! Coming to a forest near you soon. :scatman:

Well, that about wraps it up.

I'd like to thank Bob, Dave, and Scott for joining me on one last trip to the Thorofare. I hope they had as much enjoyment out of it as I did.


The End.
 

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That lower trail was the cutoff trail... I took it as I hate ups.... Was a good horse trail.

I did 15.1m the day I hiked out.. in 11 1/2 hrs... Then home in 4 1/2 hrs. Had the rainstorm you got while I was on the road...
 
Excellent photos and report!

I just finished my Thorofare trip a few days ago, very cool to see it was a bit greener as you passed through!

Looking forward to your report. How was the weather for you?
 
That lower trail was the cutoff trail... I took it as I hate ups.... Was a good horse trail.

I did 15.1m the day I hiked out.. in 11 1/2 hrs... Then home in 4 1/2 hrs. Had the rainstorm you got while I was on the road...

Yeah, you had a long day out.

So that was your boot print I saw? Should have known. :)
 
Looking forward to your report. How was the weather for you?
Overall it was pretty fantastic. Several rainy nights, but most of the days were pretty clear. There was a couple of times I had to break out the rain gear for an hour or two while I was hiking.

Encountered a sow grizzly with 2 large cubs, about 50-60' off trail, as I was making my way up big game ridge.
 
Yeah, you had a long day out.

So that was your boot print I saw? Should have known. :)
Can follow my trail.... I wont lead you astray, maybe a nice horse trail or two
 
Great wrap up to a great trip. I'm still amazed how fast that last bear moved up and though the snow field, really shows that you have no chance if it decides to charge vs run away.

Thanks for having me along, this trip has some of the highlights (Thorofare, Younts Peak, Buffalo Plateau) of my backpacking "career"
 
Epic!

The campsite just below Majo Pass was my favorite of the trip. The scenery was amazing as we made our way up the North Fork of the Yellowstone too.

I'm putting the Buffalo Plateau into @wsp_scott 's category two type fun -- the endless hill climbing was exhausting and took my breath away (literally!) while I was there but now I want to go back! There was a unique beauty to the barrenness on the high areas vs. wildflower lined streams in the low areas.

Bob's canyon is an amazing place! I still think we need to send someone up and investigate the potential for a swimming pool below Bob's waterfall. The campsite at the headwaters of the South Buffalo Fork was a nice one too. . . but I think I was too tired to appreciate it the evening we set up camp.

You know Hugh is not feeling his best when his picture count drops for the day. We knew he left everything he had on the trail on Day 9. It goes without saying that there was more than one massive peristaltic contraction on this trip, but being able to hike thru waves of them only adds another chapter to the legend of the Scatman. :)

The hike out to Brooks Lake was bittersweet. I was ready to get back to the comforts of life, but at the same time I was not. I thoroughly enjoyed this experience and I cannot thank Hugh enough for inviting me along. Scott, Bob, and Hugh are amazing hiking partners -- if anyone ever has the chance to hit the trail with them do not hesitate. They are good company and their witty, positive attitudes were a perfect compliment to our amazing surroundings.

Hoping to see you guys on a future wilderness adventure!
 
Climbs on the buffalo plateau? Just short little ones .... piece of cake.... Unless you're maybe a flatlander...it's only 10000 to 11000 feet!!
 
Overall it was pretty fantastic. Several rainy nights, but most of the days were pretty clear. There was a couple of times I had to break out the rain gear for an hour or two while I was hiking.

Encountered a sow grizzly with 2 large cubs, about 50-60' off trail, as I was making my way up big game ridge.

So how did the sow react when she saw you? You know, they only times that I have seen a sow with cubs over the last 30 years of backpacking in the Park, or adjacent wildernesses, I have always been close to the group I was backpacking with, never while falling behind, or out in front of the group, or when backpacking/hiking solo.
 
Great wrap up to a great trip. I'm still amazed how fast that last bear moved up and though the snow field, really shows that you have no chance if it decides to charge vs run away.

Thanks for having me along, this trip has some of the highlights (Thorofare, Younts Peak, Buffalo Plateau) of my backpacking "career"

Yeah, you really get an appreciation of their speed when you see something like that.

I'm glad you finally got to see some grizzlies in the backcountry. I don't know what I would have done if we had struck out a second time. :)

Hey, always welcome if you ever want to go in the future, though I think it's @TractorDoc's turn to plan the trip next year. No telling what he'll come up with. :thinking:
 
Epic!

The campsite just below Majo Pass was my favorite of the trip. The scenery was amazing as we made our way up the North Fork of the Yellowstone too.

I'm putting the Buffalo Plateau into @wsp_scott 's category two type fun -- the endless hill climbing was exhausting and took my breath away (literally!) while I was there but now I want to go back! There was a unique beauty to the barrenness on the high areas vs. wildflower lined streams in the low areas.

Bob's canyon is an amazing place! I still think we need to send someone up and investigate the potential for a swimming pool below Bob's waterfall. The campsite at the headwaters of the South Buffalo Fork was a nice one too. . . but I think I was too tired to appreciate it the evening we set up camp.

You know Hugh is not feeling his best when his picture count drops for the day. We knew he left everything he had on the trail on Day 9. It goes without saying that there was more than one massive peristaltic contraction on this trip, but being able to hike thru waves of them only adds another chapter to the legend of the Scatman. :)

The hike out to Brooks Lake was bittersweet. I was ready to get back to the comforts of life, but at the same time I was not. I thoroughly enjoyed this experience and I cannot thank Hugh enough for inviting me along. Scott, Bob, and Hugh are amazing hiking partners -- if anyone ever has the chance to hit the trail with them do not hesitate. They are good company and their witty, positive attitudes were a perfect compliment to our amazing surroundings.

Hoping to see you guys on a future wilderness adventure!

I forgot to use peristaltic contraction in my trip report! How in the world did I forget that? :stomp:

My least favorite campsites were first two. I won't be staying at either of those again unless forced to.

I was disappointed about Turner Fork. I guess we need to go up it one of these days to to see where the trail pops out on top.

I didn't mention that I didn't take a lot of pictures on day nine. I'm still not sure what I had, but I was out of gas by the end of that day.

There is no Scatman legend, just a guy who enjoys being in the outdoors and seeing wildlife. I sure wish I could have seen that beaver you guys saw on the Yellowstone on night 3.
 
Climbs on the buffalo plateau? Just short little ones .... piece of cake.... Unless you're maybe a flatlander...it's only 10000 to 11000 feet!!

Need to find where that trail pops out on top coming out of Turner Fork. :thumbsup: Maybe if @Rockskipper had been paying more attention, we could have found it. :D
 
I have no idea who this is, but she made it to the pass, with an unfocused Younts for proof. Also notice the stink bug on my hand
to keep her company.
That was an easy climb for your passengers. You could start charging, and all kinds of critters would show up, I bet.
 
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So how did the sow react when she saw you? You know, they only times that I have seen a sow with cubs over the last 30 years of backpacking in the Park, or adjacent wildernesses, I have always been close to the group I was backpacking with, never while falling behind, or out in front of the group, or when backpacking/hiking solo.
I was headed west, making my way up toward Big Game Ridge, at about 9,800' close to 3pm (right around 44.12691, -110.36961 if anyone is that curious) The trail is fairly steep there, and mostly open with small clusters of trees about 50-60' off the trail on either side. I stopped to catch my breath as I was coming up the incline, and heard something that sounded almost like a coyote bark, for lack of better description. I looked to my right and saw them up in the trees, she stood on her hind legs for about 2-3 seconds staring right at me as I pulled my bear spray. Then they took off immediately down a small ridge on the other side of the trees they were in, I kept an eye out looking back that way as I got up higher, but never saw them again thankfully.

I can't help but wonder if she'd been watching me for a while, and only decided to announce her presence when I stopped moving.
 
My least favorite campsites were first two. I won't be staying at either of those again unless forced to.

I was disappointed about Turner Fork. I guess we need to go up it one of these days to to see where the trail pops out on top.

I didn't mention that I didn't take a lot of pictures on day nine. I'm still not sure what I had, but I was out of gas by the end of that day.

There is no Scatman legend, just a guy who enjoys being in the outdoors and seeing wildlife. I sure wish I could have seen that beaver you guys saw on the Yellowstone on night 3.
I actually liked the first campsite. . . minus the 50 foot descent down a 45 degree slope to get water of course. It had a nice view.

You give me a window and I'll venture up Turner Fork with you. We simply have to satisfy your curiosity.

I have a theory about your stomach bug -- the night prior you were tossing a Circus Peanut up in the air to try and catch it in your mouth. Now everyone knows the Circus Peanuts are good for you and could never be the source of some gastrointestinal upset, BUT you failed to catch the peanut a number of times and it repeatedly hit the ground. My guess is it half fell down one of the many gopher holes that were around us and the peanut became contaminated. On your final, successful peanut throw you inadvertently ingested a Circus Peanut laced with some unfriendly residue and paid the price for most of day nine. Just a theory anyway. :)

To all the critics out there I did finish the entire bag of Circus Peanuts with no ill effects, so no, it could not have been the peanut itself could not have been the source of Hugh's misery.

That beaver was back on the morning of Day 4. I was watching the sun rise before you guys were up and it scared the s*!@ out of me when it splashed the water with its tail again. We know where he lives. . . we just have to venture back to 6Y2 and wait him out.
 
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