This past weekend I spent just over 24 hours immersed in the beauty that is the Clarks Fork Canyon on the Shoshone National Forest. This was a trip that my friends Yvette and Veronika and I have been trying to make happen for well over a month now.
When we first planned the trip, we thought it would be a snowshoe, winter camping experience. Well….Wyoming had different plans, so after a spoiled weekend thanks to my ER trip for vertigo and a shift in location due to intense levels of mud, we had a beautiful, warm spring weekend to enjoy!
After leaving my truck at the eastern end of the Lower Clarks Fork Canyon, we drove up to just east of Dead Indian Campground. We put our packs on our backs and began to wind our way through dense trees, along rocky mountainsides with steep drop-offs, and finally all of the way down to the bottom of the canyon.
The beautiful canyon as we were descending
Our plan was to cross the river and camp on the north side of the canyon. From cliffs high above the river, we spotted an area which looked like calmer water, so after we made it down to the edge of the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone River, we headed back west about ½ mile where we decided to try crossing. Without going into great detail, we made it across!
We found a great campsite nestled amongst the big sagebrush and began setting up camp. I had decided to go tent less, so my set-up was pretty easy :) Next up, fire. During our successful river crossing, both Veronika and Yvette switched out there hiking boots for other shoes. I did not have other shoes since when I left home that morning, a river crossing had not been the plan. So my boots got drenched during the crossing, and even though Yvette took her boots off, a step down into a deep part of the river filled her boots…so a fire to dry out boots it was!
That evening was beautiful and great fun. We watched a mountain goat high above us, made our dinners, and watched the evening sky turn to a blanket of stars. As we turned in for the night, I was beyond thankful for the day we had just had.
The next morning was a leisurely start as we made coffee and ate breakfast before breaking down camp and heading out the canyon to my truck.
My top 5 things for this weekend? Oh that is an easy list for sure!
5. I finally got to see mountain goats (yes plural!) on my beloved Shoshone National Forest! As I said above, we watched one on the first evening (he was a really big guy!), but then as we had breakfast the next day, Yvette spotted another mountain goat on the canyon wall above us. These creatures are magnificent!
The gals watching our buddy Kyv (yes we named the mountain goat)
4. My Ahnu Sugarpines. . I have worn these on a variety of hikes and a near daily basis since they were sent to me following last August’s Outdoor Retailer Show. While I have really enjoyed these boots before, this trip secured them as my current favorite light hiker. I have had drenched boots in the past, and even though I have tried to dry them out around a fire, they are always a bit wet the next day. Not so with my Sugarpines! A couple of hours around the fire and they were dry as a bone; my feet were very happy not to get blisters during the hike out
Drying out my Ahnu Sugarpines while “cooking” dinner
3. Big Agnes Ethel 0 sleeping bag. I had decided that I would leave my tent at home and sleep on a tarp to really test this puppy out! I was sent this bag for review following the winter Outdoor Retailer Show this January. While I have used it a handful of times camped out in the yard at home, this was its inaugural trip into the backcountry. I knew that it claimed to be water repellent since the bag is not filled with your typical down but DownTek. We were not supposed to have any precipitation, but as luck would have it, it rained on us at night. As I lay asleep in my comfy bag under the open sky, I awoke to the pitter patter of rain, which quickly became steady. I hastily threw my rainfly over my backpack, put it on the bottom of my sleeping bag, and wrapped the tarp up on both sides and over my head. By this point, my sleeping bag had already gotten wet and some parts were still exposed. After the short shower, I unwrapped myself from my tarp burrito and lay staring at the newly emerged stars. When I awoke in the morning, I was completely dry and had stayed toasty warm in my bag! A quick look at the top of my sleeping bag showed small puddles of water in spots…the bag did actually repel water like it claimed!! I was in love…
Check out those rain puddles!
2. Sleeping under the stars. To me, it really doesn’t get any better than spending a night out in nature. The ability to fall asleep under a canopy of stars is something I am beyond thankful for. After the quick rain shower, I was treated to a sky full of stars and began recognizing different constellations as I drifted back to a very restful night of sleep.
1. Getting to share this experience with two remarkable women. This was my first backpacking trip in 2015, and I am so thankful that I got to spend it with Veronika and Yvette. These two women are badasses in their own rights. From being successful in their careers, loving parents to their children, devoted spouses to their husbands to being adventurous souls willing to go mountain biking, hiking, showshoeing, backpacking, you name it at any given time to being true, sincere friends, these women are just simply amazing. I’m so happy to have found such true friends and can’t wait to get back out for some fun with them!
Can’t wait for more days like this! Photo courtesy of Yvette.