Posts Tagged ‘Shoshone National Forest’

A weekend away with the gals

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

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)

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

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!

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.

Pure bliss

Pure bliss

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.

Can’t wait for more days like this! Photo courtesy of Yvette.

Advertisements

My highest summit yet, Mount Crosby

Life has gotten busy in many great ways but fitting in some adventure time has been tough lately. One way to fix that? Take the day off and go climb a mountain! And that is just what I did a few Fridays ago.

My friend Yvette, who is an amazing peakbagging adventure junkie, invited me to head to a part of our beloved Shoshone National Forest that I had never been. As I do as often as I can, I leapt at the opportunity to get out and spend the day immersed in nature.

I also looked at this hike as an opportunity to really test out my Ahnu Sugarpines.  I was lucky enough to connect with Ahnu at this summer’s Outdoor Retailer Show, and they sent the Sugarpines my way to test out.  While I had worn them to work (they are on my feet even as I write this!) and on a few shorter hikes, this hike would be the start of the real testing (more testing to come before a full review, but SPOILER: they are great, lightweight boots).

Our target for the day was the summit of Mount Crosby, which towers over the old, deserted mining town of Kirwin, Wyoming. As we drove the bumpy road to the trailhead, we went over several creek crossings and wound through stands of timber before emerging into a broad valley with the old buildings of Kirwin across the river from the trailhead.

Yvette making her way towards Greybull Pass

Yvette making her way towards Greybull Pass

As we started up the switchbacking trail, we gained elevation quickly and found ourselves rewarded with stunning views surrounding us. As Yvette pointed out in her post for our hike, the trail simply seemed to disappear and reappear several times before we reached Greybull Pass at which point we followed a series of game trails through scree to the summit of Mount Crosby.

This hike was my first time over 11,000ft on my own two feet, so I definitely had some heavy legs going on for a bit until my body caught up!

Yvette at Greybull Pass

Yvette at Greybull Pass

As we left Greybull Pass and headed towards the summit we almost fell for the false summit that looms in front of you; however, thanks to Yvette’s GPS and our pre-trip reading, we knew this shouldn’t be our summit. As we skirted around the high, rugged false summit and made the final push, we were treated to 360-degree views of mountains to include the Tetons waaaay off in the distance.

Stunning scene thanks to Yvette's photography skills

Stunning scene thanks to Yvette’s photography skills

Taking in the view on my highest summit to date (12,449ft!!), I was beyond stoked to be there and thankful that I pushed myself to make time for adventure.

Yep, I did a summit selfie!

Yep, I did a summit selfie!

Winter backpacking with Teton Sports’ Hiker3700

Mother Nature has apparently decided to keep us in a wintery state well into April here in northwestern Wyoming. While I am more than ready for the new growth and blooms that come with spring, I have definitely enjoyed the later winter/early spring snow that has stuck around in the mountains.

Back in January, I was talking to the amazing people from Teton Sports about a few weekend snowshoe trips Brian and I had started planning. They were kind enough to send us a box o’ goodies to use on these trips. It was like Christmas when I opened the box to find two Hiker3700 packs and two Tracker +5 sleeping bags.

After three weekends of backpacking in the snow, wind, and cold of wintery Wyoming, my love for winter backpacking is here to stay! However, I am pretty sure statements like that, after describing getting blown over on mountainsides by winds gusting 70mph, make my family think I am a bit off my rocker 😉

The last weekend of February we did a quick jaunt up to the top of Sheep Mountain for a night with our dogs. It was a calm, quiet trip to break in our winter backpacking legs. We were beyond thankful for our Tracker +5 bags when temps plummeted below zero. With all of the clothes we had brought layered on, we were toasty warm in our bags, even with icicles forming inside the tent!

Our Sheep Mountain weekend was a blast

Our Sheep Mountain weekend was a blast

The last weekend in March we headed out to our beloved Shoshone National Forest with a friend of Brian’s (also named Brian…I hereby cannot allow anyone else named Brian into my life!) and our dogs. This trip would be Brian’s (the friend) first backpacking trip on the Shoshone, so after getting everything prepped, we hit the Jim Mountain Trailhead. We headed into the mountains with the hopes of crossing the ridgeline leading up to Little Jim and eventually making it to Robbers Roost.

What a view!

What a view!

While my pack fit comfortable enough, I had meant to adjust my lumbar system on my Hiker3700 before we hit the trail, but alas, I forgot. When we stopped for our first trail snack, Brian (my guy…see already confusing, haha) helped me adjust it. Even with a pack weighted down with everything I would need for 2 days, it was such a simple adjustment to make. After moving the lumbar/shoulder strap system down a bit, we tightened one strap and I was good to go. I couldn’t believe how much better the pack fit!

An even better fitting pack & I'm off!

An even better fitting pack & I’m off!

Hitting the trail once again on a trip we dubbed the “Lost & Found” trip (inside joke), we saw new parts of the forest, snowshoed through numerous types of snow, crossed ridgelines above tree line, and were thrown around by incredibly strong winds. While we never made it to Robbers Roost, we (Brian) found more antlers, discovered not all backpacking meals are created equal :(, and had a weekend of fun with spectacular views.

Snow, smiles, sun, & lots of wind!

Snow, smiles, sun, & lots of wind!

The first weekend of April brought Brian and me another chance to get away into the forest with the pups. We headed up Green Creek and jumped on the Table Mountain Trail. The snow added some extra miles to our trip by keeping us from driving all of the way to the trailhead. High above the valley floor, we watched storms move across the mountains on the other side and knew it was a matter of time until the wind began whipping up a storm on top of us. We walked through high alpine winds threatening to blow us away (in case you aren’t getting a trend here, it is very windy in Wyoming), had very tasty meals, bandaged an injured doggie foot, got in over 10 miles and almost 3,000ft on snow that went from deep powder to slush to hard packed icy to everything in-between. 

I can't believe this is our life!!

I can’t believe this is our life!!

After three winter backpacking trips with our Hiker3700 backpacks, both Brian and I are in love with them. It amazes me that a 6’ man and a 5’4” woman can use the same pack thanks to such easy, common sense adjustment systems. The amount of strap adjustment possibilities allows this pack to fit pretty much any frame. This pack has enough padding that my hip bones weren’t rubbed raw, which is a big deal for me!

Brian says this pack is “the most comfortable pack I’ve ever put on.” With plenty of pocket options, you can put things within easy reach for trail snacks, photo opportunities, fluid replenishment (fact: bladders are not the best water apparatuses in the winter!), and quick shifts in the elements (i.e. extra layers in outside pockets). We never ran out of room and in fact could’ve carried more if we needed to. We were able to easily strap snowshoes onto the pack and then back off and then back on.

This is what we think of time in the mountains, snowshoes, & Teton Sports gear

This is what we think of time in the mountains, snowshoes, & Teton Sports gear

At $90 on Amazon.com, this pack will blow you away. I can’t wait to hit the trail with this pack, sans snowshoes, for a bunch more backpacking trips this spring and summer!

As I sit here writing this during a quiet weekend at home, my face has finally recovered from severe wind burn and the subsequent peeling, Sydney’s paw has healed, and I cannot help but think that I am living the perfect life for me 🙂

It was a hiking, buskwhacking, creek crossing kind of weekend

If you don’t enjoy a good tale of a weekend of outdoor adventure to include bushwhacking, creek crossings, and countless miles of uphill hiking with two adorable dogs and a stupendous partner, then stop reading right now.  If you are still reading, you are pretty rad 😉

This past weekend my handsome and equally adventurous boyfriend and I decided to head for the hills.  We needed a break from our cell phones and technology in general, so we decided to head into the Shoshone National Forest and specifically into the Washakie Wilderness.

After a Friday evening of walleye fishing (by him; I get my resident license next week!!!), Deer Creek Trail was our destination Saturday morning.  After a leisurely morning of prepping and packing, we hit the trail with two rambunctious doggies and a yearning to simply be with nature.

Getting ready to start the trip

Getting ready to start the trip

We trekked uphill for about 4-5 miles the first day before deciding we didn’t have the energy to make the first big creek crossing that same day.  This was going to be my first time sleeping outside of a tent, so I was anxious and excited as we started creating out lean-to shelter out of the two tarps and cord we packed in.  Oh, and did I mention we had already seen a crap load of bear sign (tracks and scat) throughout the day?

Sydney examining a waterfall we would cross over

Sydney examining a waterfall we would cross over

After a simple meal of soup, crackers, and trail mix over a perfect fire, all four of us hit the hay.  Well, to be fair, I am pretty sure both dogs were up most of the night patrolling the perimeter of the camp 🙂

The next day brought my biggest creek crossing to date.  Ok, let’s get real here, this dang thing was not your average creek; it was a snowpack melt fueled raging river! There was absolutely no way any of us but Brian was going to make it through the crossing where the trail normally goes, so we had to bushwhack through downed trees, raspberry bushes, and crazy poking shrubbery to get to a better spot to attempt our first of four crossings for the day (2 up the valley & the same 2 to get back to our campsite).

We got down to the water’s edge and it become very apparent that the water would easily come up to mid-thigh for me.  Having packed light with only one pair of pants each, we both decided to shed our pants.  Yep, you read that right; I crossed streams and then hiked several miles in my underwear (nope, no pictures)!  Now, mind you we saw zero other people this weekend and there’s really only one way in or out of the area right now due to snow (as we would discover later in the day).

I was beyond nervous as we began the crossing because my beloved Sydney has NEVER done such a thing.  In my mind, I kept seeing him pulled downstream away from me, but as he got deeper and deeper into the rushing waters, instinct took over.  He took every crossing like a natural; it was as if my little boy was made to be a mountain running, creek crossing, hiking dog 🙂

I survived our first "creek" crossing

I survived our first “creek” crossing

As we traversed mountain sides, we saw obvious signs of past avalanches to include a large snowpack with tons of debris.  After our second creek crossing, which was much easier and mellower than the first, we finally got a view of our destination, Deer Creek Pass.  At this point, it became very clear that our attempt to cross the pass and peak into the infamous Thorofare would be thwarted by massive amounts of snow.

We decided that since there would be no summit and we would have to hike back the 6+ miles we had just hiked with only slightly lightened packs, there would be no going further.  As we headed back for our campsite, we took our time to completely take in our surroundings while enjoying the peace and quiet of the outdoors.

Amazing views were everywhere we turned

Amazing views were everywhere we turned

Our final creek crossing of the day had me feeling comfortable enough to stand in the water long enough to ensure both dogs got to the other side (Pup started to float down river a bit before I grabbed her collar).

Both Sydney and Pup were so tired that they didn’t want to move while we were building our fire and cooking supper.  Poor Syd was so exhausted he was shaking and limping on one of his paws.

Who says dogs can't wear raincoats?

Who says dogs can’t wear raincoats?

While I was starting to freak out aand figure out how we would pack him out the next day, Brian remained calm and reassured me that Syd is a strong dog and would be ok.  However, he did say that if Sydney wasn’t better in the morning, he would simply carrying Sydney out on his back.  How can you not love a man who would do that for the dog that has been your life for years?!

Our campsite for the weekend

Our campsite for the weekend

During out hike out, which was thankfully almost all downhill, I reflected on the great days we had spent in this gorgeous place that we call home.  Trips like this one help bring about a sense of calm within me while reassuring me that this is truly where I belong!

The Shoshone National Forest is where I belong!!

The Shoshone National Forest is where I belong!!

A challenge to pack designers & Teton Sports UltraLight Summit 1500 review

I am stacked up on some posts about some pretty awesome things that I have done in the past two weeks; however, I realized I wanted/needed to get this review done first.  Why you ask?  Because after testing the Teton Sports UltraLight Summit 1500 daypack with hydration system, I realized I have a challenge to daypack (heck even multi-day pack) designers.

Ok, first things first. The pack was given to a bunch of super cool people (not sure how I got connected with them ;)) during a morning snowshoe the Saturday of the winter Outdoor Retailer Show, which is entirely different post in and of itself!

Check out all of those cool orange packs!

Check out all of those cool orange packs!

After using the pack several times that weekend to carry sweet swag from the winter Outdoor Retailer Show and extra layers during the snowshoe, I also used it during a snowmobile adventure on the Targhee National Forest.  Again, I used it as a pack to carry extra gear and water in my new Hydro Flask.

The pack taking a rest on my sled

The pack taking a rest on my sled

The truest test of this pack to date came this past Saturday when Sydney and I hiked into the Lower Clarks Fork Canyon on the Shoshone National Forest.  For the first time, I filled the 2-liter bladder up with some cold water, threw in extra layers and a few protein bars, and Sydney and I hit the road.

All packed up and ready to go

All packed up and ready to go

Beautiful drive into the mouth of the Lower Clarks Fork Canyon

Beautiful drive into the mouth of the Lower Clarks Fork Canyon

The Awesome: I was very glad to have the mesh side pockets of this pack to carry Sydney’s water bottle and store my camera for quick retrieval.  The size of the pack allowed for extra layers, which I ended up needing to wear all of because of the intense wind in the canyon.  The harder internal frame gave me nice support throughout the hike.  Unlike their TrailRunner 2.0 Hydration Pack, this pack had a few extra pockets and more storage room, but both packs did have the nice clips to keep the extra long straps secured to the pack (thus no flapping against your legs).

Happy with the performance so far

Happy with the performance so far

The Not so Awesome: During this hike I got a little frustrated.  You see, I live in bear country (both black & grizzly), so I carry bear spray year-round.  During this hike I had an ah ha! moment. I had to readjust the placement of the spray on the waist belt several times when I realized that I had to do this with EVERY single pack I ever carry the spray on.  The spray always seems to strain the waist belt causing the straps to loosen and the spray inevitably ends up sagging on the belt in the middle of my lower abdomen.  This is not only frustrating but a safety issue.  As I constantly fuss with the belt (on any pack), my situational awareness is lessened, which, as a lone hiker out with my dog only, can lead to danger.

My ferocious hiking partner

My ferocious hiking partner

Why do I go on with this complaint?  I am issuing a challenge to pack designers!  Please, please, please create a pack that is bear spray compatible!  I have ideas which would be hard to explain here but am challenging companies to contact me and discuss this to keep us bear country hikers extra safe!

Stunning views

Stunning views like these are worth the hike in bear country!

This Teton Sports UltraLight Summit 1500 gets the seal of approval

This Teton Sports UltraLight Summit 1500 gets the seal of approval

Wild Wyoming

I developed a very special place in my heart for Colorado while I was there this past fall for a few work trips, and I absolutely love the feet of beautiful powder I recently experienced in Utah (the latest of many things I love about that state).  However, this weekend I was reminded of the pure beauty and serenity that can be found here in Wyoming.

While I know I could likely have found desolate places in both Colorado and Utah, my times there have been with friends or always on trails frequented by others.  Here, just outside of Cody, I can find my own personal slice of utopia, a piece of heaven away from others where the silence of my mind can be at the forefront (especially with bears being dormant right now ;)).

This past Saturday, I piled Sydney into the car and headed west to the Shoshone National Forest.

My lovely winter playground

My lovely winter playground

I wasn’t sure where we would head to hike; I simply knew that I needed the sense of clarity only nature gives me.  We stopped at the Ishawooa (pronounced Ish-awa) Trailhead and decided to head out onto the trail. While we did not see a single person, and only one bunny, on the entire 5-6 mile hike, we were treated to amazing views of the Ishawooa Creek valley.

Looking down into the stunning Ishawooa Creek valley

Looking down into the stunning Ishawooa Creek valley

I found my pease

I found my peace

And Sydney found this wooden box

And Sydney found this wooden box

This hike helped me clear my mind, center my heart and soul, and remind me to not overlook the beauty that may be hidden in our own backyard.

Together, we found our joy

Together, we found our joy