July 15-19, 2013
Backpacking in the Big Horn Mountains
We woke up this morning at 6:30 to finish packing and depart the ranch for a three-hour trip to our trail head in Wyoming. When we arrived, we started a six-mile, 6-hour uphill hike into the Big Horn Mountain range. We began at a 10,000 ft altitude and got up to around 11,000. The air is much thinner up here and it makes us feel out of shape! The view from our campsite is beautiful, located in a valley surrounded by trees and a babbling brook. Tonight’s dinner is bean, rice, and cheese burritos that we made with our camp stoves–due to regulations we can’t have campfires, but we are getting along well regardless.
I woke up this morning to the sound of a moose sighting by Mr. McKeon. We got out of our tents and started getting ready for the day. Breakfast was granola and we discussed which hiking path we wanted to take for the day. Our options were either the Seven Brothers Lakes or the Angeline Lake. Our guides hadn’t been to Angeline Lake because it is further out and a harder path. By a majority vote, we decided to try for Angeline Lake. The first portion of the hike was almost straight uphill, and we passed the first two of the Seven Brothers Lakes and stopped there to enjoy the scenic view. On our way to Angeline Lake, we got lost and ended up trying a few different paths–and covered around two miles doing so! After hitting a steep hill of giant rocks, we stopped halfway up to assess our options, as we hadn’t yet found the trail. We decided it would take too long to keep going, so we turned around and ended up hiking to the Seventh of the Seven Brothers Lake. As we arrived, we took off our shoes and waded in the water on a sandy beach. Eric and I enjoyed sitting while Josh contemplated dunking his head into the water. Corbin, Luke, and Noah tried to catch a tiny fish with their bare hands. Then we took the trail back and now we are waiting to cool our chicken alfredo dinner!
We woke up at 6:00 this morning so that we could start our long day early. First, we tore down our camp so we could get along on our very long hike. Once we had eaten our breakfast, consisting of banana bread and granola, we started our hike to Florence Pass. It was 9 or 10 miles round-trip. Although our hike was very long, it was worth it. Once we got to the top we came out of the trees and it opened up into a beautiful valley in between the mountains. Along with the valley was an amazing meadow with a nice creek and awesome mountain flowers. After we had our lunch in the meadow, we started our trek back to camp. As we got back, we finished packing up the campsite and went out on yet another 5-mile journey closer to where we parked the van and entered the trailhead, making it easier to pack-out tomorrow with a short 2-mile hike when we wake up. After our very long day of hiking we found a great campsite where we finally sat down, cooked, relaxed, got a fire going, and enjoyed dinner. It was a good day.
Today, most of us were woken up by whipping winds at about 3:00am. We went back to sleep and got up around 6:00. The night before, we planned to eat breakfast in the nearby town (Buffalo Wyoming) after leaving the trail. So, we didn’t eat oatmeal–which was awesome. Since we had done 5 of the 7 miles back to the van yesterday, we had a very short hike. We filled our water bottles and set out on the last leg. After reaching the trailhead, I’d never been so glad to see a car before in my life! We then picked up a souvenir map, got into Buffalo, and started looking for grub. We found a nice little corner shop and ate breakfast there. When the city pool opened, we went in, used their showers, and ended up staying for about an hour, and were nearly late for the Pizza Hut lunch buffet. The food was pretty good but the expectations kind of ruined it. Next, we made the 3-hour drive back to the camp where the middle schoolers stayed–Atlantic Mountain Ranch in Custer, South Dakota. Before dinner there, we cleaned the van and returned our gear we had borrowed from the camp. For dinner, we dressed up in goofy clothes and had an almost-Thanksgiving dinner of turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy. Then we went down to the amphitheater and listened to a guitar concert before evening worship and our last night in one of the camp’a cabins. That was basically our Thursday.
Looking Back on the Week
The first night I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the hiking trip. Day One was probably the toughest, but it seemed to get easier pretty fast. When I was on the trail all I really wanted was a shower, indoor toilet, and real food. Luke and I pumped water every night except for the last, and it went by really fast because Luke and I would just talk. The whole trip was quality time with my friends. The last day on the trail was so nice, because we got to go into town again and use a toilet, eat real food, and swim in the pool. It seems like on-trail, all I wanted was to get out, but looking back, I really appreciate the time and the beautiful sights.