This past weekend we took a backpacking trip over the Crazy Mountains. It was a 4 day 23 mile hike straight over the Crazy Mountains which are located just north of Livingston/Big Timber. If I had to pick a single word to describe the trip I would defiantly have to pick, “Crazy”, no probably “Epic.”
I’ll break down the trip based on days.
Day 1 – Soggy bottom camping day
We departed Bozeman around 2:30 pm on Thursday with 7 people, 3 cars and a load of excitement. We had to do the car drop off arrangement. We stopped by the Yellowstone river right off of the White Sulfer Springs exit and unloaded 2 cars and took them to the end of the Hike where we left 1 car and drove back to the other car. Then we loaded both remaining cars and headed to the beginning of the hike which was about 84 miles around the end of the crazies.
I don’t remember what time we actually started the hike, but I will guess it was around 6pm. We had an easy 4 mile hike up to the first lake. About 300 yards into the hike Trevor, Mike and I ventured off and snagged some pictures of the Big Timber water falls.
Then we continued up the trail to the lake where we hunted for a semi-dry and flat camping spot for each of us. After looking around we ended up splitting the 4 groups across about 4-500 yards. Here is a picture I took of the lake and the mountain on the other side.
Day 2 – Cloud Chasers, Roasted Socks and Boots
Waking up very late, somewhere around 9:45 the group started to assemble and get ready for another short hike. What we didn’t know was that there was so much snow that the trail was missing under it all and we had to ascend a pass that was about 2000 feet above our current location. We trekked straight towards where the map said the pass was that we needed to get to. This entailed a gruesome vertical climb straight towards the pass, but we tackled it like champions. I followed Trevor and Mike kicking about a 500 foot staircase for the base of the switchbacks that we found. When we hit the switchbacks a storm started moving up the valley behind us very quickly. It was one of the coolest things I have ever seen. The storm literally moved over the top of us and it seemed like the storm was a lurking monster chasing us up the switchbacks, hence the title of Day 2. The switchbacks lead us up to the top of the pass where I took a few pictures while the group ate. Well, everybody but adventurous Trevor, who had not had his share of climbing yet and ascended the taller peak to the right of us. What a monster that kid is. I say kid not because I think Trevor is a child, but he is just one of those guys that will always be adventurous and fun to hang out with.
Here are some shots from the pass
After we were done gazing and eating we descended the switchbacks to above Glacier Lake where we spent the night. This camping spot moved straight to #1 best spots I’ve ever camped right away. Were were perched just above the lake and had an absolutely amazing view of the valley.
We started a fire and to dry our boots and socks we roasted them near the fire while sharing stories and such.
Day 3 – Fording rivers is fun
We actually managed to wake up and break out of camp at about 9:15. This was going to be one of our longer days and the hike entailed 2 river/creek crossings. We had to descend down through the valley and then take a left hook back up through the next valley down following a river. The trip planner said that the river crossing could be interesting in the early part of the year. We ended up missing the place we were suppose to cross, but found another further down the river. I took a shot back up the valley while we were on top of a knoll.
You can see the falls that the river made that we were going to cross.
When we finally got back down to the river where we eventually crossed it was moving pretty fast so we decided to go across holding hands. We all put on our sandals and some people threw their stuff across the river, while some threw their stuff into the river. One of the girls got her hand stuck in her boot when she went to throw it and instead of projecting the boot over the river it went at a 85 degree angle straight up and then back down into the river. Mike and Anthony skirmished the river and retrieved it just before it was gone forever.
After forging the river we had lunch on the other side before making our way to the next lake. We had the choice of either staying at Moose Lake or pushing on to Campfire Lake which was just next to the summit we had to cross on Day 4. We decided just take a break at Moose lake and then push on to Campfire Lake so we had less to hike on the last day.
Here are some shots I took at Moose Lake.
You can see that the weather was absolutely awesome in these pictures, this was going to change. We lost the trail again due to lots of snow as we neared Campfire Lake. As we topped the knoll and saw the Lake it started to downpour. Already soaked, cold and tired this really was not awesome at all. Anthony yanked his rain fly from his tent out of his pack and we all hid under that until the rain let up a bit. While all seven of us were huddled under the rain fly lightning struck so close I about pooped my pants and the thunder was super loud. We were literally inside the clouds that were producing the rain and the lightning was just overwhelming.
The rain let up just a bit and we all made a mad dash for an area that we hoped had spots to pitch tents. Somehow magically we found an amazingly flat and relatively dry area where we could all pitch tents. Mel and I threw together our tent faster than I have ever seen a tent go up. I literally dove into the tent followed by Mel. The rain let up about 30 minutes later and it turned really nice out. I took the pictures until my camera ran out of battery.
Trevor and Mike started a fire with magical powers and we all huddled around it for a bit. Mel and I were tired and called it an early night.
Day 4 – Snowy Peaks and Slippery Slides
This was going to be our hardest and possibly longest day. We spent about 15 minutes searching for where the trail was on the mountain next to us until we decided to just trek straight up the side. We were pretty sure that the trail was about 3/4 the way up where we were going and sure enough it was. Hiking straight up mountains with 30-50 pound packs is pretty hard, but again we did it like champions. We hit the trail and near the summit of the pass there was about a 50-70 foot crossing of snow we had to do. While Mel and I were crossing, her foothold gave and she started to sled down the mountain on her pack. Trevor started yelling to flip onto her front to stop her just as I grabbed the top of her pack and stopped her. Adrenaline! As she got back onto the crossing I then lost my foothold and Trevor again yelled to flip, which I did and promptly stopped myself. ADRENALINE!
After we ate a snack and took the pictures we started the haul to the end of the trail. This last trek, like all hikes, is all about getting to the car. We scooted along at a good pace and made it out really fast. After we reached the end Mike, Anthony, Kate and I all packed into Mike’s car and made the 84 mile journey over to the other cars. I made the 84 mile journey back to pick up Trevor, Mel and Emma and then we all finished off the trip with a Bacon Cheeseburger at Stockman’s in Livingston.
Thanks to the 6 of you for taking me along on this wonderful adventure that will defiantly go down in the books right under Epic awesome adventures.
I’m stealing Trevor’s photo here