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Beaten Path Late July

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Beaten Path Late July

Postby granitepeaker » Tue Jun 21, 2011 8:12 pm

My friends and I are hoping to do the Beaten Path, which is Cooke City to East Rosebud during July 21-24. My questions is do you think there will be enough snow melted by then do it it? I don't mind seeing snow patches here and there. My concern would be not being able to find the trail. I'm hoping there are a good number of people that would dare try it in early July and pack down the trail if need be.
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Re: Beaten Path Late July

Postby bfcc » Tue Jun 21, 2011 10:20 pm

This is what the fossil lake area looked like the second week of July, 2008.:
Image

There is a lot more snow now than there was at this point in 2008, but the snow levels in late July this year will depend a lot on what the weather is like between now and then.

Even if there is a lot of snow, I doubt you'll have navigation issues if you know how to read a map and use a compass. We didn't have any trouble in 08, despite crossing snow for a full day up high with no sign of the trail. Do your hiking early in the day and get some good gators- by that time of year the snow should be firm enough to walk on without post holing, at least in the morning.

Ask about conditions again when you get closer to the date if you're not in the area. I'm in Red Lodge and would be happy to give an update.
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Re: Beaten Path Late July

Postby granitepeaker » Wed Jun 22, 2011 4:03 pm

bfcc, thanks for the advise. I live in Billings, but the people at the Base Camp store here have no clue on any of the trails in the Beartooths. There only advise was to come back after the 4th of July and they might have a better idea. I guess I'll just have to see what the weather does in the next few weeks. My navigation skills are good so I'm not worried about losing the route now, but just need to decide how miserable the cold weather will be for the girls that were planning on coming with as they aren't very hard core.
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Re: Beaten Path Late July

Postby CBakwin » Mon Jun 27, 2011 3:29 pm

I was hoping to go up to the Castle Mountain/ Castle Rock Spire area about that time, so let's share any condition reports we can get for the next month, eh?
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Re: Beaten Path Late July

Postby granitepeaker » Mon Jun 27, 2011 5:25 pm

@CBakwin ... sounds good! It's melting at 2.5 to 3 inches a day so I think there is still hope.
Last edited by granitepeaker on Fri Jul 01, 2011 10:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Beaten Path Late July

Postby CBakwin » Wed Jun 29, 2011 3:53 pm

Yeah, the lower stuff is opening up quite a bit , but even at 3" a day, it will be a while. Let me know what you find.
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Re: Beaten Path Late July

Postby bfcc » Wed Jun 29, 2011 10:23 pm

My evening hikes in the Red Lodge area are putting the current snowline at about 9000 feet. There is, of course, quite a bit of variability around that based on aspect. I should get up higher this weekend and I'll post an update after that. It's warm here now, so things are changing quickly.
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Re: Beaten Path Late July

Postby granitepeaker » Thu Jun 30, 2011 7:57 pm

Well considering that the highest point on the Beaten Path is 9,800' that's good news for me since I've still got 3 more weeks till my planned hike. Thanks for the update!
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Re: Beaten Path Late July

Postby Bob Sihler » Sat Jul 02, 2011 9:07 pm

I'm not a Montana native, but I've been to the Beartooths several times and have noticed that there seems to be much less snow east of Beartooth Pass than west of it, so even if there's little snow at 9000' around Red Lodge, things may be very different around Cooke City.

For example, last year I backpacked up to Black Canyon Lake on June 29 and climbed two peaks out there. There was very little snow getting to the lake (see first photo below) and little at the lake (9200'-- see second photo), but there was plenty above 10,000'.
Image
Image

On July 1, however, I packed in to the Goose Lake and Grasshopper Glacier area after finding the 4wd road blocked by snow about a mile in and only a little over 8000'. Almost the entire hike was a slog through deep, soft snow. It was still winter out around the lake, as seen below, and the lake is at 9600'.
Image

From the summits, I could see that the entire area was still buried, to the Aero Lakes and well beyond.

You'll be there three weeks later than I was, so you have that going for you, but this was also a very heavy year by all accounts. Unless it gets hot soon and stays hot, you may be contending with a lot of snow cover still. My experience from last year tells me that it will be nice and mushy, so get ready for postholing that will really slow you down. That would be my concern more than following the route, which should be fairly easy given a good map, compass skills, and cooperative weather.

I hope it goes well and that the conditions are much better for you than they were for me.
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Re: Beaten Path Late July

Postby granitepeaker » Tue Jul 05, 2011 4:34 pm

I think you're right about the snow melting more near Red Lodge. I drove up the Beartooth Pass a little a couple days ago to the look out that is at 9,248 feet and it was very dry around there. From there I would put the snow line at 9,600.

There is a Montana snow level http://www.mt.nrcs.usda.gov/snow/data/depthmp2.html website. If you click on Beartooth Lake it shows it at still having 2.5' feet of snow despite being at 8,900. So in 2.5 weeks I'm thinking the snow level will be at 9,400 feet on the Beaten Path.
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Re: Beaten Path Late July

Postby bfcc » Tue Jul 05, 2011 5:22 pm

As promised, here's a condition update for the Beartooth high country:

Over the weekend I skied over Sundance Pass - in at the lake fork and out at the west Fork trailhead. Perfect weather. There is still a lot of snow at high elevation. In general, I'd say the snow line is still right around 9000 feet, but there is huge variability as aspect and slope change. The lake fork trail was mostly clear of snow all the way to September Morn Lake. The last couple hundred yards to the lake as the trail levels out and reaches the basin the lake sits in have about 4 feet of snow right now. It comes pretty suddenly, as soon as the trail reaches the crest to get to the lake you go from no snow to 4ish feet immediately. The lake was about 2/3s ice.

All snow above the lake to Sundance Pass. Above treeline, travel was easy - we skinned to the pass, but the snow was mostly firm enough to walk on if you didn't have skis. The east side of the pass is very snowy still, and I was able to make turns all the way from the top of the pass down to Sundance Lake. The Whitetail/Castle/Sundance Mountain cirque is ALL snow still. Creek crossings were high.

Sundance Lake to Quinnebaugh Meadows was miserable. 90% snow, but not really continuous enough to ski (skis on, skis off the whole way, until we eventually gave up and started postholing). We postholed for a couple miles - below treeline, the snow is really not firm enough to walk on. The snow ended right at the top of the meadow, again, about 9000 feet, I believe. I don't really recommend this stretch of trail until it melts out - the hiking was very slow and tedious.

Quinnebaugh meadows to the west fork trailhead is very wet. Lots of water and mud on the trail. The Mary creek crossing requires wading.

Its been hot lately, and forecast to continue that way, but there is still a lot of melting that needs to happen before the beartooth high country is in typical summer conditions. Skiing was good corn! I'll add pictures later.
Last edited by bfcc on Tue Jul 05, 2011 5:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Beaten Path Late July

Postby bfcc » Tue Jul 05, 2011 5:45 pm

Photos (taken between July 2-4, 2011):

First Rock Lake and Sky Pilot:
Image

September Morn Lake:
Image

Route to Sundance Pass, July 3:
Image

East Side of Sundance Pass:
Image

Castle and Sundance Mountains from the Pass:
Image

Whitetail and Castle Mountains:
Image

Skiing on the West Side of the pass:
Image

Image
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Re: Beaten Path Late July

Postby granitepeaker » Tue Jul 12, 2011 7:11 pm

Sylvan Peak Mountain Shop: Posted: July 12th
Some folks were at Lake at the Falls, and attempted to get to Twin Outlets last weekend, and made it, but with pretty deep snow. Lake at the Falls is open, other lakes still have ice... Cooke city side - Russel Lake was accessible - Bald Knob was still frozen over. Super High Creek crossings on Cooke side... Usually ankle to knee deep - could well be over mid thigh range this year. That's what we've heard so far! One group over Sundance pass this last weekend - made it with snowshoes - 20 ft wind swells over the pass made for interesting snow travel.
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Re: Beaten Path Late July

Postby granitepeaker » Thu Jul 21, 2011 4:39 pm

Driving up to Red Lodge tonight and starting the Beaten Path tomorrow from the Cook City side. Wish us luck ...
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Re: Beaten Path Late July

Postby goofball » Thu Jul 21, 2011 9:52 pm

granitepeaker wrote:Driving up to Red Lodge tonight and starting the Beaten Path tomorrow from the Cook City side. Wish us luck ...


good luck !

i just spoke to a ranger about west rosebud who said froze to death plateau still has snow as of earlier in the week but valleys are clear, and said it is warm and supposed to be even warmer over teh weekend.
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