Beartooths 2023 - Day 1

2024-04-27 | 4 min read

We woke up at five at our friend's house in Billings. We had packed everything into the car the night before, so we changed into our hiking clothes, ate a quick breakfast, and headed out. It was a 2-and-a-half-hour drive to the trailhead, and we made good time. The last portion of the road was on the Beartooth Highway, which was beautiful.

We pulled into the Island Lake hiking parking, hit the pit toilet, and headed out around 8. We did a mix of road walking and trail hiking for the day. The Beartooths does not offer many loops, so to make our loop, we needed to walk on the road for a bit. The road was flat and well-graded, but not as nice on the feet as the trail. Making good time, we hit our first lake by 9:30 and took a snack break. The weather was nice, and the sky was clear.

Continuing, we hiked past several lakes, large and small. Some might have been considered ponds. After a while, we were near the base of a trek back up to the road. There were no switchbacks, but we found that it was not steep enough to justify them. When we got to the top, we took in the view and took a long break for lunch.

Back on the road, we walked for several miles. As we were walking, some ominous clouds started rolling in. My GPS weather said there was a chance of rain in a couple of hours, but we did not completely trust it, so we put on our rain gear and continued to walk. It continued to get darker with the clouds, but we did not get any rain.

We got to the lake we were planning on camping at around 3:30. We rested for a bit and continued hiking. There were not many great camping spots near the lake, so we went about a half-mile further into a valley. We hung our food to keep it from the bears and set up our tent within earshot of a rushing stream. We crawled into our tent to stay away from the mosquitoes and possible rain.

About 30 minutes later, it rained lightly for a bit and then slowly cleared up. After resting in the tent, we got up and worked on our dinner. Tonight was Annie’s mac & cheese with salmon and bacon bits. For dessert, we dug into the party-size double stuf Oreos. 1 pound, 10 ounces, but worth it. The day's mileage was 12.78, according to my GPS. I’m also taking my Apple Watch Ultra to see if it can stand up to a long backpacking trip. At the end of the day, I was at 90% battery. Not too bad.