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Absaroka Wilderness, Montana
August 1 -10, 1989
In 1988 about a million acres of Yellowstone National Park (about one third of the Park) was burned in a series of huge forrest fires. The next year, my friend Jeff and I decided to hike in the area to see what the area now looked like. We hiked 75 miles from east to west just north of the Park border in the Absaroka Wilderness. We never saw another backpacker but we did see several groups of people horse camping. Since this is grizzly bear country they all had heavy weapons and thought we were crazy for “not packing”. But as you’ll see in my notes, we had great fishing and were able to eat trout every night for dinner and sometimes for breakfast! And we saw some remarkable country at a unique time. There were areas through which we walked that were completely charred like in the photo above. And other areas that were still green and lush. And we could see where the fires had simple jumped around from here to there.
Friday, August 4, 1989 Day 6
Sitting on top of the mountain at 9600 feet, the last few days all seem to blend together. Lots of traveling, up and down and up and down, sore heels, elk, moose, trout, ducks, wading revers, spectacular vistas and dream walking, eating, fishing, falling into the water, horse packers, relaxing, talking with Jeff, talking with myself. There was something special about Hidden Lake. The campfire was nice. The rain was OK. Waking up to a fog covered lake with the ducks swimming around and fish jumping. Caught lots of fish that morning including one big one – biggest so far. These were rainbow that fought great and jumped out of the water several times when hooked. Caught the first one that morning off the same rock in front of camp on the first cast. Left Hidden Lake and had to wade across Buffalo Creek. That was exciting. Went over in bare feet on a sand bar but had to go across a deep part that was up to the top of my legs. Jeff helped pull me out on the other side. Going over the Poacher’s Trail was a lot harder than I expected.
Saturday, August 5th, 1898 Day 7
The afternoon sun is very warm on my legs, arms, and face. That gentile mountain breeze is blowing by and so is this trip and so is life. But looking out over Charlie White Lake I don’t think there’s a much better way to spend my time. It is sure nice to be out here and not think about or worry about all the BS that goes on at home. I miss my family but other than that I could do without. Up here life is simple and peaceful and beautiful. The physical exercise feels good and painful feet are tolerable. The fish are out there jumping and the ducks are swimming and flying around.
The last few days have been great. First, no rain. Second, spectacular fishing at Carpenter Lake. I’ve never experienced anything like it. It was like being at a trout farm. Almost every cast was a fish or a strike for over two hours. And the next morning was no different. Flys or spinners, it made no difference. Moose came down to the lake at night and in the morning then wandered around our camp. On the way out we watched one at the inlet for about ten minutes while it ate and swam around. Also saw moose on the trail up Hellroaring Creek. Four elk jumped across the trail (Poachers Trail) as I was coming down from the top. They all had velvet antlers but the first one had big horns. I watched as they wandered up a hillside and disappeared. Also saw several deer on Hellroaring Creek trail.
Moose in the Lake
Trout for Breakfast