Awards from Trips Past

While planning the 2012 trip to the Beartooths, I often thought of past hikes and some of the funny, beastly or stupid things that have happened on previous trips. Without fanfare, here we go.

Biggest Pack

Mike wins the "Biggest Pack" Award

Without a doubt this award goes to Mike D who accompanied me on my trip to Glacier in 2005. Not a large man, but of sturdy build, Mike had to have been carrying upwards of 60 pounds in his behemouth pack. But how and why was his pack so heavy? Imagine my surprise when, at our first night's camp at Bowman Lake, Mike pulled out half a leftover pizza from our previous nights' dinner at the Northern Lights and 3 cans of beer. I can't recall what all he brought along for food, but I can tell you that he ate very well and had at least 2 bags of peanut M&M's stashed in there.

Reed and his book bag in the Winds, 2007

Smallest Pack

This easily goes to Reed in 2007, 2009, and 2010. I believe it was the Canadian Dude who referred to Reed's pack as "Reed's bookbag" sometime during the 2009 Beartooths hike. I still don't know how he was able to pull it off but I think it must have been a combination of his lack of food, lack of first aid supplies and having his kit totally dialed in.


Our path of travel down the steep snow at Sky Pilot Lake---after picking our way through the boulders seen above.

Funniest moment

Without a doubt, Bob getting stuck between a tree and cliff face during the 2011 Beartooths hike was the funniest single thing I've seen in the backcountry.

While bushwhacking up the wrong side of Sierra Creek heading up to Summerville Lake, we found ourselves on a narrow ledge about 15' above the creek. Deciding that we needed to start making our way down to the creek, we picked our way along the ledge until we ran into a hearty tree growing from the ledge. It was a tight fit but Ward, Morgan and I all were able to slide our way through. Then it was Bob's turn. To make a long story short, Bob not only got stuck, but he also lost his balance and slid down to his ass between the tree and cliff face.

My first thought was "Dammit, Bob. How the hell do you get stuck and manage to fall at the same time?" That soon gave way to internal laughter. After managing to get his pack off without dropping it into Sierra Creek I was able to help him up and disaster was averted.

Unfortunately, there are no photographs of this so you'll have to trust me on this one.

Scariest Moment

While hiking through some heavy brush above Gunsight Lake in Glacier, both Andy and I heard a low growl not more than 3' away from us in the brush. It wasn't a deer, it wasn't a marmot, cow or bison. Hearts racing, we decided we'd best hike a little faster to get out of the brush. Nobody could ever convince that we weren't within mauling distance of Sir Griz at that moment.

Dumbest Move

An episode during the 2009 Beartooths trip wins the prize for this one. Having had our fill of rock/boulder hopping for the previous 3 days, Canadian Dude and I eschewed the relative "safety" of the boulders in favor of a high angle snowfield which, if we happened to slip, would likely put us into a very frigid Sky Pilot Lake with little chance of help from the others.

Afterwards, Ward, Reed and Tye told us they were betting on which one of us would end up in the lake, but we fooled 'em all and made it down to the grassy shoreline without incident. Later, as we looked back at our tracks through the snow, both Canada and I agreed it was a pretty stupid thing to do.


Best One Liner

Reed wins again. After nearly completing 7 days in the Beartooths, and making a rough descent down to Sky Pilot Lake (see "Dumbest Move") in 2009 Tye wondered out loud:

"I can’t understand why I’m not sucking air?”

To which Reed replied:

“That’s because you’re 24 fucking years old”

Too funny and the only time Tye ever appeared to be a young, dumb kid---which he definitely wasn't.

Worst Campsite

Just a few of the pack animals that graced our presence in the Teton Wilderness

Hands down, our first night's camp in the Teton Wilderness was THE worst camp I've ever pitched a tent with the possible exception of Mokowanis Junction in Glacier---which I'm not counting because we didn't choose it, the NPS did.

We knew we were in a little trouble when seemingly every good spot in the North Fork Meadows along the Buffalo River was either an outfitters camp or within spitting distance of one. We eventually decided on a mediocre spot---within spitting distance of an outfitters camp, though we didn't know it at the time.

Not only were the clients a bit loud, but the horses, mules and whatever other animals they had there were all wearing cow bells and would amble up and down the meadows grazing from dusk, through the night and into the next morning. Add to that some rather ho-hum scenery and you've got a pretty bad camp site.

We also concluded, after the fact, that our water source, which was essentially a bog, was probably full of equine fecal matter and other ickies.

Best Campsite

This photo does not do this campsite justice or accurately show just how many wildflowers were in bloom

There have been some good ones over the years, but for totally awesome scenery, solitude and flat, grassy, level ground, I have a tie: Sky Pilot Lake (as mentioned above) and somewhere up on the Buffalo Plateau. With views of the Tetons off to the west and the northern Wind River range to the south, this patch of plateau had more views than any I'd ever camped at before or since.

Best View

The saddle below Fremont Peak in the Winds

Best Blisters

We'd managed to make it through a few years without any, but then in 2009 Reed decided to put some new inserts into his boots without trying them out first. They were pretty bad and he had thoughts of bailing after 3 days but gutted it out with the help of some moleskin. Then, just a year later, I decided to leave my trusty Lowa's at home in favor of a pair of lightweight Merrell's which I'd had for close to 4 years. Big mistake. I, too, had thoughts of bailing but instead decided to wear my $12 Airwalk Crocs for the rest of the hike---which turned out to be close to 40 miles---when moleskin did nothing for me.

It's a tough call, but I think Reed had the better blisters, I had dirtier feet.

Dorf's (I had another one on my right heel) Reed's

Biggest Corporate Shill

A colorful collage of Canadian Dude's corporate shilling

Is there even a doubt that the North Face hat wearing Canadian Dude wins this hands down?

Let me just say that hiking with Bradley is like hiking with a NASCAR driver in full blown race mode---logos from many different brand manufacturers plastered everywhere on his clothing and gear. Really, it was quite disgusting.

His biggest transgression was obviously his donning of a The North Face knit cap while lazing about camp. I gave him a lot of crap for wearing something that all the college co-eds and high school girls were wearing around town.

When we were planning our return trip to the Beartooths in 2009, Canada told me that he was ditching the North Face gear in favor of something a little more manly. True to his word, he did, and I was out of ammunition.

Best Trip

At one point I thought it would be difficult to top that first trip to Glacier back in 2004. Now, with a few more hikes under my belt I have gained a little more perspective and can say with absolute certainty that the best trip was version 2008.2 with Canadian Dude and Ward in the Beartooths. Not only was it our first real off trail experience, but the three of us just clicked as a group. The scenery was so stellar we don't even think about how nasty the mosquitos were that week. Just a great trip all around.

Nobody can camp in the backcountry like Ward

Best Napper

If ever there were a guy who could nap anywhere in the backcountry it would be Ward. Either that or he's a good, no, an excellent faker just begging for a photo. I'm not sure which it is, but since he's the only one to ever at least appear to be napping, he wins.

Best Piece of Gear I Own

I've been known to drop a few dollars on gear over the years but now that I have more than enough it's easy for me to pick out my favorite item. Hands down, my Western Mountaineering Hooded Aspen (now called the "Sycamore") is not only my favorite piece, but my best. And it's made in the USA.

Shittiest Piece of Gear I Own

I've been known to drop a few dollars on gear over the years but now that I have more than enough crappy, useless, under-performing junk, it's easy for me to pick out my favorite item. I had trouble picking just one mistake so I have a tie between these two items (not listed in order of crappiness)

  1. Mont-bell Super Stretch Down Hugger #5. 40 degrees my butt. Try 50 degrees. Just about froze my ass off in the Bighorns back in 2008 using this thing. I'll concede that it's super lightweight, but maybe that's because when I hold it up to the light I can see right through it for lack of down fill.
  2. MSR Hyperflow. More hype than hyper. Pain in the ass to use in the mountains because you can't let it freeze or even drop it without rendering it useless. Don't get me started on the need to "backflush" every day. I'll stick with my old Katadyn Hiker from now on and try to pawn off the hyperflow on some sucker who doesn't know any better.
I was able to take a quick photo of Jane Doe because Yumi was relaxing and reading at Sperry Chalet <wink>
My beautiful wife wins the coveted "Hottest Hiking Partner" Award.

Hottest Hottie Seen in the Backcountry who is not my Wife

As I have no photos of the beautiful wranglerette in the purple shirt leading a horse party through the Teton Wilderness, or a picture of the beautiful blonde mother of 2 or 3 who looked like a movie star in the Winds, I'm going to have to go with Jane Doe (right). While hiking up to Sperry Glacier in GNP in 2007, I stumbled across this lovely specimine at Comeau Pass hiking with her boyfriend (not pictured...sorry bro). I got the feeling this was her first back country experience but who cares?

Hottest Hiking Partner

While I'll admit all of my hiking buds are not bad looking guys, I'd have to give the nod to my lovely wife, Yumiko. Not only is she far better looking than all those other guys, she always manages to not smell like the Canadian Dude no matter the circumstances. I might be a little biased, but nobody can wear a pair of REI convertible pants quite like Yumi. Sadly, she almost always hikes behind me---except when she smells coffee at the end of the trail.



July, 2011
Winter camping in the Beartooths in July
teton August, 2010
6 nights in the heart of the Absaroka mountains
July, 2009
Another 7 nights with the crew in the Beartooths
August, 2008
7 nights in the Beartooths with Ward and the Canadian
July, 2008
5 nights in the Bighorns with a Canadian

August, 2007
Yumi and I return to GNP for some fun

July, 2007
6 nights in the heart of the Northern wind Rivers
August, 2006
A 3-night solo in the Absaroka-Beartooth
July, 2006
Yumi and I spend 8 nights in the Wind Rivers
Aug-Sept., 2005
Dorf gets his GNP fix with 8 nights on the trail
July, 2005
A quickie solo in the Cloud Peak Wilderness
July, 2005
Our return to GNP aborted 6 hours in :-(
July, 2004
Two weeks of camping and backpacking in Glacier.
September, 2004
Yumi and I get to the Porkies before fall arrives
July, 2004
Yumi and I take the kids to the Porkies
June, 2004
Todd and I prove that last years' Newport debacle was no fluke
October, 2003
Yumi and I test some more gear and nearly die
September, 2003
Yumi and I decide to do a little camping & test gear


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