There are truly no words that can describe the wonders that are waiting just outside the front door. This last summer I had the opportunity to experience nature’s awe-inspiring beauty first hand on The Beaten Path in Montana. I would encourage anyone capable of traversing this trail to do so and see just what a beautiful world we live in.
The path winds 25 miles through the rugged Beartooth Mountain Range going from Cooke City MT to Roscoe MT. The trail offers several camping spots throughout and is a great place to bring the whole family. The sites will include majestic jagged mountains, raging waterfalls, and many clear blue mountain lakes. For those with a love of fishing, you will find no shortage of trout in the cold mountain waters. This will not be a place for those that don’t enjoy company on their hiking/camping trips. The Beaten Path is aptly named, and has many friendly travelers crossing it every year. The plus side of this is that the extra traffic may scare off some of the more dangerous wildlife such as bears or mountain lions. What follows is the story of my first trip on The Beaten Path.
We had been planning the trip for a couple of weeks. Lists of supplies had been made and double checked. Gear was gathered and tested. We set out in the cool darkness of early morning. The drive increased our excitement as we saw the sun rise over the mountains that progressively grew closer and closer. We parked the truck outside of Roscoe and made our final preparations. We began our trek in perfect weather. The sun was shining down and a cool breeze kept the mosquitos away. I could not have planned for a more perfect start to the day.
As we progressed up the trail it was clear that we would not have enough time or energy to reach our intended destination, but at that point it didn’t matter. We were steadily trekking further and further into the Montana wilderness. Waterfalls cascaded down on the side of the trail, and mountain peaks stretched up to the sky. As the path wound up to the crest of one of the numerous mountains, I was hit with one of the most jaw-dropping scenes of my life. I had seen the crystal waters of the Caribbean Sea in the past, and never thought I would see water that clear elsewhere. Here in front of me was a beautiful lake nestled into the mountains and hidden from the world. We passed this lake and decided that the next one would be the one where we made camp. We finally stopped at Rainbow Lake in the late afternoon. I was exhausted from the trip, but couldn’t have been happier with our location. We set up our camp, recharged our water supply, and enjoyed a quiet dinner by the campfire. We hung up our food and trash, and sat watching the sun dip below the lake. The long hike was more than enough to put me to sleep.
I woke the next morning sore from the hike, but ready for a great day. After breakfast it was time to see if there were any fish in the lake. We weren’t disappointed. We caught our limit on the bank next to camp, and decided that we would traverse around the lake for some catch-and-release. We made it to an old log bridge going across the stream feeding into the lake. My friend easily crossed the log, but as I worked my way across, my clumsiness caught up with me. One slip of my foot, and I was up to my chest in the freezing mountain water. After recovering my gear and laughing at my lack of coordination, we continued our fishing. By the evening we were ready to sit back and relax; enjoying a delicious fish dinner and laughing about my unexpected swim. We finished the day exploring more of our temporary home away from home. The trees, the water, the mountains, it was truly a sight to behold. I fell asleep with a pit in my stomach, knowing that I would be leaving the next day.
I woke up the next morning and enjoyed my last campfire meal before breaking camp. After reluctantly getting our gear together, we took one last look and began the trek home. The walk down hill was a refreshing break from the previous trip. We broke for lunch and a little fly fishing before finally making it back to the truck. The drive home was spent discussing the next time we would camp, and the next time we would be back on The Beaten Path.
I hope that you enjoyed my story on the beaten path, and I would encourage you to make your own. There is so much beauty that the world has waiting to be seen, and it is waiting right outside your door.