Day 12: July 20

The younger ones woke up early this morning which means one of two things: we did not hike enough hard miles yesterday, or today is the final day of the trip and the exit trailhead awaits.

Regrettably, it’s the latter.

Often at the end of these trips, I’m ready for a hot shower, a real meal, and some time back home to do civilized things. This time, I’m ready to pick up a resupply in Cooke City and continue heading south, weaving in and out of the Absaroka Crest en route to Togwotee Pass.

But alas, that will have to be deferred to another day.

Sitting in my shelter this morning, drinking a coffee with a view of Mount Villard out my door, I couldn’t help but reflect on the value of spending time in Wild Places and attempting objectives worth suffering for.

We have been out for 12 days, through talus and trial, and remain happy friends still. Such is the outcome of being part of our little community of Venturing Scouts and their families that appreciate the benefits of spending time in wilderness, and with each other.

I’ve called Montana home for more than two decades now and have spent more time in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness than any range of mountains other than the Olympics of Washington State. I call the A-B my home range. Having hiked nearly all of its trails, caught fish out of more than 75% of its 300+ fishable waters, and climbed its highest peaks and passes, this trip was a reminder that I feel like I’ve barely scratched its surface. Over the past 12 days, I’ve seen new vistas, traveled new off trail routes, fished new lakes, and collected new experiences with a very competent team of outstanding young men, with whom I would travel through the wilderness anytime.

See you for elk burgers at the Beartooth Cafe in Cooke City.

Until next time —


Erick (15), Nikolas (17), Kristofer (14), and Chase (18) getting ready to leave the talus and tundra of the high country this morning.
Erick (15), Nikolas (17), Kristofer (14), and Chase (18) getting ready to leave the talus and tundra of the high country this morning.
End of the Line: Cooke City, Montana.
End of the Line: Cooke City, Montana.

About Crew One

Crew One is a Venturing Crew of the Boy Scouts of America, chartered by Backpacking Light to promote expedition leadership and wilderness high adventure skills development in youth 14-20 years of age. Learn more at

Take a Hike in the Beartooths and Learn Wilderness Travel Skills with Backpacking Light

Get away for a few days with like-minded wilderness enthusiasts and learn the skills of ultralight wilderness travel with Backpacking Light: join us on a Wilderness Adventures Trek.

Follow this live expedition blog as Backpacking Light’s Ryan Jordan, Eric Vann, and five others weave their way through glacial cirques, tundra meadows, and talus fields in Montana’s Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness July 9-20. Dispatches will be posted to the Backpacking Light Facebook page, Instagram feed, and the home page.