Saturday, October 31, 2015

Southern Madisons - Monument group and Skyline ridge

Andrew and Jeffrey were able to join me for the first two days of an extended weekend trip to the Southen Madisons.  We spent the first day doing a big loop on the western boundary of Yellowstone National Park from Sage creek. We rolled out shortly after sunrise and worked our way up to treeline.  Although it was a perfectly clear day, it was cold and blustery, and we would be occasionaly hit by remarkably intense icy gusts.  On the edge of the park, we saw a small herd of elk, a huge flock of goats at the head of Bacon Rind creek, and two seperate hunting parties on the trail.  The ridge to Redstreak was enjoyable, punctuated by clean, rolling terrain and one drop down off the crest for water. With some extra time in the day, we bumped out and back to Whites, marveling at the huge flock of goats in the headwaters of Bacon Rind creek.
Andrew running early in the day.
Cruising over unnamed peaks shortly after leaving the trail.
Jeffrey closing in on Redstreak.
The Skyline ridge traverse was quick at first, then slower as it became more scrappy and technical. The whole thing took less than two hours, and in no time we were on Sage peak.  It took a long time descend to the trail, and an even longer time to run the ten miles out to the car.  I kind of sandbagged how long the run out was going to be, and if it was possible to mutiny, it probably would have happened.  Fortunately, the easiest way out was to just run, so we stuck together, running steadily and working our way through the mess of trails caused by hunting camps.  With 30 miles under our belts, we returned to the car remarkably worked, considering there were two more days of adventuring ahead.  Fortunately a big dinner and long nigh sleep lay ahead.
Looking out to Sage with the Taylor Hillgard group in the background.
Unflattering photo of me nearing the top of Redstreak.
Looking back to Redstreak and the Skyline ridge.
The next day, we were hoping to do an Echo-Hillgard traverse. Spitting sleet coupled with fatigue from the previous day sapped our motivaton to push it, so we did a loop up to Expedition pass, through Hillgard basin, and down the Avalanche creek trail. The traverse looks really good, and I need to go back. 
Hillgard basin, as the weather began to improve. 
Camping in basic but complete comfort.  Love Montana.

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