One of our favorite things to do in MT is to rent a National Forest Service cabin someplace in the backcountry. Now these cabins have the bare minimum: Wood burning stove, cots, firewood, pots, pans, and a broom, not much more. However, it does make it nice because you don’t need to haul as much gear, and usually the settings are remote and beautiful.
The cabin we rented was Cabin Creek -Cabin located deep in the heart of the southern Madison Range, just north of Yellowstone Park. The cabin lies on a 6 mile up-and-over hike, that can actually be driven to on 4-wheeler later in the summer. We went with our dear friends Ethan and Cristin Stokes (who always have a great attitude about these types of adventures) and our dogs Gus and Bianca.
The hike started in the Gallatin Canyon, and we were quickly hit by spotty storms that would include, 15 minutes of rain, then sleet, then snow, then sun, then wash and repeat… The unsettled weather continued like this the entire 5 hour slog. Being that the cabin rests at the head of a large meadow/drainage at 8,600 feet above sea level, we were all but guaranteed snow pack, and we pack snowshoes for the occasion expecting spotty drifts and deep snow in the shadows. As it turned out, at about 7000 feet we hit snow and never saw dry ground after that. In fact, I would venture a guess that there was still 4-5 feet of snowpack still on the ground.
One thing about the location of this cabin is it’s proximity to Yellowstone Park. The drainages surrounding the park including Cabin Creek and Taylors Fork have some of the highest concentrations of Grizzly bear in the lower 48 (outside of Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks). With this knowledge comes the healthy fear that a hungry griz could be around any corner, or drinking from any stream. We counter this by all carrying high power bear pepper spray, and Ethan even packed some heat just as added insurance.
I am not joking when I say that only minutes after arriving, sweeping snow storms clouded the sky. We had some trouble getting a fire going inside as most of the wood was a bit damp. But we did what we could to settle in, relax, eat some food, and even sip some whisky in the high country.
A video during the snow storm: