Friday, August 26, 2011

My walk in the Cloud Peak Wilderness...

began at the West Tensleep Lake trailhead, traversing a well-worn path for about 10 miles through glacial moraines (click to enlarge):
Wildflowers were thriving in the high altitude and provided colorful distraction from my burdensome backpack, loaded for three days alone in the back country:
This view toward the northeast, from the shores of Lake Helen, provides the first glimpse of the west ridge route to the summit of Cloud Peak (13,167 ft):
I bivied a short distance away from this 40 ft waterfall for two nights, preparing my meals alongside the stream so that odors wouldn't draw bears to my camp:
I started toward the summit at around 8 am (a tad bit late), navigating a ~3 mile scramble/hike over seemingly relentless boulder fields, gaining more than 3,200 ft along the way.  Here's a snap of the highest blooming plant (Parry's primrose) that I encountered on the west ridge:
I arrived at the lofty summit around 1 pm, taking the requisite self portrait.  That's Glacier Lake, more than 1,800 ft below me, on the east side of the peak:
Another view from the summit shows numerous alpine lakes in a glacially-denuded basin to the north:
Pikas were everywhere in the boulders at mid to lower elevations, and provided near constant companionship on my solo hike:
On the final morning, during my hike out, I encountered two wary moose near Mistymoon Lake:
And here's the last picture I took, gazing back toward my now accomplished objective, as I left the magnificent wilderness:

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