Tuesday - July 9th
Driving through Beartooth Pass the idea that we would fall asleep on top of a mountain without a tent in the wilderness rather than a proper campsite became more and more real as the cowboy in us took over. Or was it the child-like recklessness we had been suppressing because we felt like we had to be adults or successful all the time? Whatever is was, the wild and brave nature of what we were considering changed us all a little bit. We were determined to live life to the fullest by simply living in the most ostensible fashion viewed by most civilized people.
|Kevin Gottlieb presents: The Wild.|
|10,000 ft. elevation and flirting with disaster.|
|Lakes everywhere at elevation, which also meant mosquitos everywhere.|
We ran into a couple traveling motorcyclists that were kind enough to let us know the rules of camping in a national forest to give us the least likely chance of getting attacked by bears and abiding by the regulations of camping in a National Forest. Due to our stubbornness and unpreparedness for staying at a proper campsite anyways, we learned that as long as we stayed a quarter mile off the main road and didn't start any fires we would be left alone. At least by the park rangers that is.
With the sun setting and little time left to ride we spotted a hill settled in at 8,000 ft. elevation that ended up being a short hike off a long dirt road climb. We were kitted up and descending the dirt road with the sun setting behind us for a short ride to take the stiffness of another long travel day out of our legs. Everyone was on the same page. We all knew we were living the dream and were eager to point it out as we all shouted out "America!" and "Are you kidding me?" and a dozen other euphemisms reserved for the experience of seeing the panorama of the Rocky Mountains, the lakes at the bottom of the vast valley's, and endless views of America's backdrop overwhelmed us all. We weren't out for long because we all knew what we had agreed to and had left us with no option but to set-up our makeshift campsite.
|Got to find time to ride.|
|Headed back to "camp".|
We all ate as much trail-mix and granola as we could handle along with some Muscle Milk at the vehicles leaving everything but what we were going to sleep in, and on, packed away to limit our chance of an encounter with a bear. Naturally we heard reports of increased bear activity on the radio earlier that day but the motorcyclists were nice enough tell us, "No one had been attacked and killed for over two years in this forest." Kevin had inflated his queen-sized air-mattress to share with Justin and the rest of us slept on the ground with only our sleeping bags and sleeping pads. Sam and I were really roughing it without sleeping pads and only the rocks, limited grass, and dirt to keep us pretty uncomfortable all night.
By the time we all had settled into our sleeping bags and had made our truce to not make any bear noises or play pranks on each other a meteorite entered the earth's atmosphere. From one side of the sky to the other the ball of fire disintegrated right before our eyes. It was almost as if the meteorite was a sign that we were exactly where we were meant to be. None of us missed it and it was such an amazing site that we had forgotten about potential close encounters with wildlife and had our eyes glued to the stars for hours as we saw shooting star after shooting star and called out constellations, satellites, and planets to each other until we eventually fell asleep.