2021 has been a fairly mild winter in our corner of the Rockies. We've gone out scouted many different places in the area looking for snow. We finally decided that we'd travel to the Bitterroots for our first trip of the year. The night before the trip, a storm came through the area and dropped 10 inches of snow in town and even more up in the mountains. When we got the trailhead, there was no sign of the trail that we had cut in the previous week and there was a foot a new snow that we would have to push through.
Since we had scouted the area the week before, we picked a potential campsite that had plenty of wood for us to harvest to keep a good fire going the whole trip. We were hiking in with our full setups this time though and it was slow going cutting a fresh trail in 12" of snow.
The light was fading as we finally pulled into camp and we quickly strung the tarps and the hammocks and got to work on the fire. We had left a couple trees in camp so we'd have a headstart on the firewood when we got there. In a matter of minutes we had a fire going and we had plenty of wood to keep it going. In our haste to get our tarps and hammocks setup, we didn't think through our setup at all and we strung our tarps way too high.
At some point the night, our clear skies disappeared and a storm rolled it. It started snowing and blowing. By the time I woke up in the morning, I looked down at my boots that were almost directly below my tarp... and they were full of snow. It was a rough start to the morning.
After clearing the snow out of boots and pulling myself out of my hammock, we got some water on the stove and got a fire going. After a couple of rounds of hot drinks, we got started on getting wood for the day. We kept the fire roaring all day but that required us to keep the supply of wood coming. It snowed all day but once the wind died down, it was really nice. As we crawled into our hammocks, the snow was still falling.
At some time in the night the storm broke and we woke up to sunny skies. It was a beautiful morning. The sun was shining down through the trees and no one was in a hurry to pack up and hike out. Before I was ready to do it, it was time to pack up and leave.
Since it had snowed all day the day before, our trail that we had cut in a couple days before was completely gone. There was another 12 inches of snow for us to push through to get out. The sun went in and out of the clouds as we made our way down the mountain.
In the end we got everything that we wanted out of this trip and a few things that we didn't count on. The 2021 season was officially under way and we had our first trip in the books. We're already looking forward to the next one.
The bitterroots host the largest wilderness in the US I believe. I have not been there is a very long time. We usually camped the west fork of the bitterroot. Hunted elk up the blue joint. But there have been some really bad wild fires there and I imagaine all I remember will be long changed.
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