What’s the Shortest Distance You Can Hike and Still Be Tough?

Here’s a lesson:  if you suggest a weekend backpack, and remember a beautiful spot that you visited years ago, and you want to impress your tough hiking friends with this swell hike, it might be a good idea to actually check out a map before you go.  And not because of the danger of getting lost, or because the hike might end up being way harder than you remembered; my tough friends would love nothing more than more adventure than we expected.  Nope…you need to check the map to make sure that the hike is actually longer than a mile.   When you arrive at your destination a half hour after you’ve started – even if it is a gorgeous spot to camp – you are setting yourself up for a weekend of ribbing.    I mean, I’m pretty sure it’s not supposed to take you longer to load up your packs than it does to get to camp.

But this really is a stupendous spot.  It’s a lovely cirque in the Branham Peaks area of the Tobacco Roots.    I’d remembered the stunning scenery, but not the fact that the trailhead is at 8,800 feet, which means you can get to the rocky ridge without too much effort.   I clearly remembered thinking that the cirque would be a grand spot to camp; I just forgot exactly where it was.

But all was fine in the end.  We set up camp and then headed up the ridge for a glorious fall afternoon of exploring.    By evening I was redeemed.      After all, it hardly seems like a heinous mistake to suggest camping in a gorgeous spot that’s easy to get to but still far from noise and people, does it?

Next time I think we’ll plan to camp at one of these lakes.

About westerner54

Hello. I'm Cindy, and I love to hike, bike and explore the outdoors - particularly the western U.S.
This entry was posted in Backpacking, Hiking, Montana, Nature and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to What’s the Shortest Distance You Can Hike and Still Be Tough?

  1. Great story! No shame in a short hike, as long as it’s worth it–and still away from the masses!

  2. Wow, gorgeous scenery! I would love to do that hike.

  3. Not many places these days where you can take such a short hike and be all alone like that! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Linda R says:

    One of my favorite backpacking destinations is a ridge in the Gravelley Range. Roughly a short mile from the road, but you might as well be a hundred miles from anywhere. We’ve watched bear, elk, moose, and mule deer from our campsite, and didn’t break a sweat doing it — guilt feee. Might not be tough, but it’s sure wild country. You share your spot, and I’ll share mine.

    • westerner54 says:

      OK, it’s a deal. The trailhead is 13 miles or so up the Mill Creek Road out of Sheridan. There’s even a little FS campground at Branham Lake. Perfect for a brand Palomino Bronco. So where in the Gravelleys? (And by the way, I realize I took some artistic license in calling Jim and Margaret “tough.” Although not much, really.)

  5. I’ve made mistakes like that! Funny! Too short is probably better than too long though. People get grumpy when you make them hike longer than they expected.

  6. Becky says:

    As a novice hiker, that sounds like my kind of hike! LOL Beautiful photos!

  7. Go Go Go says:

    Such beautiful photos!

  8. goddesstale says:

    What a great question! I thought of this just recently when the campsite I was interested in was only 2.5 miles (relatively easy) in. And then I thought, “Wait a minute…do I love this because it is beautiful or because it proves how hardcore I am?” I decided beautiful trumps bragging rights. Interesting post!

    • westerner54 says:

      I agree. And thanks for reading, too. (I’m always pleased when someone actually comments on what I’ve actually had to say, rather than just focusing on the photos!)

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