Day 1 - 7/19/2014: Sheridan, Wyoming is our gateway town. We finish our last-minute shopping and spend the evening preparing the food and packs.
Day 2 - 7/20/2014: We set off for the Bighorn National Forest!
Patti can't even get to the trailhead registration box without stopping to photograph the Penstemon.
Patti registers our itinerary so the search parties know where to look if we go missing.
Our hike begins at the West Tensleep trailhead.
Many-flowered Phlox (or perhaps it should be Many-Phlowered Phlox)
There's nothing quite like flying in from sea level and beginning a hike at 9,000 feet.
Happily, we can use the scenery as an excuse to stop and suck down some extra air.
Patti is a little bit of a gear geek: binoculars, camera, GPS, altimeter watch. And there's a Kindle tucked away in the backpack for some evening reading.
Our first creek crossing is an easy one.
Jeane is in heaven (or some approximation of it).
We arrive at the wilderness boundary (Cloud Peak Wilderness).
The butterfly is Milbert's Tortoiseshell (Aglais milberti)
We enjoy lunch at a warm, sunny spot with a view. Every time we do this hike, we have lunch here...we're very predictable.
This is a pretty classic glacial landscape; big boulders dropped everywhere, and what looks like moraine in the background.
Patti dreads this creek crossing...it's the scary one where the rocks are far apart, and several of them are wet, mossy, and slippery!
Patti, concentrating fiercely, is very happy for the extra stability the hiking sticks provide.
Yay! We both made it across this creek with no mishaps!
We arrive at one of our favorite spots to camp in the Bighorns: an evergreen-filled wooded area next to Mirror Lake, adjoining this flower-filled meadow.
Patti spends the next bunch of hours reveling in the flower-palooza, which includes lots of larkspur and paintbrush.
Jeane likes to take the "big picture" while Patti is focusing on the details.
Larkspur and Western Bistort
Our meadow is so dense with flowers we have trouble finding places to walk. We do a lot of rock hopping.
Jeane surveys her domain. We seem to be all alone here; we haven't seen any other backpackers around.
She may not be Queen of the Mountain, but she's definitely Queen of the Boulder.
A portrait of the artist as a middle-aged woman (for our literary friends).
Patti, looking for her next victim.
Lanceleaf Stonecrop (Sedum lanceolatum)
Jeane has selected the best meditation rock in the meadow.
Jeane discovers one of Patti's favorite wildflowers: Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum)
Larkspur is a wonderfully complex flower, with such intense colors!
Jeane has settled into her practice, while Patti continues basking in the warm sun and loveliness.
Our campsite is a bit messy as we've fished out all of the dinner fixings.
Alpine Laurel (Kalmia microphylla)
After putting on head-to-toe mosquito protection, we head to Mirror Lake to fetch some water.
Patti peels back her mosquito net in preparation for eating her delicious rehydrated dinner.
©All photos and videos copyright Patti Bell and Jeane Hanley unless otherwise noted. These images may not be used without permission.