[cdt-l] CDT - Gros Ventre notes
Ginny & Jim Owen
spiritbear2k at hotmail.com
Thu Jun 28 01:01:04 CDT 2007
Last year we were forced to skip about 40 miles of the CDT through the Gros
Ventre Wilderness by the Purdy fire (http://www.inciweb.org/incident/402/ ).
This year we came back to hike that section of the Trail. We got off the
trail this afternoon. The Gros Ventre is a beautiful section of trail,
with green flower filled meadows and lots of wildlife, but it is also one of
the more challenging sections for navigation. A few years ago there was a
quote in DividEnds, I spent three days lost in the Gros Ventre. It was the
best part of the trail. Having spent the past three days wandering there,
both sentences are very easy to understand.
In any case, we have a few comments on the section that some of this years
hikers might find useful. Have to admit we didnt have Jim Wolfs
guidebook it disappeared somewhere between Maryland and Wyoming. It may
still be in the truck someplace but we couldnt find it before we left here
on Monday. Some of our comments are probably covered in the guidebook, but
just in case they arent . . .
We started at Union Pass, which is where we bailed last year
(http://spiriteaglehome.com/cdt06%20wy3.html Aug 14/15). Theres marked
CDT trail from Union Pass to Lake of the Woods, but when you get past the
Lake, the trail takes a sharp, unmarked left turn on a closed Forest road.
See Jonathons map WY12.
Next Jonathons map WY11 at his point 1, theres a CDT marker heading
through the fence and down the abandoned jeep road rather than making the
right turn and following the fence along the ridge. We made the decision
with malice aforethought to follow the CDT markers which descended from
the ridge, wound around and then made an acute right turn at Bullmoose
Creek. The markers were NOT all CDT markers most of them were unadorned
Carsonite posts with just enough CDT decals to lure us on. After Bullmoose
Creek, the trail wound back up the ridge on a logging road then split off on
very faint footpath - where we lost the whole thing in the willows of
another drainage. At that point, we gave it up and bushwhacked back up to
the ridge and the road we would have been on if wed followed Jim Wolfs
route along the Divide -- the directions in Jonathons comment 1. Personal
opinion is that following those CDT markers isnt a good idea right now.
Stick with the guidebook and Jonathons map route. The CDT blazing is
really erratic in this whole section. At first there were many markers.
Then they spread out to about one a mile, with none at the road junctions.
In the seven mile section south of Sheridan Pass we saw three markers two
marking a short detour off the jeep track through burned forest, and one at
The bushwhack up Leeds Creek was no big deal just pay attention to the
map. We followed faint horse trail most of the way. When you get to
Jonathons comment 3, theres a really nice spring and an old, old horse
camp. We stayed there in 1999 and watched a moose watering in the stream
when we got up in the morning. This time, we found fresh bear tracks and
scat in the morning hang your food. This is also the point where we
believe the CDT markers that begin at comment 1 connect although we didnt
actually find any CDT markers here.
In any case, at the top of Leeds Creek you have a choice of jeep track,
horse trail or orange snowmobile markers all heading in the same general
direction. Dont make the mistake of trying to follow either the old jeep
road that heads west off the ridge or the pack trail that crosses the ridge
the CDT follows brand new orange markers into the woods and up the knob to
the northeast. The trail follows the orange diamonds for the next 7 miles
all the way to Sheridan Pass. Once upon a time there was a jeep trail along
the ridge, but it has been a long time since it has been used by vehicles
and in many places the ruts have been reclaimed by meadow grass and
flowers. Just keep following the blazes and youll be fine. Someone was
out since last years fires and put up lots of snowmobile trail markers but
no CDT markers.
At Sheridan Pass (marked by a post with an old, old CDT marker), the trail
turns west and goes down the Squaw Creek drainage. After a couple hundred
yards, theres pack trail that goes for several miles down Squaw Creek.
Its not great trail, but dont make the mistake of blaming horses for the
damage the tracks were all moose, elk, deer, bear, etc. Weve had more
than one good belly laugh at those who insist that all trail damage is due
to horse traffic.
About 3 miles down Squaw Creek, after the third crossing of the creek, we
cut off south on pack trail into the Open Fork drainage (the Sheridan
Trail?) and in about ¼ mile turned off on faint trail up to the road (a 200
climb). We followed the road all the way down to Papoose Creek (its longer
than it looks on the map the map lies again but its not excessive).
Question: is there actually trail on the north side of Squaw Creek for the
lower 2 miles? We never saw it when we got to the Papoose Creek confluence.
When we were heading south in 1999 we followed the road up until it
deadended, then bushwhacked up to the Divide. It was a very rough bushwhack
with lots of blowdowns. What have other northbound hikers done there?
The road walk up Fish Creek is easy and a little shorter than Jonathon
At the intersection with Beauty Park Creek, theres a good campsite up the
hill before the creek, easy access to water and the trail up to Beauty Park
is at the apex of the curve right where Jonathons map WY10, comment 4
places it. We followed yellow diamond markers for about a mile, then lost
the trail in a willow-filled meadow. The blazes probably turned right; we
continued straight and lost the trail. No big deal. There was some
bushwhacking involved here, but basically, when the trail disappeared, we
followed the grassy swath northeast. In about 10 minutes we found an old
logging road heading upstream. Follow it up to Beauty Park and the right
turn onto pack trail thatll take you to the Larkspur Creek drainage. A
question for southbound hikers does the logging road continue out to the
jeep road (30750)?
Following Jonathans map, we began a bushwhack uphill beside Larkspur Creek,
but after a while we found another good pack trail that climbed over the Two
Ocean Mtn ridge and down into Squaw Basin where we picked up a jeep track
that led to a jeep road (30010) that turns east for about 3 miles along the
Divide to the highway and Togwotee Pass.
For southbound hikers follow the jeep road from Togowottee Pass for about
2 ½ miles. At the third jeep track to the left (actually there are two
tracks that meet the road together at an old tire) head uphill (south)
toward the ridge. After about 1 mile the track ends at a campsite next to
the mountain. Pick up the pack trail there and follow it around the
mountain, over the ridge, then down as far as you can. Others may be able
to answer the question of whether the pack trail goes all the way to Beauty
Park. It was good trail with occasional orange diamonds not on the Forest
As to fire damage there was some, but not a lot. We had about a mile of
continuous burn up on the divide north of Leeds Creek, but nothing that was
a problem for hikers. There were a few other small burned patches. A
bigger problem is the pine borer that is killing the forest all over the
The plus side of this section beautiful green meadows, lots of
wildflowers, lots of wildlife (elk, deer, antelope, moose, sandhill cranes
and bears), plenty of water and total solitude. It was a great hike.
One last note - if you stay at the Trails End motel in Dubois, they'll
shuttle you back to the trail - for a price. We paid $25. It was worth it
to us. If you're a cellphone carrier, you can also call from either
Togwotee Pass or Union Pass and they'll come get you. Phone number for
Trails End is 307-455-2540. It might take a while for them to pick you up.
Black Bear Inn is out of business.
Hope this helps some of this years hikers -
Jim & Ginny
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