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The most remote spot in the lower 48
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This photo is from about 4 years back, when I was just doing more point and shooting and documenting my crazy adventures. You see, I used to take entire summers off and just roam the wildest places I could find. I would "temp" in the winter, and explore in the summer/fall. I study topo maps like rich guys study stock charts. When I'm not skiing or snowshoeing in the winter, or backpacking the Lost Coast, I'm tying flies or scouring bazillions of topo maps. Topo maps are everywhere in my room. I can't get enough of exploring this amazing place God made here, and to me walking through the wilderness is like walking through the very fingers of God. They are the direct results of His work. But I don't push that on anyone else, that's just me (in case some of you folks are rolling your eyes are wanting a debate, ha!, that's not my intent).
I would study things like, "what's the furthest place in the non-upper 48 states that's the furthest from ANY trailhead or road". Then I would get the second, and third furthest, etc. The furthest spot from any road in the lower 48 is in what's called the Thorofare, deep inside the Teton Wilderness (not to be confused with Grand Teton NP). The Thorofare also makes up part of the S.E. corner of Yellowstone National Park. It is over 30 miles from any direction to get back in there. So naturally I went. I spent 8 amazing days back in there. The place is infested with some of the highest grizzly bear densities in the contiguous U.S., and it's truly a wild place. Well, mostly, at least getting there and back is truly wild... the actual "Thorofare" is pretty busy with horsepackers during the cutthroat trout spawn in the spring and elk hunters in the fall.
I took this photo of the Upper Yellowstone River, under the Hawk's Rest, in the Thorofare. The cutthroat trout were thick like salmon, and I caught so many 17-18" cutthroats that it soon got tiring. At night wolves would howl, which would echo through the great valley there. I had my first grizzly encounter while hiking out... meeting up with a huge sow and two bouncy cubs way back in there. Over time perhaps I'll tell these stories... depending whether I'm really a "troll" or not. HA HA!
Another cool place here is called Two Ocean Pass, where Two Ocean Creek comes down off a mountain, hits a rock, and splits into two streams. One side becomes Atlantic Creek and makes its way to the Atlantic Ocean (MANY miles away), while the other side is called Pacific Creek and makes it's way into the Pacific drainage. I think it's the only spot in N. America where one creek eventually enters two oceans.
Some other places on the furthest from the trailhead list included the S.F. Flathead River in the Bob Marshall Wilderness (MT), where I promptly spent a fantastic 10 days, and some areas in the Frankly You Should Go To Church Wilderness. I also spent lots of time in the wild and rugged Selway Bitterroot Wilderness (that place rocks, amazing fishing for cutts, too!), Sawtooths, White Clouds, Swan Range, Wind Rivers (what beauty there!), Yellowstone NP (OooOOoo, I'll hafta tell you about Fairyland Basin some time!), Teton Wilderness, Bighorn Crags, and others throughout WY, MT, and ID. I don't say this ONE BIT to brag, but to hopefully share some cool places and photos where some of you may or might not have been. Heck, I can't brag, I live in the back of a garage! HA HA! There's certainly a price to pay for this stuff, like there is anything else. I chose to give up other things for this lifestyle, good, bad, or indifferent. I have no heat or air in this room and my fingers are FROZEN right now! But I like it. It's gonna be a two dog night tonight. If a bad earthquake hits right now, I'll be smashed by 16 sleeping bags and Therm-A-Rests which are towering over me right now. Okay, I doubt anyone made it down this far, if you did I will give you some cool schwag if we should ever meet. Adios.”
“Where's my schwag?”
language & translation, please.
“Buck, check out the fourth picture down in this report.Parting of the waters
I'd agree with you on the remoteness of parts of Yellowstone- the Bob Marshall, too. I did an 80 mile trip in there once and you're a long ways from nowhere.”
“Nice report, aero.”
“I was lucky enough to take a trip to yellowstone last year. Did not make it into this area. One day I will!
I want to Thank You Buck, for the wonderful pictures, I have really enjoyed them. I usually read the threads on a daily basis, but seldom post, You have to learn to get through the "crap" that some people post to get to the good stuff. I consider your pictures to be best thing to come along in a while..............Thanks Again for sharing.”
“Buck...get some heat, dude, so you can keep bringin on the great pics....”
“Schwag = really crappy marijuana”
“Thanks, ScorchFire. ”
“Hey aero, I just spent a while reading your FANTASTIC trip to the Parting of the Waters! It was an absolutely great report, I bookmarked that puppy! The Parting of the Waters is an incredible thing to see. I camped near the trail junction of that spur trail that leads to the Parting of the Waters. It was pretty late in the evening when I set up my camp, and I tried to find a spot that would seem the least obvious to a grizzly. Well, when I awoke in the morning, being able to see more clearly, I had inadvertently set up tent on a big pile of fresh, blond grizzly hair. I guess a grizzly had rolled around in that very spot, shedding like a dog. (gulp). Isn't it an entirely different experience when the sun goes down in heavy grizzly country? Yikes... every little sound in the dark forest brings a lump in the throat. Try doing that solo for a few weeks, YOWZA! Ha ha! I too started from Turpin Meadows, headed up the Buffalo Fork, over Two Ocean Pass, down Atlantic Creek and dropped into the Thorofare, and headed up Thorofare Creek. On the way back I went down Pacific Creek a ways and then to Enos Lake. I had one of the wildest evenings I've ever had at Enos Lake, I'll hafta report on that some day. I encountered a HUGE grizzly sow and two cubs in a big meadow just beyond Enos Lake. At first I thought it was a horse out there, it was so big. The playful cubs were bouncing in the tall meadow grass behind her, as she dug for roots. Thanks for your report, it was great, and hopefully I'll get some photos back up online of those trips and share them here.
Hey debbieb and Fritz, thanks for the compliments!
And as for as schwag, ha!, that's what we call "cool gear" that the reps hand out to us at our REI vendor clinics. We always judge a company, like The North Face, or Mountain Hardwear, or Marmot, or whatever company it is at the time, by the free schwag they give us for attending their clinic. GOOD STUFF! You want schwag.”
“As much as I would have liked to have written that report, I hope you don't think it's mine! It's from a guy at Montana State University in Bozeman who has that great site. It's full of some pretty interesting stuff on ultralight backpacking and many other reports.
I haven't done the Thorofare, but I have done a fair amount of winter backcountry trips in Yellowstone and a lot of summer trips in the Beartooths.”
“Ahhh... I see. I was thinking that was YOU who went back in there! Well, hey, I highly recommend it anyway! I take it, you being a Beartooth® fan, your name is derived from the Aero Lakes?”
“What state is Two Oceans Creek in?”
“Ahhh, Buck, you win the Kewpie Doll!”
“Canuck, this is in N.W. Wyoming.
aero, my own Kewpie Doll? You're just saying that? No way? YAAAAAA!!!!”
“Nice photos, Buck. I have to nominate the Picket range of the North Cascades, specifically Challenger Arm on the side of Mt. Challenger, as one of the most remote spot in the lower 48. To even see the Picket Range, you have to hike for 3 days. It takes 4 days to get to Mt. Challenger. The hike in includes a kind of scary class 3 or 4 move with exposure, usually with a 75 pound pack. Its called "Perfect Impasse" to go with an incredible beautiful "Perfect Pass", where you heave a sign of relief that you survived the approach.
When you get to Challenger Arm, you are so far away from civilization it is a different world. There is no trail in, it is all cross country after the first day. You have to cross crevasse fields on the Challenger glacier, and curcumnavigate about 180 degrees around the peak. This is the shortest way in.
Here is what one writer wrote about the area:
Mount Challenger stands as the northern anchor of the Picket Range of Washington State. This area is the most rugged and remote mountain wilderness in the lower 48 states (somewhat arguable, but not very) deep in the northern section of North Cascades National Park.
Challenger and the majority of the Picketts are not visible from any road and no trails offer particularly good views of the area. The climate is quite atrocious, probably the worst in all the Cascades. The valleys surrounding the Pickets are filled with wild and all but impenetrable temperate rainforest choked with brush and blowdown. The terrain is steep and cliffy from valley bottom to peak and the whole area is riddled with wildly disrupted glaciers calving off seracs to the valleys far below. There are no walk up routes in the Pickets. Here one must deal with the peaks on their own terms, over days of real hardship. All of this conspires to make climbing in the Pickets a unique, incredible, but challenging experience at best, and a full on epic at worst. The vibe here is very different than anywhere else in the Cascades. There are fewer climber's trails, more and rougher gound to cover, and less people.
Because of the remoteness, bad weather, and overall ruggedness, people are comparatively few here, although the area has become somewhat legendary and thus, everyone at least wants to go there. Few actually make it to the peaks though.
If all that sounds dark and gloomy, sorry, it's all true, but it's also true that a perfectly clear summit day anywhere in the Pickets, after the challenges of the approach have passed is pretty much climbing Nirvana for all the same reasons that make this place so challenging.”
“Here are sites which have some pics. My slides of this area are some that I want to get high quality scans of.
“Nice Buck. Thanks.”
“Hey Idaho Bob, thanks for that cool info! I checked the links you provided, that place sounds incredible! I haven't explored much in the North Cascades much, although I can't wait to do so.
Trying to define "remoteness" is a tough thing. The Thorofare is the most "remote" place in the lower 48 as far as distance from any trailhead, but when you hit that place during the cutthroat spawn (the cutts come up from Yellowstone Lake to the headwaters of the Yellowstone River to spawn, it's an amazing thing to be there during this time), or are there during the fall elk season, the outfitter camps are everywhere. So it's not very "remote" in terms of lack of people, that's for sure. There are some places I bushwhacked to deep in the Bitterroots where I'd bet I could spend many summers without seeing another soul. I love those kinds of places. Thanks again for this Picket Range info!”
“My son spent this past summer working at Yellowstone and backpacked a lot, he had some pictures of this area, but not anything like the quality of yours. I packed a little with him when I dropped him off in May, did Electric Peak, Bunson Peak.
I read the threads daily, but seldom post, but I felt I needed to thank you for your photography, and comments. They are outstanding, best thing to hit this board in a long time.”
“Buck, what the hell are you doing, giving away my secrets of Wyoming?
This is no place to be talking about backpacking anyway. You are to only talk about religion, politics and guns, not neccessarily in that order.
Now go on and quit telling these people lies about Wyoming. Send them to New Jerset or someplace really wild, like Pennsylvania.”
“What Chief said!”
“Wyoming sucks, it's all flat prairies with a few bumps in the northwest corner. Damn it's cold there. The chicks are ugly too. If you step out of your vehicle, prepared to have your face ripped off by a grizzly bear. It's Dick Cheney country. The place is infested with oil rigs. They have built a roller coaster around the Grand Tetons, it looks like Disneyland now with even longer lines. They replaced all the animals in Yellowstone with animatronics, and the sewage system there is so bad that the only time Old Faithful spouts off is when someone flushes the toilet. In fact it's gotten so bad I heard Wyoming is planning to trade Yellowstone National Park for Dry Tortugas National Park in 2004. The Wind Rivers are windy as hell, you don't wanna go anywhere near there unless you're seriously into speed-parasailing. WYOMING SUCKS! I would support a measure to have Wyoming kicked out of the United States of America. Yes, it's that bad. I'm serious, man, don't go there.”
The most remote spot in the lower 48
“That would have to be my ex-girlfriend's G-spot, no contest. Never could hit that damn thing. Maybe that's why she's the ex-girlfriend.”
“Great idea for a thread!
Be warned, I'm taking notes!
It's not near as far from civilization, but all the same the Cow Creek Basin in the San Juan range in Colorado is pretty remote.
Coming in from the top, the lowest pass is 12k, and you have a two to four hundred foot rappel to get below the falls east of Blackwall Mountain at 10,300'. Unless you are sure you can put up a new route in crumbly San Juan rock, you better plan on reversing the ingress, ascending that same rap with full packs on the way out.
It's not "Officially Questionable Grizzly Territory" like some areas just south of there are, but a lot of the locals think old grizz is hiding in there, some having seen dinner plate paw prints 3 feet above their heads....while sitting on a 16 hand horse.
Coming in from the bottom you'd have to deal with no trail in a 1500' deep narrow slot canyon for three miles that gains about 2000' and drains roughly 170 square miles of area known for its legendary electrical storms. You have some rough 4 wheeling to get to either jump-off point.
I haven't made it down to the valley floor yet, just nibbled around the edges because hikers don't like rope and climbers don't like heavy packs at altitude, and I've had to solo each time. There's some pictures at:
It's a fair sized download, so if you're on dial-up, start it and go for coffee.”
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