Beartooth Run, 2017
Red Lodge, MT
July 13, 2017
As mentioned in the previous post, of the Fargo crew I was the only one to return to Red Lodge. We had originally planned to pack up, head back up the pass, camp in Yellowstone, then in Livingston, MT, eventually making our way to Helena to visit my old Army buddy who lives there. However some urgent tasks came up at work and I needed to stay put for a few days to power through them. As it turned out, there couldn't have been a better place to be "stranded" then Red Lodge :-) Great Internet, excellent coffee, good food, really nice people, and a quiet environment where I could concentrate.
One of the first things you notice about Red Lodge when you come into town is the strong feel of a western mountain town. Riding up and down Broadway (the main street in town) is a total pleasure:
Red Lodge really reminded us of Boulder, CO when it was smaller and quieter (i.e., in the 1970s). There's also a bit of the feel that Leadville, CO has. Needless to say, we instantly felt at home here :-)
The picture above was from the 8th, after I came down from Beartooth Pass. While in town, we regrouped, looked at some maps, picked a campground that looked nice, ate, got supplies, and headed up into the mountain valley that West Fork Rock Creek runs through.
After a few miles of paved roads, we passed Basin Campground and promptly hit dirt and gravel. Some of the worst washboards I've ever experienced:
After three miles of that, we found Cascade Campground:
We ended up with a site reserved for walk-ins – amazingly, they selected the best site in the campground for this. This was made an even more welcome gift, since it was to be our home for the next week.
We enjoyed the hammocks during the day, but the nights were too chilly in the mountains for anything other than our tent.
We were surrounded by incredible beauty, even in the face of huge tracts of forest land slowly recovering from the devastation of a massive fire 8 years ago.
We had our breakfast and evening meals here, relaxed in the sun by the river after work, and absorbed the goodness of the land. What's more, the campground hosts were an amazing couple from Minnesota with whom we quickly became friends.
Great Coffee and Internet
Every morning I'd take the support vehicle into town and get to work:
Without deviation, I'd make bee-line for Coffee Factory Roasters where I'd have one of several cappuccinos, a breakfast sandwich, eating and drinking while I got online. The smell of the coffee roasting wafted down Broadway, and you couldn't help but be drawn in by the incredible aroma. I ended up buying some roasted beans, too :-) (The Rocky Mountain Espresso blend and the Snakebite roast ... mmmm.)
I'd spend all day there, buying coffee and food, working and feeling well-supported by the friendly staff. At the end of the week, they had asked if we were thinking of moving there – I was definitely sorely tempted!
We were constantly stocking up on food, beer, ice, and firewood. The Beartooth Market had everything we needed and the prices were very reasonable. I also made several stops at the Sylvan Peak Mountain Shop and tried to limit purchases to just the essentials, despite being met with one of the best-stocked small-town hiking and camping stores I've ever seen. That being said, cook-stove fuel and freeze-drive meals did have to make room for a few gifts I picked up :-) Also: one of the employees there makes trips out to Nepal on a regular basis, which is where the Tibetan prayer flags come from which decorate the outside of the store.
Tomorrow we head out and continue our journey, but this time heading back east. I can't recommend Red Lodge enough, should you have the chance to visit – and hopefully for more than a day! On your way out of town, be sure to keep you eyes open for this friendly guy: