Beartooth Plateau

butterflymomok(7a NE OK)August 14, 2011

Tomorrow is departure or "D" day. I still have lots of packing to do. The knees are cranky. But, I'm ready for cool temps, mountains, and wildflower meadows. I wish I would be able to post during the trip, but a lot of the accomodations don't have WIFI. In fact, phone service at the Top of the World cabins isn't dependable.

I have a wonderful document from Larry outlining places to visit and species to look for. The weather has been cool all summer so there is still a lot of unmelted snow. Just hoping the butterflies haven't been scared off by the late seasons.

Best of all, my husband Mike, his sister and brother-in-law will be traveling together. We are looking forward to this family time. The future holds uncertainties.

I will check in when I return and share photos.


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Have a safe and wonderful trip Sandy. I hope you get to see that "one" butterfly you really want to see.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 11:01AM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Those cool temps sound heavenly!
Have fun, Sandy!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 12:56PM
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May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun.
And find your shoulder to light on.
To bring you luck, happiness and riches.
Today, tomorrow and beyond.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 1:39PM
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What a beautiful photo, Larry!

And, Sandy, you know my heart is with you during your trip, wishing I could go. I hope I get to welcome the Monarchs as they travel South soon. At least I hope we are not bereft of them this season, with the drought and all.


    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 7:56PM
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Well, Sandy is off today for Jackson Hole. Thought maybe you folks would like seeing where she'll be searching for new to her species/subspecies of leps.

After doing some areas I told her about around and in Grand Teton and Yellowstone Nat'l Parks, maybe a side trip to Brooks Lake, she'll start up Highway 212 to the plateau. I gave her sites from Cooke City to Rock Canyon, down off the plateau after the Scenic Overlook and just before the Red Lodge Ski Area. This map also shows where The Top of the World Store is that they'll stay in for four nights while doing the plateau.

Appartently the season is very late up there this year, with lots of snow still on the ground. Some snow and snow storms are common anytime on the BTP though and the leps do tollerate it just fine. So she'll probably see the spring or early summer fliers, but may be too early this year for the hoardes of summer species. Regardless I know they will have a good time, and the country is beautiful even if without the endless flow of leps and wildflowers.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2011 at 12:39PM
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bob_71(z7 MD)

I wish success for you! Just being there is a blessing!


    Bookmark   August 15, 2011 at 5:18PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

That looks fabulous, Larry!

I assume from its name that bears live in Beartooth Plateau. Would they be grizzly bears?


    Bookmark   August 15, 2011 at 5:48PM
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I've never been that far West in Montana, but have been to the Custer National Forest, going North from the Windriver Canyon in Wyoming. Driving thru there at cloud line was phenomenal!

Wyoming is beautiful, so is Montana!


    Bookmark   August 15, 2011 at 9:27PM
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The Windriver's are another exceptional place for lepidoptera, with it's own list of rare species and where the leps fly in huge numbers. Out of Pinedale, both Elkhart Park/Trails End and the Green River Lakes are two especially good spots for a lot of lep species/subspecies. I've spent several weeks in that area over the years hiking the backcountry for leps, and the trout fishing is great too. Anybody who deosn't like western MT and WY can't be right in the head. LOL

The Beartooth Mountains and Plateau derives their names from a sharp, glacial carved spire that the Apsaalooke Native American's (Crow) called Na piet say (bear's tooth). It's part of the Absaroka range that was named by the Lakota Sioux NA's for the Crow's that lived there (the children of the large-beaked bird). The Bear's Tooth is along the Nez Perce Nee-Me-Poo Trail that Chief Josepth lead his people along to escape the Army in the late 1870's. It's just across Rock Canyon from the West Summit on the map. This portion of the Beartooth Mountains is appropriately named the Spirit Mountains (12,290'), and remains sacred to todays NA's. In the picture below, Mt Rearguard is on the left with The Bears Tooth next to it.

Yes there are a lot of bears on the plateau, especially grizzlies now that they are seldom down in Yellowstone. But as I advised Sandy, they seldom hang close around the Bicentennial Highway due to the regular traffic on it in the summer months. So unless she hikes some distance away from it she probably won't run into any. During our three summers up there we did hike the wilderness backcountry often (sometimes staying out one or two nights) and had many encouters with grizzlies and a few with blacks. Most were well inside their minimal comfort zone (about 50 yards), some were within 10'-15' where I had to get between my wife/son and the grizzly to give my family a chance to back out of the immediate danger zone. The balcks i just ran off. From living and working around bears all my life in the Rockies (and having been mauled once by a grizzly), I was confident in my ability to read and understand their intentions and how to react to them to defuse the situation. More often than not it is a bluff unless cubs are present AND if you don't push the wrong buttons. IOW, yelling at and charging a grizzly at close quarters is TW0 wrong buttons pushed (but works on most blacks). So they all worked out OK, I never had to unholster the 44MAG with special "bear" ammo I always wore, and nobody ended up any worse for the encounters.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2011 at 2:54AM
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You must be a great story teller because I always want to hear more. Mauled by a grizzly and lived to tell about it? What on earth happened?

    Bookmark   August 16, 2011 at 3:31PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

OMG!! Mauled by a grizzly! You're lucky to be alive, Larry! I've been seeing stories lately on the news about people who weren't as lucky as you.

The scenery is gorgeous, but at that altitude I don't know if I could breathe. I have asthma with my tests always showing an 80% of normal air flow (with treatment) so thin mountain air would be a problem. Over 12,000' altitude is very high in my book - I got a nose bleed when we rode the Blue Ridge Parkway in 1975, and what's that, 3,000' or so?

I bet Sandy has lots of pictures to post when she gets back, 'sure hope so, anyway.

The blue color of those mountains is stunning!


    Bookmark   August 16, 2011 at 4:25PM
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Extremely lucky, even if it was a very mild mauling. I was not bitten a single time, and only got a couple of cuts from claws and a few bruises. It was over so fast we both came out of it OK and was probably just a case of mistaken indentity or curiousity as the young gizzly didn't act threatened. It actually didn't rattle me too bad. I'd seen a couple of big males in the area the evening before, so half expected an encounter was possible.

I could relate a lot of far too close encounters with bears and other creatures that can hurt/kill you, starting from my very early childhood on the ranch, a life time in the YNP area and at our family cabin near Island Park, and on my travels. Some of them were a serious spin of the dice, but they are beyond the scope of this thread.

However, just a few weeks ago a man hiking the backcountry in YNP with his wife was killed by a female grizzly when they got too close to her and her cubs. I'd bet he put himself between his wife and the bears just as I did for my ex, son or friends many times, and either puched the wrong buttons or she was already riled past the point of no return. Since the bear only acted to protect her cubs, she was not destroyed. Outside the park another man was killed and a couple others mauled in their camp at night. That female was killed as it was an unproked attack. Last human death by bear inside YNP was back in 1986, although some people have been mauled but not killed in between. There's just not a lot of bears in Yellowstone anymore, so far less numbers of encounters like I remember from the 50's and 60's especially in the park. Outside the park is another story... the bears had to go someplace.

But like I said, Sandy should be just fine as she won't be able to venture too far from the highway. And she went well prepared to take lots of pictures, so it will be fun for me especially to reminisce them with her when she gets back.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2011 at 7:28PM
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