PART ONE

After our new found love for hiking and backpacking, we decided to take a trip to the Beartooth Mountains in Montana to backpack through the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness. We took the trip in July as this is one of the slower summer months for wedding photography. I just had such a good feeling about this trip after our last backpacking adventure through the Grand Canyon went so perfectly. I actually had been to the Beartooth Mountains once before with my good friend Annie, and we hiked this beautiful trail that I could not for the life of me remember the name of. I scoured the internet to find the trail I thought we went on and when we pulled up the the trailhead, it was definitely not the hike we had been on. We drove around the area looking for a bit, and finally gave up decided to hike the trail that I thought was the one my friend and I had been on and I am so glad we did!

Since we arrived at the trailhead late Friday in the evening, we set up camp in the woods right outside the trailhead and made dinner and had a fire and planned to hike in in the morning. In the morning on Saturday, we hiked the Lake Fork Trail in Custer National Forest which leads to a gorgeous lake called Lost Lake. The hike in was so beautiful. It was heavily wooded with lush green trees along a rocky, running stream. The hike in was all uphill which made hauling our heavy backpacks in a workout, but the hike out was so much easier. Lost Lake was more beautiful than I could’ve ever imagined based off of the pictures I have seen. The water was so still and reflected all the trees and mountains around it like glass mirror. We set up camp close to the lake and laid around in our tree hammocks reading and relaxing. We filtered water from the lake for drinking and cooking and I of course showered in the lake although that mountain water is freezing!

On Sunday, which was also Brady’s birthday, we hiked up climbing a rocky side of the mountain to get a bird’s eye view overlooking the lake and it was breathtaking seeing it all from above. The sun was starting to go down along the horizon of the mountains, so we waited for the sunset in hopes of getting some sunset pictures. We laid on this giant rock waiting and it got darker, but the sunset didn’t produce much, so we decided to head back to our campsite.

Right as we were about to leave, Brady suggested taking a picture of me looking at the mountains similar to a few taken earlier that day. He kept telling me to hold my pose, when I felt a tug on the bottom of my sweatshirt; wondering what he was doing, I turned around to find him kneeling down on one knee with a ring in his hand proposing to me!! Of course I said YES and was literally speechless. Words can’t describe how amazing and special his proposal was to me. Especially if you would have seen what I looked like after multiple days of camping and using the lake as my shower. If he could propose to me when I looked like that, he is a good man haha! This was the perfect place to get engaged, doing what we love in the middle of the gorgeous wilderness.

On our hike out on Monday which was also the Fourth of July, it was down pouring rain and we were soaked carrying all our gear and I was still just as happy as ever because nothing could’ve ruined that day. We drove back to Bismarck on the fourth in time to spend the evening with my family watching fireworks and celebrating our engagement. This trip makes me smile ear to ear when I think about it and was even better than I could’ve ever imagined. I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with this man and adventure around the world with him.

PART TWO

The Beartooth mountains mean more to my husband and I than probably most people. As some of you might know, we got engaged there on a rock overlooking a lake tucked deep in the forest. To say my husband did a good job on the proposal is an understatement. Yes we were dirty from hiking, backpacking, and camping in the wild, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I joke that if Brady can ask me to marry him while I was looking like that, he has a heart of gold haha! We always knew that we would make it back to Lost lake, and this summer I had a weekend off from weddings and to my surprise Brady said we should go. He isn’t much of a planner, or committer for that matter, so this was huge haha! We packed up all our gear in our backpacking packs, this time bringing a little less. We hiked the five miles into Lost Lake via the Lake Fork Trail which is ten miles out and back.The trail is located in Custer Gallatin National Forest. The hike in follows a beautiful creek with rushing water backdropped by gorgeous mountains. The trails winds through a luscious forest and it’s pretty private without seeing a whole lot of people along the way. When we first arrived to the lake, we were one of the only campers there. After having been to many very populated national parks, there’s nothing Brady and I love more than being alone without tons of tourists around.

We set up camp near the side of the lake where we got engaged so we’d be close to catch the sunset. During the two day stay we hiked up the mountain above Lost Lake, and around the parameter of the lake. We lounged in our tree hammocks, sat around the fire, played cards, and caught sunset at our rock where Brady proposed. We noticed while trying to take a photo together on the rock, that it is shaped like a pelican, so we named is Pelican Rock. The sunset was spectacular and we got a beautiful cotton candy sky. I enjoyed laying in our hammocks watching the sun go down over the lake behind the mountains most. Since Lost Lake is not a designated campground, there is no fresh water or bathrooms. Brady and I enjoy truly being out the wild and having to experience no commodities such as cell service. There’s something about being detached from all the regular comforts we know, that really make you not only grateful for what you have everyday, but is also so peaceful. Since there’s no fresh water and it would be too heavy to carry it in beings you need it for drinking and cooking, we use a water purification filter that we put into the lake and then we can pump fresh water. We use a tiny gas stove for cooking and have collapsible pots, cups, bowls, and silverware. We also have a very light, compact backpacking tent, sleeping bags, and chairs. We bring in bagged food, dried fruit, granola bars, and nuts. I typically shower in the lake, although getting in is quite a challenge with mountain water being so cold.

Brady is a master at building fires and even built us a fire ring of boulders. He uses a manual hand saw to cut wood for the fires. We drank hot chocolate and just enjoyed being together. It was really special to come back to this place and to share it all over again with the one I love most.

 

9/15/19

BEARTOOTH MOUNTAINS // MONTANA

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY STACY BOHL WITH ILY STUDIOS