We ushered out summer with a wet, spectacular hike up the Middle Fork of the Judith, and welcomed fall with a hike in the Middle Fork Teton.
The Judith hike was a reminder of the beauty of the Middle Fork of the Judith Wilderness Study Area and the 40-year futility of trying to get this area into designated wilderness. The Teton hike was a reminder of what we lost in not putting that area into the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage bill's wilderness category in 2014.
Both days the skies were hazy with Oregon/California smoke, but the colorful autumnal ground cover, reds, oranges, greens and yellows, more than made up for the obscured views.
On Monday, the last day of summer, we hiked from the Judith Guard Station in the Little Belts a couple of miles in the Middle Fork Judith through towering canyons whose walls are pock-marked with caves. The ground cover was glorious. We saw no one else and we hiked as far as the major stream crossings where the ORVs come in from the Woodchopper Ridge, muddying the stream and killing fish. Wilderness advocates have been trying to close this stream to these quads and the Forest Service is preparing a plan to do so. The motorized use there is contentious and one of the reasons the area hasn't been designated as wilderness yet.
Then, on Tuesday, we walked from the Cave Mountain Campground on the Teton River Road up the Middle Fork Trail toward Route Creek Pass. The colors were exceptional.
The only evidence of the Gulch is a small path. About 100 feet along this trace there's an old sign marking the gulch. There's tons of deadfall along this trace, a disincentive for following it. I think I'll come back in the winter and try skiing it.