Mountain moments: Trek off Beaten Path supplies solitude

The black bear appeared to swim 300 yards across the mountain lake with little effort.

When we cheered it with hoots, hollers and clapping after it successfully reached the opposite shore, the startled bruin sprinted 100 yards up a 45-degree slope before slowing to catch its breath. What a display of athleticism.

The animal was a welcome sign, which may sound odd for people who like to avoid bruins, but my buddy and I had hiked long and hard over two days to get away from humans. The black bear was a sign we may have succeeded.

Audra Bintz and John Jenkins pack out of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness after hauling in gear for a trail crew.

Brett French Beaten Path

On the first day of our journey I counted 60 people on the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness trail we were huffing up. This was on a weekday. That many hikers and trail crew workers seemed a bit excessive, even for a route known as the Beaten Path.

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