Johnson County High Point Trip Report

Date: July 1999
Author: John Bernhisel

We ventured into the Beautiful Cloud Peak Wilderness Area to climb Cloud Peak. I must warn you that we are ultra-marathon runners. We drove to the West Ten-Sleep trail head and took off carrying fanny packs with sandwiches, Snicker Bars and water bottles. We jogged and walked the first 5-6 miles to Misty Moon Lake in about an hour and a half. We were getting pretty cocky. It was only 7:30 in the morning and we were about half the distance to the summit. I must say that the series of three lakes, Helen, Marion and Misty Moon are the most beautiful in the world.

After a 10 minute break at Misty Moon we continued on. The trail starts to get steeper and then crosses a ridge into a different watershed. Our maps were pretty poor and if we hadn't run into some other hikers we might have not known where to turn off the trail. We dropped into a deep canyon before beginning the real assent. For the next 6 miles you spend most of your time on fields of huge boulders the size of Volkswagens, hopping from rock to rock as you climb. It is never real steep and not dangerous other than from taking a bad step. We never had to tie on or anything that extreme.

The one thing that was for sure is that is wasn't trail running. There is plenty of water from melting snow. Even in late July. It took us about 45 minutes to cover each mile. There was one false peak that we kept focusing on only to realize that we still had quite a ways to go. We finally hit the summit about noon. We spend about 30 minutes at the top and enjoyed a spectacular view for hundreds of miles. It was a crystal clear day.

My motivation for taking the trip was that the next weekend I took a group of 10 boy scouts up. We camped at Misty Moon and Day-hiked to the summit and camped again at Misty Moon. About 3 kids in the group couldn't handle the difficulty (they were completely out of shape) but we had several 11 and 12 year old boys that managed the trip.

My favorite thing to think about climbing this mountain is that besides being the highest point in the Big Horn Mountains it is also the edge of the great plains. If you stand at the top of Cloud Peak and look northeast the next highest mountain (if you could see that far) would be the Swiss Alps about 5,000 miles away. The Black Hills nor the Appalachian Mountains are even half as high. In all a beautiful trip with lots of good water and excellent views. I'd say moderate difficulty. If I can answer any question for anyone please feel free to e-mail me.