Bighorn Mountains – Rich in History and Solitude


Sheridan, Wyoming

This week’s Travel Tuesday could probably be called a Throwback Thursday post… except it’s not Thursday…

Over forty years ago, a friend from college and I headed west from North Dakota to Wyoming carrying only camping gear, a tent and a desire to spend a week in the wilderness in an area where motorized vehicles are forbidden to enter. That week in the wilderness is indelibly etched in my memory as one of the great adventures of my life. These days, my idea of roughing it is finding no refrigerator in the hotel room.

Recently I decided to commit all of my printed images to digital. I’ve been doing a lot of scanning to make that happen. In the process, I discovered an envelope of 4×6 color prints that I’d taken on that backpacking trip. Flipping through the images brought the memories of that trip back, and I knew I would be sharing these photographs.

Even though the photos have been stored in a dry, dark place in their original processing envelope, they definitely exhibit some color change and some fade. It became a challenge to restore them to images that I would enjoy sharing. Adobe Lightroom came to the rescue. I like the vintage look that remained after bringing back as much color and sharpness as Lightroom could drag out of these 600 dpi image scans.

Our home by the lake for the week.

Our home by the lake for the week.

The Bighorn National Forest is 189,000 acres, (Over 200,000 sq km), of alpine meadows, crystal lakes, mountains and glacial valleys. Our early summer departure from eastern North Dakota meant a late spring weather pattern in the high country. The tallest peak in the range is Cloud Peak, at 13,167 feet (4013.3 m). The  highest ground doesn’t shed it’s snow cover until July. The one remaining glacier lives on the east side of this peak. Backpacking into the wilderness area is a popular activity. In the early 1980s, we met only a handful of other people. Today thousands of backpackers visit the area annually to hike the more than 100 miles of trails. Even so, the area is vast. I doubt you will rub elbows with too many other visitors. For those who wish a less demanding visit, cabins and resort-style services are available. You can find information about the park and its facilities here.


A crystal clear mountain lake.

These prints were missing their original negatives when I re-discovered them. At that time, I had a 35-mm SLR, but I don’t even remember the brand. In school, I’d used Pentax cameras, so I suspect that is what I owned, but it may have been a Nikon. The only info on the paper is that it was stamped with the Kodak logo.

Bringing out the best in the faded prints forced me to learn some new tricks in Lightroom. A couple of articles online and a YouTube video on removing haze with lightroom came in handy with a couple of images taken early in the hazy mountain morning. It was a hike down memory lane for me to review the images and find a half-dozen favorites to share with you in this gallery. For me, the Bighorn Mountains became the trip of a lifetime.

4 thoughts on “Bighorn Mountains – Rich in History and Solitude

    • Finding those old photos reminded me how beautiful it is. I’d love to retrace some of the trails we walked then. There’s no way I can remember any of the specifics, but it’s on my list to take another look. Thanks for your comment.

  1. Pingback: But I Digress… Throwback Thursday | Journeys with Johnbo

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