Story and photos by Chloe Nostrant Explore Big Sky Contributor
At 3 a.m., it was snowing.
I was cold and tired, and so was everyone else in camp. I just need to make it
through breakfast, and then back to bed, I thought to myself.
After three weeks working in a backcountry hunting camp, I should have been
used to the early starts, but it was just getting harder.

We cooked everything from scratch, even the bread. I somehow was able to
make bread in a snowstorm in a tent, but now at my house, I can’t get the
yeast to rise properly. We made crème brûlée the last night, using a propane
torch made for lighting lanterns.
One morning, I went out to heat up the showers before the hunters returned,
only to encounter a black bear at 20 feet. That night, a pack of wolves came
into the horse pasture 200 yards from our tent. As they howled under the full
moon, it was terrifying and powerful – just from their calls, I could tell how big
they were.
Chopping wood, I’ve learned, is much harder than it looks, but I also now
know that it’s kind of a science.
The Lee Metcalf Wilderness’s valleys are deep, and its forests lush. In my
three weeks there, I experienced more wild, untamed nature than in all of my
19 years combined.