Big Creek Lakes Trail to Unnamed Lake Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Bitterroot National Forest, Montana May 21-24, 2015
As a backpacker, few things are as gratifying as when a trip that looks good on paper exceeds expectations to such a degree that it barely resembles the trip you planned. The type of trip where for days afterward your soul glows with the deep, slowly dissipating pleasure of the experience before it fades and becomes internalized and eternalized in memory. The type of trip where you laugh out loud at how woefully unable we are to describe the overwhelming beauty of Nature; its subtlety and majesty. They type of trip that happens with a level of frequency somewhere between rare and seldom, perhaps just often enough to ensure it is never taken for granted. I was fortunate enough to have this type of trip in late May on a three-night solo backpacking trek to an unnamed lake in the Bitterroot Mountains. Continue reading →
Blodgett Canyon Trail Bitterroot National Forest, Montana May 1-2, 2015
A mere two weeks after my previous backpacking trip in Blodgett Canyon, I found myself returning for an overnight trip with my good friend John. Time constraints prevented us from venturing past the five-mile mark up the canyon, but an excellent campsite prevented us from feeling anything remotely close to disappointment. Situated out of sight of the trail, we pitched our tents in a grove of pine trees amidst scattered beds of glacier lilies. Not only was nature’s thermometer set to “Paradise” for our trip, but the wildflowers were near peak, a nearby waterfall rushed with snowmelt, and we caught glimpses of a moose on the trail and elk on the edge of our camp. Not a bad introduction to Montana backpacking for John, especially considering that step-for-step the first five miles of the Blodgett Canyon Trail are some of the most stunning and charming of any path that I’ve had the pleasure of treading.
Sevenmile Meadow Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Bitterroot National Forest, Montana April 17-19, 2015
Although it received only the briefest of mentions in “Hiking the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness”, Sevenmile Meadow in Blodgett Canyon proved to be an exceptionally scenic destination for a relaxed two-night backpacking trip in the Bitterroot Mountains. With the high country still snowbound and creeks swollen with snowmelt from the middle elevations — but our eagerness for backpacking bordering on madness — it took some careful planning for my friend Chris and I to plan a trip that would be achievable and enjoyable. Certain criteria had to be met. No unbridged stream crossings, no elevations above 5,500 feet or so, no shaded canyons with limited sunlight, and so on and so forth. Continue reading →
Welcome Creek Trail Welcome Creek Wilderness Lolo National Forest, Montana March 27-29, 2015
When a guidebook describes an area as “a little-used mountain gem” and the Forest Service website states that “overnight backpackers are few and far between” it piques my interest. Add in a captivating cultural history of Native American habitation, gold mining and outlaws, and the appeal grows. Combine that with easy access via a low elevation road and it becomes irresistible to an eager backpacker who is only a 90-minute drive away. A dayhike with a friend in the Welcome Creek Wilderness the previous weekend whetted my appetite for the area and its rushing creeks and rugged canyons, so I planned a two-night backpacking trip to the area in an attempt to satiate it. Continue reading →
Known for its classic cross-country ski trails and charming warming hut, the Chief Joseph Pass area is also an ideal destination for multi-day cross-country ski tours. After looking at maps and getting advice from people familiar with the area, I decided to attempt an ambitious loop using a combination of the groomed and ungroomed roads and trails. On a sunny Saturday afternoon in mid-February I skied out Broadway with my winter backpacking gear, food for three days and a camera on my hip. Continue reading →
May Creek Trail (cross-country skiing) Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest January 17-18, 2015
Beauty and Pleasure. Indifference and Power. Nature seems to have the inimitable ability to demonstrate these concepts in their most pure form; in their essence. While I’d dipped my toe into this notion on previous trips over the years, I experienced complete submersion on this particular cross-country skiing trip in the mountains of Montana. I can speculate on reasons why, but an accurate definition or explanation is beyond my combined abilities of observation and expression. Maybe next time. Maybe never. No harm in the pursuit. Ski along . . .
Mill Creek Canyon Trail Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, Bitterroot National Forest January 10-11, 2015
Another weekend, another canyon. I had ambitious plans to hike five miles up Mill Canyon on the Mill Creek Trail, then connect with the trail leading to Hauf Lake, which is described in a guidebook as being “a brutally steep trail 2.0 mile long trail that is better suited for mountain goats than people”, and camp at the lake. I didn’t end up making it Hauf Lake, but my consolation prize was spending my first night in the 1.3 million acre Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness.Head down the trail . . .
Blodgett Creek Trail Bitterroot National Forest January 3-4, 2015
Shortly before noon on the first Saturday of the new year I found myself at the trailhead for Blodgett Creek Trail. Unlike my last trip, I wasn’t skiing in to a luxuriously rustic cabin for the night. Instead, I was hiking into the mouth of a canyon that stretched over a dozen miles to the Continental Divide. This would be my first time camping in such a large amount of snow, so I came prepared. Snowshoes strapped to the pack, snow shovel stowed inside, extra-thick top and bottom wool layers for camp in addition to my usual mid-weight wool baselayer, thin fleece pull-over, hooded down jacket, liquid-fuel stove and a back-up canister stove, water filter and extra fuel to melt snow . . . you get the picture. So much for “lightweight”.Continue reading →
After years of posting trip reports and commentary on outdoor recreation to various internet forums, it seemed like a good idea to collect those various writings in a central location rather than leave them scattered across the internet. As the title suggests, these pieces of writing are focused on backpacking, hiking, bicycling, or a combination thereof.
I would like for this blog to primarily serve as a repository for past and future trip reports, with occasional opinion and commentary pieces. Past trip reports are located on the “Trip reports” page and and past general opinions and commentary on various issues related to outdoor recreation are on the “Commentary” page. This will be done whenever I get the time and inclination to copy and paste the content from the various corners of the internet from which they currently reside. Right now, 2014 is the only complete year. Commentary will be a bit slower to come, as a lot of my commentary was located on Backpacker magazine’s “old” forums which are no longer available.
New trip reports and commentary will be posted here (“Basecamp”) as well on the appropriate subpage.
The majority of past trip reports and commentary are related to the Southeast in general and the Cumberland Plateau (specifically the Red River Gorge) in particular. All of these originally appeared on kywilderness.com or the Backpacker magazine forums and are re-published here with minor edits and revisions.
Future trip reports will most likely be from the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana and nearby locations.
The “Gear” page consists of me waxing nostalgic about various pieces of gear and clothing with some comments on their technical merits.
The “Photoessays” page contains photoessays about various landforms and landscapes.
For general background information, please check out the “Bio” page.
It is my sincere hope that the pieces of writing on this website will be entertaining, inspiring, humorous and perhaps even intellectually stimulating at times.