Skiing to Hogan Cabin Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest Montana December 24-26, 2015
In typical backpacker fashion, I did my solemn duty of taking off the Thursday before a federal holiday falling on a Friday to schedule a two-night trip followed by a day of rest. A stroke of good fortune allowed me to book Christmas Eve and Christmas night at a small, rustic Forest Service rental cabin in the mountains of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest . . . read more at TrailGroove Magazine:
Upper Miner Lake, Rock Island Lakes and Little Lake Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest Montana September 3-6, 2015
Labor Day Weekend usually means crowded trailheads and fairweather backpackers fitting in their last trips of the year, but that’s no reason not to plan a trip and take advantage of the extra day off work. Just something to plan around. I’d chosen a somewhat remote area of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest for a three-night trip in an attempt to lose some of the crowds, but I think the forecast did most of the work in ensuring me a good shot at solitude. Depending on the elevation, the forecast for Thursday to Sunday called for rain, snow, thunderstorms (or a mix of all three) and highs between 45 and 60 degrees. Lows would be dipping below freezing at the higher elevations. Not an ideal forecast by any means, but not miserable enough to completely cancel the trip. As the Scandinavian saying goes, “No such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.”Continue reading →
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 →
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 →
Fred Burr Canyon (Bikepacking)
Bitterroot National Forest
March 13-14, 2015
I’ve found few things in life as instantly gratifying as getting on a bicycle loaded with backpacking gear on a sunny spring afternoon and pedaling toward the proverbial “hills”. On this particular trip, the Bitterroot Mountains served as the definition of “hills”. Last year it was the Cumberland Plateau of eastern Kentucky. Different locations, same overwhelming sense of joy and freedom that comes with transporting yourself through and to a beautiful landscape and staying for a while. Pedal along . . .
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 →