Abandoned Fire Tower Public Land Northwest United States December 31, 2015 – January 2, 2016
It is one thing to conceptually understand that you have the gear to bivy at 7,500 feet in the Northern Rockies with a forecast of six degrees below zero. It is another thing entirely to find yourself in circumstances where you end up having to do exactly that. And it was in such circumstances that I found myself on the last night of 2015. Perhaps I shouldn’t have turned down that invitation to a New Year’s Eve party after all.
I left home that morning later than I would’ve liked and drove for more than five minutes but less than five hours to the trailhead. Montana, Idaho, Washington, Wyoming . . . all within striking distance given the equation of time and space using motorized transportation. Discretion is the better part of many things in life, including keeping special places special by not indiscriminately broadcasting their details on the Internet. Hoisting my pack and stepping into snowshoes shortly after noon, I began what would be one of the most challenging hikes I’ve ever had the joy of undertaking.
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:
Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest Montana October 7-11, 2015
Hiking from one beautiful place to another on pleasant and well-maintained trails is a great way to spend five days. Doing so with a good friend and cooperative weather makes a great experience even better. Throw in a few synchronous strokes of good fortune and you end up with an incredibly rewarding and memorable adventure. Continue reading →
East Fork Bitterroot River Trail Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness Bitterroot National Forest, Montana June 5-7, 2015
As much as I would like to write a lengthy and reflective trip report about this two-night trip into the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness, I’m going to stick to a “just the facts” approach this time around. With another trip coming up this weekend (June 19-20), and likely another trip the following weekend, I risk falling behind on documenting my backpacking trips if I neglect putting fingers to keyboard. I suppose even the most cursory narrative is better than no narrative at all. And after the lengthy Big Creek Lakes Trail to Unnamed Lakes trip report it might be a nice change of pace to maintain a more focused approach to writing about backpacking rather than exploring mental side-trails every few sentences.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 →
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 →
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 . . .
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.