If you have ventured outside in the last few weeks, you probably noticed something happened to the winter: it ended. Although many people do not enjoy the cold winter, for the avid outdoorsman it is a chance to partake in some of most enjoyable sports out there. Every year as summer rolls around, I find myself continuing to cling to the winter season, probably even to a fault.
As this summer made its inevitable debut about three weeks ago, I found myself particularly lost and for some reason was having trouble coping. For Memorial Day weekend, I was quite perturbed when I set out to go backcountry skiing, first to Sacajawea Peak and second to Bridger Bowl and discovered all the snow was gone. After the sad realization that I would have to find a new hobby for the next few months, I was consoled by two enjoyable day hikes up Drinking Horse Trail and Lower Mount Ellis.
Although it may seem impossible to find something to do in the off-season after a great ski season, one can undoubtedly master the task. Adventure is right out the back door in Bozeman, so we don’t have to look far. Sometimes we can find a bit too much adventure, as I did on my trip to Lower Ellis. My friends and I did not actually end up at Lower Mount Ellis, but rather ended up bushwhacking our way around a small hill next to Lower Mount Ellis. Ultimately, we were semi-lost for a few hours — the state of knowing how to get back home but not how to reach our desired destination. With that in mind, be safe and know where you are going.
If you aren’t really sure what sort of adventures to go on this summer, here are some quick ideas (or at least what I’ll be doing) to get you started:
Backpacking: There are many places to go backpacking around Bozeman, but the two trips I am planning are in Yellowstone and up Fairy Lake. For the trip in Yellowstone, I have recently been looking into the Black Canyon of the Yellowstone, in particular, Hellroaring Trailhead 2K8 which seems to be a good early season trip. For this trek, make sure you get a camping permit from the Mammoth Hot Springs visitor’s center (they are free but must be obtained in person). The other trip, to Fairy Lake, is based on the current condition that the gate to Fairy Lake is closed; otherwise it would be a drive, not a hike.
Mountain Biking: Although there are many different trails at various difficulty levels, some ideas I am looking forward to this summer are the Stone Creek (or Grassy Mountain) trail, and the Shafthouse trail. Both of these trails are up the Bridger Canyon Road past Bridger Bowl. Although neither are particularly difficult rides, they both have beautiful scenery of the Bridgers and I can’t wait to get on my bike and try them out this summer.
Some other adventures I have planned for this summer include fly fishing, kayaking (river and lake), river rafting and many day hikes in the Gallatin Valley. Although winter is gone and with it the skiing, sledding, snowman building and most importantly the cold, much fun is still to be had outside. Summer just means a different set of awesome opportunities in the outdoor wonderland that is Montana.