Category Archives: Outdoor Activities

Cycling in Yellowstone [Day Trip]

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This spring I finally had the timing right and was able to bike in Yellowstone before the park opened to motor vehicles. Every spring, depending on the snow melt and clearing, there is a two to four week window where you can ride your bike in the park from the west entrance. That means the dates are never the same, but typically in April. For the first time since moving back to Montana, I was able to make a ride happen this year.

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It was awesome. The Sexy Master Electrician and I loaded up our road bikes, a picnic, beers and our tiny camp chairs and headed to West Yellowstone. There was a larger group of people who had talked about going but couldn’t for one reason or another when the day came. I maybe shouldn’t have gone because I was still trying to kick this endless cold. It was worth the hacking cough afterward. We were worried the weather was going to suck, and it was a bit chilly, but layers fixed everything and the sun was sun was shining. I will admit the last couple miles with a head wind did suck, but it was great for a 30ish mile ride in to Madison Junction and back out.

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It was so wonderful to be in the park without cars or motor homes and big fifth wheels. There were several people out biking. Most probably doing the same ride we did. It’s pretty flat and easy and with all the stopping to look around and what not, it only took about three hours. Next time we want to go a bit farther up to Norris or maybe try to make a one way run up to the north entrance, but that is not a flat ride and its pretty long. I need to get back into better biking shape for that.

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The road follows the Madison River and buffalo were all over. I was surprised we didn’t see more elk. The scenery was breathtaking. The mountains were still snowy and the ground was green. We didn’t spend much time at the junction before turning around to claim a picnic spot at one of the turnouts. On the way back, TSME had to race who ever he could catch on the road. I took a slightly lazier approach. It was a great way to spend the early afternoon.

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Wade & Cliff Lakes

UntitledLast summer on a random weekend, I packed up the camping supplies, rented a couple os SUPs and picked up my friend E. We headed south to Wade and Cliff Lakes. We had never been down there before but had heard it was a beautiful area and it was only about two hours away. The lakes are tucked behind some hills on a random dirt road. There is a campground at each lake and one in between on the hill. We arrived pretty early but all the spots on Wade Lake were taken and Cliff Lake was windy so we checked the hilltop instead and were able to grab one of the last spots. It was definitely a more popular spot that I expected. Several people looked like they were there for more than a weekend. We set up a tent to stake our claim and head back down to the water.
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People were fishing and hanging out on the beaches. We packed our lunch up on the boards and headed out. Both lakes are smaller and we were on Wade Lake. We went across the lake and back in a fairly lazy fashion. Coming back we were fighting wind, but once we reached the beach, we laid out with some wind and continued relaxing.
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The campgrounds are the typical basic set up and we had a site backed up to cliff. The whole area is a geological fault where the lakes sit and is what created the cliffs around the area. There are little roadside signs and a walk from the campground to the lake explain it all. So beyond a beautiful site, you can get a geology lesson as well. A perfect weekend get away!

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Taste of the Trails [West Yellowstone]

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Last year, a random group of friends headed down to West Yellowstone for the Taste of the Trails.  I didn’t really know anyone except the one person that invited me. No one had been to the Taste before and we didn’t know what to expect. It was so great, we came back and talked it up, resulting in a return trip with new people this year. This year the sky stayed grey most of the day and we did get snowed on a little bit, but it was still a great day to be out.
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The Taste of the Trails is a 5k cross country ski event by the West Yellowstone Ski Education Foundation.  They have four food stations set up along the pristine Rendezvous Trails. You begin with appetizers, (elk strudel and candied bacon anyone?), followed by soup, (your choice of four different kinds), then the main course, (payaya!), finishing with dessert (too many to list but the chocolate chip bread pudding so so good).
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Payaya
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Dessert! So many to try. 
The course was super easy. They removed the one steep hill that was before the soup station this year to make it even more beginner friendly. The course has a biathlon shooting range on it. This year there were people training as we came along for our main course stop.
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The hill that took many down last year

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After we finished our course and warmed up in the warming hut, a couple of us went back out to do a little bit more exploring. The trails are so well taken care of and the maps and markers make it so easy to not get lost as you weave in and around the forest. I need to pay more attention to the events they have going on. They do a fun/beginners biathlon that I would love to try out and several other fun races.
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One of the hills we would realize was not so bad later on

When we were done, we meet up with the others at the local Buffalo Bar before heading over to the Norris Hot Springs to finish the day off before heading back to Bozeman. I’m sure we’ll have another great crew headed down again for next years Taste!

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Last year’s crew

XC Skiing in Yellowstone [Bunsen Peak Trail]

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For the 2016 Superbowl, The Sexy Master Electrician decided to give cross country skiing another try after not being too fond of it last winter. We went back to Yellowstone and rented gear at the shop by Mammoth Hot Springs. We picked up a map and advice on where to go. They had just received new snow so we were pretty excited to go. We decided to try the trail around Bunsen Peak. Thankfully, the guy at the shop told us which way to go, I was thinking it would be easier to go the other way. That was not the case at all.

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We could have waited for shuttle to take us to the trail head but we decided to hike/ski up the road a few miles and not have to wait and hour or pay. Plus, this meant we got to ski through the Hoodoos. It was a bit longer than the guy thought to the trail head, but we made it. We were off on a beautiful blue sky day with no evidence of anyone being out there before us yet that day.

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The road up to the trail was mostly up hill, nothing terrible, but still up hill. The trail around the mountain was pretty flat and lovely. We eventually reached a junction to a trail that continued south were you can go to Indian Creek and later we ran in to some people who were on their way back from there.

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We stopped for lunch on the east side of the peak just before it started going down hill. And this was serious downhill with switchbacks and all. Something that I had no practice with on cross country skis and we both spent plenty of time on our butts. It’s hard to stop in these skis. We started to get the hang of it as the slope became less sever an there wasn’t a cliff on one side of us to worry about.
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In total it was just over 9 miles long and a nice fellow skier gave me a lift back to Shorty. After we dropped off our skis we headed down to the boiling river for a lovely soak before heading home.
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B Bar Ranch [Get outdoors for MOSS]

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Right now, in Bozeman, ski season is long over, but this is the first of a few skiing posts that I will eventually get up here.  Last year I came across a fundraiser for Montana Outdoor Science School (MOSS) that was a day of cross country skiing and lunch and all proceeds go to the school. I wanted to go, but for some reason it didn’t. This year when I came across it, I sent out a message to some friends and signed us up. 

None of us had heard of B Bar Ranch, but we had heard that Tom Miner Canyon, where it is located at the southern end of Paradise Valley, was gorgeous. As we were driving out, there was very little snow on the ground in the valley. Meanwhile, Bozeman had a bit of a storm the night before and we saw several wrecks on the way over the pass’ and there was plenty of snow in Gallatin Valley. Once we turned off into the canyon we started climbing up and by the time we got to the ranch you wouldn’t believe there was no snow five miles north. 
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The area is definitely beautiful and we all want to go back for either hiking or skiing in the future. The ranch is several miles in and is a retreat of sorts in the summer for larger groups. In the winter, you can ski their groomed trails for $10. There are three locations that you can ski into and stay the night. That is next on the list, especially since it’s only two to three miles in on easy trails.
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We did a four to five mile loop before grabbing lunch in the Nordic tent. It is an old canvass tent with a wood stove in the center. One of the “cabin” you can hike/ski into is also an old tent. It was super cozy and lovely to hang out in. We talked about going out for another short run, but after resting realized we were a bit more sore than we thought, it was our first time out this season after all.
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MOSS was doing guided tours for those interested, but we had more fun out on our own and definitely plan to go back next year if it works out. Hopefully we get out there doe more than just the fundraiser.
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A Road Trip to Tahoe

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I managed to find myself in California again just two weeks after attending Iris’s wedding. I went on a road trip with Dr. K to her home town of Tahoe City for a long weekend.  And it was nothing like the California I had just visited. I have been to the northern part of the state and seen the redwood forests, but that was over 10 years ago and I kind of forgot that California has mountains and forests, so it was nice to be reminded they exist there. Oh, and Lake Tahoe is beautiful.

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The drive down was pretty uneventful and uninteresting. The best part was the moon rising over the Tetons. We left after work on a Thursday and drove to Massacre Rock State Park in Idaho where we camped for the night.
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The next morning we stopped at Twin Falls to look at the bridge and hopefully catch someone base jumping.
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We just missed someone and a crew that was setting up to go was taking forever, so we didn’t, but the bridge is beautiful and the canyon kind of comes out of nowhere as you drive up to it. All of a sudden, there is just a big gap in the landscape with the Snake river below.

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We made it to Tahoe in the late afternoon after stopping in Reno for some In-N-Out milkshakes. (I still think Shake Shack is better, but maybe that’s the New York talking.)
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Sand Harbor

Most of my time there was spent paddleboarding on the lake, alternating between moving and napping. Best thing ever. I need to get one here. One day we went about six miles on them from Sand Harbor past Thunderbird Mansion.

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Thunderbird Mansion


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We tried to not be too lazy and did some hiking up to Eagle Lake and around her parents neighborhood, but we ended up on the beach one way or another. Untitled Eagle Lake

We had some fun driving her Corvair around the shore to Emerald Bay and paddleboarding. At one point with the paddle boards I almost said, “I feel like we should be in California!” Then I remembered I already was.

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The only disappointing thin about the trip was the bears. Black bears wander through the neighborhood frequently at night, and typically wander right behind or beside Dr. K’s parent’s house. Two nights in a row, the dogs woke us up around one AM as they rushed to the backyard because the bears were passing through. We could hear the cubs and mamma bear calling back and forth, but we couldn’t see them either night. They were in the next line of trees. The third night, if we couldn’t see them, Dr. K was going to take me to the dump to see them up close. They never arrived and the dog never woke us up, so I never saw them. Since then, I have seen them here in Montana, but I still wanted to see them just wandering down the street. Dr k pics sand harbor

I flew back to Montana on Monday from Reno. Dr.K had to stay for work. I was suppose to tell her that Tahoe was way better than Bozeman. That I didn’t know why she wasn’t moving immediately. I didn’t tell her that. Tahoe was beautiful, lovely and I could lay on the beach all day. I couldn’t live there, it was a bit too small. And to me, it wasn’t that different from Bozeman, except there isn’t a lake right here. But we have rivers and hiking and skiing and lakes a little bit away. And it beautiful here too. Though, I won’t hesitate to go visit her if she decides to move back, I’m going to stick with Montana. For now.
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Moon rising over Lake Tahoe

Sacagawea Peak

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If you haven’t noticed, I tried to get in as many hikes as possible this summer. The weather has stayed nice so long this year, that I’ve had a chance to get a couple more in before it turns bad. At the end of September C and I went up to Sacagawea Peak, the tallest in the Bridgers at 9665 feet.  The hike is just shy of 6 miles round trip and gains 2000 feet, (For the record, websites say its a 4+ mile hike. I tracked us only going down and it had us at 2.8 miles, so not really sure what the deal is…)  Who doesn’t like to be on top of the world?

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The hike starts at Fairy Lake. You climb up through the trees for a bit before you begin switching back and forth through the basin to a  small saddle where the trail splits and you can head west down in into Gallatin Valley or up to the peak. The switch backs can be pretty tedious at times and the path is pretty narrow. I maybe slipped on the loose rocks on the way down once…

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From the saddle
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Scrambling to the top

The last bit of the hike is  a little bit of a scramble over hard rocks and the wind was blowing once we reach the saddle, but it’t not really that difficult of a hike. You can keep going along the ridge line all the way to the M, only 21 more miles away. (This is something I want to do sometime, just need to get a crew to go!)
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See the trail?

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Those white spots are mountain goats!

On the way down we spotted the elusive mountain goats that are typically hanging out on the peak. Maybe they were not into the wind. I wasn’t paying attention to when we started, but it took somewhere between 1.5 and 2 hours to get up and an hour to get down. It was a great way to spend a Sunday morning and I wish I would have done it earlier this year. If the road up to Fairy Lake wasn’t so rough, I would do it frequently. We’ll see what next summer brings!
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