My Journey

Halseyt.....thanks.....I do my best.....

Chet6.7.....I don't and I don't carry anything similar. I guess you could say that I'm cavalier about that as well. Sometimes I scare myself, but honestly, I'd rather die in the mountains than I would in my bed.....

ITTOG.....you have to hike snow in the Spring.....it's just part of the game. That being said, my children are grown men, and yours are not. Our responsibilities are different.....so maybe you shouldn't hike snow in the Spring.....

RealTruck.....Always trying.....



For the entire month of June we had only made two short road trips, and everyday of that month, I would look at the mountains in my backyard.....

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And like the clouds building over that mountain range, I was really beginning to feel the urge to get back into the mountains.....

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And finally one morning I decided that I just needed to climb.....the urge that morning.....it was incredibly strong.....

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We headed up Highway 86 (Bridger Canyon Road) with plans to climb in the Bridger Mountains. The plan for that day was simply to do a day hike.....a day hike to the summit of Sacajawea Peak (9,665').....

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Well, you might have noticed in the pictures above & below, that the weather that day was certainly not the best weather for climbing a mountain.....

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I didn't care.....

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After 6 miles of driving on terrible forest service roads.....we reached a small mountain pond and just beyond the pond, we left the truck behind (the sky looked pretty darn good to the east.....the mountains were to the west).....

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The real problem was not the dark skies.....it was the brutal winds that accompanied it.....

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But the dogs & I.....we still climbed.....

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And we just kept on climbing.....

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In the confines of the dense conifers at the lower elevations, the wind was bearable for sure.....

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But the higher we climbed, the winds just became terrifying (almost).....at times nearly knocking me off my feet and eventually the wind removed my $200 pair of Oakley sunglasses from my face.....I found them approximately one hundred feet away.....crushed in the scree field.....

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There were several climbers ahead of us and I watched as they struggled to walk across a snowfield that was in the neighborhood of 300' to 400' wide.....so the dogs & I tried a different approach and climbed directly up a scree field.....almost completely avoiding the snowfield.....

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To the west the valley below looked so peaceful.....

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The three climbers ahead of us all turned around at the ridgeline.....they said that they were unable to stand up, so there was no summit for them.....and I too descended with them.....no summit for the dogs & I either.....

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So I decided to take the dogs for a swim instead.....

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I've climbed that peak a few times over the years and it would have been a great place to have lunch.....

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But this time we had to settle for the lake nestled in the pine forests.....

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Ace.....that was a great way to wrap up the day. I sure wish that we had summited, but you know as well as most do, summits are optional.....

RealTruck.....beautiful area that's not too far from home. We will definitely return another day.....



So, to start off the month of July, I had made some really big plans. Of course they didn't come to fruition.....they rarely do for me. We spent way too much time diddle daddling in Paradise Valley in southern Montana.....

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We spent the first night along the banks of the Yellowstone River (again).....the plan was to drive south, into Wyoming, but that never happened. I decided to check out a lake that was nearby.....and we never made it much further than that.....

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Being that it was summer and coming up on the holiday weekend, well, there were just a few too many campers at the lake for me.....

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So we drove on past the lake.....

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So, yeah, that sign (above) caught my attention.....so we headed south..... down the single lane gravel road to see what we could see.....

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To the west was the valley.....private land.....where the Yellowstone River flowed.....

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July is the beginning of the dry season in Montana.....the irrigation systems seem to run nearly 24 / 7.....

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Now parked nearly a mile from the lake..... nobody was here. We parked the rig and set out on foot.....

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I was curious if the road went back to the main highway as Google Maps and my Delorme map book said it did.....a mile hike down the road proved them both wrong.....

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As we headed back to the camper, I decided that we needed to check out the abandoned structures that were located on the Dome Mountain Wildlife Management Area lands.....

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This stuff was pretty cool but the best part was that lots of animals lived in these abandoned buildings.....the dogs were in heaven chasing rodents around.....

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The wood on one of those abandoned structures was some of the most beautiful wood I've ever seen.....

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Dark clouds were forming over the mountains to the west, so we stuck close by the camper.....

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I was noticing that I really liked it here.....we were alone, the summer wildflowers were in full bloom.....reminders of why it got it's name.....Paradise Valley.....

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The skies opened up.....I grabbed my book.....we'd found our next campsite.....

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We awoke that following morning to a perfect weather day.....I mean, this was the weather that every vacationer prays for when they come to Montana.....we started the morning with a hike down to the lake where there were even more campers that morning than there were before.....

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Which got me to thinking....."why go to where I'd planned to go ?". There will be people there. Here I was in the beautiful foothills in the shadows of Emigrant Peak (10,921').....it was perfect here.....

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And so it was that we just stayed here.....camped along the side of the single lane gravel road.....and nobody came here.....less than a mile away from the busy campground at the lake.....

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Of course we didn't just sit in the camper all day.....we headed out to explore.....

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The foothills is where we went.....I was not only out there to see what I could see.....I also thought that the probability of finding some antler sheds would be really high.....

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So we spent our days wandering around the foothils.....the wildflowers were out of this world beautiful.....and the views from approximately 2,000' above the valley were outstanding.....

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I didn't find a single antler shed during our stay, but I did find an amazing number of animal skeletons and just random bones scattered here & there.....Trapper, she's a riot always loving to hike with an animal bone in her mouth.....

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There's something special about these places that are off the beaten path.....these places that are rarely visited.....at least by the two legged kinds.....

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Initially I attempted to place my feet where the wildflowers didn't grow, but it became a senseless task as they must number in the billions.....probably certainly even more.....

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There was a deep, heavily wooded canyon just to the south of where we wandered, and I suspected that this was a good spot for the Mountain Lions & Grizzlies to spend their days.....here, I kept my bear spray attached to my backpacks' chest strap.....just last year a Grizzly attacked a hunter somewhere near here.....

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The foothills are filled with tiny summits and tiny valleys.....it seemed as though after every tiny summit reached, we'd descend into a tiny valley. Reaching each tiny summit was like opening a closed door.....you never knew what you would see as the horizon was constantly changing.....

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I suspect it was the FWP that's removing the old barbed fencing here. I see a lot of this these days.....fencing either being removed, or replaced with wildlife friendly fencing.....always a welcomed sight.....

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I was scanning one of the many horizons and far beyond that deep canyon to the south, I spotted a herd of elk grazing & resting along a hillside.....

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Further along and higher up, we came onto another smaller, narrow canyon, and from our vantage point I could see a well worn game trail.....we hiked up to a rocky bluff and I scanned that smaller, narrow canyon below.....

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To the north the canyon widened and was pretty much surrounded in forest.....and I spotted something white in the tall grass and of course I wanted to know what I saw.....

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We hiked maybe a quarter of a mile down into that bowl where the tall grass grew.....well .....I would say that it was a killing field.....

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As I approached the carcasses.....and there were many.....I got this real chill in my spine.....as if we were being watched from the dense forest that was nearby. I saw nothing, I smelled nothing, and I heard nothing.....but we still left immediately. I guess I'm a curious guy.....but I don't need to see everything.....and so it remains a mystery.....which was fine by me.....

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