9/27 to 9/29/2015 – The wonderful fall continued to roll on in NW Montana, with warm temperatures and dry trail conditions that only helped encourage a bit of exploration. My good buddy Joe and I realized that we had a matching 3-day weekend in late September, and figured that we should wander up into the Whitefish Range again. Also, I had just received a new warrantied grape-soda colored frame from Surly (greatest bicycle manufacturer ever?… yup) and I knew I needed to break it in! After thinking up a couple possible routes, we received an alternate plan from the godfather of good backcountry trails in the area – Mike Meador (author of Mountain Bike Rides of the Flathead Valley guidebook). It involved a good bit of dirt road milage that led to some excellent singletrack, with a night at “the best campsite in the world.”
So we packed up in the morning, and hit the road north out of Whitefish, pedalling from the house up and over Red Meadow Pass to spend the night on the lawn of the Ford Cabin (where friends were staying). That evening, we enjoyed the lunar eclipse viewed over the western front of Glacier National Park. The next day we wandered up Whale Creek, checked out the Ninko Cabin, and lunched at Whale Lake. After that, the final climb up to the Whitefish Divide Trail led to quality backcountry singletrack and down to a glorious night at Huntsberger Lake. Another beautiful night up in the mountains, followed up with a gorgeous morning at the lake ensured that we’d be back to this special spot! The final day of the ride we schwacked, rode, and hiked ourselves – and our loaded bikes – through the remainder of the Whitefish Divide Trail to Red Meadow Pass. It was simply wonderful wandering along a ridgeline with exceptional views and yellowing larches everywhere the eye could see. The final cruise down Upper Whitefish Lake Rd. was pleasant, and only improved with the stashed beers enjoyed along the way!
For only three days, we certainly couldn’t be much happier with how far into that wonderful collection of mountains – just behind our home – we could go! NW Montana just keeps delivering the goods and I couldn’t be happier anywhere else!
On to the photos…
Well, Grete and I have still been avidly adventuring… enough to keep me off the internet and away from my blog… but it seemed like time for another post! Covered in this little blurb from our lives is a most excellent run from Lake McDonald Lodge to the Jackson Glacier Overlook over Gunsight Pass in Glacier National Park and a couple photos from some high quality biking from a long weekend around McCall, ID.
The run was another classic of the park, and we thoroughly enjoyed the views and solitude the mountains offered that day. The run began by weaving through lush forests as it ascended towards Sperry Chalet. It had begun to snow in the park in the couple of days leading up to our run, creating a sharply contrasting world of mountains, snow, and rock the higher we climbed. We figured if we kept moving it wouldn’t be too cold, and accepted that there would be some snow to negotiate… turns out it was knee-deep (in places) and no-one had been up past Lake Ellen Wilson since the fresh snow had fallen. The warming hut on top was pleasant and offered gorgeous views up to the low cloudline. On the backside of the pass, we saw nobody for a good few miles except for a couple grizzly bears (who were far too close for our comfort)! Exciting times on a gorgeous run with my badass wife!
Our trip to McCaul was for a our good friends – Eli and Mariana’s – wedding up at Begdorf Hotsprings. We rallied out and tucked ourselves up in the mountains near the hot springs for a couple days of camping and biking. The trails up there are AWESOME, and we’d love to go back for a longer stay. Better than the trails, though, was the beautiful backwoods wedding at the glorious Bergdorf Hotsprings! The couple was clearly ecstatic to be getting married and, mixed with the wonderful rainfall, made for an unforgettable evening under the stars in the classic mountain hot spring. We’ll certainly be back…
5/31 to 8/2/2015 – Well, it’s been a glorious summer so far in NW Montana. Grete and I have been outside so much that I really haven’t had a chance to edit -let alone post- photos and stories of our adventures… So here is a super broad post covering a couple of months of incredible wandering around around our wonderful new home! I’ll toss a couple photos up from each adventure, with the hope that I will have the chance to catch up and post complete stories this fall!
Included adventures on this post are: trail-running around Many Glacier, bicycling Red Meadow Pass loop, running up to Grace Lake, running Firebrand Pass to Izaak Walton, schwacking around Hall Lake, running the Dawson-Pitamakin Loop, bikepacking the Ralph Thayer Memorial Trail, and adventure-biking in the Ten Lakes area… These are only the adventures the camera has come along on and don’t include our awesome trip to Colorado to get married! Enjoy!
5/1 to 5/4/15′ – Over the past couple years I’ve heard many stories of Grete’s adventurous Uncle Mike from herself and her family. They all seem to lovingly refer to him as “crazy” and describe the trips he takes he takes as “unbelievable.” He has bicycle toured through much of North America, India, China, Southeast Asia, and South America and had countless experiences in the Alaskan wilderness. He also helped get Grete hooked on the outdoors with a bikepacking/backpacking/sea kayaking trip in Alaska when she was in highschool. I had to meet this guy…
When his wife Sharene began planning a trip down to Whitefish to visit us this fall, Grete and I were ecstatic! Unfortunately Sharene couldn’t make it, but Mike still came and we capitalized on his couple of days with us.
We picked him up from the airport in the evening and the next morning he and Grete went for a long hike in Glacier National Park. That night after dinner, we rallied back to the park for a full-moon ride up Going-To-The-Sun Road, leaving the car at ~10:30pm and returning home at 3:30am. Awesome night. The next morning we woke up slow and packed up for a quick overnight bikepacking trip to Kintla Lake in the North Fork area of GNP. Again, we headed back to the park and biked in the ~16 miles from Polebridge with lightly loaded bikes up to an empty campground at the foot of Kintla Lake. A lovely evening of solitude was enjoyed by our group in the presence of giant peaks and gorgeously clear skies. We slept there along the lakeshore, and happily pedalled back out to Polebridge, for huckleberry bear-claws, in the morning. That afternoon, Mike flew back out after 3 days of excellent adventure (and not much sleep). Awesome trip with an exceptionally wanderlust-filled adventurer!
Oh, I forgot to mention, Mike is 70 right now… and he wore us out!
4/19/2015 – Glacier National Park offers its visitors one heck of a special experience during early spring by opening the legendarily beautiful Going-To-The-Sun-Road up to cyclists and hikers (only) while they are plowing it out. The road, which crosses Logan Pass, is one of the few to penetrate deep into GNP’s alpine core. It offers visitors stunning vistas of the glacier-carved valleys and eroding massifs that characterize the park’s wondrous terrain.
Being that it has been a mild winter here in NW Montana, the road-clearing crew is roughly a month ahead of schedule, allowing access further into the sacred mountains than usually possible so early in the year. Grete and I rallied up there on a couple of borrowed road bikes from my new employer, Glacier Cyclery, and rode along with a new friend of ours – Pete (who also works at the Cyclery and has a whole bunch of experience in GNP). Pete turned on tour-guide mode and we ate-up the glory of the new experience! We also saw the owners of Glacier Cyclery – the Brunks – cruising on their tandem, and a handful of other locals. This little Flathead community is just what we were looking for and the day only helped further our happiness to be here!
Here are some pictures from the ride…
3/29/15 – Well, another birthday came around and Grete invited me to join her (and our buddy Justin) on another ski traverse. This isn’t the first time she’s asked me to walk pretty far in ski boots… Our relationship got its first glimmer while wandering for 14 hours during the Elk Mountains Grand Traverse a couple of years ago (again on my birthday). So, of course, I had to take her up on the offer!
Justin had hatched the idea to go traverse the Apgar Range in Glacier National Park. He brought it up to Grete, who thought it seemed like an awesome birthday activity. The Apgar Range is a micro-range in the western side of the park along the North Fork of the Flathead River. The views into the park, out onto the Whitefish Range, and back into the Flathead Valley are awesome, and the adventure was not one soon to be forgotten!
The “ski” traverse began with a couple thousand feet of good authentic bushwacking, then a bit of skinning up to the Huckleberry Lookout atop the northern peak of the range. After that, we skinned, skied, skin-skied, and booted our way along the ridge line, enjoying views, finding animal tracks (fresh wolf!) and chit-chatting all the way to the Apgar Lookout atop the southern-most peak of the range. From there, it was a quick hike back down a dirt trail to our dropped shuttle car. All in all, it turned out to be a glorious ~25 mile day out, with excellent weather, awesome peeps, and few (if any) blisters!
Here are the photos…. as usual
9/3 to 9/10/2013 – Grete and I have worked for an excellent rafting company, Liquid Descent, for the past few summers doing daily sections of quality Colorado whitewater. Guiding whitewater with paying guests can get a little repetitive after a while and our perpetually-super-stoked owner, Alan, proposed the idea of a multi-day trip to wrap up the season. It sounded like a great way to roll into the shoulder season and fit wonderfully between riding on the Colorado Trail, a visit back to Washington, and riding the Kokopelli… so Grete and I were in!
The trip was planned to be roughly a week out on the Lower Salmon in Idaho. We rafted in what would be considered low water, for locals, but enjoyed the change in scenery and pace that the trip offered. I could go into more detail about the many adventures of the trip, but instead will simply let the photos tell the story…
Also, there are two stories worth mentioning, not told by photos:
1. Grete super-wrapping the gear-boat (with mini-me trailer boat) in Chinaman’s Rapid
2. The 24-hour drive back with White Lightning (the van) overheating almost hourly…
Great friends, white sand beaches, and lots of beer made for excellent trip I won’t ever forget!