Get back to Big Sky Country

Let’s talk about Boulder for a second.

The first time I had been to Boulder was when my dad, brother, and I came out in the spring of 2006 for me to check out the campus. It’s not so much the place that has changed, but myself. During my first foray I remember being very concerned about how I would deal with the cold winters. Now, having spent the last few years in Montana and Concepción, there hasn’t passed a day where I’ve had to run without my knees exposed. In many ways, it’s obvious that the Treasure State had spoiled me. Where it used to be that I could simply strap on my pack and go running, hiking, and backcountry snowboarding in a wilderness that was within walking distance of my front door, I now bump shoulders with dozens of others on a run around Mount Sanitas. Am I being a little cry-baby stick-in-the-mud? You bet your ass, but this was one of the biggest shocks I had to immediately come to grips with. I believe (hope) I’m getting better but I’m still that opinionated Negative Nancy that I’m having a hard time overcoming.

Trying to describe the life I had out in MT is sometimes difficult as, for many people, Colorado is their first real experience in the Rockies and I am, admittedly, a bit callous to the fantastic scenery and wilderness that surrounds. But for every person that says “Isn’t Colorado just the best!?”, I have to hold myself back from saying “Oh yea? Well you should try Montana. That’s where the wild things roam”.

It’s with this semi-sour mentality that I found myself leaving Colorado for a bit and heading up to the north in late August. Amy, a friend of mine that I met through Couchsurfing, spent a bit of her life in the small town of Sandpoint, Idaho and convinced me to take out the Santa Fe for another trip on the tarmac. After the necessary stop at Kris and Ray’s where a day-hike into the Absarokas was aborted due to the darkening skies. We headed west to my old stomping grounds of Philipsburg.

Absarokas through the smoke.

Absarokas through the smoke.

We spent a few hours at the ranch but I had a hard time dealing with all the emotions and left for Missoula to tailgate and hit up the town. Of course I had a beer at the brewery.

From Missoula we took Hwy 12 out of Lolo and camped at a hotspring. The smoke had been horrendous ever since we left Billings, but we were hit with some decent rains that cleared up the moonless night sky.

Bob Wier hotsprings.

Bob Wier hotsprings.

Misty mountain hop.

Misty mountain hop.

Another contemptible bit of driving the day after landed us at a friend’s of Amy’s on the Washington/Idaho/ Canada Border. A great man by the name of Hank showed us spectacular canoeing, four-wheelin’ and border-hopping that anyone would be jealous of.

Pewee falls. Hank and Amy.

Pewee falls. Hank and Amy.

Apple picking in northern Washington.

Apple picking in northern Washington.

US - Canada border. Not similar to US - Mexico border.

US – Canada border. Not similar to US – Mexico border.

From Newport, Washington we made our way back, camping in BLM land and National Forest in northwest Montana and visiting the Goldbug hot springs near Salmon, ID.

Cold waters of the Pack River

Lake Ponderay, ID.

Lake Ponderay, ID.

Daybreak on the Twin Peaks of the south Bitterroot Range.

Daybreak on the Twin Peaks of the south Bitterroot Range.

Goldbug hotsprings.

Goldbug hotsprings.

From the out roads of Challis we picked up the good soul, Kevin. From what it seemed, he had hit the hard times of a car accident and quite certainly the wrong (only) end of an amphetamine dependence. We dropped him off in Idaho Falls and continued south to Utah on Memorial day.

What a welcome it was to politely ask some road warriors to turn off their generator at 10:30 to the response of “but we have a baby…”. Let me rant a bit: here you are on Memorial day in the middle of a national forest with a million other people camping around you and you have the nerve to think that your precious bundle of joy needs that 50 watt generator to live? Suck it up and wrap some blankets around that thing. It might reach into the 50’s MAYBE inside your goddamn “American Dream” of a camper at 35 feet and 5 tons of steel. You have no right to be “camping” in my point of view. Read (if you can) a documentary about the Donner party for shit’s sake.

Drowning out the generator with a Terminal Gravity IPA.

Drowning out the generator with a Terminal Gravity IPA.

No matter. The generator was still on by 7 the next morning and we were out of there by 7:30.

Long hours of driving the next day and squeaking away from a speeding ticket then we were back in Boulder.

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