Fun Prison

Recently I spent 2 days sled skiing in the paradise that is Cooke City. I got home late Sunday, repacked, slept a few hours, then headed to the other side of Yellowstone National Park to the Centennial Mountains to stay at the Hellroaring Powder Guides for 3 nights and 4 days.

The camp is in a wilderness study area so everything has to be packed in and out every winter without the help of motorized equipment. This makes for a unique spot which is well supplied but still primitive and provides a great wilderness experience (as long as you don’t cross into the snowmobile area a couple miles away).

My buddy Austin came up from Silverton with some snowmobiles and we headed to Cooke City for a couple days of sled assisted powder skiing.

Pilot and Index peaks from just below Daisy Pass. We had great weather and snow conditions in Cooke.

Took Dudley out for a ski to watch the sunrise over Cooke City on Sunday.

Then I met up with some friends in Bozeman and headed to the Montana/Idaho border to meet up with more friends from Jackson Hole. We snowmobiled about 10 miles then had another 3 mile hike to the camp. Once there we unpacked and headed into the hills to explore.

Leif scoping his line across the valley from camp.

We skied both the east and west sides of the creek the first two days trying the find pockets of soft snow (we did!). The third day we all headed out to make a summit push for nearby Mount Jefferson (10,208′).

Olly stoked on Mount Jefferson.

Bee stoked after a successful summit mission on the peak behind him. We still had 2000′ vert of good snow back to camp too.

On the last day, we decided that instead of taking the same trail back to the trailhead we would attempt to climb and ski Nemesis Mountain(9,449′). After a fun but circuitous ski tour, we topped out on a large avalanche path. With our heavy packs we opted to stop there and ski the avalanche path back to the valley. The summit would have to wait.

Pat Owen enjoying the last run of the trip, 2000′ vert of perfect corn.


Early winter

Winter has been off to an interesting start this year. We had some good snow before Thanksgiving but then the dreaded basal facets appeared. This persistent weak layer has relegated me to sticking to low angle pow. Despite the frustrating snowpack I have had some good days meadow skipping with the dog and showing my cousin-in-law what is up with the backcountry scene in SW Montana.

Heading out for some exploration in the Northern Bridgers

Dudley Dog scoping the views from an early morning tour in the Northern Gallatin Mountains.

Cousin-in-law Tommy finding some good snow up at Bridger Bowl.

Tommy on the approach in the Northern Bridgers

Tommy reaping the benefits of all the hard work backcountry skiing requires

Dudley and his pal Weebo on the march in the Absaroka-Beartooth Mountains

View of the Southern Gallatin Mountains in Yellowstone National Park

Tommy avoiding stumps above Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park

This curious coyote was very interested in what we were doing.

Mission accomplished!

Insert Game of Thrones Cliche Here

Enjoy some nice wildlife and scenic photography from Yellowstone National Park this fall.







Smith River

Hey everyone! I’m back and I’m going to try and update this blog more frequently, sorry I have been AWOL but injuries and life got in the way.

Back in early May, Sarah and I got an invite to float the Smith River in central Montana.  This is a ~60 mile stretch of river will minimal development and requires a permit.  Permits are not always easy to get and several of us put in for the lottery to get a spot.  Armed with 5 boats and 11 people we camped at the Camp Baker launch site after (mistakenly) running our own shuttle, which comprised of over 6 hours of driving in a circle between Helena, Great Falls and White Sulfur Springs.  The next morning we drew our spot to launch right when a large rainstorm moved in forcing us to seek shelter under boats and in cars until it relented enough to begin our float.

Springs to fill up our water for the trip.

We had on and off rain for the entire first day culminating with a massive storm right when we started making dinner.  We cooked dinner quickly and built a huge fire to dry off and commenced to drink several beers.

The next morning we awoke to clearing skies and the hope that we wouldn’t get rained on.  Our luck held and we had a great, though chilly, float and chased fish in the muddy water.

With only a brief shower the next day, the rest of the trip went extremely well with my only complaint being the lack of fish, which could be attributed to my poor fishing skills and the very muddy water.

On the last night a group of us hiked up to the Smith River canyon rim to watch a nice sunset over the river. The short hike was refeshing after being boat bound for two days. This was followed by building a four story hammock stack complete with a hookah and keg beer.

Four story hammock stack

We were greeted with a nice sunrise on our last day on this magical stretch of river. Unfortunately, there is an effort to build a large copper mine in the headwaters of the Smith potentially ruining its treasured fishery and causing water quality problems, I suggest you take a look at Save Our Smith to get involved and protect this wild and scenic river.

Winter Storm Watch

The annual vigil of carefully watching the weather and waiting for the flakes to fall has begun. This year’s summer felt too brief with the majority of it spent rehabbing my knee. Nonetheless, I did get out on some hikes and enjoyed the wonderful Paradise Valley just out my back door.

Mount Wallace (10,620′) in the southern Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness.

My lovely wife, Sarah, biking in Paradise Valley on her way to brunch at the Pine Creek Cafe.

Passage Creek in the southern Absaroka-Beartooths.

Passage Falls in the Mill Creek watershed.

Fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium)

Fishermen on the Yellowstone River

Yellowstone Lake, look closely and you can the Teton Range in the distance.

Paradise Valley, perhaps the best place on earth?

Broken Knees and Sightseeing

Well I’ve done it again. I blew out my other knee during closing weekend at Bridger Bowl. With a torn MCL, ACL, and meniscus my ski season is effectively over. Sorry about minimal posts but with persistent, deep instability I stuck mostly to skiing inbounds at Bridger. I did sneak out for a nice tour on Elephant Head a week before ending my season.

Touring to the top of Elephant Head Peak

I have however, been able to hobble around Yellowstone National Park and take some photographs.

Porcelain Basin in the Norris Geyser Basin.

Hot Springs outlet channels can be otherworldly.

Another shot of Porcelain Basin

Opposing colors in two hot springs.

Cyanobacteria in a hot springs outlet channel.

Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River.

A wolf on the hunt. This was one of the coolest moments I have ever experienced in Yellowstone.

Trout Lake with Druid Peak looming above.

A coyote hoping to catch some lunch?

Grizzly bears in the distance.

Sandhill Cranes


My younger brother visited from Kazakhstan for the holidays. I rallied down to Colorado for a couple of days to see him and ski Silverton. Sorry not many good pics as the conditions were marginal (dust on crust), but it was fun to get out and ski with my two brothers and my Old Man.

Classic downtown Silverton

My older brother Zack hiking towards Rope-Dee chute with the legendary Silverton Chair below.

As with any ski trip, late night re-fueling is standard.

Winter is here!

It has been a cold start to the winter, but Ullr made up for the -20 degree temperatures by dropping 26″ of cold smoke at Bridger Bowl.

Unidentified skier enjoying first tracks down Schlassman’s

Perhaps it was worth waiting all morning for Schlassman’s to open?

Summer 2013 Wrap-Up

With the temperatures consistently falling below freezing I feel that autumn has finally arrived and summer has wrapped up. As I look forward to colder days and deep powder it is always nice to reminisce about my adventures over the warmer months.

This summer was notable because we had several very strong thunderstorms, which led to lots of wildfires and a fairly hazy August and September.

Lightning flash within an incoming thunderstorm

The weather was nicer early during the summer Sarah and I spent a fair amount of time in our canoe. We mostly floated the Madison River and Hyalite Reservoir enjoying the warm days and doing some fishing.

Tim and Amber joined us on a float of the Madison River

Steve G floating in his pack-raft along the same stretch.

Sarah and Amber enjoy a calm float on Hyalite Reservoir

Canoe camping on the far side of Hyalite

We also took our annual trip to Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park west of Bozeman. These caves are very cool and unique and they offer a great tour of the beautiful caverns.

Eerie light in the caverns

The main rooms in the caverns use special UV lights which shine at a spectrum that allows the human eye to see what the caves would look if the sun could shine in these tunnels. You can really see the pink iron oxides with these lights.

Hard to grasp the scale on how big these columns are, the main column is probably 75 feet tall.

Sarah and I also made it out to Seattle this summer to see the sights and sounds of this fun city. We were able to see our friends who recently moved to Seattle from Denver as well as check out the amazing Chihuly Glass Gardens near the Space Needle. This gallery is probably one of the coolest and most amazing galleries I have ever visited. I have a ton more pictures if anyone is interested but for the sake of brevity here are just a couple.

The outside portion of the Chihuly Gardens

A tree made of glass under the Seattle Space Needle

Leaving Seattle on a ferry heading to Port Angeles

Finally, I also spent a bunch of time in the mountains and looking at wildlife in Yellowstone.

Close up of a Bison eating some food

Panorama of from above East Hyalite Creek

Emmigrant Peak during sunset

My dog Dudley high above Hyalite Reservoir

Came upon this guy at the top of Beartooth Pass. We were the only people stopped and this goat just kind of chilled about 30 yards from us before ambling up and over a ridge.

The goat seemed more curious than scared of us.

Came upon a large herd of elk while working in the Centennial Valley in far southwest Montana.

Sorry if a few of these images seem overly edited, I am experimenting with some new software and still trying to get it dialed. Next post will hopefully involve some snow as the mountains are turning more and more white.

Kuaui by foot

And now for the long anticipated conclusion of the most drawn out series of posts I have ever made, I now present the final chapter of my wife and I’s trip to Hawaii.

After spending the first few days on Kuaui on two different boats and another day of kayaking, the northern swell moved in creating hazardous seas, so we decided it was a good time to explore the island by foot. We got up early and headed north through the surf town of Hanalei and all the way to the end of the road at Ke’e beach. Here, we got ready to start the short but steep hike to Hanakapi’i (sp?) beach. I have hiked this portion of the Na Pali a few times in the past, but the views are still just as amazing.

Looking back at Ke’e beach from the start of the Kalalau trail

A very nice view of the Na Pali Coast.

Getting a little closer to the beach.

One more picture of the coast for good luck

Unfortunately, when we reached the beach, it wasn’t much of a beach at all, the strong northern swell had washed all the sand away. Apparently this is normal and when the swell moves to the south the beach returns. This surprised me as my previous trips here were in the summer and the beach looks like it should be there all year.

Very large waves off the north coast of Kuaui

After sitting and watching waves crash into the sea cliffs we headed back over the hill to the car. We headed back to Hanalei to get some lunch then took our time driving back south to calmer water and the beach.

This water filled lava tube is a neat roadside attraction on the north coast of Kuaui

Sarah admiring the views of the Hanalei Valley.

During our time on Kuaui, Sarah and I had a photo contest to see who could take the best picture of a rooster. This was my winning pick.

We spent the rest of the day enjoying cocktails on the beach in Poipu. The next day we got up and took a drive to the Waimea Canyon also known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”. It was a little rainy so I didn’t have much luck with pictures so I suppose you will have to go visit to see it for yourself.

The beach near our hotel.

Sarah stoked on a nice, sandy beach.

The next day was our last day in Hawaii. We spent the morning on the beach enjoying what little time was left before leaving for the airport. On the way to the airport we stopped at a beach in Lihue where we watched a handful of surfers for a little while.

Surfers in Hawaii

On the way home we talked about how next time we will have to learn how to surf and how we didn’t want to leave the Hawaiian paradise and return to winter in Montana. We made it home without event and it was the end to another trip of a lifetime.

Another great finish to a great trip.