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.

Kauai by boat

[Sorry about the posting hiatus, but life often gets in the way of blogging. This post resumes from my Hawaii trip, which you can go back and read about here.

Humpback Whale

After we spent a fun filled week snorkeling and exploring volcanoes on the Big Island, Sarah and I hopped on an inter-island flight to spend a more stereotypical vacation week on Kauai. It was neat to go from the youngest island to the oldest island and compare the two. The thing we noticed most? More tourists on Kauai.

After getting settled in our room in at the Kauai Beach Resort, we went to check out the beach out the hotel doors. We were a little disappointed that swimming conditions were not ideal this time of year at the Kauai Beach Resort, so we just relaxed and enjoyed the views.

Sarah excited to be at a nice resort with air conditioning.

The beach right outside our hotel.

The next morning we got up for a free breakfast and informational meeting the resort offers guests who have just arrived. Here, our honeymoon luck continued and we won a 2 for the price of 1 kayak tour on the Wailua River. Due the the high probability of getting wet on a kayak trip I left my camera at the hotel, but I did bring my GoPro, and the video at the end of this post has a little footage of us kayaking as well as Secret Falls, the waterfall we kayaked and took a short hike to see.

The next morning we woke up super early (4:30 a.m. early), to go board a boat and go on a boat tour of the Na Pali coast as well as a snorkel off the coast of Nihau, the forbidden island. Nihau is a short distance from Kauai and used to be a part of the same island as Kauai millions of years ago. Now, the whole island is owned by two brothers who maintain a Calvinist settlement. You can only access the island with permission, and that means you pay several hundred dollars for a helicopter ride to the island, and in turn, you are allowed a whopping 15 minutes to walk around and see whatever there is to see. The other way, and most popular way, to see the island up close is to pay a couple hundred dollars for a boat ride to snorkel just off the coast. That is what we did.

Before we reached Nihau, we were treated to a nice boat tour of the rugged and beautiful Na Pali Coast.

Na Pali Coastline

Waterfall on Kalalau beach

I had hiked the 12 miles to the Kalalau beach several years ago with my brothers, but I had never taken a boat ride along this coast. It was cool because we boated along the portion of the coast that you cannot hike, this made it seem as though I had never been there before.

Coastal Arch on the Na Pali Coast

Waterfall into the ocean

Sea Arch

Waterfall onto a beach only accessible by boat.

Unfortunately, my camera battery died before getting to Nihau, but the video at the end of the post has some footage of snorkeling off the coast of the forbidden island as well as the “keyhole”, a natural arch formed on a small volcanic crater by the crashing waves of the ocean.

The next day, we had scheduled another boat trip. This trip was originally a sunset sail along the Na Pali coast, I know, the day before we went on a Na Pali boat trip, but this trip was less adventure oriented and more romantic (a critical component for any successful honeymoon). Also, we thought it would be cool to see the Na Pali coast during sunset with the dramatic lighting most Hawaii sunsets provide. We originally scheduled this trip for our last night on the island, but the trip was bumped up because a large northern swell was moving in.

As we enjoyed cocktails and rounded the western edge of Kauai, we realized the swell had arrived early. We found ourselves on a tour boat in the largest seas I have ever seen. Waves were cresting 5-10 feet higher than the boat we were on, which was a 60 foot, two story, catamaran, it was spooky and exhilarating at the same time. Obviously, it was too dangerous to continue to the Na Pali coast, so the boat turned around.

But not all was lost. The humpback whales were absolutely going off. I had only seen a whale once, in Northern California, who had swum up the Klamath River. This evening, we saw countless whales, some even jumping only short distance from our boat. I never was lucky enough to time an epic whale jump, but I did manage a few good whale shots.

Whale waving hello

The whales were not far from the boat.

Whale raising its fin with the Na Pali coast behind.

We also had some dolphins join us.

Sunset off the west coast of Kauai.

In the end we had a great few days riding boats on Kauai, and with the Northern swell coming in we spent our last few days on the beach or hiking.

Also, I finally managed to put together a short video of our trip. I didn’t have an underwater camera, so I used my GoPro pretty much for snorkeling, so that is how the video is oriented. I also have a few clips from other adventures so I highly recommend you take a watch.

2012-2013 Ski Season Edit

I know, I know, the ski season is far from over and for me it is really just beginning as the steeps stabilize and access roads melt out. Nonetheless, I figure I should share the footage I collected over the winter in addition to telling the story of how I blew my knee out over a year ago with everyone. So enjoy some helmet cam footage of powder skiing in Southwest Montana.

Music by David Bowie (duh!)

Waipio Valley and Mauna Kea

Waipio Valley

Following our adventure to Volcanoes National Park, we loaded up our jeep with some friends we made at the farm and headed North to the Waipio Valley. We drove for a few hours through heavy rain and because of the rain we were forced to abandon a couple stops. When we finally arrived at the Waipio Valley, we were glad we had a jeep so we could drive, rather than walk, down to the black sand beach.

To drive into the valley it is required that you have four-wheel drive, otherwise you have to walk the 4-mile long road down to the beach. The road is not particularly rough but very steep and you need to have a low gear to stay in control. We made it down to the beach, parked and checked the area out.

Waipio Valley at the beach.

Hello little bird.

Waipio River

Beautiful colors on the river

More vegetation in the Waipio Valley

After checking out the beach and river and with rain starting to build we decided to head out of the valley and head up in elevation, to the top of Mauna Kea. Some people argue that Mauna Kea is bigger than Everest if you count the relief from the bottom of the ocean to the summit, I’m not sure how true this is but it is very cool to be nearly 14,000 feet above the ocean, in the middle of the Pacific.

Astronomical Observatories on top of Mauna Kea. The landform in the distance is the island of Maui.

We had planned on staying up on the summit to watch the sunset, but unfortunately one of our friends from the farm was feeling the effects of AMS so we quickly and unanimously agreed we better head down to lower elevation. Even though we missed the sunset we still had plenty of time to chill and explore the observatories on the summit.

Some hikers climb a subpeak of Mauna Kea

An observatory with building cumulus clouds

It seemed as if you could see forever from the summit.

Building clouds made for some dramatic pictures.

The next day we slept in and went on our Volcano adventure as mentioned in a previous post.

We interrupt this broadcast…

I figured that this is a ski website and all I have done is post tropical pictures. Well, I have been skiing and here is proof.

Last weekend up on Hollywood Wall in Frasier Basin.