Nordic Skating . . . Hi-Line Style
Big Sky Walker
by bigskywalker
6M ago
The need for speed. Winter can be a real slog if you don’t have an activity you enjoy doing outside – for many, it is skiing. I continue hiking through the winter and I like snowshoeing as well, but one thing that really blows my hair back is strapping on my Nordic skates and zooming around on some wild ice. With all the snow we had in north-central Montana last winter, the snowshoeing was great – the ice skating, not so much (too much wind-blown crusty snow). I only skated once last winter, and that was while I was home in Helena for the holiday break. I love being right! The big dump of sno ..read more
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Mission Canyon in the Little Rockies
Big Sky Walker
by bigskywalker
7M ago
The one. I’ve enjoyed exploring the ridges, peaks, and canyons of the Little Rockies, and the isolated buttes of the Ft. Belknap Reservation over the past few years. I sort of feel like a kid in a candy store – even saw my first Ft. Belknap bear this fall! All but a few of the hundreds of miles I have walked here were NOT on established hiking trails. I’ve made my own way, following ridges, open prairie, clearings in the forest, and dirt roads. In fact there is only one real hiking trail in the Little Rockies that I would recommend, BUT IT IS A DANDY. In fact, it might be the most scenic hike ..read more
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Exploring an Igneous Dome in North-Central Montana
Big Sky Walker
by bigskywalker
8M ago
Into the bull’s eye. Although I’m not a geologist, I do enjoy learning about the processes that have shaped the landscapes where I hike and live. As a science teacher, I’ve tried to learn as much as I can about the geologic setting of north-central Montana where I teach. I like to hike onto the landscape to get a first-hand look, then use photographs, maps, and other images to help students understand why the land looks the way it does. Google Earth has been a great tool, giving my students and I bird’s eye views of the landforms around us. A few years ago I noticed a strange circular feature ..read more
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Sawtooth Ridge on the Rocky Mountain Front
Big Sky Walker
by bigskywalker
10M ago
Icon: a person or thing widely admired especially for having great influence or significance in a particular sphere There is no shortage of iconic peaks along the Rocky Mountain Front. Ear Mountain, Heart Butte, Chief Mountain, Steamboat, and Sawtooth Ridge are some of my favorites. Sawtooth might be the most recognizable because of its unique shape and location. It is visible to west-bound travelers on both Highway 200 and I-90 (best viewed in morning light). Plus, nothing says “I’m iconic” more than being featured on a beer label. Next time you’re in the beer isle check out the artsy illustr ..read more
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Blowdown in the Tobacco Roots of Southwestern Montana
Big Sky Walker
by bigskywalker
11M ago
According to the National Weather Service . . . At approximately 2:48 PM MDT on Sunday, August 11th 2019, a microburst occurred in the Tobacco Root Mountains near Granite Lake. Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest Service personnel estimated that between 200 to 250 acres of trees were blown down from this microburst. This blowdown resulted in the blockage of trails leading back to Granite Lake in the Tobacco Root Mountains. At least 4 people became stranded in the backcountry due to these trees blocking the trails leaving the area. Personnel from the Madison County Search and Rescue, National ..read more
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Casey Peak southeast of Helena
Big Sky Walker
by bigskywalker
11M ago
Just this once? Several years ago, a couple friends and I snowshoed up Casey Peak the day after Christmas. Because of the deep snow, it was extremely challenging but very amazing as well. You can read about it in one of my previous posts. My policy with this blog has been to feature a hike only once (99 posts so far). However hiking Casey Peak in the summer is such a different experience from snowshoeing it in the winter that I decided to make an exception. So here goes. Next level. My favorite thing about living in Helena is the fantastic trail system that borders the southern edge of town ..read more
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Flinsch Peak near East Glacier
Big Sky Walker
by bigskywalker
1y ago
Life-Changer. About twenty-five years ago I bagged my first Glacier Park peak as part of a summer workshop for teachers. We were learning about the history and geology of the park as we hiked and climbed around the park over a 4-day period. I still remember standing on Dawson Pass, looking up at Flinsch, and thinking, “that does not look like something I can climb”. Thankfully, the instructor thought otherwise – and I trusted the guy, so off we went. I’ve never forgotten the pain of hiking up the steep rocky slope, the rush of climbing the crux, and the feeling of exhilaration as I stood on th ..read more
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Ross Peak north of Bozeman
Big Sky Walker
by bigskywalker
1y ago
Two birds with one stone. I’m always amazed at how summer vacation goes by so fast! With my days numbered, I felt a sense of urgency to climb one more mountain before heading back to Hays for the start of the school year next week (students start on Thursday 8/18). I’ve also been craving a cheesesteak sandwich, probably because of recent publicity regarding the return of the Pickle Barrel sign that was stolen 20 years ago. Wife’s permission granted, I set off for Bozeman late Friday afternoon. The plan was to consume a sandwich, drive to the Ross Pass Trailhead 20 miles north of Bozeman, sleep ..read more
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Great Northern Mountain near Glacier Park
Big Sky Walker
by bigskywalker
1y ago
Quick trip. When I climbed Great Northern on a cloudy summer day in 2014, I was super-impressed by the variety of conditions along the 2-mile ridge to the summit – mostly good trail, with some scrambling, a couple short class 3 climbs, and a fair amount of exposure. I was hoping to do it again with friends, but especially wanted to climb it with my adventurous daughter Amy. I am back to teaching in Hays in a couple weeks (8/13/22), so when we found out that she had Monday off (8/1/22) we decided to go for it. I drove over to spend Sunday night with her in Missoula, then we left her house at 5 ..read more
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Caribou Peak along the CDT
Big Sky Walker
by bigskywalker
2y ago
The best laid plans. For the past several weeks my daughter Amy had been planning an ambitious father-daughter adventure for us. She had a week off, so we were going to visit the John Day Fossil Beds and Crater Lake in Oregon, and then climb Mt. Shasta in northern California. However, the price of gas and her reluctance to leave her dog TJ for a week caused a change in plans. Instead she decided to do a few different adventures in the Helena area, all dog-friendly and some dad-friendly. Let the staycation begin. I convinced Amy that we start with a two-day, one-night backpacking trip on the Co ..read more
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