Fish Fry tomorrow

big Cooke City Fish Fry tomorrow! 

Everyone is invited.  And should know the rules:  Bring local fish (caught in the morning), and beer. 


backcountry swimming!

Gary Carlson, yesterday, at 10,000'.

And a couple more from today...

Video piece to follow.


Hole in the Wall

Over the last four or five years I had been systematically combing the East Bud in search of the infamous Arch.  This weekend I recruited a good buddy, and the mission unfolded ideally..!


Miller Ridge traverse

Miller Ridge today, scoping ski routes (like the one above).

Miller Mtn. (above left).  Sub two hours (via bike) from Silver Gate.

followed by a swim in the Soda Butte!


bushwhacking for fresh water

Followed you know who down to another top secret (new) stash yesterday.

Needless to say, it didn't disappoint.

The man is infatuated with the 'Stone (to degrees bordering on enlightenment).


Cooke City softball tourney

The big Cooke City softball tournament went down yesterday. in all it’s glory.

The Cream rallied through the opening rounds, but were ousted in the championship game by some sluggers from Billings.  

No shortage of action out there.  Great community event.


went up Granite Pk. today, Indian style (board shorts and moccasins)

Taking into account the old Indian (?) adage:  Carry only what you can carry at a full run.


Interplanetary mission to the Tetons

Spent the weekend soaking up Science Fiction film down in the Tetons..

Went 3 for 3 on String Lake
via east Teewinot, the Paintbrush Divide, and the Owen Spalding.

about had to battle this bear!   

it bluff charged me and a family of four from Spain.  to within spitting distance.

it was one of those trips.

Time travel (video) when Internet access allows..

the Tetons being a World away from the Culture of Cooke City.  


Earlier this summer, I went down into the Clarks Fork gorge for the first time. (just below ‘the Box’). I was blown away by the energy and the beauty of the place…

Very soon I also gathered the idea of the route’s historical significance. Specifically for the Nez Perce and their legendary journey of 1877.

Previously I believed that the Nez Perce had traveled over Dead Indian Pass, but following a bit of research, I learned that it was much more likely that they descended into the Clarks Fork canyon (in fleeing from the US cavalry).

Awesome to imagine what the Indian scouts felt when they found this route. And what better way than ponder the history, than to retrace their footsteps and explore the landscape (via packraft).

So in 1855, with settlers pouring in from the East, the Nez Perce were pushed from their homelands, like the Wallowa Valley of Oregon, and 'persuaded' onto a reservation. Five years later gold was discovered on their spread, so Congress chopped the reservation to a tenth the size…

Conflicts ensued.

So imagine the American West, 135 years ago.
800 Nez Perce traveling with 2-3,000 horses!, being chased by twice as many US troops (with ten times the fire power), trying to capture and corral them onto a desolate piece of land. Already hundreds of arduous miles in to the chase, the Nez Perce found themselves in the Lamar Valley, with the Northern Absaroka’s rugged crest separating them from the Great Plans to the east, and possible salvation. Avoiding potential conflict with miners up around Cooke City, it seems they may have traveled up Miller Creek (through the Hoodoo Basin?) and on over the divide, descending Crandall Creek. Soon thereafter dropping into the Clarks Fork canyon, hoping it would go.!

Turns out it does. Following a waist deep ford, the north side of the river goes clean on out to Edelweiss. The difference being, after floating 20 miles, I had the option of beer and ice cream, while waiting for a pickup truck and a hitchhike back to Cooke City. While the Nez Perce still had an incredibly long walk to Canada, with winter fast approaching… at best.

Music by Neil Young. 
Animation adapted from a Fist Full of Dollars. 
Additional cinematography (and angling) by Gabe Lapito.

Paddled up on about 15 Great Blue Herons, and 3 or 4 Ospreys too.



twice on Republic Peak this week!
Caught a Beartooth Alliance meeting last night.  The get-together was centered around the mine reclamation going on around town.  Pretty interesting stuff.   At the big Knife River site (on the upper Soda Butte) I learned about all the wells (14 perimeter and 3 central) that they have pumping water away from the tailings.  The 3 central wells send their water through a treatment facility (on site), before eventually letting it loose down steam.  (iron being the mineral of most concern).  With the tailings, upwards of 30' deep, being dug up, mixed with lime, and put high and dry.

Will be great to get the upper Soda Butte back in action as a healthy fishery.   A couple years out I suppose.  Though I've seen fish around Silver Gate (in a spring fed marsh), the seemingly ideal habitat a stones throw from my cabin is currently without trout..

Also observed a fresh wildfire atop the Thunderer while rubber-necking ski routes on my way thought the Park last night, following a round of t-storms.  I don't foresee it as a problem, as it's right near the summit, and Cache Creek (to the east) seems to have less fuel than needed (from the '88 onslaught) for anything to blow up.


Awesome outing with 'the Good Doctor' yesterday.  
He convinced me to join him on this crazy off-trail mission.  In search of some top-secret YNP water.

This coyote walked right up to us, to start off the day.  Always a good omen.

Funny, I made the mistake of joking about out-fishing the Sensei with my Tenkara rig.
He promptly crushed me!  landing at least 20 within the first hour.  (the man is a fly-fishing machine)
All I could do was sit back and take in the clinic.

Dr. J, in his element!


Once upon a Time. in the Tetons

Been thinking about visiting the Tetons this week…
So recalling my last trip down there, figured I might share a short story.
One where I was fortunate enough to ski off the Grand Teton, in Mint conditions.  Alone, and almost accidentally…

note the black speck on the upper snowfield.  photo by Jason Smith

The Grand Teton is probably the most iconic mountain in the United States.
It also has a handful of very attractive ski mountaineering routes.   However, I wasn’t interested in skiing it.   Figured I could count on all the moderates to be a  Zoo, any time conditions were good.  So my initial plan was to explore Leigh Canyon (Thor Peak and Mt. Moran), following a day of ski touring around Sylvan Pass.  I had two days off from work.

Driving over Sylvan Pass that mid June morning, things were frozen solid, with a thick rainy fog.  Guess it would be on to the Tetons, sooner than later.  Thinking perhaps a casual morning, and a Dusk Patrol may be in order.  The weather forecast called for gradually clearing skies, followed by a brief window of bluebird.

Near noon, I set off from the String Lake trailhead, bushwacking around Leigh Lake.  Hoping to have a go at the stunning SW couloir of Mt. Moran.  However, about an hour and a half in to the approach, I felt a vehement inclination to pull the plug.  Tomorrow would be the day.  Though linking Moran and the GFT back to back would be bliss, I felt it wise to put all of my eggs in one basket.  (one in the hand beats two in the bush)  Like it or not, the Grand had sent me an invitation.  One I had to accept.  For conditions were In.

So south to Jackson I drove.  I hadn’t brought any ice screws.  Figured the least I could do was bring one for Abalakov anchors.  Full retail or not, there was to be a party.

Caught a few hours of shut-eye at the Lupine Meadows trailhead, drank a big brew of mate’, and soon set off under the radiant moonlight.  Awesome how you can often know well ahead of time when the day will be a good one.
Sure enough it was.

Good morning Middle Teton.

On up the Stettner Couloir.. Typical morning enthusiasm took me right past the Chevy (my planned route).  And rather than downclimb back to the entrance, I traversed some moderate mixed terrain over to the Ford Couloir.  Stubborn.  And fun.

Easing on up into the Ford, I found lots of fresh snow!  Stable, boot-top powder over a smooth, supportable base.  Time to drop the hammer.

The upper east snowfield was brilliant.  Perfect snow texture, great light and Lots of air.

Party on!

So yeah, it went.  In powder.  Spindrift sure picked up on the descent though!  (the Chevy is a wind funnel.  hence the ice beard)  Wished I had brought some googgles!  Kept the rope in my ruck the whole day.  Fairly sporting downclimbing, with the blowing snow as it was.    But all in all, a fantastic experience.  Not one I’d necessarily recommend, unless of course, conditions are In!


It's going to try and snow. Tonight!

Big party this weekend in Silver Gate.
With Screendoor Porch coming up from Jackson, to play a few sets.  

There’s also to be a film premier, shot in 1924, about ‘Grasshopper Glacier Country’..!  (Saturday, 6pm at the Range Riders)  Psyched to see it. With proceeds going directly to the Museum. 

Elk Lake.  on the home stretch

In other news, I wrapped up a Clarks Fork packrafting short, and jogged it over to Alpine, East Rosebud (file on a hard drive in my pocket).  Six hours, even-steven.  But alas, I was only able to get 2/3rds the way through uploading it, before the Red Lodge library gave me the boot…  And so it goes.

Furthermore, the moon shadows are F-11 status right now.  So I suggest we all head into the alpine, when this front passes through.