Winning Entry in TheBackpackerTV Video Contest

Recently TheBackpackerTV held their Fall Video Contest in which I entered a short I had created about the Parcour de Wild myself and Matt Lutz embarked upon in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Amongst the entries in the contest mine was chosen as the winner and yesterday I received the handsome contest-winning loot – – a gorgeous Flip MinoHD with custom graphics.

TheBackpackerTV is home to a ton of great, user-submitted videos about backpacking and backpacking gear. It’s easy for anyone to add their own videos and to become part of TheBackpackerTV Community so click a link from this post and head over and check them out. Here is the winning entry to the contest if you missed my blog post highlighting it.

Parcour de Wild 2009

Continental Divide TrailOn October 11th, 2009 Matt Lutz and Sam Haraldson drove to the Continental Divide along the desolate Montana Hwy 200.  Arriving at the 5,610 ft trailhead and finding just shy of a meter of snow paired with temperatures around 10 deg F the duo put on their hardmen game face, snowshoes, backpacks, and began climbing from Roger’s Pass to the Crown of the Continent – the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail.

SunriseFor the previous months Matt and Sam had been planning a route across parts of the Helena National Forest comprised primarily of the Bob Marshall with the expectation of traveling between 130 and 165 miles as part of the loosely-organized wilderness adventure race Parcour de Wild.  As the date for the trip grew nearer the snow began to fall in NW Montana and Sam and Matt’s chances of making 150 miles along the Continental Divide grew slim.  Much planning had gone into the route and little time was left to create a Plan B so when Matt arrived at Sam’s house in Bozeman after driving from Minnesota the two stuck with their plan. 

MattEven with the first steps from the highway, over the five foot embankment of plowed snow, up the switchbacks to the top of the first ridgeline Sam was doubtful of the teams ability to complete their route.  Being the perservering type he kept his mouth shut and mentally determined his mindset would be that of forward-progress with no particular end-goal intent.  Sam and Matt discussed their plans in ongoing dialog as they walked for the first and second day.  Sometime during the second day after having only made less than a dozen miles they knew the focus of the trip should change from fast and light adventure race mode to an enjoyable winter camping trip. 

MattAfter a decision to hike out-and-back rather than push on toward the finish was determined – a decision which did not negatively affect either hiker – the lightness of step that is found in any fun backcountry excursion continued with each snowshoe placed into the glistening white powder.  Matt and Sam hiked until a pre-determined time, had some lunch, melted some water, and then began back-tracking their steps toward the trailhead and waiting automobile. 

Golite Shangri-La 2Although we set out to do a light and fast adventure race both Matt and Sam decided to themselves and openly to each other that this sort of pursuit would be better suited to them in summer months.  Matt is an ultramarthon runner with multiple races under his belt and Sam is a thru-hiker with a couple long trails to his name.  They both enjoy hikes in the 20 to 30 mile range and if this race had taken place one or two weeks earlier the duo felt they would have been in contention. 

CDT cairnOnly two other racers opted to participate in the event and they were successful, completing their intended route with smashing success.  Dave Chenault and Kevin Sawchuk’s race report can be viewed with a subscription to at Parcour de Wild 2009. It was rewarding to both Matt and Sam to hear the other two had participated and completed the route for it added a legitimacy to the event.  The four men who were out in the cold that snowy week in October may not have all finished but they could be certain they had planned, prepared, and set-out to do it.  There were eight other individuals who originally intended to race the Parcour de Wild that ultimately did not.  There is something to be said for at least giving it a go. 

Video Trip Report:

Trip Photos

The full set of photos for this trip can be seen at:

Moving by Bicycle

In June of 2009 I made up my mind to move from one apartment to the other. I also made up my mind to make this move using only bicycles and bicycle trailers. After making up my mind to do this I did some research and found some great testimony to this from other individuals and groups having done this on the Internet.

Two days ago, after I’d decided to move I found out about a contest that Madsen Cycles was putting on. If you’re interested in helping me win, click this link to their site and check out their cool bicycles (it’ll open in a new tab/window).

I started off on a Sunday afternoon by loading a few plastic tubs into the “kid trailer” I pull with my Schwinn Tempo road bike.

Schwinn Tempo and Converted Kid Trailer.

After the first load with the Schwinn I sent a text message to my buddy Captain E to see if I could borrow his Madsen Cargo Bike. I did two more loads with my Schwinn/trailer combo and then heard back from Captain E so I cruised down to pick up the Madsen.

Upon retrieving the Madsen and Captain E’s homemade bike trailer I could tell that this game was ON! I rode it home and began to load it up with my stuff. I’ve moved a lot in my day and I have numerous plastic tubs to hold just about everything. This made loading the flatbed trailer a breeze.

The Madsen loaded up.

The consecutive loads went off without a hitch as well. I was able to stack tubs on the trailer and bulky, odd-shaped items into the Madsen’s ample bucket.

The snowboards depict a common site in any Bozeman move.

Note the fly rods sticking out the top of the traffic cone.

Having things packed well from the get-go is important.

Furniture, skis, you name it!

The last load I had been contemplating since the start. When I set off to make this move using only a bicycle I assumed that the last load I made would be in my automobile. I justified that I would have to move my car from one location to the next and that it made sense to load it up with stuff. Although, as I proceeded further and further with the move I became more and more stubborn to move everything with cycles. The last item left was my boxspring, mattress, and bed frame. I solicited the help of fellow members of the Bozeman bicycling community whom I know are up for general jackassery such as this. Responses from SingleTrackM1nd and tjdzor came swiftly and with great enthusiasm.

The three of us sat in the sunshine pondering the massive load, first making attempts to put the mattresses on SingleTrackM1nd’s Xtracycle. The weight was no problem for the Xtracycle but the size was. It became clear, quickly that the Madsen would have to be used as the width of the bucket was idea for balancing the width of the load of the bed.

After placing the load onto the bucket one test run was made unsuccessfully but I felt confident in my abilities so we re-secured the load and set off down the street. SingleTrackM1nd and tjdzor road ahead blatantly stopping traffic at the two major intersections, laughing, shouting, and capturing video along the way. The load was precarious and it required great concentration but in the end there was SUCCESS! A whimsical video was captured by tjdzor. Check it out:

The Madsen made it all the way from point A to point B, albeit with general un-stability requiring some careful maneuvering. But, it DID make it. No egg on my face.

Backpacking Light – Wilderness Trekking School – WS1-LWB

This past weekend, June 12th – 14th, our six member team consisting of four students and two instructors set out into the Gallatin Mountain Range of SW Montana to learn the principles of Lightweight Backpacking during Backpacking Light’s Wilderness Trekking School course, “Wilderness Skills I, Lightweight Backpacking”.

BPL’s course was taught by Mike Clelland! and Sam Haraldson. The four students were BPL members, Bruce, Gregg, Dave, and June. Level of experience ranged from 30 years backpacking to some without much experience, but with lots of ambition.

The course focused on teaching more than trekking and involved one day in the classroom followed by two days of hiking and outdoor learning sessions. Over the course of the two half-day and one full-day of hiking we only covered about a dozen miles but interspersed that with lessons in ultralight backpacking gear, bear bag hanging, proper shelter pitching, hygiene, hiking tempo, foot care, water treatment, cooking gear, and much more.

Clelland and Haraldson, as well as a half-dozen other guide/educators will be offering more courses throughout the summer if you find this interesting check out BPL’s offerings at:

Photos from the trip are as follows:

Post-trip gear and food weighing Sam - self portrait Mike Clelland! and Sam Haraldson Requisite ultralight backpacking group photo
Bridger Mountain Range from Chestnut Ridge PCT method of bear bagging PCT method of bear bagging Gregg sets up his Backpacking Light spin tarp
Sam - self portrait with StickPic Sam - self portrait eating spring beauties Gregg Gregg and Mike
Bruce June and Dave Orchid Sam and Bruce
Lion's Ridge shuttle bus June writes down her initial gear weights Our group food ready for weighing Mike makes coffee

The route we chose:

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Researching, Planning, and Remembering Trips – Part One

In the past few years I’ve found the best way to maximize the amount of enjoyment I gain from a backpacking trip is to spend time before the trip researching, mapping, and planning. Then, upon my return home I opt to spend time cataloging, memorializing, and sharing the trip through my Web site, a photo-sharing site, and a trip-sharing site.

This is the first of a two-part blog series in which I will discuss my pre and post trip processes. If you find all of this silly and would prefer to read only about activities during a backpacking trip, feel free to explore this site as I have dozens of trips cataloged herein.

Part One: Planning and Research
My research and trip planning involves a multi-pronged approach, but the most time is spent poring over maps, both paper and digital. I generally start the process using a large-scale area map to hone into the particular mountain range, drainage, or zone that I’d like to explore. After that has been determined I scale down the area of precision using my computer.

I primarily use the Google Earth software with a free USGS topographic map overlay installed. Once I’ve zoomed in on the area I determined to explore I use a series of Google Earths tools to map out my route and points of interest. I first make the USGS topo layer visible so that I can see any trails or other man-made features that are present in the area I want to explore. I next trace my chosen route into a new Earth layer using the “Add Path” tool. I turn the topo layer on and off to see how my route looks on the satellite image as well as on the map image. Next I use the Google Earth “Add Placemark” tool to mark the location of trailheads, possible campsites, or other locations of note along my route.

Within the Google Earth software I organize my routes within a folder structure. I have a folder for each of the states in which I’ve done trips. Within the folder for the particular state are sub-folders that are based on areas, whether that be a mountain range, a long trail, or a park. For instance in my folder entitled Montana there are sub-folders for the Bridger Mountains, Yellowstone, and Continental Divide Trail. Within the sub-folder there is yet again another series of folders – one for each trip. If I opt to hike a route twice but do it slightly different I may make a new folder that has information specific to it.

Google Earth is a great way to look at a trail from various points of view. You can see your route from above as if looking at a map or you can see it from a birds eye view at an angle from the sky, and you can even maneuver yourself along the trail at ground level to get a feel for how the terrain feels before you get there.

Part One: Data and Analytics
I’m an analytical person as well as a spatial person and maps aren’t enough information in my thirst for data. For this reason I like to extrapolate specific mileage and elevation data from the mapped information. This is where a very useful Web site, comes in handy. There are a multitude of functions that this online software can perform but I find a handful of them most useful.

The first step in turning the pretty little map I’ve created into rows and columns of data is to export a .kml file of my route from Google Earth. This is done by selecting the trip folder, right-clicking on it, and selecting “Save Place As”. This will save all your path and placemark information in the .kml file format. The .kml file can then be turned into a number of other file formats using GPSVisualizer.

Using the “Convert a File” link at GPSVisualizer I am able to create a spreadsheet that contains mileage data. This information can then be entered into the form at the “Look up Elevation” link. A third step allows me to create a section profile of the entire route. A section profile is graphical analysis of the route depicting mileage and elevation information.

Part One: Conclusion
To summarize, in this post I’ve discussed the use of paper maps, Google Earth software, and the Web site to research and view potential trip routes. I have a number of routes that I’ve prepared, but not yet hiked.  These provide a fun way to dream of places to go in the backcountry.

Stay tuned for the next installment in which I impart wisdom of how I go about sharing a trip with friends, family, and other onlookers whom may be interested in that trip themselves or just interested in what I’m doing after I’ve returned home. Some of the tools I use for that are my Web site,, and But that’s enough of a sneak peek – – until next time, happy hiking.

Summit Cheeseburger – Drinking Horse Mtn; Bozeman, MT

Drinking Horse Mountain - View from the Car

Drinking Horse Mountain - View from the road

Drinking Horse Mountain - 93 Subaru Legacy at trailhead

Drinking Horse Mountain - Info Kiosk

Drinking Horse Mountain - Sam Self Portrait atop Summit

Drinking Horse Mountain - A rudimentary shelter

Drinking Horse Mountain - View of Bozeman

First I drove from my house in Bozeman, Montana to the Drinking Horse Mountain trailhead. It is located on Bridger Canyon road.

On the way to the trailhead I took some pictures of Drinking Horse Mountain. It is about 629 feet tall.

I parked my 1993 Subaru Legacy in the roadside parking lot. As you can see, my car is almost as tall as the mountain.

Like any good city trail there is a nice informational kiosk with a map and some little handouts. I stopped and took a picture for you to see.

Suddenly I was at the top of Drinking Horse Mountain consuming a double cheeseburger. I kept the cheeseburger wrapped in a knitted hat inside a stuff sack while I hiked. It was warm and delicious.

Near the summit of Drinking Horse Mountain someone has constructed a nifty fort out of dead tree branches. It was neat.

The proper summit of Drinking Horse Mountain doesn’t provide too amazing of views, but slightly to the North a quality view of Bozeman is there for all to see.

I made a thirty-five second video of the hike to the summit.

Bissel’s Mound – Summit Cheeseburger Project

When he proposed the idea he had a glint in his eye usually reserved for those in the industry of taking fingers. The heavy silence that followed did little to ease the sudden tension that often settled in whenever he had an “idea”.
“Are you in?” Sam inquired after a long silent stare at his comrades.
“In on what?” Matt and Jon asked with a puzzled look on their faces.
“Yes or no?” Sam stated with a simple insistence.
“You still haven’t told us…”
“The details are unimportant. There is only one certainty – – we will need to get cheeseburgers.”
Silence overcame the room as Matt and Jon looked at one another in bewilderment.
“Are you in?” Sam reclined in the car seat and and folded his arms across his chest.
“I’m in.” Matt said, similarly leaning back and folding his arms moments before he remembered he was driving.
“Okay, how about you, Jon?”
“Yes or a no. Are you in?”
“Oh all right. I’m in,” Jon said with a tone of nonchalance.
Ten hours, twenty-four beers, and a hastily constructed and detonated firework later found the intrepid trio driving the seven miles deep into the heart of farmland in Washington County, Minnesota with a Tupperware container full of microwaved White Castle cheeseburgers. It was not until then that Sam finally revealed his plan.
“So, we go out to this spot in Washington County that’s supposedly the highest point?” Jon asked from his position in the back seat.
“That my friend is correct,” Sam nodded enthusiastically.
“And we climb up it?”
“Then eat a cheeseburger?”
“That’s silly.”
“Well, let’s do it,” Jon shrugged. “It’s as good as any place to have breakfast I suppose.
As the Toyota began easing over to the side of the rural road, Sam took a worried look around. “We just have to watch out for the neurotic Nazi ninja monkey who, by a staggering coincidence are all named Mr. Tinkles.”

Matt and Jon, normally allowing such nonsensical tripe to pass without comment, both gave Sam a puzzled look and began subliminally calculating how long until the car was traveling at a low enough velocity to jump out.
“What the hell are you talking about, moron?!?” Matt demanded before his silence reflex could kick in.
“I’m just saying, this is neurotic Nazi ninja monkey country, and it’s been warm enough that they’re probably done hibernating. I just hope we don’t stumble on to one of their group hugs. A neurotic Nazi ninja monkey is most dangerous when he’s hugging.”
Simultaneously Matt and Jon’s mental calculations turned to how much damage would be incurred if Sam were to be pushed from the moving vehicle while accelerating. Both arrived at the conclusion that apart from a little hippie-splatter the car would probably be fine.
Just as Matt’s hand was slowly snaking towards Sam’s seatbelt release button Sam’s arm shot out causing both Matt and Jon to jump.
“That’s it!” He announced enthusiastically. “Pull over here.”
Jon and Matt exchanged one more glance of unease as Matt pulled the Toyota toward the side of the road next to a large empty farm field.
“So where is it?” Jon said, squinting out the window.
“There!” Sam pointed.
“I can’t see it, is it near that dirt-mound?”
“It IS the dirt mound.”
“You what?!” Matt and Jon both turned towards a smug-looking Sam.
“That, my friends, is Bissell’s Mound, the highest geological point in Washington County. And we, my friends are going to climb it. Oh yes, we will climb it and eat cheesburgers atop it while we take in the glorious view of…” Sam was interrupted by Matt clicking the release on his seatbelt and kicking with all his strength while Jon leaned over and opened his door causing Sam to tumble from the car in an indignant heap of profanity and lightweight hiking boots.
“Thank god for that,” Jon said flopping back down in his seat.
“That might have worked better,” Sam’s head suddenly popped back up, “if the car was actually moving.”

“Damn,” Matt said as he looked at the keys in his hand.
“Double damn,” Jon said as he realized they would never get another chance.
“Ok, let’s go – and don’t forget the cheeseburgers,” Sam said as he gestured towards the tupperware container cooling on the seat.
“Damn,” muttered Matt, the parking brake catching his foot and preventing him from kicking himself. “Now what?”
“Looks like we scale a mound,” Jon sighed.
“Ok, what if we were to break an ankle getting out of the car?”
“I if you were to cut your foot off completely he’d still make you climb.”
“It wasn’t MY ankle I was thinking of.”
“It won’t help.”
“I know.”
Thirty seconds later, after convincing Matt to leave the aluminum bat behind, the three adventurers began trudging along the edge of a muddy farm field towards what appeared to be a gigantic earthen pimple on the otherwise flat expanse of landscape.
“Hey, are we trespassing?” Matt observed the wooden fence that ran the perimiter of the field.
“Hey, yeah! We should probably get the permission of the landowners before we do this!” Jon chirped, “I bet that’s their house right there.” He pointed at the house with conspicuous satellite dish in the front yard.
“That’s a good idea!” Matt nodded a little too enthusiastically. “I bet they have ESPN.”
“Oh for God’s sake, you guys!” Sam suddenly halted and spun on the pair. “It’s maybe a hundred feet of walking up an incline, it’s not like I’m asking you to crawl across a field of broken glass with your pants fly unzipped!”

“That’s a good point,” Jon mused. “But on the other hand it’s a hundred feet of walking up an incline.”
“He’s right,” Matt patted his shoulder. “It had to happen sooner or later but he’s actually…”
“Just walk, you spaghetti-spined whiners,” Sam said as he turned and continued on towards the dirt-heap.
“I think he was talking about you,” Matt whispered to Jon as they followed along.
It wasn’t long before the mound loomed before them in all its vertical glory. Surrounded by a perimeter of trees it sloped steeply upwards to, as was mentioned, the highest point in the county.
“I think if we circle to the left a little where the trees are thinner, we could easily get through,” Sam said, pondereding the potential routes upward.
“Or, we could just set fire to this side and wait a few days. The way would be clear then,” Jon stated, stroking his chin in what he hoped was a thoughtful way.
“Don’t be stupid,” Matt poked him in the ribs. “The cheeseburgers would be cold by that time. Does your chin itch or something?”
Jon stopped stroking his chin and returned to moping.
“Or, if we could get through the underbrush here it would be an easy ascent. Did either one of you bring a machete?” Sam stoked his chin in what was indeed a thoughtful way.
Matt and Jon stopped giving each other threatening looks and turned to Sam in unison with bewildered look on their faces.
“No, sorry,” Jon answered. “I left it back at my apartment next to the weed whip and the barrel of agent orange.”
“And I don’t believe in defoliation,” Matt said, folding his arms defiantly. “It’s against my religion.”
“Right, this way then,” Sam led on, completely missing the sarcasm that was oozing out of every pore of his traveling companions.
“Hey, look! There’s a beaten path through the trees right over there! This is going to be easy.” Matt began towards the opening but Sam’s arm shot out and stopped him.
“No!” A wide-eyed Sam half whispered, half shouted. “That’s a neurotic Nazi ninja monkey trail! If they’re nearby they’ll sense our disruption and come running armed with pointy sticks and self-doubt.” He studied the path intently. “It looks like they just got it the way they like it, so you don’t want to disturb a single blade of grass there. Believe me, they’ll know.”

“Uh-huh,” Matt nodded. “Yeah, I can see how that would be a problem. Say, on a completely different subject, have you eaten any strange-looking mushrooms in the last few days?”
“No, why?”
“Have you had any severe blows to the head?” Jon asked.
“Do you want one?”
“Shut up.”
“You got it.”
Quietly the group wound they’re way around the base of the mound until they found a spot where the trees didn’t quite form an impassible wall. Sam, being the more experienced hiker, deftly wove his way through them while Matt and Jon simply plowed through with clumsy determination. Halfway in Matt whispered to Jon.
“Are you getting thistles in your underwear too?”
“Yeah!” Jon grinned goofily.
When they finally emerged from the dense undergrowth the three were startled to find themselves half way up the hill. Jon looked back as the last traces of their path disappeared, reabsorbed into the thick foliage.
“Let’s do that again!” He almost sang.
“NO!” Both Sam and Matt shouted back.
“And take that raspberry vine out of your pants!” Matt added.

“Oh please yourself, then. Just be aware that raspberry stains are even harder to explain to the girlfriend than they are to wash out,” Sam shouted over his shoulder as he continued up the steep incline.
“I’ll take my chances,” Jon muttered as he followed after.
“Just don’t drop the cheeseburgers.”
“Are we there yet?” Matt sighed.
“Actually… yes.” Sam suddenly noticed that the slope had become far less vertical and only sky presented itself when he looked upward.
“We are?” Jon said stopped and realized the only change in altitude that he could make was now downwards. “We are!”
“We made it?” Matt looked around startled.
“We are officially at the top of Bissell’s Mound, gentlemen,” Sam said as he smiled broadly. “Time to break out some burgers.”
“Right, then.” Jon set the Tupperware container on the ground and popped the lid off letting the smell of soggy microwaved White Castle cheeseburgers waft out. Each man took one of the small sandwiches and stood looking out over the landscape.
“Cheers!” Sam held up his burger as if it were a fine wine in an expensive crystal glass. Matt and Jon each held theirs up as well and “clinked” them together causing a few onions to crumble to the ground. The only conversation that followed was the unmistakable sound of chewing and savoring.
When the first three burgers had been devoured the three adventurers allowed a moment to pass as they gazed at the landscape stretched out before them. It was mostly farm land, with a few brushy clusters of trees dotting the areas where it was impossible to drive a tractor. Far beyond was the faint sound of the highway, muted by distance and a lingering humidity that wasn’t quite fog. Jon was the first to speak.
“Wow. From up here everything looks so…”
“Majestic?” Sam ventured.
“Awe-inspiring?” Matt guessed.
“Remind me not to talk to you later, will you?” Matt sighed.

“Who’s ready for seconds?” Sam rubbed his hands together, eager to end the conversation.
As each one reached down to pick up another cheeseburger a sudden cracking of twigs could be heard behind a clump of dead trees. A few whining wails could be heard drifting on the light breeze and the overpowering smell of sauerkraut and wasabi wafted past the three friends.
Matt squinted in the direction of the sounds and smells. “What the hell is-“
“SHHHH!” Sam, now wide-eyed, motioned for everyone to crouch down. “Keep down, and whatever you do don’t say anything supportive in Japanese or they’ll come running!”
“Who?!” Jon demanded in a harsh whisper.
“What do you mean who?! I’ve only been talking about them all day. It’s the neurotic Nazi ninja monkeys! If they catch us they’ll force us to listen to all their problems in haiku form and then try to annex Poland!”
“Well, that doesn’t sound so bad,” Matt shrugged.
“Yeah, it might actually be kind of funny,” Jon began to stand but Sam pulled him back down.
“And they’ll also beat us up and throw feces at us. Did I mention that part?”
“Are you seriously saying there are actually a bunch of monkeys over there who are not only ninjas, but who also have severe personality hang-ups?” Matt whispered incredulously.
“And throw their poo, yes,” Sam hissed.
“That is wholly unbelievable,” Matt countered.
At that moment a small furry hand appeared above the level of the undergrowth. It was held ridged at an angle with the palm down as if it were…
“Holy crap, is that thing giving a nazi salute?” Jon gasped.
“Yes! They hate anything that isn’t their own race, and that means us!” Said Sam.
“We should probably get out of here,” Matt said nervously.
“Wait!” Sam held up his hand.

“We haven’t finished our cheeseburgers!” Sam exclaimed, holding aloft his precious meal.
“He’s right!” Jon looked in horror at the burger in his hand.
“Ok,” Matt, obviously conflicted between his love of grilled meat and his love of being able to walk under his own power, finally came up with a solution. “Eat fast!”
Without a moment’s hesitation all three simultaneously began stuffing the small cheeseburgers into their mouths and frantically chewing.
“Oh mahh aahhth guuuhhd,” Jon mumbled through a mouthful of processed meat and cheese.
“Lethh go,” Sam said, swallowing.
The three began creeping on hands and knees back the way they came as quietly as possible through the dried weeds. Every now and then they could hear a high pitch howl of emotional pain and confusion behind them. Just as the group reached the tree line the howls built in volume and frequency until they hit a crescendo of animalistic wailing.
“Oh, God! I think they’re hugging!” Sam’s face paled. “We’ve got to get out of here. Now.”
“I don’t think they know we’re here,” Jon whispered back. As if in answer to this statement a small silver object flew past his face and buried itself in the trunk of a tree.
Jon blinked. “Was that a-“
“Throwing star!” Matt screamed.
“RUN!” Sam stood and made a break for the trees.
Matt and Jon needed no more encouragement as the clamor of screeching simians was beginning to quickly close in. As they ran Jon hazarded a glance over his shoulder and immediately snapped his head back.
“Is it just me,” He panted as tree branches and other assorted bracken whipped past him. “Or do they all look a little like Woody Allen in tiny black jumpsuits?”
Matt looked back for a moment and nodded the best he could with a squirrel’s nest narrowly missing his face. “They do bear an uncanny resemblance.”
Without warning the three suddenly broke through the tree line and found themselves running across an open field. “There’s the car!” Sam shouted.
“I think they’re getting closer!” Matt realized their pursuers would overtake them long before they made it to the car. “I also think we’re screwed.”

“Wait! I have an idea.” Sam stopped and turned to face the howling throng of angry monkeys.
“What the hell are you doing?!” Jon called to him as he ran past a few steps and stopped.
“You’re insane! They’re going to bore you to death!” Matt stopped slightly behind Jon.
Ignoring both of them Sam raised his finger, pointing to a spot somewhere behind the horde of simian supremacists.
“Hey, Mr. Tinkles, look!” He hollered at the top of is lungs, “It’s Ben Stiller in drag!” To everyone’s amazement the monkeys stopped and looked around.
“And I think he’s got Prozac in his pocket!” Matt added, catching on.
“And he’s signing another movie deal in which he plays a guy living in New York but has to cope with something outside his element!” Jon shouted. “And they’re paying him twenty million to do it!” He added for good measure.
This seemed to instantly enrage the spandex-clad primates and they ran off in random directions, screeching angrily and clawing at their eyes.
“That was close,” Jon said. As he turned around he was greeted by two fists that introduced themselves to his face at high speed, knocking him to the ground.
“OW! What was that for?!” Jon rolled around on the ground cradling his jaw.
“Don’t even joke about that!” Matt kicked him in the side.
“I’d rather face the monkeys naked and covered in banana paste than even think about another Ben Stiller movie!” Sam stomped his foot down on Jon’s gut.
“All right, all right, I’m sorry! I panicked!,” Jon coughed and wheezed. As he began to catch his breath both Matt and Sam grabbed an arm and helped him back to his feet.
As the three walked back to the car Matt turned to Sam. “So, is it always like this?”
“Nah,” Sam shook his head. “Sometimes it’s actually exciting.”
“But it’s always cheeseburgers?” Jon asked.
“Ever since Sir William Weber scaled Mount Sirloin with a Hibachi strapped to his back.”
The crew walked on in silence for a while until they finally reached the car. The sound of angry neurotic Nazi ninja monkey nazis tearing the mound apart in their fruitless search echoed across the landscape as Matt unlocked the doors.
“So,” Sam said as he stretched out. “What are you guys doing for lunch?”

January Mountain Biking at Pipestone

Could be skiing…
The snowpack in Southwest Montana has been treacherous most of the winter which has kept me out of the backcountry and therefore out of backpacking or touring. I’m an active individual and I’ve been able to keep myself occupied snowboarding at the resort and doing a lot of cycling.
Nope, going biking…
A group of friends and I decided to take the cycling thing off the roads and onto the trails due to some unseasonably warm weather the area has been experiencing. This group of cyclists has been heading to this location for years for winter riding as there exists an interesting micro-climate in area that keeps the trails relatively snow-free most of the winter.
We went riding on Sunday, January 18th, 2009 near Whitehall, Montana at a place referred to as Pipestone. It is known for it’s bike trails, ORV trails, as well as it’s rock climbing and bouldering. While riding we saw ATVs, dirt bikes, and even a couple climbers – all out to drink in the near tropical heat we’ve been having.
Joyous winter biking…
We rode for a couple hours stopping often to fix various mechanical issues – a common problem on the first ride of the year I suppose. I have no idea how many miles we put on but I’d venture to guess ten or more miles. The trails we were riding (and wrenching) on were a combination of frozen sand, ice, snow, and mud. We all ended up nice and dirty which is a sign of a quality off road ride.
The Bozeman crew…
Riders present were Casey, John, Katie, Sam, Seth, and Steve representing a varied cross section of abilities. I do not remember the last time I went off road cycling so I was very excited to be on the trail going fast (and very, very slow at times) through single track, dirt roads, and icy and snowy treads of all varieties.
Audio visual…
To better memorialize the trip I put together a video montage of the day’s riding. My photo are also available from the day at my Flickr page, Pipestone Mountain Biking as well as via the thumbnails below.

Photos of a great day…

Seth fixing his ride Katie Steve and Casey Casey Casey post-crash Katie, Casey, and Steve
Casey and Katie Seth John Steve Casey Schmidt and Specialized
Seth, John, Steve, Casey, and Katie Steve midair Steve midair Sam pissing Steve on take-off Casey photographing
Steve midair Casey Steve Steve on take-off Steve landing Steve dropping in
IMG_4607.JPG Sunset Katie, Steve, and Casey