Some Like it Hot

Deep in a forested canyon, on the bank of a gurgling stream, a ceaseless flow of mineral water gushes up from the bowels of the earth, into a deep, narrow pool lined with rocks and downed timber. Mingling with the icy stream, the water in the pool is a warm, inviting 105 degrees.

A Ridge Too Far

It was one of those days you might hear about at an AA meeting, the kind of 9-5 career-ending day that is the lore of many a mountain town across the Northwest. After nearly three weeks of clear skies, the clouds rolled in and dumped two feet of snow overnight. On a Wednesday.

So I did what any sane, rational, completely irresponsible ski-town resident would do. I called in sick.

A Yellowstone Winter

It’s deep winter in Yellowstone and the evening air is crisp and still. My breath hangs in the last weak rays of the sun which is setting behind the trees to the west. The crusty snow creaks under my boots. Occasionally, I break through to deep fluff and fight back to the top. I stop to listen. Absolute silence. The temperature is dropping so fast that all the forest seems to be holding its breath. I am near the road now and relish the thought of a warm car. In winter, simple pleasures become lavish delights.

Backcountry Yellowstone

I wake, shove down my sleeping bag, and pull on my shirt and shorts. Unzipping the tent, I crawl to the door and peer out. It's damp and still following the night's drizzle.

Some Town Trout

On evenings when the spring thaw is going full blast, I like to sleep with the bedroom window open. Though I live just two blocks off Bozeman’s Main Street, I can hear Sourdough Creek swollen and roaring down from the Hyalites where elk are dipping for a drink, down through hay fields then subdivisions then the older tree-lined streets like my own then under the heart of the town then out to join the East Gallatin, the Gallatin, the Missouri, the Mississippi and the Gulf.

Give Us Our Dailey Wind

Sure, you could drive north to Martinsdale or Canyon Ferry Lake, east to Harrison Reservoir, or south to Ennis or Hebgen Lakes and probably find wind. A wind phone service will even tell you how hard it’s blowing at some of those places. But ask Bozeman windsurfers what their favorite lake is, the one they head to for morning thermals, evening sessions, and every puff of wind in between, and they’ll say Dailey.

Avalanche!

As you hike slowly up through the deep snow, the cold air stinging your face, you hear a CRRRAAACK so loud and deep it echoes down the canyon and shakes the new snow off the trees. You turn to move, but, before you can, you’re tumbling. Down and down the slope in a tidal wave of ice and snow chunks. You’re thrown about like a shoe in the dryer. If you don’t smash into rocks and trees you may be crushed by the ice chunks falling with you. When you stop, if you’re still alive, you’ll likely suffocate with the tons of concretelike snow compacted all around you.

Dancing on Ice

For a moment, a brief, dark, terrifying moment, I am trapped under ice.

My breathing accelerates, my heart pounds, every muscle in my body goes rigid. The blood roars through my veins like a river undammed. I’m looking upward at a vast, impenetrable sheet of bluish-white; but I see nothing, feel nothing. There is only a paralyzing coldness; a deep, intense, overwhelming sense of dread.

Stepping Into the Wild

As if in a dream, I’m gliding down a snowfield, the silence caressed by the gentle sound of the powder snow moving beneath my feet. The slope is so steep that, in reality, I’m falling, but the pillow of snow on which I’m balanced, and the shear volume of snow, cushions all hazards.

Yellowstone Rendezvous

Best skiing of the year.

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