January 28, 2011

Photography fun on the go


Jen and I both recently bought smartphones with decent cameras and have been putting them to use in our travels and everyday life.

You won't usually see the snapshots we take with them among the photos from our adventures, but you can find them online. My Twitpic collection is here, and Jen's is here. I've also started to use Picplz, which has some creative filters. The photo above is an example, from a foggy day at one our favorite dog-walking haunts.

As always, you can find galleries of our hiking and travel photos here, and my Flickr stream here.

January 24, 2011

We skied the CDT


Over the weekend, we decided to check out the cross-country ski trails at Chief Joseph Pass, south of Hamilton where the Continental Divide sidles up to the Idaho-Montana border, for the first time.

With 5 1/2 feet of snow on the ground and a fresh dusting of powder, it was worth the 95-mile drive.

There were a handful of vehicles and people in the parking lot when we arrived, but on the trail we found ourselves mostly on our own.

The Bitterroot Cross Country Ski Club maintains a network of 24 kilometers of well-marked, groomed trails that are easy to link together into loops of varying lengths.


Never having skied at Chief Joseph before, we chose to start on the Continental Divide Trail.

About half a mile in, on the edge of Picnic Meadow, we caught a glimpse of a "snowbow" arcing over the Gordon Reese Cabin. After a brief stop to check out the cabin, we skied up and down, through lodgepole pine forest and meadows along Broadway, the Gold Medal Loop, Timber, Solitude and the Vista View Loop. For a while, the sun was shining through breaks in the clouds, and despite the noise of wind, it was never too blustery.

After another stop at the cabin, the sky turned gray and we skied back to the trailhead via Moose and the Lost Trail Loop, shy of 7 miles and satisfied.


See photos from Chief Joseph Pass here.

Distance: About 6 3/4 miles. (24 kilometers of groomed trails available, with more ungroomed terrain.)

Directions: The Chief Joseph Pass trailhead is about 47 miles south of Hamilton on U.S. Highway 93, then 1 mile east on Montana Highway 43.

January 1, 2011

1,500 miles on foot

View Larger Map

With the new year here, I thought it would be interesting to take a look back at the ground I covered running with my GPS in the past 12 months. The map above is the result.

I ran 1,508.58 miles with my GPS in 2010. My total mileage was a bit higher, due to setting out without the device a handful of times. More stats?
  • Number of runs: 196
  • Time: 211 hours, 28 minutes, 43 seconds
  • Elevation gain: 60,963 feet
  • Average speed: 7.1 mph
  • Calories burned: 195,678
I didn't really have a goal for the year, but as a member of Run Wild Missoula logged my miles for the 1,200 Mile Club. One hundred miles a month didn't seem like much, and I surpassed it.

As you can see from the map, I both pounded the pavement and hit the trail. Click here to view individual runs, or zoom out to see runs that weren't in the Missoula area. Everything from 5Ks to half-marathons to a full is in there.

Next year? No goal again, but I'd like to improve my long-distance pace and endurance, and do more trail runs.

Year-end Yellowstone ski


With family visiting for Christmas this year, we thought it would be fun to take a quick trip down to Yellowstone National Park. Mom had been to the area before, but was busy with work so didn't get to see the wilderness or wildlife - both of which we found.

Normally when we visit Yellowstone in winter, we look for an inexpensive room in Gardiner. This being the holidays and with family in tow, we booked rooms early at Chico Hot Springs Resort. We had never visited before, and the pools and food lived up to friends' hype.


The first afternoon in the area, we took a drive out the park's north road to the Lamar Valley, viewing winter-white scenery, bison, coyotes and elk along the way. On the way back out of the park, we scheduled an early snowcoach shuttle to go cross-country skiing the next morning. At Chico that night, we ate well and took a quick dip in the warm pool before turning in.

The next morning, we rose before dawn and drove back to the hotel at Mammoth Hot Springs in the park, to rent gear for Mom and catch the shuttle up to the Indian Creek warming hut for some skiing. After a bumpy snowcoach ride to Indian Creek - and a brief panic over the frozen-shut door of the hut - we skied a short loop in windy, snowy weather, then waited for our pickup to return to Mammoth.


On the way out of the park that afternoon, Mom got another wildlife treat - foraging bighorn sheep on the slopes above the road. Back at Chico, we ate and soaked some more, then hit the sack.

The next morning, the forecast for western Montana was foul, so we skipped a morning trip to the park and headed for home. The drive was harrowing, but the trip was worth it.

See photos from our winter visit to Yellowstone here.

Indian Creek Loop

The easiest way to reach Indian Creek is by snowcoach shuttle from the hotel in Mammoth Hot Springs. Compared to other snowcoach tours, it's a bargain at a little more than $16, including taxes. Maps of the trails are available at the ski shop in Mammoth or here.

The trail we set out on from the warming hut makes a 2 1/4-mile counterclockwise circuit through a summer campground and along Indian and Obsidian creeks. It has gentle ups and downs, and the Gallatin Mountains are visible when there's no snow. With a little exploring, we covered about 3 1/10 miles.

Distance: About 2 1/4 miles round trip.

Trailhead: From the hotel in Mammoth, take the snowcoach shuttle about 8 1/2 miles south on the snow vehicle road to Indian Creek.