Montana

Last week, I had the fortune of spending a week on a ranch near Twin Bridges, Montana. It is an incredible and beautiful ranch right on the Big Hole River. Oh, and I had absolutely no internet or cell reception on the ranch. 📵

We took two days to get there so we could drive up through the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks on the second day. The drive though the parks was worth the extra day of travel.

We stayed at Dubois, Wyoming before we got to the parks. There, I went for a quick bike ride at a shorter trail near town and was pleasantly surprised at how fun it was with a range of jumps and some crazy steep ultra-sharp wall turn switchbacks. The switchbacks were almost a half pipe. Super fun. If you go there, definitely stop in at the Cowboy Cafe for some good food and fantastic pie.

When we headed through the parks the next day, the weather was perfect and the parks were mostly traffic-jam-free. The drive though the parks was definitely worth the extra day of travel. There were plenty of giant birds, some deer, and even a big ol’ bear. I did not attempt a hug.

After Yellowstone, we passed Earthquake Lake (or Quake Lake) near where we saw the first of several massive bald eagles. I found out later Earthquake Lake was formed in 1959 when an earthquake caused the side of a mountain to come down on and kill 28 people who were camping along the shore of the river. It essentially created a dam and formed the lake. Now I’m worried about bear attacks while biking and sides of mountains falling on me when I’m in Montana.

Once we finally made it to the ranch, I ended up fishing all day and listening to stories at night. It’s a pretty great way to spend a week off of work. I ended up catching quite a few fish, but nothing gargantuan. I think the largest trout I caught was 16 inches and the largest whitefish was 18.

There were moose hanging out right where we were fishing so we had to be pretty alert and keep an eye out for them. They are unpredictable, fast, and might charge anyone nearby. When I was fishing in a particularly good hangout for a moose, I had the good sense to make some noise every once in awhile and listen. Sure enough, a big ol’ dang bull moose poked his head out from behind some trees not fifty feet from me. I slowly backed away until I was safely across the fence and no longer keeping the attention of the moose. Fun times.

We did adventure off the ranch one day to fish at a secret spot up a canyon. It was pretty fantastic fishing and we got to hang out with a bald eagle and a wood duck up close and personal. On the way back we took a “shortcut” that put my Jeep to the test on roads that haven’t been maintained or used regularly in years. I discovered an old dilapidated cattle guard (big metal grate over a hole in the ground to keep cows from crossing) that, for some reason, had a six foot deep hole under it and was partially falling in. We went around.

Though, I didn’t take any great photos of wildlife, I did end up seeing three bald eagles, a moose each day, dozens of deer, a wood duck (super cool), several hawks, a field mouse, ten bazillion mosquitos, and a few fish here and there. I’ll try to be better at that in the future, but in the meantime, here’s a picture of neat bugs (mayflies, I think):

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All in all, the trip to Montana was a ton of fun. Now I’m headed southeast to find some good barbecue and will be in a different city every night this week. Heck yeah.

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