Day Ski Trips Up the North Fork of the Blackfoot, Montana

December and January, 2007

Click on any image for a bigger view
Contact me if you want the really good image

Whoppie! Winter has finally arrived. We had some cold weather earlier, and the river froze pretty much solid -- solid enough that my friends and neighbors, Steve Kloetzel and Andrea Morgan and their kids and friends, made a heck of an ice rink. Unfortunately, it warmed up and the ice rink is half the size it used to be. But maybe it will get better in the days to come...

In the mean time, it got cold enough and wet enough to do some more snowing. We're finally up to a foot or so of white stuff.

A Ski Trip on Zia's Birthday

Dona and I met Steve and Andrea at their place down by the mailbox. It was Zia's birthday, and her brother was with friends in the zoo (Missoula), so she was enjoying lots of extra attention.

With the melting and refreezing, there are only a few marginal snow bridges across the river -- just wide and strong enough for a person on skis, but not sufficient for snow machines. We crossed over on one of these, then headed up an old logging road spur known very locally as "Bear Alley." Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your perspective, we didn't see any bears. But we did see some deer.

Dona, Zia and Steve putting on skis Dona, Zia and Steve putting on skis
Getting ready
Zia, Dona and Steve Zia skiing Zia, Dona and Steve
Zia, Dona and Steve in Bear Alley

Zia started skiing last year, and she's doing great. We had big fluffy flakes.

Zia and Steve Zia Zia
Whee! Is this fun, or what?

We skiied a mile or so up the river, sneaked back across on another snow bridge, and came down our side. The water was carrying on quite a conversation as it splashed up on rocks, adding to the ice-caps; and burrowed under existing shelves along the bank. Truly a winter wonderland. We paused for one of those holiday card pictures, but Max, Dona's dog, just wanted to go jump around in the snow.

Gary, Dona and Max by river Looking down river; Andrea in distance

Zia got a little tired, so Steve and Andrea bundled her up and snugged her into the toboggan Steve was pulling. She had a warm ride home and not too bumpy a ride.

Zia in Toboggan
Zia in Toboggan

A Ski Trip To Start the New Year

A week or so later, we got a present -- a brand spanking shiny New Year! Complete with a brand spanking shining sunny crisp cold new day. Dona and I took the day and skiied a bit further up the river, just to see what we could see, get some needed exercise, and enjoy the outstandingly beautiful day.

We had quite a bit of snow the past few days, so the snow bridges across the river were in great shape. We crossed on the "regular" crossing, a boulder hop now frozen solid, above the house. I always get a kick skiing across and listening to the water burbling below.

Dona Crossing River on Snow Bridge
Dona Crossing on Snow Bridge

There was quite a bit more ice in the river than earlier, and it had partially dammed things up in places, raising the water level. There were little sprigs of hoarfrost splattered across the ice in places, sparkling in the sun. Because of the higher water level, part of our trail from a few days before was now covered in water or ice, so we had to move up a few feet.

Hoarfrost Hoarfrost Hoarfrost Hoarfrost

We went up the river about three miles, then stopped for a bite of lunch. The only sunny spot didn't have a log to sit on, so we stampped out a place with our skis. But it was still to soft to stand in just our boots, so we kept our skis on.

Dona and Max at Lunch Dona and Max at Lunch
Dona and Max, Lunch

We had a bit of a climb out of our lunch spot... it would have been easier with skins or skis with a latchable heel plate. Max had a heck of a time in the deep snow -- it was over his head, and he had to work pretty hard to plow through it whenever he went ahead or got off our track. Then he got all sorts of snow balls on his fur and between his toes. When we'd stop he'd chew at them to get them off.

Dona Climbing Out Max Chewing Snowballs
Dona Climbing Out Max Tidying Up

We skiied back down to where the bridge for the dogsled race crosses the river, and crossed back over there.

Roe Headgate Area Roe Headgate Area Looking Upriver from Dogsled Bridge Max on Dogsled Bridge
Near Dogsled Bridge From the Dogsled Bridge Max on Dogsled Bridge

Then we wound around back up onto the flat, and followed the trail and our road home. We were a bit tuckered out, and ready for a hot piece of apple-cherry-raisin pie and a glass of milk when we got there!

Mountains from the Flat Dona and Mountains Looking Down on the Dogsled Bridge
Mountains from the Flat The Home Stretch Dogsled Bridge looking Upriver

A great way to start the new year!