A Minor Milestone

To the M
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
10:15 am – Noon, 1.75 hrs. 820′ climb, 3 mi.
Clear, breezy day

This may be getting monotonous to read…post after post of walking to the M.  It’s just that it’s an easy drive there and it’s still an excellent workout for me.  And, I still see new things every time.  I’m starting to recognize a few regulars, including the couple with the three labs, one of whom is named “Griz,” which is just a little disconcerting to hear being called around a corner and out of sight.

Anyway, my milestone.  There’s a section of the easy climb trail that is a straight path with about a 75′ rise over its length.  Last time I walked the trail I made it a goal to make this length without stopping, which I did.  Today, though, I came up the incline before the straightaway and made the length without a stop!  I know…it sounds majorly minor, but all this betterment adds up to simply seeing signs of improvement in my endurance.  And, it makes me realize how hopelessly inappropriate walking up and down Winnipeg’s Garbage Hill (yep, you can Google that) was for preparing for my Highlands walk of 2010.

I’ve got a long way to go…there are young mums walking together uphill with toddlers on their backs…having conversations.  Me…well, I stopped to blow my nose (what is it with this constantly dripping nose while I walk?) and all but inhaled the hankie in my gaping, gasping mouth.  And, near the top I was beginning to wear thin, until I realized that I’d taken the steeper path near the top, instead of staying on the easier route…made it anyway…so not too shabby!

Here’s a section of path that I don’t think I’ve photographed before.  Looking toward the Spanish Peaks and Ted Turner country.

From the M, looking at Gallatin Valley, toward the west.  The sky is just beginning to film over with forest fire smoke blowing in.  When this sky is clear, it’s easy to see that our valley is truly that…a valley surrounded by mountains.

On the way down I met a couple coming out of cut-through path.  I caught up with them and asked if the path they’d taken was the one I mistakenly turned onto a couple of trips ago. From their description, it sounds like it is and I’m planning to take that route down next time.  They said the path actually goes through a gap in the outcrop and there’s some scrambling, but that should be okay.  I would like to eventually get a new pair of hiking boots, though; mine are hard-soled and quite slippery at times.   Plus, they seem a little loosey-goosey and my feet slip around in them unless the ties are desperately tight.  This is not good.

So, I will not talk about taking the wrong path again on this backwoods thoroughfare.  Nope, will not discuss that.  I’ll just say that I’ve covered a good variety of the trails.

Mountain Dog, enroute down.  She had a hard night last night and isn’t looking her best.  She sure jumped to attention when she saw my hiking gear come out, though.  She’s become trail savvy…she now just walks past passing dogs instead of stopping to greet each one…that’s just so not the thing to do.  Her coolness factor is improving.

Lone tree, enroute down.  Beautiful nearly cloudless sky.  Big sky.  Definitely Big Sky Country.

Saturday, September 29, 2012
Leisurely Stroll, 1.5 m

Morning Stroll

After yesterday’s hike we were looking for just a nice stroll and decided to walk along a nearby trail. This public trail borders Bridger Creek, which runs from the Bridger Mountains (home of the M) and into one of the rivers of Three Forks. It’s just a flat little trail, but pretty at this time of year.

Cutthroat trout are released into this creek from an upstream fish hatchery and we were on the lookout for them.  Jeff spotted a couple over the course of our walk.

The creek is low now compared to its spring flow, but so pretty with the fall colours.  Not many birds around…we spotted one black-capped chickadee, one kingfisher, and of course, magpies.

It looks here as if this little dam of rocks was constructed to create the lovely pool that’s formed, just off to the left.  This little diversion flows back out to the main creek and it’s a peaceful little spot.  I intend to take one of a lawn chair down here some day this week and spend some time here, reading and writing.  I’m sure Mountain Dog will find lots to interest her for a few hours.

Jeff, enjoying the scenery.  Looks like a good place to try fly fishing next season.

Fall colour and rose hips.  This path is just a stroll…nice for a change.

Enroute home, and a look at the M…that white thing on the distant hill.  Not sure where my next ramble will take me.

Back to the M

Friday, September 28, 2012
To the M
Time: 9:45A – 11:30A
Weather: beautiful, if not a little warm
Climb: 820′, 3 miles return

So, up and out the door to the M again today. I can’t believe this gorgeous weather we’re having and it’d be dreadful to waste any of it by staying inside. We’re so close to the M, it’s an easy choice…we can be there and back within two hours. And, it’s still a good workout for me, although Jeff has no need for rests enroute up and Mountain Dog seems a little bored. Me? I’m still trying to find my quads.

Jeff, at the outcrop, about half-way up.  He ventured out here, although not to worry, there’s a lot of rock in front of him.  Still, that’s not for me.  I’m beginning to sound like a chicken in these posts.

For those who may not be familiar with “The M,” it represents Montana State University, here in Bozeman.  It was built by students of the school in 1915.  There must have been some hardy hikers among them to haul all that rock and support logs up there.  It seems a little crass to have this big symbol hanging over the town, but I’ve come to appreciate it for lots of reasons…admiration for those who built it, those who created the path and for the good walk it provides.  I’m glad it’s here.

We had a thirsty friend at the top and this pup drank all of Mountain Dog’s water.  We had plenty, though and MD seems to like to drink once she’s home again. Our friend belonged to this lady, who’d hiked up the steep trail, worked on a bunch of ab crunches on the far bench and then jogged down the easier trail.  One of my more immediate goals is just to be able to hike up the steep trail…before night arrives.

I like this picture…totally red from exertion, but loving it!  MD was giving me the raspberries for giving away all her water.

Even after four trips to the M and lots of looking around and resting there, there’s still so many things to see from there.  The view is of lots of the Gallatin Valley.  Once the forest fire smoke clears out we should be able to have the western mountains in our pictures from there.  I think there are still fires in Idaho, with the smoke drifting into our valley.

This pretty little shrub caught my eye on the way down, with its one last leaf for the year. Everything is so brown now; I’m looking forward to the spring when, hopefully, the valley will be green.  We need moisture.  My hiking boots come home covered in dust.

One last look back up the trail.  The thin line across the open area near the top is the trail.  It was a great morning hike, once again.

Tuesday, September 25, 2005
820’climb, 3.0 mile walk
Two-hour morning walk, great weather

Walking to the M, Again

If you’ve been to Bozeman, MT, you’ve certainly seen the M – a giant, white M located 820′ up on the south end of the Bridger Mountains, just east of town. Now that we’ve lived here for awhile, I’ve had the opportunity to make this walk three times. Over time, I’ll post my earlier walks, but to begin this blog, I’ll start with my most current walk…but, first, to introduce my walking companion…

This is Indy, our six-year old Bichon. Named “ND,” after our former state of residence, the pronunciation quickly became “Indy,’ which is appropriate as she’s a speedy little thing. Here in Montana she’s been renamed, however, by two independent passing hikers, who both immediately called her “Mountain Dog.” So, when we hike together, she’s Mountain Dog.

Indy, on her first trip to Bozeman, checking out the countryside.

Indy, with her former neighbour and best friend, Bear, on our last day before moving. One final kiss goodbye between best friends.

So, just recently, Mountain Dog and I set out for the M, again.  It was another lovely day, suitable for a good walk.  We had a nice breeze, which served to keep us both cool, as we’re only just getting used to our new altitude and uphill hiking.  MD made it to the M in fine style, patiently waiting for me whenever I stopped to rest.  The bottom corner of the M is showing just behind my fearless companion.

So, the path to the M is like a backwoods highway…it’s an accomplishment to go off-trail. But, well, I got to daydreaming on the way down, coming to only when the path began to get pretty steep and more narrow than I remember.  Hmmm…and the huge outcrop that the path runs along top of was now in front of and above me.  Not so good.  So, we just turned around and hiked back uphill…adding another 10 minutes or so.  That’s nothing, but it was disturbing to get lost so quickly.  No more daydreaming.

The fall colours are still beautiful.

This old pine has probably shaded hundreds of hikers over its lifetime.  I welcomed a stop under its boughs on the way down as the temperature had warmed up considerably.  MD and I rested here, before heading back to the parking lot.  It was a good 2.0 hour hike.

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About walksandrambles

My love of walking began in 2005, when, travelling with my Girl Scout troop to Switzerland, I joined a group of Norwegians for a day, to walk up Elsignenalp. I wasn't at all sure I could make it, but the guide was kind and through her encouragement, started out. It was an all-day affair for me and I was always the last one, but this didn't matter a bit...I'd found my new love! No photos exist for this...the camera went missing on a train...but I remember toasting myself with a cup of tea from my thermos at the top...it was a day of tough work and pure pleasure. If you walk, you know what I mean!
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