Blake in training for some 100 mile races, challenged me a few weeks ago, after I said I could ride all day, to join him in the Rattlesnake to do just that. He was intent on riding 100 miles, my goal was to see as many of the ‘Snake’s smooth mountain biking trails in a day as possible. We met near campus at Blake’s place at 0430 and were riding by 0500, dawn. We picked up Nick in the Rattlesnake and Ben as well and proceeded up to the Sheep Mountain Trail where Blake and I were left alone as the others had daytime obligations. We hit snow right before arriving at Blue Point and pushed through a few snowdrifts before turning around and riding down and out intent on staying focused on making miles. We returned to the fire road and headed north to pick up the three larch descent to Wood’s gulch where we veered right heading to the corridor trail and Wallman’s saddle. Unfortunately the corridor was closed due to carboryl spraying so we returned to the Spring Gulch Trail and then ascended to the divide trail with Sawmill Gulch and headed up to the intersection with the Drop Out trail. I turned left and made my way down to Sawmill while Blake continued straight and descended to meet up in the big meadow. We cruised down the Ewok trail and then joined the lower creek trail to pop out in the neighborhood and head back to the farm and refuel and water up.
After about a 45 minute break we headed back up to Sawmill Gulch and pedaled back up to the top of drop out trail and then descended to Grant Creek via the ravine trail. Once in the valley we headed upcanyon until the no trespassing signs were too intimidating and reascended the ravine trail to the SnowBowl overlook. We descended to the Stuart Peak trail and then continued up to within a couple miles of the W boundary after crossing the creek up high. The rapid descent down Spring Gulch worked my tired hands and braking muscles and thought I was going to lose my grip a couple times. When we returned to the Farm, we were at 12 plus hours, 65+ miles and 11,500′ vertical. Blake was planning to join some other riders at Marshall Mountain and I called it a day and headed back to Beckwith to finish my ride right around 70 miles.
Blake did make it over to Marshall and rode a couple laps there, and then joined by Ben pedaled back up to make the final laps on three larch trail to end the 100 mile challenge at about 105 miles with probably about 16,000’ vertical uphill and 18 hours. What an amazing performance by this incredible young endurance athlete. I might be ready for the 100 mile challenge in a couple more weeks! Until then having ridden most of the trails in the Rattlesnake in a day surely feels great.
I made the annual trek to Lolo Peak on June 14th, the anniversary of Chris Spurgeon’s death in the Lantern Lake Couloir. Chris was a quiet, unassuming and dedicated outdoorsman and he will always be missed by his good friends and family. Blake and I left the trailhead at 7:30 and Mike caught up to us when we were just done transitioning to boots at 7,500′ onto the summer snow. We made the trip to the skier summit in about three hours total and relaxed there for awhile seeing lady bug gatherings, some flowering alpine plants and descending to the NW for a overlook to Lantern Lake. Blake and I carried on to the true summit of the Peak and skied a nice line east down to Reed Lake. We camped out on a grassy spot for about an hour before reascending to the skier’s summit, where we regrouped with Mike and Ian for the return to Carlton Lake the ridge and the descent into the lost woods. After finding shoes and everybody again we set off for the trailhead where we joined Chris’ family for some beers and hot dogs over the fire. Another great day in the Western Montana Backcountry skiing in shorts. I tried to use this day again as another reminder to live life fully, give everything I have every day, and reach out with positivity to loved ones and family. In the end people are the important connection points in this world always enhancing and sharing the experiences of the day with us as we cruise through this brief life stuck in our bodies.