A summit without a view – Mount Blackmore, Montana

The Gallatin Valley is surrounded by mountains, and I’d obviously love to be able to climb each and every one of them. But summiting most of them requires a substantial amount of bushwhacking, technical climbing, or both. I have a good sense of direction and I know how to read a map, but I don’t own a single piece of climbing equipment. So those hikes are going to have to wait for that future time in which I’m not a broke grad student. Sometimes it seems like that day will never arrive.

Some of the mountains, though, can be accessed much more easily and require only a backpack, a rain coat, and sturdy shoes. And so, in July 2010, my mom and I set out on one of these hikes – Mount Blackmore. We’d hiked to Blackmore Lake a few years earlier, and from there we could see Mount Blackmore rising in the distance. We can also see it from our house, as it’s the third-tallest peak in Hyalite Canyon. So naturally, we decided to climb it. Continue reading


Confluence – Missouri Headwaters State Park, Montana

Missouri Headwaters State Park, Montana – the place where three rivers conflue into one. I’m not entirely sure that’s an appropriate use of “conflue.” In fact, I’m relatively certain “conflue” isn’t a real word.

Ok, so according to Google, it isn’t. But a confluence is a place where two or more streams/rivers flow together to become one. In this case, there are three rivers: the Gallatin, Madison, and Jefferson. Technically speaking, the Madison and Jefferson join to become the Madison-Jefferson River about a mile before meeting up with the Gallatin. If you ask someone not from the area, they’ll tell you that the Missouri begins when the Madison and Jefferson flow together, but for us locals it’s not the Missouri until the Madison-Jefferson meets the Gallatin. Continue reading

Bridger Mountain Trails 

This post is going to be a bit of a mish-mash. There are a few hikes over the course of 2006-2009 that I didn’t complete, didn’t like, or don’t remember much about, so it would be difficult to write a full post about each one. Instead, I’m combining them all together here.

Hike #1: Sypes Canyon to the M

This wasn’t one of our best moments. My mom had done this hike many years ago – an 8-mile trek through the Bridger Mountains from Sypes Canyon to the college M (which I talked about here) and back. It’s relatively flat – or so it appeared when we looked only at the net elevation gain – so it seemed like a good first hike of the season.

We couldn’t have been more wrong. The trail led up and over multiple ridgelines, dropping down into the drainages in between. On the way back, we tried to avoid some of the ups and downs by bushwhacking. Also a bad idea, because we then found ourselves climbing up something so steep that our motto was “fifty steps at a time.” Fifty steps and then we could stop to catch our breath. Continue reading

Twelve – Hyalite Lake, Montana

Twelve. That’s the number of waterfalls we saw on the hike to Hyalite Lake.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you may remember when I talked about Hyalite Canyon, located in the Gallatin Mountains south of Bozeman, MT. (And if not, you can read all about it here). From the main road up Hyalite Canyon, we went right at the fork at approximately mile 12 and headed to the end of the road; it dead-ends at the parking lot for the Hyalite Creek Trail.

The Hyalite Creek Trail follows Hyalite Creek (obviously) for 5.5 miles up to Hyalite Lake, then continues an additional 1.5 miles to the summit of Hyalite Peak. Hyalite Peak is the second-tallest mountain in the area, rising to a height of 10,298 feet. The elevation gain to the lake is about 2,000 feet, with an additional 1,400 foot gain to the peak. I’ve yet to summit Hyalite Peak, but it’s the #1 hike on my list for the next time I’m back home in the summer. However, a few summers back, my mom and I hiked to Hyalite Lake. Continue reading