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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2018 12:25 am 
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We're planning a trip back to Montana for next month and going through old TR's got the stoke going, so I figured it was worth posting it up here - looks like I never posted it here earlier. We will be hitting a couple of these rides again. Posting up unedited TR, so ignore references to timing and dates.

Day 1 - Driving up & First Yellow Mule Tr

A couple months ago 406 began planning a trip to his old stomping ground, Montana, along with a side trip to Jackson WY. In the end six of us made the trip to Grizzly country. Gman, Kreechan and I headed out on Friday while 406, Basil and AndyN drove up on Saturday. Our meeting place was just south of Big Sky and would be our base camp for the next 5-6 days.

Team tacoma drove through the night in hopes of getting a ride in on Saturday. 406's parents had nabbed a campsite at Red Cliffs campground which was central to some of the rides we wanted to do. We got there early afternoon, set up tents, and set off for our first ride up Buck Ridge to First Yellow Mule Trail. We weren't paying enough attention to the guidebook and ended up turning the suggested 13mi point to point / shuttle into a 36mi loop. Fortunately sunset wasn't until 915pm, so we had more than enough time.

430am driving through Salt Lake City

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First wildlife spotted on the drive through Yellowstone

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Sounds like most shuttle the 10mi road climb. It wasn't a bad grade and the views were good, so it went quickly

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Buck Ridge trail is ATV double track for another 6mi. It is steeper at the beginning until you get up to the ridge top. Also scenic

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Looking south

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Looking north

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Kreechan and Gman pedal the ridge top

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Awesome evening light by this time

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First Yellow Mule Trail drops 3000+ ft back down into Big Sky, on nice buff singletrack that just goes on and on

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There were a few wet patches due to residual snow but aside from that the trail was in awesome shape

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Gman at speed

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Eventually the trail drops into a ravine that you follow most of the way down

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Kreechan following Gman down the last of the fast stuff

We follow First Yellow Mule Cr for a while

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Which drops into the drainage of the South Fork Gallatin River

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And head over to Ousel Falls

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From there it was a couple miles more singletrack to the trailhead, a couple mile dirt path into Big Sky, and 9mi of paved bike path and highway back to camp. A little more than we wanted to shake the legs out, but an awesome ride all the same.

Stats, for those interested:
Elev range: 6,100 to 9,600
Gain/loss: 4,000ft
Distance: 36mi


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2018 12:34 am 
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Day 2 - Big Sky ride

406 had a big point to point ride mapped out for us today from camp near Big Sky. There were several route options for the ride depending on trail conditions and how everyone was doing.

We started off with a nice mellow pedal along a stream

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Did he make it?

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The valley soon opened up into some wide meadows

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The trail was deceptively steep in places - at least, thats what my legs were telling me

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We take a side detour towards a nice lake

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Good spot for lunch. With all the bugs out Andy and Basil were wishing they had brought fly rods, lots of fish rising

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Not so nice water, but still nice trail. Things were about to get steep though

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Gman rolling past

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Kreechan labors up the final stretch to the saddle

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Another snack break. We had only gone a short distance since lunch but it took a lot of hard work to get up here

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Views were highly worth it though. Our starting point was in one of the far valleys this side of the snow capped mountain range

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Off the saddle we get some fun, steep descent.

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Unfortunately we would gain that all back quickly before getting into some more rolling terrain

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Not too much further, we got into some snow. The snow wasn't a huge problem, though it made for some interesting side slope moments. But the water draining out of snowbanks left some slick muddy areas that were difficult to cross.

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The views got better the higher we went

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Awesome

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More awesomeness, looking back where we came from

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Every good ride has some. This ride had lots

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Getting to late afternoon we decided to bail out rather than continue on the ridgeline and face 4-5 miles of trail in unknown condition and an immediate 1000ft climb. We did have a long descent ahead of us too...

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Basil learns that some crossings are less solid than others

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Good thing to pay attention to as there were tons of them

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Descent continues on

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More streams to cross and ride beside

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And a final descent back to the highway.

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No one was up for a final singletrack option that would drop us right into camp because that involved a 5 mi, 2000ft climb. I think we had already done 5700, more than enough. Instead we rode the highway back to camp for a swim and then a quick drive up the road for some Corral bison burgers. Yum!

Stats
Elev range: 6,100 to 9,800
Gain: 5,300 loss 5,700
Distance: 25mi


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2018 12:41 am 
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Favorite Trails: Hmm........
Day 3 - Oil Well Road to Little Wapiti

For Day 3 we were looking for something a little easier to help tired legs. Little Wapiti was another on Brian's to-do list, and promised an easier climb. So off we went, a little south of camp. The ride is basically a climb up some ATV trail to a ridge top, and then bomb back down on singletrack. It was a little harder than it sounds as the climb up was still 3,200ft in less than 7 mi. But it was all rideable unlike the prior day, which is something.

ATV trail goes straight up the fall line

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Nearing top of the ridge flowers are out

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A bit of reprieve from the climbing

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View north from the ATV trail

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View south

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Still climbing

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Some downed trees did more to keep the speed down than this sign ever would

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Nice views everywhere

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Gotta be near the top... surely some sweet singletrack descent will turn that frown upside down

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A little more to go

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Finally we head downhill. Fast and flowy

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Until a bit of a horse trench turns into a rut and then into a bike swallowing monster. I come to a screeching halt as it gets too deep and sketchy to continue. Doesn't look like that much here but there was a meandering erosion canal inside the rut that made it impossible to ride, and would soon become 2-3 feet deep. We rode the edge for a couple hundred yards til it mellowed out

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Bit of a climb out of a drainage

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And into another lush valley

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Most difficult crossing of the day, most waded barefoot

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Other crossings were easier yet no less refreshing

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One last climb appears

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And then a bomber descent back to the trucks

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Definitely one of the fastest I've had the pleasure to ride. Gman hangs it all out...

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As would be the tradition for the trip, the post-ride routine consisted of swimming, beers, and food. Plus more beers. Dinner was at Lone Peak Brewing tonite, which had bison quesadillas on special, not to mention $5 growler fills. And, to top it off, you don't need to buy their growler! The guy at the bar had lived in IB and was stoked to see a Ballast Point growler.

Stats
Elev Range: 7,100 to 9,300
Gain/loss: 2,800
Distance: 14mi


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2018 12:48 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 14, 2008 12:39 pm
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Location: Ocean Beach
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Bike(s): Mojo3, Carver Ti, Delirium
Favorite Trails: Hmm........
Day 4 - Emerald Lake

Emerald Lake is one of those rides listed as must-do for Bozeman area. Its also a must do for hikers and equestrians, though, so we were expecting to see lots of people on it even on a weekday. Bring your bike bell! Bikes are restricted to certain days of the week to minimize conflicts, and are not allowed on Sunday-Monday. This was Tuesday, so we were good. It is basically an out and back up to a nice lake, close to town and perfect for a short ride after work or if you just have a couple hours.

Starts off with 2-3mi of nice meandering climb through the trees

We get next to a creek for a while, and also ride through a short avalanche zone

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After a while we get into some steeper switchbacks

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The trail climbs more quickly up to the sub alpine

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Views of surrounding ridges above the lake start to open up

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Plenty of flowers starting to bloom

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Getting close

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Finally

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Andy was out in front and already had the fly rod out with a fish on by the time the last of us got up there

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He had landed an arctic grayling. I've fished streams before that had these but had never caught one, so was cool to see one in person

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The pic doesn't really show the colors, but the dorsal fin was a bright turquoise color in the sun

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Emerald Lake truly is beautiful

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Great place to have lunch

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Looking south-west

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Bikes at rest

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Gman and 406 went to see if the trail around the lake was open, it was not, soon going into snow/marsh.

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We tried going around the north side as well but it also got too marshy. Got a better view of the lake, though

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One last look back before the descent. No pics on that, we were having too much fun. Just put your bell on and keep an eye out for other users, there are lots of them.

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For those interested:
Elev range 7,100 to 8,900.
Gain/loss 2,100
Distance 9mi return


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2018 12:53 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 14, 2008 12:39 pm
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Favorite Trails: Hmm........
Day 4 - Bangtail Divide Grassy Mtn Section

We had planned to do a second ride today, exactly what would be a game time decision due to scattered afternoon thunderstorms in the forecast. We eventually settled on the Grassy Mtn section of Bangtail Divide. Bangtail as a whole is 23mi or so of flowy, IMBA-type contour trail. Its supposedly very fast and fun with good views, and very popular among local riders. For us it was perfect since we would not be a long time from the truck should the skies open up.

A bit of rain earlier barely settled the dust, but it was enough we could see ours were first tracks of the afternoon

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More flowers out

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We had a couple short climbs but the grade was nice, and we were soon back to descending

You could carry speed nicely

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Only having to brake into sharper corners

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Some nice meadows

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One last climb was maybe 350ft

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Had nice views to the west though

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And we got some nice views of nearby storms

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We got sprinkled on a bit but it was barely enough to make the trail tacky.

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After this corner we get into the trees all the way down. Some of the funnest flowy trail I've ever ridden, seldom having to touch brakes

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Almost done

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Being from the PNW Andy was stoked to find Ranier in local stores. At $6/sixpack of 16oz cans who could resist?

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Stats
Elev range: 7,400 to 5,900
Gain 700, loss 2,100
Distance 8mi


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2018 1:05 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 14, 2008 12:39 pm
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Favorite Trails: Hmm........
Day 5 - Bridger Divide to Truman Gulch

Day 5 was to be one of the more epic rides of the trip, quoted to us as one of our local source's favorite rides. It would take us from Fairy Lake on one side of the Bridger Range, to Sacagawea Peak, along the west side of the range to the base of Ross Peak, and then down Truman Gulch. Lots of elevation, lots of backcountry, and lots of sweet views and descent as well. Not big miles, but definitely big smiles.

For reference, from the prior day ride, here is some scale as to where we would be going - shows from R to L, the saddle we climbed to, Sacagawea Peak, and another saddle we popped out at.

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The day started off with a cattle drive on our way to drop off our shuttle vehicle

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We started the ride at Fairy Lake, from which a steep trail began which would take us to a high saddle

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The trail up the valley soon turned into switchbacks. Some of which were navigable, some of which weren't.

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Top of the switchbacks was a saddle. One way led north to another peak. One way led south to Bridger Divide. The other way led up to Sacagawea Peak, our interim destination, and this view.

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Up at the peak we take some pics and check out the views

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Great place for a lunch break, despite being only a short distance into our ride

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Ready to break, we move on down

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Our route will take us far down in the valley below

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We had a nice descent off the peak. Only the very top was not ridable

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Down to the saddle we are ready to hang a left

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After a short climb it is off down the valley

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We encounter some sharp switchbacks made difficult by moto damage. But no matter trail conditions, the views are amazing

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We drop a long way down many switchbacks before beginning a traverse up the far canyon wall

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Its not that bad a climb, but steep and very off camber in places, meaning we had to be cautious at times

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We get out on some far flung ridges. Views were awesome

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After some climbing we get to some descending on loose off camber ridges. Paying attention to the trail was of utmost importance. Views were still a distraction

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We get to some techy parts followed by some more uphill switchbacks

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After a break up on the saddle we descend again

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To another saddle, our next destination

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Reaching the saddle we have to climb over a ridge, from there we get some more sweet rolling descent

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Basil rolls up to the nose of another ridge

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We have a long distance of descent followed by some sweet rolling terrain. Then it is a nasty 20min HAB. I know every good ride has one, but this one was brutal at this time of the ride.

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Top of the HAB, we rest

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Then it was a few sweet miles awesome descent into the valley. We came across a couple DHers HABing up, so we know it is a favored DH route among locals.

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All in all, an awesome day on the bike.

Stats
Elev 9,600 to 5,400
Gain 3,900, loss 6,100
Distance 14mi (can't believe it was that short, definitely felt like a 30+ mile ride!)


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2018 1:11 am 
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Posts: 3011
Location: Ocean Beach
Given: 2307 thanks
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Bike(s): Mojo3, Carver Ti, Delirium
Favorite Trails: Hmm........
Day 6 - Mile Creek to Sheep Creek

We woke to grey skies this morning. The plan was to hit up some combination of Mile Creek and Sheep Creek trails. It is possible to link them into a big ride, but this could be made impossible by remaining snowpack at elevation or by afternoon thunderstorms in the forecast. We packed up camp and headed down toward West Yellowstone. With unpredictable weather the plan was simply to climb up Mile Creek Tr as far as possible before the rain, and then ride back down or take an alternate trail out. Riding beyond Targhee Divide or a later ride up Sheep Creek would be a game time decision.

Starting the climb. We will merge onto the Continental Divide Trail at the mouth of the valley.

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The first mile in the valley got steep, right up the valley bottom. The rest of the climb would be a series of switchbacks up the valley wall and across to Targhee Divide.

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Flowers blanketed the hill in places

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We cross into Idaho for a while at the saddle on top of the valley

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Climbing continues on more switchbacks onto the next ridge

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More flowers as we near the top

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View from Targhee Divide, bang on 10,000ft. This would be a good turnaround point as the trail after this immediately drops 1,000ft. Options are: turn back now, or ride on and either do a longer out and back, take an alternate trail down, or continue all the way to Sheep Creek.

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There are several trails we can bail on if weather turns, so we press on. Right away we encounter a mass of tight switchbacks

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We come across a few snow banks but only a couple require walking. It appears we may be the first users on this part of the trail this season

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The descent mostly over, we get onto some fun rolling terrain complete with pretty lakes and some nice stream crossings

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Brian descends past another lake

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Some of the streams were rideable. Others we hopped across trying to keep feet dry

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We climb over another ridge before getting some more fast flowy trail

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The next part was insanely fast and fun, with 2,000ft more descent interrupted only by a couple short climbs

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And the views really opened up as we crossed some big meadows. Unfortunately the skies also opened up and we started getting some rain, which would follow us the next couple hours.

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The trail soon dropped into another valley where we had some downed trees to deal with and some larger stream crossings.

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We were now going to get wet whether we took a bailout or continued on towards Sheep Creek, so we continued on.

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We climb steadily through 2,000ft of lush forest

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Getting up near the top saddle we lose the trail for a few hundred yards, and follow a meadow uphill rather than search for it in the trees

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We pick it up again at the end of the meadow and continue on, just a little more climbing left to the top

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We lose the trail again as the flats around this lake were very marshy. Brian has been walking the last hour due to a failed freehub. No doubt his feet got wet here, if they weren't already.

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We crest the final saddle. The rain has stopped, and our hard work is about to be rewarded with 3,000ft of uninterrupted descent down Sheep Creek Tr.

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The trail starts down the top of the ridge and then we get into a series of steep, sharp switchbacks that will drop us from top of the valley to valley floor in less than 1/2mi. Wow, those were some fun challenging switchbacks!

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Basil cruising out of the last switchback

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From there it is pretty much a straight shot all the way down the valley

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Some very fun descent, and with the tacky dirt you could really open up and let off the brakes

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Our starting point was the first valley on the right side. Sheep Cr drops out of the 2nd valley from left, above the middle of the wooden corral.

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This was a ride at the top of my to-do list for MT. One of the most remote feeling and funnest rides I've done in a long time. It might not be available to us much longer, though, as the enviros are pushing hard to have this range added into wilderness. So I am very stoked that we were able to link both trails into one big ride. While the rain didn't make the ride better, it definitely gave it more of an epic character.

Stats
Elev range: 6,600 to 10,000
Gain/loss: 6,700
Distance: 25mi (excluding 7mi road pedal to retrieve trucks)


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 18, 2018 8:45 am 
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Get the kid to college road trip...no bike cause I'm flying back...this country is f'n BIG.

Day 1: San Diego to Pocatello. All I15 all the time...

Day 2: Pocatello to Bozeman...it's the other season up here...road repair/replace...

Nice trail outside Bozeman...no bikes; July 15 to Sept 2, Fridays or Saturdays all year


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