23 Jul Letter from the Editor: Season of Possibility
Even as the snow flies still in May and June — my kids report that they’ve been sledding at school, friends recount stories of hiking in the Bridger Mountains and skiing some of the year’s best powder, the caddis flies emerge on the Yellowstone, flower buds freeze on the lilac bushes and the trails are slogged in mud for spring hiking — folks in the Northern Rockies have their eyes set on summer. Like kids at Christmas, athletes looking for a medal, a dog hungering for a bone, we are focused on the one time of year when anything is possible.
Connection to the landscape is what keeps people in the Rocky Mountains. The open space. The wild land. The rivers. Endless trails. Getting out into the country during the sweet days of summer is what balances the long winter months. And when the days grow longer, 15 hours of daylight can mean a lot of recreational opportunities. Sometimes it’s hard to choose what to do first.
My version of the perfect summer day would include a bike ride to a trailhead with backpack at the ready and fishing gear accessibly stowed; hike to a campsite; fish till dusk; cook over the campfire; dine under the stars; sleep on the ground and then wake up the next day to do it all in reverse. It’s my own form of triathlon: bike, hike, fish. I’m not the only one. Summer brings on a joyful frenzy that pulls out the extreme in some of us. I have friends who hike to rock climb and along the way they play freeform Frisbee golf (Folf); or boaters who float, kayak or canoe to hiking trails as they fish along the way. We are not alone: In Jackson, Wyo., each spring they host the Pole-Peddle-Paddle, an annual race that combines a 3-mile downhill ski or 10k cross-country ski, a 19.8 mile bike ride, and a 9-mile kayak on the Snake River. There’s also the summer biathlon in Montana’s Big Sky State Games, in which athletes run 10 kilometers interspersed with target shooting on a rifle range. Outside of Missoula, the Hellgate Duathalon course combines a run-bike-run that totals an 8k-trail run with a 15k-mountain bike ride. Sounds like a bunch of folks who can’t get enough time outside in the summer.
Granted, most of us opt for one sport at a time, but when summer hits in the high country, options for enjoying this grand place seem limitless. In this issue our contributors touch on many adventures that will inspire and connect you to this place where on any given day you can choose from kayaking, baseball, hiking, riding, camping, fishing, bird watching. If you have to choose between one or the other, don’t fret, there’s always tomorrow. And during the downtime, I hope you’ll enjoy stories from some of the region’s most experienced and masterful writers: Rick Bass, Alan Kesselheim, Greg Thomas and so many others.