Bear Hunting

Hunting for bear ground that is.  Last nights edition of the Thursday Night Rides included some dirt, some mud, and a lot of slushy snow. We have been enduring winter weather and last night we entered into the aftermath with determination and dedication to … well, I don’t know what. Maybe the loop just had to be completed this time around and by god we did it!

It all started out innocent enough.  I send out an email in hopes no one is interested in the ride.  I get back responses that, hell yeah, we are riding.  So I show up thinking that maybe it will be ok.  We head up Marshall Canyon Road and it is not long we take our relationship to the comfortable logging road climb.  We mozy and we chat … well everyone else did. Some comments as I passes a few folks … “I have never done Lolo Peak, how high is that?” … “where do I get one of those?” For me, I was trying to keep the heart rate down and rest up from some kind of cold.

I trudged on so that I could measure the “Leg 11 : Marshall Ski Area” of my vision quest. So I kept the death march to the top of the hike-a-bike.  It was almost impossible to keep the front tire moving because the snow was very sticky.  My plan was to get to this point, get the stats off my bike computer, and ride back down to the group. To my horror I looked back down the trail and saw the group hiking there bikes up to me.  Shit! Looks like the troops want to finish this loop.

While waiting for them I meet up with a grizzly who was just as grouchy as I was. It asked, “aren’t you the grizzly man?” I acknowledged and struck a deal with it to scare everyone back down the trail so as to avoid what I knew would be a cold and sketchy decent down Mid Tower. I gave it one of my cliff bars as payment and then it just up and ran off.  Dirt bag ripped me off!

I awoke face first in the snow as I heard Josh’s laughter down the hill. I sat up disoriented.  It all came back to me, how I gone anaerobic pushing a bike through heavy snow until I topped out and passed out.  I quickly gathered myself just as the troops caught up to me.  We would now find our way down Mid Tower. On our way we found some bear tracks …. hmmmm.

The ride down was the worse.  Cold raging water, no brakes, and slippery slush kept things interesting. I think Josh was one that found themselves on the ground.  I crossed the little stream at the bottom of the decent and my feet came out in blocks of ice.  Brrrr.  I was so cold the rest is a blur.  I some how drove home and soaked in the tub until I could feel my feet and toes.  Just another hypothermic Missoula ride.  Where is summer? Where is the bear ground?

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