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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Paradise Valley and Yellowstone Family Weekend

Ellie getting out after a morning soak in the Boiling River.
This past weekend was a family reunion of sorts for Jen's immediate family: her folks, brothers, nephew, the kids, and I. It was a fun weekend: we stayed in the Paradise Valley Friday and Saturday night. On Saturday, we went into the Park and did a short cross country ski with Ellie, Alex, and Alex's girlfriend Lindsay, and then later soaked at Chico Hot Springs. On Sunday, Jen, Ellie, and I got up early and went for a soak in the Bowling River, which is just a few miles inside of the Park boundary at Gardner. We had planned to go the day before, but it was mobbed with people. There were just two other people there at 8am on Sunday. This is definitely one of the best hot springs around, but you've really got to hit it at the right time, as it's closed in the summer and mobbed with people on weekends in the winter.
Ellie and I at the Boiling River, wading the cold creek before the warm pools start. I need to hit the gym.
Emigrant Peak.
Jen with Mammoth below.
XC skiing.
Intense ping pong games were had at the VRBO.
Jen's family (minus her brother JP and his wife Heather).

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Winter Break Skiing and Snowshoeing

Alex and Ellie circa Christmas 2015.
Winter break at the University of Montana has always been ridiculously long, which I love. This year it is one week shorter, at five weeks, which is still wonderfully long. It allows for time off during the frenetic two weeks when Ellie and Jen are out of school, followed by some additional time off once everyone else is back at work. In and around Christmas, we had Alex for just 5 days, as he's now a working man. During that time, we took a short ski trip: a day at Snowbowl followed by a night in Big Fork and skiing the next day at Whitefish Mountain. The skiing and family time were both excellent. For New Years, we grabbed Ellie's boyfriend Danny, skied Lost Trail, and then spent the night at Como Lake with friends. This was another all-around great trip. 
Ellie, Jen, & Alex at the top of Meadows at Snowbowl.
Jen dropping West Ridge with Missoula Valley below.
Alex returned for a day of skiing two weeks after Christmas.
Sibling time on the lift.
Hiking to the Cornice, out of bounds Snowbowl.
Marriage Counseling.
Once everyone is back at school and work, I usually try to work about 1/2 time and ski or snowshoe the rest. This year, the skiing was excellent up until New Years Day, and then the snow stopped for two weeks, which allowed me to get out for some snowshoeing close to Missoula. I did some exploring around Clinton, Montana, which is about 15 miles east of Missoula, visiting some unknown summits (Iris Point, Peak 6336, and Kamas Benchmark), finding sweet solitude, and even getting a blue bird day on one of the outings. 
Getting above the inversion.
Pudge resting in the sun.
Welcome Peak, a summit that's on my list.
The unassuming Kamas Benchmark in the distance.
Summit 6336 on a very cloudy day.
Pudge on Iris Point.
Pudge on Iris Point, with Welcome Peak in the upper-left.
Pudge on Iris Point.
A bird catching a mouse it looks like, on Iris Point.
I have been a bit worried that we'd see a repeat of last year's ski season, when we had good snow up until the end of December, with very little for the rest of the year. Fortunately, it just snowed again, so there's more good turns to be had, and the season is already shaping up to be better than last year. My theme for this year is gratitude, so I'm going to celebrate the good that comes this year and strive to keep my mind on the positive. Here's to a fantastic 2016!