Friday, May 05, 2006

Take anything you want from me
Anything
Fly on, little wing

Click Here for an incredible guitar player... Go down to the Little Wing portion and watch it. Remember, this dude is playing an acoustic guitar.

Thanks to Carp for the link.

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I am really excited. Tomorrow, I will be taking the first big hike of the season. I have always enjoyed hiking, but, in general, I am more of an adrenaline-junkie guy.

I always was (and still am) extremely (pun intended) excited about snowboarding.

I always thought running and hiking would be a pleasant way to keep in shape for the things I really enjoy doing, like hurtling down a mountain through a slightly-too-narrow chute at a slightly-faster-than-prudent speed.

(Prudence has never really been foremost amongst my virtues.

I would have written "amongst my many virtues," but, last I checked, "two" does not constitute "many."

I only get to "two" virtues if you can count being funny and a smart-ass as half a virtue each. And I am counting "punctuality" as an entire virtue, which is stretching the definition.

So why don't we just leave it at "I'm not prudent?"

Or virtuous.)

Anyway, a funny thing happened on the way to Montana.

I spent all of last summer hiking here. It is a lot different from hiking in Wisconsin. I am not knocking Wisconsin, since it is a beautiful state in it's own right, but, quite frankly, there's a lot more to see in Montana, particularly when hiking.

There is a staggering array of hikes within an hour's drive of Bozeman. Bozeman sits in a wide river valley (the Gallatin), and five different mountain ranges (the Bridgers, the Gallatin Range, the Madison Range, the Tobacco Roots and the Big Belts) surround the valley, each with its own unique "personality."

If you expanded your radius to two hours from Bozeman, you add Yellowstone Park, the Crazy Mountains, and so much more...

Hiking in this region imparts a feeling of discovery, because it would take a lifetime to see everything there is to see within a two hour radius. 11,000+ foot peaks, canyons, forests, rivers, creeks, drainages, hot springs, geysers, petrified forests, and of course, the animals.

The Greater Yellowstone area is unique in that it has an intact ecosystem with all of the apex predators that once roamed the United States, as well as their prey- mountain lions, gizzly bears, wolves, black bears, wolverines, badgers, beavers, elk, antelope, bison, deer, coyote, fox, ferrets, prairie dogs, marmots, and on and on and on.

OK, this is starting to sound like a press piece for the Bozeman Chamber of Commerce.

Suffice it to say, I am as excited about hiking as I am about snowboarding because of all the incredible things there are to see around here.

This hike I am taking tomorrow is in Yellowstone Park, about an hour and a half from my house.

I am looking forward it for several reasons. It is a 13 miler, so it is a little more challenging than your average afternoon stroll, which I like. It will be alongside water the whole time; initially along Blacktail Creek, then along the mighty Yellowstone River. The scenery should be beautiful.

Even more exciting is the fact that we are nearing calving season for elk, and this hike is along a corridor that they use, so we may see elk. And even more exciting is that elk calving season comes shortly after some very hungry bears emerge from hibernation. (Grizzlies wake up sometime in April, and they haven't eaten since late November or early December.) Elk calves are like tasty little egg rolls to a hungry griz. So, if we are lucky, we may see a bear.

If we're even luckier, we may see some wolves, since we will be well within the range of the Druid Peak pack, a robust pack that resides in the Lamar Valley. The wolves pretty much follow the herd year-round, and both the health of the herd and the health of the pack depends on their predation.

Exciting!!

I will bring my camera and my pepper spray, and I will try to look as little like an elk calf as possible.

I may slather myself in bacon fat and salmon entrails in order to draw something close enough get a few nice pictures for the blog.

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