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Today was hilarious!

I hiked with Steve Erixon and in the Willow Creek Ski Area. I have tried to ski this area several times because Mac can be with me. It is dog friendly. But it is a really tough nut! It is across the highway from South Pass City. I have yet to catch it groomed so I am breaking trail. At 10 degrees with the wind, OH, the wind ( 30 to 50 MPH), makes this place really fierce!

I have a map but the map is essentially notional! I don’t think it is exact. I have absolutely no idea where I got the map but I have had it for a couple of years. There are occasional signs, sometimes there are blue diamonds on the trees, and someone, within the past year has tied blue ribbon to some trees. Using these, we tried to negotiate the trail as I want to include this in my guidebook. Now I begin to wonder at my sanity!

We got down to Willow Creek in proper order. After crossing a rickety bridge and climbing a hill, we meet a road. The map says go straight! But there is no trail. Here, you must turn 90 degrees left to go 200 yards on the road (turning left takes you to a locked gate onto private land) to find a complex sign (which you cannot see from the turn) suggesting trails to Aspen Glide, Horse Feather and Miner’s Delight Loops.

OK! We turn right to Miner’s! We set out to do Duck Soup Loop which is beyond Miner’s Delight Loop. After a while finding blue triangles and blue ribbons, we find a sign suggesting that we may have indeed found Duck Soup Loop! We had decided beforehand that we want to do Duck Soup Loop counter clock wise. By the map, this sign should indicate we are at the right location to proceed.

We walk up steep road with several 2 tracks to our left. I had walked one of these a year ago after losing the trail. But, someone had put in new markers since I last did that. So we continue up the road. Finally, we reach one that suggests we turn right.

Now, this should not be so! We are doing the loop CCW and turns should be to the left! But after looking at the map (which tells us nothing) and exploring both options, we turn right finding another blue ribbon on the right. Now there are blue ribbons all over this forest, so I am doubtful. But we soon come on a blue diamond. But I really think we are off trail.

Soon we come on a bog. There are no indications of what to do. So I try to walk on the edge of the bog. About midway, in the center of the bog is a blue ribbon. I don’t want to go to it in to the middle of the bog so I continue around the bog. Steve following says he sees an animal bed. So I ask him, deer, elk or bear? But he doesn’t know so we assume bear. I had forgotten to bring my bear spray so life just got more interesting!

Steve finally sees a blue ribbon across the bog so we make our way to it and then up a hill out of the bog. We met a deer hunter as we got to top of the hill and a road. He said he saw a bull elk down where we were so the bed probably was an elk bed.

After a friendly conversation with him (mainly about gold: turns out he is gold miner with a really nice claim,) we eat lunch and then on a hunch, we go down the road and run into blue ribbons and blue diamonds. At this point, I get the feeling that we did the Duck Soup Trail clock wise! The road takes us back to where we started the loop. So we start back to the trailhead.

Going back, we get to a place where the trail split. We induce this must be the Miners Delight Trail and by going a bit up it we should come to the connector to the Duck Soup Trail. So we test the theory. Again we get to a trail split and we go up what we think will be the connector. But it goes up a hill and doesn’t feel right to me.

Finally, we get to another trail split that Steve recognized (I did not) and he convinced me we were there before. Sure enough our tracks are there. So we come out, assuming we were on the connector. Then we return to the trailhead.

Afterwords, plotting out our GPS track, I see we did two loops: one of Duck Soup in CW direction and Miners Delight, looking for the connector, again in the CW direction! We did not know where the hell we were on the map. But knowing the area, I wasn’t really lost so it was a successful exploration! However, now knowing what I know, I need to go back and write down the correct instructions for the guide.

By the way, I don’t think I would ski these trails! They are treacherous with route finding and very step grades for cross country skiing. You get hurt out here and nobody would find you until the Spring Thaw and you start to,
stink! These are definitely expert trails which you should do with friends!
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We need to totally borrow this sign idea for areas of the Nature Trail and lower area of Brewers and Moose Glutch.. ... See MoreSee Less

Doing a little research on how to encourage folks to pick up after their pets on the trails. What do you think of these signs by Gallatin Valley Land Trust in Bozeman? Would you read it? Too vague? T...

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Brewer's is just fine. Get yah some!! ... See MoreSee Less

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I lost a silver bracelet at the Bus this week -- please message me if you find it. Thanks! ... See MoreSee Less

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Today, I did Brewers up to the top of the meadow. My hear wasn’t in it so I was really surprised by how far I got!

Brewers is a strenuous trail. The snow and mud did not make it easier. Where the snow melted it was slicker than the snow itself! It was treacherous today.

The bikers only went as far as Catalyst. It was treacherous for them too! It appeared that there might be hunters on the meadow but I saw only one track. It was of the size that it might be either a deer or an elk and that was high up on the meadow. I would lean towards deer but it was large enough for a small elk.

I am experimenting with FB: it seems that mutiple 360’s with normal photos are now allowed! YEA!
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