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On Belay 06

Eagle eye

Contributors 08 Grub 46 Head Lines 11 Training with Tyler The Tracker: Glacier National Park Max Wave gains momentum

Head Light 24 Stay focused

To a tea

Head Out 52 Days of summer

Head Gear 54 Creature comforts Let’s get reel

Head Shots 26 Our readers’ best

The Crux 62 Be prepared

Head Trip 38

ANY WAY UP Pamela Shanti Pack at the pinnacle of her sport

LAB RATS Inside Montana’s cutting-edge athlete-performance research lab

MAN VS. MOUNTAIN An introduction to trail running at the Rut

Southwest Montana is a wadefisher’s dream

Cover photo Andrew Burr



Skylar Browning Lynne Foland Brad Tyer Cathrine L. Walters Heidi Starrett Joe Weston Adrian Vatoussis Christie Anderson

Dave Reuss, Lisa Densmore, Greg Thomas, Dan Brooks, Robin Carleton, Ari LeVaux, Zeno Wicks, Alex Sakariassen, Jeff Mow, Michael Moore


Brad Tyer Kou Moua Jenn Stewart, Jonathan Marquis Tami Allen, Steven Kirst, Alecia Goff, Sasha Perrin Lorie Rustvold Matt Gibson

317 S. Orange St. • Missoula, MT 59801 406-543-6609 • Fax 406-543-4367

Please recycle this magazine

Montana Headwall (ISSN 2151-1799) is a registered trademark of Independent Publishing, Inc. Copyright 2014 by Independent Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved. Reprinting in whole or in part is forbidden except by permission of Independent Publishing, Inc. Views expressed herein are those of the author exclusively. And yeah, we’re having fun.

Cathrine L. Walters

16 32 48

Wild Things 45





nevitably, outdoor pursuits lead to performance considerations. In my case, the more rewarding my playtime becomes, the more likely I am to dream about enhancing it. If hiking to Holland Falls is fun, wouldn’t hiking to Holland Peak be even better? But the next question quickly follows: “How much adventure can I really handle?” Brent Ruby at the University of Montana Center for Work, Physiology and Exercise Metabolism has dedicated his professional life to answering that inquiry for all of us. In a search for the essence of pain and physical limitation, Headwall writer Dan Brooks goes deep inside Ruby’s lab (not to mention his own body). Ruby’s less interested in the psychology of suffering than the physiological factors, but in Brooks’ lively profile, it’s Ruby’s fervid mindset that really deserves study. With a kinetic sense of enthusiasm, Ruby chases data points from the frontiers of exhaustion to determine how we might go faster, farther and safer. Offwidth climbing superstar Pamela Shanti Pack has her own passionate interest in pushing the limit. As profiled by Michael Moore, Pack reveals her peculiar devotion to suffering and fear. Her

willingness to submit to discomfort sets her apart even in a hardcore crowd. But she still has physical limitations dictated by pain, which only make her achievements all the more remarkable. Dave Reuss comes to Headwall with a performance envelope more familiar to the rest of us, and his attempt at The Rut, a tough trail run at Big Sky, sheds light on the odd appeal of physical distress. Reuss discovers that it feels really good when it’s over. Headwall rounds out its summer features with Greg Thomas’ encomium on wadefishing. The advantages, he argues, are manifold, but all entail the risk of an unplanned swim. Nevertheless, if you want intimacy, if you want detail, and if you want overlooked fish in hidden water, you’ve got to leave the comfort of a boat and get your legs wet. I’d venture to say that’s where the deepest pleasure lies, toward the middle of the river, where dark, heavy water collides against itself, and where we remain gamely holding our ground, seeking something elusive that does the same. Matt Gibson Editor-in-chief

Cathrine L. Walters


Greg is a freelance writer/editor living in Missoula. His credits include The New York Times, Forbes, Outside and Big Sky Journal, among many others. He currently serves as the editor of Fly Rod & Reel magazine, which requires him to fish distant waters in Russia, Alaska, Belize, the Bahamas and beyond. You can follow his travels at

Jeff is a 25-year veteran of the National Park Service and the superintendent of Glacier National Park. The Los Angeles native first worked as a seasonal park ranger in Alaska before working full time at Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park and Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve. After being named an NPS Bevinetto Congressional Fellow, he served as superintendent at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument in Colorado and, later, Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska. His first visit to Glacier occurred in 1988 as a wildland firefighter on the Red Bench Fire near Polebridge.

Greg Thomas

Dan received a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Iowa in 2000, an MFA in creative writing from the University of Montana in 2006, and a shoulder injury from Renzo Gracie Academy in 2007. His work has appeared in the Missoula Independent and The New York Times, as well as on his blog at He lives in Missoula with his thoughts.

Originally from Wisconsin, Cathrine’s passion for mountains tugged her west to live and work in Wyoming, Idaho and, eventually, Montana. She graduated from the Rocky Mountain School of Photography in 2007 and is currently photo editor at the Missoula Independent and Montana Headwall. When out of the office she’s usually on assignment, bagging peaks, biking, running or working on her new house.

Dan Brooks Cathrine L. Walt ers Jeff Mow


Missoula kayaker Ben Litz runs the infamous “Box” on the Wild and Scenic Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone River in northern Wyoming’s Beartooth Mountains. Known as one of the hardest stretches of whitewater in the lower 48, it features narrow granite canyon walls that climb as high as 1,200 feet. This stretch can only be run at optimum midsummer flows and includes “must-run rapids” that are difficult to scout.

Robin Carleton



Former pro cyclist’s coaching company continues to grow During his nearly 15 years as a professional cyclist, Tyler Hamilton says his complete focus on the sport made him, socially speaking, “kind of a monk.” The former Tour de France competitor and 2004 Olympic gold medalist trained almost around the clock, building and maintaining his strength and ability. Particularly in the latter half of his career, Hamilton developed a better understanding of the science that goes into becoming a better, more efficient cyclist—knowledge that inspired him as he prepared to transition out of the sport several years ago. “Training was my life,” says Hamilton, who has lived in Missoula since 2012. “It was everything. Everything else took a back seat.” Shortly after retiring in 2009, Hamilton launched Tyler Hamilton Training,

lasting and intimate relationships with clients. At times he thinks of himself and Capra more as psychologists than as coaches. You spend considerable time with clients, he says, learn their strengths, their weaknesses, freak out when they have a race and you haven’t heard from them. “My high kind of comes from getting their feedback and seeing them make improvements,” Hamilton says. “The greener the Rock Racing person is, the steeper the learning primary focuses, he still travels the councurve. But in two weeks you see huge try on a regular basis to share his story. improvements, and to hear their voice, “Right now, I feel like I’m speaking it’s amazing.” for the whole generation of guys I raced Alex Sakariassen with, and sometimes taking the heat for all of them too, because a lot of people are still pissed and disappointed,” he says. For the first three years of his

Tyler Hamilton raced professionally from 1995 to 2008. His career highlights include one Tour de France stage victory in 2003 (accomplished with a cracked collarbone, no less) and a gold medal in the 2004 Summer Olympics for men’s individual time trial. offering his services as a personal cycling coach for clients across the country. Through phone calls, emails and Skype sessions, Hamilton worked to develop customized, goal-oriented bicycle training regimens for weekend-warrior types. “It’s not just pedaling around. It’s serious,” Hamilton says. “There are times when they go out and ride easy and smell the roses, so to speak. But most of the time they’re working because they want to get stronger. … Maybe last year they did the 25-mile charity ride and this year they want to do the 50-mile. That’s their goal.” Hamilton has become well known in recent years not just for his professional accomplishments but for the controversy that erupted in the wake of his retirement. In 2011, Hamilton admitted to having used performance-enhancing drugs and implicated famed Tour de France champ Lance Armstrong in an elaborate and secretive doping ring. Hamilton weathered intense criticism from fellow competitors and fans both before and after the release of his book, The Secret Race. But as sponsors have walked away from Armstrong and more athletes have stepped forward, Hamilton has become vindicated. He says he’s enjoying a quieter life in Missoula, but while Tyler Hamilton Training is one of his

post-retirement coaching career, Hamilton was a one-man show. He then hired one of his original trainees, Jim Capra, who is now Tyler Hamilton Training’s head coach. They work regularly with some 75 clients worldwide, most of whom Hamilton estimates are middle-aged with kids and demanding jobs. They have difficulty balancing hectic schedules and maximizing their time on a bike, he says. That’s where Tyler Hamilton Training comes in. “One week can go totally normal, but one week you could have to change your training schedule five different times,” Hamilton says. “So we’re constantly fixing things, changing things. It’s fully customized, but it’s all based around you.” It’s a model Hamilton believes he could expand on in Missoula. He thinks a storefront could focus not just on cycling, but on building

Montana Headwall Page 12 Summer 2014

Tyler Hamilton Training

The Tracker

Glacier National Park

Total visitors in 2013, marking the park’s fourth-busiest year on record, despite a two-week government shutdown in October. It’s Montana’s most-visited attraction.


Documented fish species, including seven non-native.



Documented mammal species found inside the park.

Unnamed lakes inside the park; there are 762 lakes total. Cathrine L. Walters



Distance, in miles, of the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Estimated minutes it takes to travel the entire stretch of Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Named glaciers inside Glacier National Park, all of which are shrinking. For more on how the park is responding to this and other challenges, check out Superintendent Jeff Mow’s essay in The Crux (page 62).


10,448 Height, in feet, of Mount Cleveland, the park’s tallest peak.

631 Motion pictures filmed inside the park, including The Shining, Forrest Gump and The Thing from Another World.





Only at Planning makes perfect Looking for current weather forecasts and advisories before heading out for a summer adventure? Headwall’s home page provides one-click access to info on Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration regional reports and Montana streamflows from the U.S. Geological Survey.

Spring skiing John Lehrman scouts out Sheepshead Peak in the Mission Mountains and drives north along the Icefields Parkway, aka Highway 93, for a pair of backcountry trip reports. Once he enters into British Columbia, our regular online contributor finds cooler spring temps and tons of fresh snow. “I was feeling lucky as we skied through a 6-inch powder storm and skied hard down steep tree lines looking out over the high border country and its stunning peaks, glaciers and alpine terrain between Bow Valley and the upper Kootenay River highlands,” he writes. Read more—and see his stunning images—in “Head Out.”

John Lehrman

PLUS: Geared up What’s the best piece of equipment you’ve discovered this season? Let us know—or check out our writers’ most recent favorite finds—in “Gear Reports.”

Searching for a summer adventure? Explore Headwall’s exclusive “Places” database for more than 600 detailed descriptions and reviews of parks, peaks, resorts and more. Like Headwall on Facebook to keep track of the latest news, condition reports and exclusive contests. Follow Headwall on Twitter for links to new content and other outdoor adventure resources.

120 Hickory St., Suite B Missoula, MT 59801 (406) 549-0755 Montana Headwall Page 14 Summer 2014


New wave moves forward Molly Skorpik, Morrison-Maierle permit phase manager, says the new plan includes two major features: an initial drop, including a large wave and a calm pool where boaters can recover, and a

Missoula hosted the 2010 U.S. Freestyle Kayak Team Trials, a three-day event featuring the sport’s top competitors, at Brennan’s Wave.

Meghan Hanson

second drop with two smaller waves leading to an eddy and boat ramp at Silver Park. An easy boat channel will skirt the north side of the kayak park. An ADA-compliant viewing area will be located on the south bank.

“It is the intent of Max Wave to create opportunities for boaters, viewers, and potentially create a destination for other boaters and boating competitions,” Skorpik says. But before construction can begin the design needs to pass the permit stage—a process Shreder says has consumed the board’s funding and time. Since its advent in 2008, the board has raised more than $200,000—almost all of which has been spent on design and permitting. To expedite the process, the Missoula Redevelopment Agency recently allocated roughly $30,000. MRA Director Ellen Buchanan says the money is intended to propel the Max Wave through the permitting phase, so that major donations in the future can fund the park’s Justin Ryan construction—at a cost estimated at more than $1 million. With MRA’s funding, Shreder says, the project should be permitted in the next four months, allowing construction to begin this winter. Zeno Wicks


The Clark Fork is one step closer to getting a second surf wave near downtown Missoula. Thanks to a new design and a hefty donation, the long-discussed Max Wave could be constructed as early as next year. If permitted, the Max will enhance a 500-foot stretch of river east of Ogren Park at Allegiance Field known as the Flynn-Lowney irrigation ditch. The feature would be named after Max Lentz, a Missoula kayaker who died on the Gauley River in West Virginia in 2007. “We’ve made a lot of modifications just in the last couple of years with this design,” says Jason Shreder, president of the Max Wave board, “and I think we are at a point where people are happy.” Ideas for a new kayak park first circulated the year following Lentz’s death, but fundraising and design challenges have slowed the process. An original plan proposed by Bozeman-based Allied Engineering Services didn’t meet certain expectations for accessibility. The new design is a collaboration between the Morrison-Maierle engineering firm and Gary Lacy, the designer who helped develop Brennan’s Wave, located just upriver from the Max Wave site.


amela Shanti Pack sat in a Colorado emergency room, thinking her climbing days were done. Just hours after her ice-climbing partner had pried her clenched hands off her ice axes, a doctor explained the cold facts of a condition she’d never heard of: acute compartment syndrome. “Basically, what he told me is that climbing was going to be something I had to stop doing,” Pack says of that winter day in 2006. “If I didn’t stop climbing, I ran the risk of literally destroying my forearms. It was serious stuff, but I remember thinking there had to be something else I could do in terms of climbing.” What happens with acute compartment syndrome is that pressure builds up within the fascia that surrounds muscle. If not properly released, the pressure can destroy the muscle. It occurs most often after a broken bone, but it can, as it did in Pack’s case, appear after vigorous exercise. Surgery is often required—Pack avoided it— and it’s a given that an exercise-induced episode of the syndrome is likely to reoccur during similar activity. Pack walked away from the hospital with a clear directive: Stop climbing. But Pack, who now calls Missoula home, isn’t much good at following orders. She factored in the doctor’s admonition, then looked for ways to bypass it. Specifically, she’d been told that clinging tightly to tiny rock edges could re-trigger the syndrome. So she looked to the rock for an alternative. She found it in an off-the-radar niche of a larger sport just now starting to enjoy mainstream popularity. Just over seven years later, Pack has appeared in nearly every top climbing magazine, where she’s always photographed climbing the rock features that she’s helped restore to a glory last enjoyed 30 years ago: very wide cracks.


f you’ve seen anything about rock climbing in the past half year, you’ve likely been riveted by pictures and video of young Alex Honnold, a stone-cold California climber recently renowned for free soloing huge rock walls in Yosemite, Utah and Mexico. Free soloing means climbing without a rope; one mistake free soloing is one too many. Honnold is the modern master of the free solo, so famous that he’s been profiled by a reporter left slack-jawed on “60 Minutes.” Honnold’s climbs generally involve a series of handholds and footholds that manifest as small edges, juggy extrusions and finger- to fist-size cracks. Such face-climbing holds sometimes offer little more purchase than a credit card’s edge, and adhering to them requires massive strength in the hands, forearms and core. It’s precisely those holds that Pack can’t grip without risking a recurrence of compartment syndrome. Pamela Pack is not Alex Honnold, although, like him, she’s an adroit crack climber. But where Pack excels is in the vertical world of offwidth cracks, cracks too big for a fist stack yet too small

to accommodate a full body. It’s a realm of highly specialized maneuvers: the chicken wing, the knee jam, the lower-body jam and, lastly, the invert, a move that requires putting a leg above the head with the foot cammed into the rock at heel and toe. It’s a bloody, scar-creating approach that has been, until recently, the province of gnarled tough guys. But today, no one is better than Pamela Shanti Pack. She is the high priestess of the harsh world of inverted offwidths, a pursuit she describes as “ultimate fighting with a rock.” “Offwidths weren’t necessarily my calling,” Pack says. “But when it appeared like my climbing days might be over because of compartment syndrome, offwidths appeared. They’ve saved me, in terms of climbing. Offwidths gave me the chance to have a career in climbing.”


he wanted to be a gymnast. Then a painter. Then a kayaker. Then a cartographer. Then a pro climber. On the road to those goals she grew up in Vermont, moved to Montana, spent a year in Paris, lived in Oregon, lived in Boulder, then moved back to Montana. She’s been to school at Yale, Oregon State and the Vermont Studio Center. She’s painted landscapes and charted the deep seafloor of the Bering Sea. She’s climbed tiny chert knobs at Smith Rock, taped her hands for the sandpaper cracks of Joshua Tree, huffed up a thousand feet of Bitterroot granite in Blodgett Canyon. It sounds like the journey of a wandering soul, but Pack sees it as a career born of accretion,

each path offering something to the future while settling something about the past. It’s anything but the career track of her dad, the well-known poet Robert Pack, who taught at Vermont’s Middlebury College for 34 years before he and his wife, Patty, followed their children west to Montana. Bob Pack also directed the distinguished Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference for 22 years. He eventually taught at the University of Montana’s Davidson Honors College, and in 2006 earned UM’s presidential faculty award for distinguished service.

“She is the

high priestess

harsh world of inverted offwidths, a pursuit she describes as ‘ultimate fighting with a rock.’”

of the

Pack’s poetry is intricately tied to landscape; his sole daughter is a child of landscape, tracking its contours as a surveyor while exploring it most intimately as a climber. “There’s an appreciation that he has for the outdoors that I share,” Pack says. “I’ve danced around landscape with art, but I think climbing has really helped me forge my deepest relationship with it. I love it all, but I’ve become particularly immersed in the desert landscape in Utah. It’s so elemental.” The red Utah deserts are a long way from Pack’s childhood, which found

Ben Fullerton

her intently focused on gymnastics. “I saw myself as a college gymnast, and I was just so competitive about it,” she says. But her body let her down; she suffered a stress fracture in her lower spine. “It was bad enough that the doctors told me that gymnastics was a major risk,” she says. “In fact, they told me I’d probably never be able to pick up a backpack, let alone go anywhere with one.” Even back then, Pack wasn’t one to take no as a long-term answer. “I didn’t want to hurt myself worse,” she says, “but I also wasn’t able to accept that this was going to be some prison sentence where I couldn’t be active any longer.” Pack’s response, fueled in part by her competitiveness, was anger. She’d planned to go to college on a gymnastics scholarship, and now that plan was blown up. What happened next was the unfolding product of drift rather than intent. Nothing rose to the scale of gymnastics, so Pack moved into what might be called a personal mini-Renaissance, a divided focus on the many rather than the few. As she moved into her college years and beyond, she embraced a host of sports: climbing, boating, windsurfing and mountaineering. She was good at all of them. She also turned to the visual arts, landscape painting in particular. Because she is prone to obsession, she fell hard for painting, attending the Vermont Studio School, studying in Paris and eventually moving to Seattle to set up a studio. “I was very, very serious about painting,” she says. During the same period, she finally started honing her interest in sports to a finer point: climbing, and more specifically alpinism. “I wanted to be out there, the one putting up new routes in new places, getting scared and depending only on myself and a partner,” she says. Alpinism necessarily involves ice climbing, an aspect of the sport that Pack took to with maniacal intensity. Ice climbing, which has only suffering and ascent in common with offwidth climbing, then spawned the disaster that morphed into the beginning of Pack’s professional climbing career. “I was into it pretty hard, and one day we’re climbing at the ice park in Ouray, [Colo.], and I’m done with a climb and suddenly I can’t take my hands off my tools,” Pack says of that winter’s day in 2006. “I mean, literally, my partner had to pry them off. Turns out it was acute compartment syndrome.” Once again, Pack faced a panoply of medical professionals telling her that her chosen sport was off-limits. She briefly turned to mountain biking—not doctor recommended, but accepted—as an alternative to climbing. But climbing pulled her back, if only for a swan song. While working what she thought might be one of her final climbs, she found herself in an offwidth too big for simple hand and fist jams. “It was a sort of eureka moment, when I realized there was a kind of climbing that didn’t involve crimping and pulling down hard on face holds,” she says. “Right then and there, I knew I was going to be an offwidth climber.” Not surprisingly, she went all in. “I figure if you’re going to do something, you try to be the best,” she says.

“And pretty soon, I was good enough to be recognized in the offwidth community. Probably because it’s so small, but whatever. The fact is, without compartment syndrome, I probably never would have found offwidths. So it’s really turned out in the best possible way.”


rom 2007 to 2011, Pack helped put offwidths back onto the map of modern climbing. Climbers had started grunting their ways up the gritty cracks of Vedauwoo, Wyo., in the 1950s, and the place became well known in the ’70s as climbers freeclimbed routes that had previously been climbed only by artificial means, which often meant squeezing wooden blocks into cracks to provide hand and foot holds. The advent of sport climbing— wherein climbers clip ropes to bolts drilled into rock for protection—took some of the luster off traditional offwidth climbing, but Pack’s mentor, Craig Luebben, helped rejuvenate the sport near the turn of the century. “I was so lucky to have met Craig, and although I never got to climb with

him, I did decide to do an homage to offwidths by repeating 10 of his most famous desert offwidths,” Pack says of Luebben, who died in 2009 in an accident on a glacier in Washington’s North Cascades while obtaining his guide certification. Pack was so sure of her skills she believed she could repeat Luebben’s routes in one climbing season. In fact the climbs proved so difficult that two years went by, a time during which she learned the offwidth truth already articulated by Luebben. “Nothing on the planet can deliver a physical and emotional whipping like a hard offwidth,” Luebben once wrote. “In offwidths and squeeze chimneys I’ve witnessed good climbers curse, cry, whimper, moan, scream, pray, hyperventilate, and vomit. Wider than your fist yet too small to accommodate your body, an offwidth requires more effort per inch of stone than perhaps any other type of climbing.” Homages aside, Pack and climbing partner Patrick Kingsbury have spent the past seven years finding and putting up new routes, mostly in the Utah desert, which is home

to a spectrum of splits, fissures, chimneys and cracked roofs. She’s gathered a handful of sponsors and now climbs much of the year, spending a few months of each working as a surveyor in Alaska. “The sponsors help, of course, but the real job of working in Alaska really makes it possible to be a pro climber,” she says. Pack’s career—and offwidth climbing in general—got a huge boost in 2011 when two Brits showed up in America with the goal of climbing this country’s hardest offwidths. That involved repeating a lot of Pack’s routes in addition to climbing what is considered the hardest offwidth in the world, the Century Crack in Utah, rated 5.14, rarified air for a crack climb. The Brits, Tom Randall and Pete Whittaker, dubbed themselves the Wide Boyz and

Ben Fullerton

produced a cheeky film about their efforts. Pack appears in the eponymous film talking about the difficulty of offwidth climbing. The collaboration helped burnish Pack’s reputation among climbers. “One thing about them is that by repeating a lot of our routes, they validated them as hard, world-class climbing,” Pack says. “For us, it was hard to grade them because there really wasn’t anything like them. Now, since the Brits came along, the magazines have been much more interested in what we’ve been up to.” And what Pack and Kingsbury have been up to is putting up close to 80 first ascents. It’s likely that most of these routes won’t be repeated for a simple reason: Almost no one wants to suffer badly enough to get up them. “These are routes that you train for in a very specific way,” Pack says. “I’ve spent a long time working with trainers and Pilates experts and physical therapists to do this sort of climbing. You don’t just show up and get up a hard offwidth.” In fact, the Brits spent months in a basement where they built wooden facsimiles of desert cracks and fine-tuned their jamming skills. “Offwidthing is just this complete, all-body pump,” Wide Boy Tom Randall says in the film.

It’s also an art, though a blunt, indelicate one. “The brutality of it, the struggle of it, makes it seem like there’s no art to it, there’s no craft to it,” says offwidth master Bob Scarpelli, who also appears in the film. “But if you think that, you’re on the wrong path.” There is often an art to the routes themselves, lines traced by breaks in the rock. Pictures of Pack have proliferated in climbing media the past few years, and there is no avoiding the beauty of the climbs. Beyond that visual beauty is the beautiful suffering of offwidth climbing. “You can get beat down by some of these things, just not believing you can get up them,” Pack says. “And you can literally be beat down and broken to pieces.” In 2012, Pack took a long fall while attempting a first ascent of The Forever War in Vedauwoo that left her with damaged kidneys. Still, her description of the climb makes it sound like something akin to fun. “The Forever War is more difficult for me physically and technically than any other route in Vedauwoo, thus the 5.13c/d

rating,” she says. “I gave it a ‘slash’ grade because Pat and I believe it is more difficult for a larger person. I gave it an “R” rating because if you fall at the crux, a head- or back-first impact into a flake is almost guaranteed. My favorite part of the route is the kick-over into the inversion, which requires a head smear off the flake—pretty damn offwidth!” Pack remains committed to putting up hard routes for as long as she can, but she’s also found herself in a new place mentally as she haunts the desert’s landscapes. She’s found, at 39, a space in which she no longer has to be something new, allowing herself to settle more deeply into what she is: a woman in love with immersion in landscape, a woman who practices her passion at the highest level. “I think what’s happening now for me is that I’m in love with the place, sort of like my dad was in love with his place in the physical world,” she says. “I’m content to be there, to see what there is to be seen, to see it with people I love, to do climbs that are fun and beautiful. That’s enough, you know what I mean?”

Montana Headwall Page 23 Summer 2014

Stay focused

by Cathrine L. Walters


Action shots at altitude raise the stakes ast summer I set out to climb Mount Jackson in Glacier National Park with my climbing partner, Abe. After a restless night’s sleep roadside near Jackson Glacier Overlook, we hiked about eight miles on trail before darting off to find our own route up the 10,052-foot beast. While most of the climb to Jackson’s summit is no more than a manageable Class 3, I found that I had to be extra attentive to my footing, balance and positioning as I kept pace with Abe and still snapped pictures that captured the full extent of our majestic surroundings. Shooting while climbing presents obvious challenges. A combination of excitement and exhaustion—not to mention the precarious terrain itself—can lead


to soft or blurred images. The key is maintaining focus on both the climb and your camera’s setup. There are a few basic techniques shooters can use to ensure that their high-altitude action photographs are sharp. Start by avoiding the camera’s “Automatic” mode and taking control of the shutter speed. Change the mode to “S,” or Shutter Priority, then adjust the dial to a number higher than the focal length of the lens. For example, with a 200mm lens, use a shutter speed of 1/200 or faster; for a 400mm lens use 1/400 or faster. In the case of 16mm or 24mm wide-angle lenses, I’d recommend no hand-held shooting slower than 1/60. Bump up to 1/125 if you can.

For a point-and-shoot camera where manual shutter control isn’t an option, make sure to switch to Sports Mode, which will automatically choose a faster shutter speed. Perhaps the hardest part of successfully capturing one of these climbing shots involves conquering the elements. Windy conditions, unsteady footing and the shooter’s own breathing can all create motion blur. Just stop. Take the time to secure a safe and steady spot or brace against a rock or tree. To help steady the camera, I hold my arms tight to my chest and slow my breathing before gently pressing the shutter release. Following these simple tricks helps me keep images in focus and my focus on an epic ascent.

HEAD SHOTS Kate Wanner hikes along Boulder Pass Trail in Glacier National Park. ÂľCanon EOS Digital Rebel XSi, 24mm, 1/800, f/4, ISO 640.

Kylie Paul


Two bighorn sheep bask in the sun in Yellowstone National Park. ÂľCanon PowerShot SX40 HS, 97mm, 1/320, f/5.7, ISO 100.

Nicole Swoboda

A bald eagle perches on a branch near Waterloo. EOS Rebel T3, 250mm, 1/1600, f/5.6, ISO 400.


We know you’re out there, having epics and snapping photos. Instead of condemning them to anonymity in hard-drive purgatory, go for the glory and send your best images to us at Include the location, your name, the names of all people shown and any information you think is useful. We’ll take it from there.

Cannon Colegrove

A morning storm appears over McDonald Peak in the Mission Mountains at sunrise. µCanon EOS 7D, 17mm, 1/30, f/7.1, ISO 500. Kevin Oliver


Morgan R. Sanden

Clay Skeens, foreground, and Mark Wilson fish the North Fork of the Blackfoot River. ÂľSony Alpha A55, 18mm, 1/500, f/8, ISO 100.

Montana Headwall Page 31 Summer 2014

A sometimes uncomfortably intimate look at Montana’s cutting-edge athleteperformance research facility, and its contagiously enthusiastic leader, Dr. Brent Ruby s we wait for the heat chamber to warm up, Brent Ruby and his senior researchers, John Cuddy and Walter Hailes, regale me with stories of misadventure in the measurement of core temperature. They show me a 2-foot probe that one test subject threaded down the back of her pants and all the way up to her belly button, completely missing the intended cavity. Another subject clenched a different heat sensor between her buttocks until it fell out midway through the experiment. She refused to believe she had lost it. The researchers show me the sensor, a purple suppository roughly the size and shape of a foam earplug, with a smooth plastic case and a glimpse of electronic components at the flat end. It costs $50 and is not reusable. We joke about the vagaries of experimental research until the conversation reaches a polite silence. It is the silence that says, okay, now go put this scientific device in your rectum.


Cathrine L. Walters

Ellen Ruby

This is Dr. Ruby’s métier—where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. He is mapping the border between what science knows about human physiology and what humans physically do. It’s an area he considers badly underrepresented in contemporary research. “It’s like, do a publication,” he says. “Oh, it’s got some neat graphs. It’s got stats, that’s pretty cool. But what the heck does it mean? They’re not gonna read that.” Ruby’s hands have begun to float around in front of him, as if he is clearing away oncoming ideas as he speaks. I find myself nodding—not because I know how scientific publishing works, but because I want to agree with him. Anyone this excited must surely be right. “The practice is three steps removed from the actual researcher,” he says. “We want to be the researcher and the bridge. When people say, ‘They say that exercise in the heat causes this,’ who’s the they? We are the they.” He grins maniacally, as if being this ‘they’ were obviously the best job in the world. Ruby is the head researcher at the University of Montana’s Department of Work, Performance and Exercise Metabolism. Enthusiastic and wonkish, he is exactly what you want a scientist to be. He competes in Ironman triathlons and wears alarmingly technical shoes. In his

the door. Inside are heat lamps, an array of fans, and two treadmills with a big, red button between them. It’s the kind of button that movie characters hit at the last second, a button that stops everything. When you see that kind of button, you know you are somewhere that could make you give up. Ruby, Cuddy and Hailes have outfitted me with a sensor of their own design that monitors my heart rate and skin temperature. I am also carrying the aforementioned core temperature device. As I walk on a treadmill under the heat lamps, all this technology transmits data about me to an Android tablet that “There is the , and there is the tells the researchers how close I am to collapse. , and he is trying to I feel good, I think. I could do this forever, or and closer together.” maybe for another 10 minutes—only the man with the tablet knows for sure. As the photographer snaps pictures, Hailes notes that my heart rate goes up appears to be a gramophone horn. He every time she points the camera at me. keeps saying “oh, brother” in a completely It’s the kind of observation Ruby likes: non-ironic way. Ruby is either a shameless my vain anxiety translated to quantitative huckster or the real deal: one of those physiological data. He is a man of science, people who is fascinated by everything, but fundamentally he is an experience guy, excited about everything, determined to seeking out grueling physical extremes in do everything in a way that makes you his own athletic life and in the work of want to come along with him on the off firefighters, soldiers and endurance runchance that you might finally do someners. There is the lab, and there is the thing, too. I thought we were friends, until world, and he is trying to pull them closer he put me in the heat chamber. and closer together. Sometimes that means From the outside, the heat chamber writing papers and chasing grants, and looks like a walk-in freezer with a dozen sometimes it means putting a man with a extra dials and an observation window in late 50s, with a shaved head and a soul patch, he seems professionally amazed. For example, he expresses surprise whenever I let slip some fact about my exercise habits or personal experience, widening his eyes and saying “Wow,” as if he were utterly astonished that I was once in a bicycle race. He appears to think everything is cool. His lab is stocked with treadmills and high-end bicycles, but also mid-century modern furniture and an iPhone amplifier he made out of a wooden box and what

world closer

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pull them

Cathrine L. Walters

Brent Ruby

radio transponder in his core on a treadmill and heating him to 110 degrees. It’s all part of a job whose only consistent element is that Ruby visibly, gleefully loves it.

uby didn’t always love his work. As an undergraduate at Seattle Pacific University, he drifted from prephysical therapy to pre-med, then switched his major to exercise science after taking one class. He graduated from SPU in 1989 with a B.S. in exercise science, a young wife and few concrete plans for the future. “Back then, with that degree, there were a couple of routes,” Ruby says. “You went into cardiac rehab or you went into personal training.” He worked at a bike shop in Seattle and at a tony fitness club in Bellevue, where he learned that he did not like personal training. “I made two to three times as much working at the health club, but I had no patience for it,” he says. “I didn’t like the clients. I didn’t like the reasons they were training. And I loved working at the bike shop.” So he quit the health club, kept his job at the bike shop and applied to graduate school in exercise science at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. His plan was to get his master’s degree and return to Seattle to work in cardiac rehabilitation. At UNM, however, he began to consider a career in academia. He met people who encouraged his interests in the science behind exercise, and he wound up staying five years to earn his doctorate.


He also met a classmate who could not stop talking about Missoula and how great it would be to work at the college there. When Ruby saw a pre-Internet flyer advertising a position at the University of Montana, he applied. In 1994, he became UM’s first and only professor of exercise science—a position similar to being the national science laureate of a desert island. “It was real frustrating the first couple of years, because there was nothing—no equipment,” Ruby says. “We had another lab [UM’s original human performance lab] in an old locker room that had been converted to lab space and didn’t have any equipment.” Ruby remained the only full-time faculty in exercise science until 1999, when the physical therapy department hired exercise physiologist Steve Gaskell, a 1980 Olympic alternate in the Nordic Combined skiing event. In 2007, Ruby and Gaskell were joined by Chuck Dumke, a professor of sports nutrition and exercise science whose faculty directory picture shows him falling off a mountain bike. Steadily, the Department of Human Performance was attracting athlete-scientists—people who shared Ruby’s fascination with closing the gap between what we know about our bodies and what we do with them. “As that happens, the curriculum gets more and more diversified, and the research potential gets more and more diversified,” Ruby says. He’s excited now, describing an expansion in the university’s research that has paralleled—and often been propelled by—the expansion of his

curiosity. This is the Ruby Effect: a contagious enthusiasm that makes science and exercise seem like one big, coherent adventure. “We’re hot all the time,” he says, “because we’re these big, complex engines that aren’t very efficient.” He is animated now, gesturing and leaning forward in his chair as he talks about how mind-blowingly cool it is that human beings can convert chemicals to mechanical energy. “Here’s this elegant process,” he says. “Heat! Heat! Tons of heat!” The problem of what to do about tons of heat has driven Ruby’s research from the beginning. He has worked with ultramarathoners in Death Valley and Marines in basic training at Camp Pendleton, measuring how they expend and replenish energy, the ways they heat up and the reasons they sometimes fail to cool down. He is fascinated by the physiological forces behind human performance and why some people seem to excel at high-heat, high-intensity exertion while others collapse. The human body is a machine, after all—wetter and softer than the machines we build, but limited by input and efficiency like any other. Athletes talk about guts and determination the way pilots talk about the spiritual satisfactions of flight, but Ruby’s is the demystified interest of the runway mechanic. “There are only five subjects in the literature with energy expenditures above four times basal metabolic rate,” he says. “In one study, we have 35 people above four times basal metabolic rate—some as

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Ruby and his team spent several days and thousands of dollars measuring energy expenditure and core temperature among the test subjects, only to lose 30 percent of their data to faulty equipment. Such problems have bedeviled exercise physiology researchers when they take their experiments into the field, where conditions are unpredictable and instruments “When people say, ‘ that designed for the lab often fail. exercise in the heat causes this,’ “We’ve collected all this data using We are the they.” equipment that other people have developed, and they’ve developed it incredibly poorly,” Ruby says. “It’s not knows how it feels to run out of wind acceptable to pay what we’ve paid for in a race, and understanding it as a some of these pieces of equipment and consequence of glycogen and ATP and have 30 percent data loss.” metabolic water only sharpens his enthuThe receiver unit siasm. It’s the kind of enthusiasm that for the core temperadrives a man to put thermometers in ture sensor that I took people and throw them into a sauna, into the heat chamber, and the kind of enthusiasm that leads for example, cost those people to let him. $4,000, and it was not The treadmill in the heat chamber is comfortable. Ruby the first one I have set foot on in nine believes there is a commonths. I am well acclimated to heat, munication gap thanks to the cheerful torturers at Hot between the people House Yoga, but my cardio is poor. It’s who design physiologmy dirty little exercise secret, but there it is on Ruby’s tablet: my heart rate climbing ical measurement devices and the scienas my core temperature holds steady, all tists who use them in of it factoring into a number that tells the their research. assembled scientists exactly how much “The problem is, suffering I am trying to hide. I am sweatengineers and business ing a lot now—kind of a disgusting people don’t know shit amount, which Ruby says is good. It about the research,” he means I’m used to this kind of thing, says. “There needs to but aerobic fitness is more important be a communication than heat acclimation. triangle within that “If you were going to pick one thing to group. Why can’t we equip yourself with before you go into the be that person? Why heat—hiking, typical military training— can’t we do that work? then aerobic fitness is going to be your That’s why we formed strongest ally,” he says. It’s the flaw in my the PhysioZing comexercise routine, expressed as scientific pany.” principle and embodied in my gross, increasingly miserable self, all of it captured on Ruby’s ingenious machine. hysioZing is the Ruby’s machine grew out of one of corporation his most prominent studies, which Ruby, Cuddy examined the effects of heat stress on and Hailes formed to wildland firefighters. He followed enter what Ruby calls dozens of them into the Colorado “the commercial mountains and monitored their core space,” where their temperatures as they worked, using the research might translate into products for same internal sensors I took with me into both the research and exercise communithe chamber. It was the kind of real-world ties. It’s primarily a vehicle for developing study he had long wanted to perform, and marketing the other sensor device that but from a practical standpoint it was also I wear into the heat chamber—the one that a disaster. I don’t have to insert in a body cavity. high as 12 times. Some people have energy expenditures of 19,000 calories in 24 hours.” That study covered the Western States 100, a 100-mile mountain-trail run. Ruby is attracted to such grueling events, both as an athlete and as a researcher. He

They say who’s

the they?


Montana MontanaHeadwall Headwall Page Page36 36 Summer Summer2014 2014

“That’s the working prototype,” Ruby says. It’s a rectangular black box about the size of a headlamp, held in place over my heart by an elastic band. As I walk on the treadmill, trying to act like heat and exercise are not utterly antithetical to my values, it relays data to Ruby’s Android tablet via Bluetooth. Unlike the internal temperature sensor, it’s reusable. It’s also more reliable than the sensors Ruby and his team have worked with in the past; it doesn’t fall out or lose radio frequency integrity or dump a third of its data after the experiment is over. It simply gathers its data from outside my body—I cannot overemphasize the value of this feature—and sends it to a consumer electronic device, which converts it to a score. That score, along with the convenience of Bluetooth and Android integration, is the product that PhysioZing is selling. It measures the effect of heat on my body at the moment, but more importantly, it tells Ruby and his team how likely I am to suffer a heat injury in the future. Heat injuries, from cramps to exhaustion to death, occur when core temperature gets unusually high. Unfortunately, measuring core temperature is expensive and unpleasant, and as a metric it’s slow to respond. Once core temperature gets too high, it’s too late to prevent injury. The system PhysioZing has designed allows coaches and trainers to forecast. “If you’re going down the wrong path, we know within 10 minutes,” Ruby says. In that time, his system can assess which subjects won’t be able to maintain their present levels of work for the next 90 minutes. “We can tell early on the person who’s Ellen Ruby going to have a normal response and the person who’s going to have a heat injury. And we don’t have to put anything in the person, which is a huge benefit.” Ruby and his team hope to market their injury-prediction system to running events

and college football teams—anywhere large numbers of people work hard in the heat. “You’ve got a football team with five linemen, and there’s always one kid,” Haile says. “And so you have five monitors on the five guys who might have a problem, and one of them looks, based on our numbers, much different from everybody else. You pull him out and the rest of those guys keep practicing.” In the same excited tone, Ruby goes on to describe the Christmas dinner where Hailes presented him and Cuddy with the paperwork to incorporate PhysioZing. They always get great surprises at Christmas, he says, noting that last year it was “sweet copper mugs.” If his enthusiasm recognizes a distinction between the kind of surprise that launches a new technology company and the kind that makes a good Moscow mule, he doesn’t show it. It’s the Ruby Effect again: Developing consumer technology to predict heat injuries is sweet, and copper mugs are also sweet. His enthusiasm is consistent and omnidirectional, so that he is constantly running into new projects. In 2010, he was training for Ironman Coeur d’Alene and wound up launching a company that makes energy bars. A friend from the Grizzly triathlon introduced Ruby to a rancher who was looking for new markets for his beef. The two met at a coffee shop, where the rancher said he was thinking about jerky. Ruby wondered if getting into the jerky business was worth it. “Right at that time I thought, Jo Ruby okay, I have a 3.5hour ride planned for the day. I am so freaking sick of foods that I take all the time,” Ruby says. “Every day I eat this crap. It tastes like peanut butter cookies and fake flavors—just gross, and I was so tired of it. I just want regular food.” The result of Ruby’s sudden desire for regular food was Omnibar, a natural, beef-based energy bar. As a slow-digesting protein, the beef provides for muscle health while serving as the foundation for complex carbohydrates like brown rice and sweet potatoes. Since November 2013, a facility in Columbia Falls has produced 20,000 Omnibars a month in flavors like cranberry rosemary and mango curry. He describes the thrill of seeing Omnibars at Orange Street Food Farm, noting that he “loves that grocery store.” It’s another collision of expertise and enthusiasm, of the things Ruby researches and the things he does. He loves cycling and independently owned grocery stores and the human ability to convert organic substances to ATP and metabolic water. He is hard at work on the science of his play, gradually making those two areas into the same thing. “It seems like the job changes every six months,” he says. “We may get a phone call today. Can we collaborate on a project? Probably.” Montana Headwall Page 37 Summer 2014

t some point during the past 20 years most people decided that Montana’s trout streams are best fished from a drift boat and that wadefishing has somehow become passé. Some of the credit or ridicule, depending on how you view that evolution, could be attributed to all those glossy tourism brochures that paint the perfect summer afternoon as including a drift down a wild trout stream, through a beautiful and broad valley, casting dry flies from the bow of a boat, while a guide does all the heavy lifting. I’m not one who routinely turns down offers to be that guy casting from the bow, and I fully understand the merits of fishing from a boat, including the option to transport and access at will those mega-sized coolers that are fashionable these days and hold armloads of the coldest and most delightful of summer beverages, plus sandwiches, salamis, fine cheeses and anything else you please. But, there is something special about


spending a day hiking along the banks of a trout stream and wading in the water with the fish, paramount being the option to work smaller waters that are too shallow and narrow for boats to negotiate. These waters allow anglers to fish at their own pace, to work particular pools and even individual fish to their heart’s content, testing theory and new fly patterns, all without the threat of invasion that is nearly inescapable these days on Montana’s larger and easily navigable rivers. And I’m not the only one who has shared that opinion. The late Doug Persico, who ran Rock Creek Fisherman’s Mercantile in western Montana, was the most vocal proponent of wadefishing that I’ve ever met. His words still resonate with me. During an interview he once said, “I think that fly fishing has become primarily a float sport. People want to get

in a boat and cover more water. To be honest, anglers who only float are missing the bet. When you only float I don’t think that you really learn fly fishing. You don’t really learn to read water, and stalk fish, and study the insects on the rocks, and learn casting and mending. If you really want to learn fly fishing you have to take a few unscheduled swims in the river and you wade.” Another advantage to wading is that you don’t have to commit to a particular section of water for an entire day. And that is important when the weather blows up. Or when the hatch isn’t coming off the way you thought it might, and you’ve already made that determination just a mile into a 10-mile float. If you’re floating, you may have to spend a few hours in a downpour, huddling in the brush, cold

and possibly miserable, before a storm passes. Or if the water turns to mud for some reason, you’re married to the float. When wadefishing, you can change your mind and your location. You can also access all the secret water, the little sloughs and side channels and backwaters that anglers floating past in a boat may never notice, waters that offer some of the biggest fish and the most phenomenal experiences that can be had on a river. Fortunately, there are plenty of rivers that offer just those kinds of options, and some of the best are located in southwest Montana. Here are three of the most promising, all worthy of your time and effort this summer.

Ruby River The Ruby divides the Gravelly and Snowcrest mountain ranges southeast of Dillon. Its upper section runs through national forest lands, which means it’s wide open for fishing and camping. Here, as spring runoff subsides in early July, anglers test deep pools and undercut banks mostly for rainbow trout, along with a smattering of browns, cutthroats and grayling. Most of these fish range between 6 and 11 inches, but giants can be found

here, too. According to former Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist Dick Oswald, the upper Ruby always holds a few browns that range between 7 and 12 pounds. Look for pale morning dun mayflies coming off most summer days, followed by caddisflies in the late afternoon and evening hours. If you target oversized browns, work Muddler Minnows, Woolly Buggers and other fishy-looking flies under the cutbanks and along the bottoms of the deepest pools. Ruby Reservoir, which provides good summer fishing for browns and rainbows, divides the upper river from the lower sections. Below the dam the Ruby is fertile and grows much larger fish, on average. Here, tiny Pheasant Tail, Prince and Baetis nymphs take lots of brown trout that average 14 inches long and stretch past 20 inches on occasion. During late July and August these fish key in on two large insects: craneflies and grasshoppers. Casting imitations of each may draw great surface strikes, so make sure you carry those patterns with you.

Unfortunately, the lower Ruby flows mostly through private land and is difficult to access, the exceptions being just below the reservoir where a few public sites allow access to great sections of water.

Big Hole Gallatin

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Map by Jonathan Marquis

Montana Headwall Page 40 Summer 2014

Chuck Haney

Big Hole River

Big Hole River The Big Hole begins near Wisdom and flows through some of Montana’s most beautiful scenery before meeting the Jefferson River, at Twin Bridges, 153 miles later. Throughout its course anglers find rainbow and brown trout in great numbers and, sometimes, of staggering size. The average fish ranges between 10 and 16 inches, but trout to 20 pounds swim here. Mostly in its upper reaches, above Divide, the Big Hole also produces grayling and some nice-size brook trout. This river has it all, including great insect hatches all summer. Those emergences begin with the salmonfly and golden stonefly in

June and early July. Anglers see pale morning duns and scads of caddisflies through July and August. In August and September, Trico mayflies come off in dense clouds and, despite their diminutive size, trout key on them. Anglers match these tiny flies with size-20 and smaller imitations. This is technical dry-

“When you


float I don’t think that you really learn fly fishing.” fly fishing at its best, an opportunity for serious anglers to test their hatch-matching mojo. Some may walk away from the experience satisfied and others may want to tear their hair out, asking how a fish with a brain the size of a pea can be so darned hard to catch. Fortunately, grasshoppers are abundant in late sum-

mer and early fall, too, which allows anglers to diverge from the technical game and lob size-6 hopper imitations to aggressive fish. While the Big Hole can be as productive as any river in the West, it’s the entire experience as much as the fish that draws anglers here. Once off the river, fly fishers find lots of developed and undeveloped campsites, along with comfortable motels in the towns of Wisdom, Wise River and Melrose. Nights can be spent around a campfire or in one of several entertaining bars or restaurants, including the Melrose Bar, Dewey Bar, the Wise River Club and the Hitchin’ Post. During June and July, a flotilla dominates the Big Hole, but as the water drops in late July and August wadefishers take over, especially on the upper river from Dewey upstream to Wisdom. Throughout the river, even during the prime float season, wadefishers can usually find side

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channels to fish where they won’t be interrupted by boats.

Gallatin River The Gallatin flows out of Yellowstone National Park and meets the Madison and Jefferson rivers west of Bozeman, where that trio forms the Missouri River. The Gallatin is one of the most heavily fished streams in the state, which made me all the more entertained one day when I fielded a phone call from a man who wouldn’t identify himself, but was happy to yell, “Thomas, don’t you ever write about the Gallatin again. You are giving away all of the secrets.” To which I responded, “If you think the Gallatin is a secret you ought to put the Cheetos down, get off the couch once in a while, and find some of the really good fishing that’s out there.” That’s not to say the Gallatin doesn’t provide great fishing from its source in the park to its outlet near Three Forks.

Throughout that course anglers find rainbows, browns and some cutthroats between 6 and 15 inches, and a few larger than that. But mostly the Gallatin is known for smallish fish. So is it worth fishing? Resoundingly, yes. This is a great wadefishing option from the time high water diminishes—usually in midto late-July—all the way into early November when the snow flies. In July and August the Gallatin produces great mayfly, stonefly and caddis hatches. In addition, the trout key in on terrestrials, including grasshoppers, ants, spruce moths and beetles. They’ll take imitations of those, along with general attractor patterns such as Royal Wulffs, Parachute Adams and Elk Hair Caddis. In September and October, anglers see a blue-wing olive emergence and the trout spend entire afternoons lazily rising for those bugs. Anglers who can accurately and delicately cast a size-18 blue-wing olive imitation may hook 20 trout in an afternoon with absolutely no competition from other anglers.

Big Hole River Montana Headwall Page 42 Summer 2014

Some of the Gallatin’s best water stretches from inside the park (where you’ll need a park fishing license) downstream to Storm Castle Meadows. In the park, anglers fish a windy, willow-lined meadow section with deep pools and cutbanks. Fan Creek, one of the Gallatin’s major tributaries, also offers great fishing, but you have to hike in to fish it. And if you do so, keep a keen eye for grizzly bears. Below the park boundary anglers access the Gallatin via numerous pull-offs and campgrounds. However, beware of that stretch after a summer thunderstorm—runoff from the Taylor’s Fork clouds the Gallatin below that confluence. o matter where you choose to cast a line this summer, try getting in the water with the fish. Wading in a river, feeling the current against your legs and examining all that happens at eyelevel—from insect emergences to the feeding habits of trout—reveals information you would not glean when passing by in a boat. And that makes you a smarter, more successful angler.


Photo courtesy Volkmar von Sehlen

1705 Bow St. • Missoula, MT 59801 549-5283 • John Fiore, PT • Rachael Herynk, DPT Jesse Dupre, DPT • Anya Wechsler, DPT Montana Headwall Page 43 Summer 2014


How to tell the difference between North America’s two largest raptors

Nick Dunlop

by Lisa Densmore


t appeared as if Rudolph Jr. had misjudged his take-off and met his demise. The young deer entangled in live power lines short-circuited not only himself, but also East Missoula. The incident and ensuing power outage in June 2011 made international news. Contrary to headlines like “Deer with Wings Dies in Power Lines,” the deer could not fly. An avian predator most likely dropped it there. A bystander who observed and photographed a bald eagle in a nearby tree about the time of the power outage surmised that the eagle had nabbed the fawn in its talons, then dropped it onto the power lines when it proved too heavy to carry aloft. News services ran with the unsubstantiated theory. Could a bald eagle kill and transport a baby whitetail? Possibly, but on the rare occasion when a bald eagle kills a small fawn, it typically eats it where the kill was made. Bald eagles don’t normally hunt venison; they generally prefer fish. Golden eagles, on the other hand, do prey on ungulates, in addition to rabbits, squirrels and prairie dogs. Golden eagles and bald eagles differ in more than their preference for deer or trout. Goldens are prairie birds accustomed to grasslands and arid, cliffy habitats. Baldies seek riparian areas and lakes where they can fish, or just as likely steal fish from other birds of prey.

A bald eagle will bully an osprey until it drops its prize, then catch the falling piscis and wing away with it. As a result of their fish-based diet, bald eagles became poster-birds in the mid-20th century for the effects of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, or DDT, on eggshell density. DDT was used as a pesticide to control mosquitoes and insects, and washed into nearby waterways, where fish absorbed it. Bald eagles were poisoned when they ate the fish. America’s national bird neared extinction, but has since recovered. DDT didn’t affect golden eagles, but goldens have recently suffered population declines due to habitat change resulting from drought. While no one is certain how the “deer with wings” ended up on the power lines, both golden eagles and bald eagles have a reputation for getting zapped by wires. When a bird’s wings or feet touch two lines at once, forming a circuit, the bird fries. Since the 1970s, as a result of avian electrocutions, utility companies have modified poles and power lines in rural areas to make them more raptorfriendly. But power lines in urban areas are retrofitted only on a pole-by-pole basis as old ones are replaced over time. It takes four to five years for either eagle species to mature. During that time an immature bald eagle, which lacks a white head, closely resembles an immature golden eagle. The key to telling the difference is the beak. Goldens have a smaller, blueblack beak with a nearly black tip, while baldies’ are yellow. Once mature, goldens generally grow longer (up to 40 inches) than bald eagles (up to 37 inches), though bald eagles have a slightly broader wingspan (up to 90 inches, versus 88 inches). Both weigh between 9 and 10 pounds. While goldens and baldies are the two largest raptors in North America, and both are called “eagles,” they aren’t closely related. Golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) are one of only three American hawk species, along with rough-legged hawks and ferruginous hawks, to have feathers all the way to their feet. They’re a member of the booted, or true, eagle family, most closely related to red-tailed hawks. Bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) are in the same genus as sea eagles. In Montana, there are plenty of opportunities to observe these two raptors, but perhaps none better than the annual Bridger Raptor Festival at Bridger Bowl, in Bozeman. Each fall, during the hawk and eagle migration along the crest of the Bridger Mountains, thousands of eagles wing their ways south from Canada. Citizen scientists from around the state join professional researchers counting the birds as they fly over Bridger Bowl’s summit. None of the observers have reported an eagle carrying a deer—at least not yet.

GRUB by Ari LeVaux

ummer has a way of making iced tea extra appealing, and vice versa. Being water-based and cold, iced tea has what it takes to hydrate and cool. But what most distinguishes tea (iced or otherwise) from other drinks is the plant materials from which it can be made. Leaves, flowers, stems, roots and seeds can add mystery and mystique, not to mention flavor, color and medicinal qualities to your tea. And while it’s usually made from purchased, preprocessed plant parts, tea can also be made from wild-gathered plants like nettles or wintergreen. Or from crops grown for other reasons, such as the lovely and subtle raspberry leaf. Or from the mint and sorrel in your own backyard. Iced tea is typically made by briefly steeping plant material in very hot water and then cooling the tea down by, say, pouring it over ice. But many people prefer making sun tea, in which the plant material steeps for hours in a clear vessel subject to the slow warmth of sunshine. As the afternoon wears on, the sun’s rays pierce the darkening liquid and light up the warm glass jar like a lamp, and it’s easy to see the romance in this iconic, elegant, solar-powered summer beverage. That said, sun tea is overrated. It can even be dangerous. Aside from the spectacle, sun tea doesn’t offer any advantage over other ways of making iced tea. If the plant material you use or the gear in your kitchen happens to contain any bacterial contamination, the warmwater conditions of sun tea brewing are favorable to its proliferation. This reality has compelled many purveyors of sun tea recipes to pair their instructions with warnings about the possibility of tea-borne food poisoning, and recommend tactics like scrubbing containers clean, making just enough tea for immediate consumption, and not letting sun tea steep for more than a few hours. Discard your sun tea at any hint of a problem, like an off smell or any syrupy viscosity. Sun tea diehards, you’ve been warned. But there’s no reason tea can’t be made in cold water, in the fridge, in the dark. Harold McGee, writing for The New York Times, lays


down the basics of the choice between hot and cold brewing, which apply to tea and coffee both. Hot water, he explains, extracts flavor more rapidly, and it extracts more, but it also cooks as it extracts, and chemically changes some of the substances that are extracted. “Cold water, in contrast, extracts more slowly and selectively,” McGee writes, “produces a simpler extract, and doesn’t change the original flavor substances as much.” In short, hot water makes the quickest batch of tea, while cold water makes the best. Sun tea occupies the middle ground in terms of speed and quality, but it’s the most dangerous. Though the risk of sun tea food poisoning is probably small, that will be little comfort to a victim. Putting plant material in contact with cold water can be as simple a process as you like: Drop some rose hip buds in your water bottle as you hike, or grab whatever’s convenient from the garden. But if you’re planning to kick it on the patio and drink tea by the gallon in aggressive heat, you can’t do much better than to buy the herbs and follow this recipe for hibiscus tea, aka Jamaica (pronounced in Spanish: ha-MY-ka). It’s a must-try for the well-rounded iced tea maker. First rinse a cup of dried hibiscus flowers with cold water and drain. Cover the flowers with 4 cups cold water and soak for 4 to 12 hours in the fridge. Filter out the hibiscus with a mesh sieve. Add about 4 cups water (to taste), then sweeten to your liking. Pour some of this wonderful fluid over ice cubes and keep it handy on the porch, where the sun can sparkle it all you want, It’s hard to mind the heat while drinking this dazzling elixir. It may not be sun tea, but you can and should drink it in the sun. Cathrine L. Walters

Montana Headwall Page 47 Summer 2014

ackson Pollock. That’s who I’m thinking of as every runner, including me, is splattered from knee to ankle with black dirt. It’s as if the abstract expressionist known for his drip paintings splashed a bucket of earth tones to decorate us. After months of clear, sunny weather, 20 straight hours of early September downpour has turned the inaugural Rut at Big Sky from a grueling trail race into something resembling a mud run. You’d think these brutal conditions would result in a group of scowling and cursing competitors, but you’d be wrong. As the lead group for the 12K division wraps around the side of Big Sky’s Andesite Mountain and funnels into a singletrack section like a huffing conga line of runners, there’s nothing but wide grins and heaving chests. I realize I’m smiling too, even while slipping on greasy dirt as my calves scream in protest. It’s hard to believe this is any fun, especially considering how bad I wanted to bail on the event earlier in the morning. For the entire drive to Big Sky, my windshield wipers bounced between the steady and frantic settings. Stacks of cotton candy clouds crawled out of the mountains lining Highway 191, as if the hills had held three months of hot summer sun and steamed as the first cold rain hit them. I’m getting my race packet and going home, I thought when pulling into a parking lot pockmarked with brown puddles. No one will even be here. Running in this is not something a sane person would do.


For 2014, almost every aspect of the Rut is getting an upgrade. The 50K is now linked to the sport’s most prestigious mountain-running series and has been renamed the Skyrunner World Series Ultra Final. The change means the best competitors from Europe, Japan and South Africa are expected to join this year’s event. “The top 10 times will be much faster overall—there are literally 15 guys who could win it this year,” race founder Mike Foote says. International gear company Salomon has signed on as this

year’s title sponsor, and prize money this year has increased to more than $2,500 for the fastest racers. Organizers also added another event to the weekend: the Lone Peak Vertical Kilometer. The race gains 1,000 meters of elevation in less than three miles, stretching from the Big Sky base area directly to Lone Peak’s summit. The Vertical Kilometer is scheduled for the day before the 50K, allowing the most ambitious entrants to run in both events. “We actually have people who’ve signed up for both races,” Foote says with a laugh.

When: Sept. 12 and 13 Where: Big Sky Resort Registration: The 500 spots for the 50K are already sold out, but there is a waiting list. Registration will remain open for the 12K (500 spots) and Vertical Kilometer (100 spots) until Sept. 10, or as space allows How much: $110-$120 for the 50K, $50-$55 for the 12K, and $50$65 for the Vertical Kilometer More info:

But runners packed the check-in booth. Every hallway was clogged. More than 160 men and women were already running along the 50K course (nearly 31 miles) somewhere between the top of Lone Peak and the inflatable finishing arch perched on the grass under the Explorer chairlift. Both the 50K and 12K fields had been sold out for weeks. Turns out there are many insane people unwilling to bow to the elements. Race founders Mike Wolfe and Mike Foote banked on this type of dedication from Montana’s tight-knit trailrunning community. Wolfe and Foote, who both live in Missoula, have spent years running ultra marathons around the world, and they wanted to bring that challenge and camaraderie home to a Montana venue. (An ultra marathon is defined as any race beyond the standard 26.2-mile marathon distance; the short ones start at 30 miles and long ones go well past the 100-mile mark.) Foote, an ultra-runner sponsored by The North Face, spent the last few seasons brainstorming how to organize a world-class running event at Big Sky. With the help of Wolfe and support from Big Sky and title sponsor The Runner’s Edge, he launched the inaugural Rut. The organizers drew up a 50K race that circled the crown jewel of the Madison Range and gained a total of 10,000 feet in elevation. Some of the best trail runners in the nation would run straight for Lone Peak, dogleg back for an extensive tour of Moonlight Basin, tackle the Headwaters gullies, reach the 11,166-foot summit somewhere around mile 20, and then barrel downhill, nabbing a quick summit of Andesite Mountain on the way to the finish line. For mere mortals, they constructed a 12K version that tackles just Andesite, utilizing the north-facing singletrack to gain the summit in a 7.5-mile roundtrip. My participation in the 12K was intended to be a mild introduction to Montana’s brother- and sisterhood of long-distance suffering. But there’s nothing mild about running up muddy slopes in 40-degree weather. It’s a grind—and the longer I run, the more I realize the grind is what makes it glorious. The weather doesn’t detract, it adds to the experience. Here, between the sweat and the wheezing and the hail of snot rockets, you can look at anyone and share a smile because we’re all in this together.

On the final stretch to the top of Andesite, the pulsing switchbacks that made uphill travel reasonable disappear. The trail aims straight up like a skateboarder’s half pipe, like a big cresting wave of dirt ready to smash down on us. “Goddamn it,” someone yells between heaving breaths. Continued on page 58

living in Montana there are two goups: those who came here for mountains, and those who stay here because of them.”

“For people


Cathrine L. Walters

JUNE JUNE 7 Go on ahead while I get the breading and chips ready for the 16th Annual Milk River Catfish Classic, one of the country’s largest catfish tournaments. The event takes place between Junebug Bridge near Saco and the mouth of the Milk River near Nashua. $50 to enter, limited to 160 people. The Pengelly Double and Single Dip returns for another dose of punishing mountain running. The half marathon starts at 9 AM at the University of Montana’s Riverbowl East Field, and the 10K starts at 9:30. Visit for course info and registration. JUNE 8 Show the Flathead your best footwork at the Herron Half Marathon and 10K, on bike/walk trails around Kalispell. Proceeds benefit the Foys to Blacktail Trails organization; last year’s race raised more than $5,000. Scoot over to JUNE 14 Learn from your dad’s patience as he untangles your line once again at the Father’s Day Family Fishing Festival, where northern pike, yellow perch and rainbow trout are all up for grabs at the Thompson Chain-ofLakes. $20 to enter, limited to 125 people.

Robert’s Rules of Order are in effect for the 41st annual Governor’s Cup, which includes a marathon, half marathon, 10K, 5K and fun run in Helena. For motivation, consider that Heather Lieberg smashed the women’s course record last year with a time of 2:45:59. Check out

JUNE 21 Crank up your cassette tape of Dookie, ‘cause Missoula XC promises “mountain bike racing like it’s 1994” with gnarly climbs and technical riding at Marshall Mountain Ski Area. This year’s four-day event culminates with the UCI Elite women’s and men’s races at 4 PM and 7 PM, respectively. Visit for a full schedule.

The sights will take your breath away if the climb doesn’t at the annual Pedal the Pintlers, featuring 25-, 50- and 100-mile routes departing from Anaconda’s Washoe Park. $55 to register day of the race, includes T-shirt and food. Visit

Kick that caboose into action for the second annual Trail Rail Run, which follows old railroad grades from Mullan, Idaho, to St. Regis, Montana. Enter the 50-mile, 50K, 30K or 12K, and learn more at

JUNE 15 Find your inner strength during the Discovery XC mountain bike race near Anaconda, with distances from 5.4 miles to 25.8 miles, and divisions for juniors, men and women. Check out

Blame Canada if you don’t do your best at the Waterton Glacier Relay, wherein teams of four to 12 alternate through 24 legs covering a 100-mile course in Waterton Lakes National Park and Glacier National Park. Check out waterton for registration and important info on crossing an international boundary during a race.

JUNE 19 Let age and treachery outwit youth and beauty at the Montana Senior Olympics Summer Games, June 19-21 in Great Falls. Features 15 sports, including basketball, cycling, golf, racewalk, tennis, bowling, swimming and road race. Visit for a full schedule of events.

Montana Headwall Page 52 Summer 2014

Channel Jack Bauer for the 24 Hours of Rapelje mountain bike race, in the li’l town of Rapelje (duh), about 75 miles northwest of Billings. Check out See things from both sides at the Wulfman’s Continental Divide Trail 14K, a singletrack,

point-to-point race from Homestake Pass to Pipestone Pass through Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. Cruise to

Creek trailheads in the Bangtail Mountains. Racers are shuttled to the start from the Bohart Ranch outside Bozeman. Visit

JUNE 27 Newbies and experienced canoers alike can find a contest to suit ‘em at the Open Canoe Slalom Nationals, on the Blackfoot River’s Roundup rapid, at mile marker 26.7 on Highway 200. Visit 2014open

JULY 13 A marathon runs through Missoula during the one and only Missoula Marathon and Half Marathon. The race stretches from Frenchtown to the Garden City, and also includes a kids’ run. Visit

JUNE 28 Intrepid cyclists are advised to enjoy the 66 feet of descent at the Beartooth Blitz starting line, ‘cause it’s 4,700 feet of climbing over 23 miles from there, baby. Race activities are based at Rock Creek Resort, six miles south of Red Lodge. Check out

1,500-yard swim, 12.6-mile mountain bike ride and 7.7-mile trail run. Register at

AUGUST AUGUST 2 Don’t lose your lunch during the HURL Elkhorn Endurance Runs, which feature 23K, 50K and 50milers on scenic dirt roads and singletrack in the Elkhorn Mountains. Limited to 200 runners, so hustle over to

Celebrate the Swan by getting acquainted with some of the 98 miles of recreation trails along the Swan Front and Mission Mountains Wilderness, with footraces including a half marathon, 10K, 5K and 1-mile, plus 13and 34-mile trips for bicyclists. Register by June 20 at RATPOD (Ride Around the Pioneers in One Day) is a 130mile bike ride to benefit Camp Mak-A-Dream. Registration is already full, but check out to get on the waiting list. You’ll see a lot of filthy behavior at the Great Divide Mucker, a three-mile obstacle course race that promises stream crossings, commando-style rope climbs, hurdles, cargo net climbs, slippery slopes and, of course, lots of mud. Things get started at 8:30 AM at Great Divide Ski Area. Registration and race details at


Tommy Martino

JULY 19 Carve out your legacy with the Glacier Challenge Relay Race, which features six legs—two runs, kayaking, road cycling, mountain biking and canoeing—in and around Whitefish. Enter with teams or tough it out solo. Proceeds benefit the Flathead Youth Home. Check out JULY 20 Wassup? The second annual Windermere SUP Cup, that’s what. This stand-up paddleboard race cruises down 4.2 miles of the Clark Fork from Sha-Ron to Riverside Park. Swim over to to learn more.

JULY 5 The annual Gran Fondo Kootenai, a two-day, 175-mile bike ride, travels along scenic routes in the Yaak Valley in northwest Montana. Food and mechanical support included. $200 on-site registration/$150-$175 for early birds online. Check out

JULY 26 Only the most intrepid souls in the land gather for the Butte 100, billed as the “most difficult mountain bike race in the country.” The 50and 100-mile courses begin and end at Homestake Lodge. Capped at 250 riders. Be daunted at

Cruise past amber waves of grain and all sorts of mountain majesty at the annual Bangtail Divide 38K, a point-to-point trail running race from Stone Creek to Brackett

The cat is out of the bag, and “Montana’s biggest event secret” is secret no more. We’re talking about the Lake Como Triathlon outside Hamilton, which includes a

AUGUST 9 The 10th annual Bitterroot Classic Triathlon promises you’re “never 2 old to tri” such feats as a 750-yard swim, 20K bike ride and 5K run. (And take note that it’s two weeks earlier this year.) Mosey over to AUGUST 16 Beginners and veterans alike are welcome to try the 2014 Polson Triathlon, which benefits local youths. Includes a 1,500-meter swim in Flathead Lake, 24.9-mile bike ride and 6.2-mile run. Team entries are welcome this year, though you won’t be eligible for awards. Visit for more details. AUGUST 23 Play in the mud all you want at the fourth annual BozeMonster Challenge, which features 19 obstacles, like the Mud Hill Mayhem Climb and Horrendously High Haystack Hurdles, over 5K in Bozeman. Dress up in a monstrously cool costume, too. 11 AM. Proceeds of the event benefit Gallatin County Regional Park.

Montana Headwall Page 53 Summer 2014



In an era when shedding every possible ounce from one’s pack is en vogue, there’s one item I refused to give up: my pillow stuff sack. Given the physical output required to trek for several days at high elevation in rugged terrain, sleep is critical to physical prowess. For me, the key to a sound snooze is a soft yet supportive pillow. Others might opt for an ultralight nylon compression-strap stuff-sack, but I carry a Moonstone fleece-lined one that came with a down sleeping bag I acquired in 2004, just before the brand disappeared. I stuff my down jacket into my cherished stuff sack, fleece-side out, put my head on my pillow and slide into deep slumber. The next day I awaken refreshed and ready for another 10-miler. (Note: Moonstone sleeping bags have been reintroduced by Columbia Sportswear, but without fleece-lined stuff sacks. Pillow stuff sacks are available from REI ($11.50) and Therm-a-Rest ($21.95). (Lisa Densmore)

GSI COFFEE PRESS Whether relishing a Blodgett Canyon sunrise from your portaledge or lounging late at a Forest Service lookout, no morning ritual provides more satisfaction than sharing a pot of full-bodied java with a friend. Sure, methods like cowboy coffee and single-serving filters weigh almost nothing and work in a pinch. But coffee lovers insisting on a premium backcountry brew to kick-start the crew can do no better than the simple and proven coffee press. Jetboil’s ingenious Flash Java Kit Personal Cooking System is the lightest available, but it can heat only water, not food. That’s why I prefer the Chad Harder

larger GSI press for both quality of brew and the some-for-everyone quantity it produces. My GSI is an older model made of Lexan (still available in the 50-ounce size from Amazon for $39.95), but if Lexan’s BPA issues freak you out, don’t worry. The newer GSI coffee presses are BPA-free and available in both 30-ounce ($29.95) and 50-ounce ($39.95) sizes. (Chad Harder)

EXOFFICIO BOXER BRIEFS My mom buys my underwear. Well, she did for the first three decades of my life, and that was a problem. Before anything from a trail run or a multi-week backpacking trip, I’d pull on the same Christmas-present cotton boxers and prepare for the worst—chafing, stank and swamp crotch were an inevitable part of my outdoor exertions. Now soggy loins are a thing of the past, thanks to space-age underpants. I switched to synthetic briefs on a whim, dropping an unprecedented (for me) $30 for a pair of ExOfficio’s Give-N-Go Boxer Briefs. After my first road trip to Moab, I would’ve spent double. The boxer briefs survived nine straight days and 175 miles of mountain biking through the desert Southwest. That’s one pair and gallons of groin sweat, and I still felt fresh as a daisy (a daisy crammed down my pants, but still). Now they’re all I wear, every single day. And the best part is when you’re wearing just your spandex-y underpants while standing arms akimbo, it’s hard not to feel like Superman. I bet his mom bought his underwear too. (Dave Reuss)

CHACO SANDALS After a long day on the trail under a heavy pack, nothing feels better than getting to camp, peeling off my sweat-soaked hiking boots and slipping into a pair of Chaco sandals. I can almost hear my feet breathe a (sour) sigh of relief as I wiggle my toes in the crisp mountain air while the life rushes back to them.

Cathrine L. Walters

Not just any sandal will do—Chacos have soft adjustable straps that can loosen to the brink of sliding off, making room for swollen feet or a pair of fresh socks. Their aggressive Vibram sole aids in rock-hopping and log-jumping and gathering firewood. Meanwhile, heavy boots get a rest next to the campfire, drying out from the day's big adventure. Chacos are also a savior when crossing swift streams. The straps cinch down, securing the sandal snugly while thick soles protect the foot from sharp rocks. Once you’re on the other side, keep them on for a while. They also make an incredibly comfortable alternative to hiking boots— so long as there's not too much scree in your path. (Cathrine L. Walters)

TRAVEL JOURNAL For almost 10 years now, I’ve treated my backpack more like a bug-out bag than a piece of weekend-warrior equipment. The essentials remain nestled in there at all times, part of a grab-and-go mentality that’s allowed me to at least dream of hitting the trail the moment the 5 p.m. whistle blows. My camp stove, first-aid kit, headlamp, duct tape—they never leave the pack for more than a few minutes. Neither does my travel journal. I’ll probably get shit for suggesting that a journal is essential. And as a 16-year-old on his second weeklong canoe trip in Ely, Minn., I thought it a fairly silly concept. My crew had cameras and the steel-trap memories of youth. Writing it down seemed redundant.

I have yet to fill every page in that cloth-bound tome, but it’s won a hallowed space in my pack. Today, its pages tell of pictographs on Darky Lake, morale breakdowns on Elk Mountain, nightmarish heat in Idaho’s Hells Canyon, and trout caught on a green drake up Rock Creek. My dad would argue that a travel chess set is the essential nonessential, having hauled one through canoe country and badlands alike. I’ll stick to that years-old travel log, the running list of where I’ve been, where I am, and where I’ll eventually be. (Alex Sakariassen)

GARMIN GPS I didn’t think I wanted a GPS until my wife bought me a Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx (starting at $299.99) about five years ago. Now that I’ve got one, it goes everywhere I go. Not a whole lot smaller than a compact camera, the Garmin’s a load, but it’s also loads of fun. I can quickly figure out my precise location in the field, plus download the recorded track afterward and do all kinds of tinkering with it. The mapping software also comes in handy for pinpointing obscure trailheads in the comfort of my office, before I’m out searching on abandoned fire roads. And my purpose-built Garmin crushes those iPhone GPS apps, which exhaust the battery in about an hour once they get out of signal range. Has my GPS ever saved me from getting lost? No. But it makes getting from here to there an indispensably electrifying process. (Matt Gibson)

MSR MUGMATE My MSR MugMate has gone on every single trip I have taken since I shelled out my $18 years ago—and it’s never let me down. Many of us recognize coffee as an essential item for any trip. Our cowboy forefathers proved, however, that fancy French presses are not. This simple filter weighs in at 1 ounce and disappears for storage inside my travel mug. The cute little black tabs on the side of the filter securely hold the filter in the cup so all you have to do is fill it with your favorite coffee grinds, pour in some hot water, and let it steep. Simple, effective and durable, this filter has become an essential component of my every adventure. (Robin Carleton)

these are the good old days. There’s still a place where you can ride bikes all day and getting dirty is applauded. Welcome to Whitefish.



70 *

Includes Hibernation House Lodging, 1 Day Bike Lift Pass and a full breakfast to fuel your day! *Rate is per person, per day/night and based on double occupancy. Two night minimum stay. Other restrictions may apply. Call 800-858-4152.


W H I T E F I S H , M O N TA N A Partially Located on National Forest Lands Photo © Noah Couser


by Cathrine L. Walters


hen selecting the perfect fly reel to help land that lunker, four things should be considered: material, drag system, price and size. Some of these factors are subject to personal preference—like, say, how much cash you have to catch cutties—but size isn’t one of them. Your reel needs to match the weight of your rod and line, but you knew that. For a little help on everything else, Brandon Salayi, a manager at The Trail Head in Missoula, helped us single out some of the market’s best options.

Litespeed 2 Series IV Reel Made in Idaho by Waterworks-Lamson, $339 This company originally designed bicycle suspension systems before switching gears and entering the fly-fishing market. The Litespeed series is billed as lighter and less complicated than the competition. It’s also more expensive. But you get what you pay for: a large arbor made of machined aluminum and stainless steel, and finished with Hard Alox coating, as well as an improved spool/stripping arm to prevent snags and line damage.

Surge Disc Drag Fly Reel Made in Washington by Redington, $79.95 A durable instrument for the thrifty fisherman, the Surge features a reliable aluminum frame and strong disc drag that claims superior fish-stopping power.

Madison IIa Reel • Made in Montana by Montana Fly Company, $205.95 Instantly recognizable for its “Brookie Skin” artwork courtesy of Ennis artist Bern Sundell, this reel boasts a light, durable, corrosion-resistant frame and spool that are fully machined from aluminum alloy.

Flyrise Reel • Made in Colorado by Ross, $120 This large-arbor reel is manufactured out of high-quality aluminum and has a self-lubricating, synthetic drag system. Ross’ latest drag-knob design promises smooth rotation, infinite adjustments and secure settings. Impress friends with this added feature: a finishing coat of aerospace-grade polyurethane means this lifetime-warrantied baby can be used anywhere, from saltwater to freshwater.

BVK Series Reel Made in Texas by Temple Fork Outfitters, $250 These extra-large arbors house a sealed drag system to keep out dirt and debris, making it virtually maintenancefree. Machined from bar stock aluminum and set up to easily convert from your right hand to left. If you’re picky about color, take note: It only comes in green. Cathrine L. Walters


That someone is probably me. More people downshift from hurried waddling to brisk walking as the eerie, piercing wail of an elk bugle echoes up the hillside. That sound fades into the honk of vuvuzelas and the clang of cowbells. Volunteers clap and yell from an aid station planted below the top of the mountain’s Ramcharger quad lift. Inspired by the unexpected support, runners crank up the pace, puff out their chests and look thoughtfully into the distance as trailside photographers snap pictures. At the bar the other night in Bozeman, some touring stand-up comedian gave his take on the outdoorsy scene. “Did you know that some people get up at five in the morning and just run up a mountain,” he said, “without anybody chasing them?” People laughed, sure, but not the way he wanted us to. That joke was probably a big hit in Wisconsin. Or Iowa. For people living in Montana, there are two groups: those who came here for the mountains,

and those who stay here because of them. They’re our playground, our backdrop, and they shape our way of life. Running in the mountains is the most personal, engaging way to experience them. A shot of Hammer Gel with a water chaser gives me fresh legs. For the first time all morning, the clouds fade and my shadow bounces along ahead of me, just a shade or two darker than the wet mud on the access road leading back to the finish line. The dirt is slick and smears my foot around with each step. The ground is also studded with broken rocks, adding a gruesome penalty for slipping. Yet this access road provides the first actual downhill portion of the race and the urge to really run is strong. For nearly a mile, racers sprint at speeds as close to out-ofcontrol as they can. I duck off the service road and down a steep singletrack. The rain has turned the trail into a muddy luge track—one misstep could roll you heels over head and then a few hundred yards downhill. Runners hoot and cheer, bear-hugging trees to safely kill their momentum. I wrap my arms around a thick lodgepole pine and lower myself down a steep ledge, and then another. I lower down one more until the path changes from 5.3 down-climbing back to steep trail running. There’s just one mile to go as we follow burbling Moose Creek through the trees, and the trail gets choppy. We’re bounding over obstacles, ducking branches, sprinting down hills—it’s more playful than difficult, and the movement taps into something natural for me. It’s so obvious that humans were meant to

move like this. A big whoot escapes my lips, and my face hurts from grinning. Since our ancestors cracked the complex nut of survival centuries ago, we could spend our entire lives sitting down and eating Taco Bell. We don’t have to chase game or stalk animals through the woods—but we’d be so much better off if we did. Trail running plugs into a primal instinct—to chase something— that has survived in us forever. Like a Labrador wagging its tail at a waved tennis ball, my body surges with electricity that can’t fully be explained. I don’t want to run—I need to.

As I sprint toward the inflatable arch that marks the finish line I jut my chest out like I’m breaking tape. It was only 12K, and all these runners have looped back to exactly where they started. Nothing tangible got accomplished, just calves aching, hammered knees and burning lungs. But it doesn’t matter. Each person crossing the finish line wears that grimace layered over a smile, and that frown burns off in the next few minutes like the fog banks sailing around the mountains. They’re not smiling as wide as the spectators are, but they’re smiling all the same. The rain is gone. Between the cheering and the music, the faint thought of I wanna do the 50K next year hangs among me and the other runners in my division like a cloud of mosquitoes. Most swat the idea away with the backs of their hands, but some let the idea land. And bite. And infect them. Once my knees stop throbbing, I look back at the looming peak behind me and really wonder what 50K would feel like. It seems crazy, but these Montana trail runners—maybe they’re not as crazy as I thought.

Montana Headwall Page 59 Summer 2014


In the short time that I’ve been here, northwest Montana has had its own unusual variability. I’ve heard from several long-term residents about the intensity of this past winter’s cold spells, winds, and the unusually high snowfall— approximately 150 percent of a normal season’s snowfall. Because of some persistent weak layers in the snowpack, we saw some unprecedented avalanche activity by late winter. Not only do these conditions affect winter recreation, they also affect railroad operations around the park, and we anticipate they will challenge the park’s summer plowing efforts on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Twenty-six years ago I spent more than two weeks cutting fireline on the Red Bench fire along the North Fork of the Flathead River. At 38,000 acres, the Red Bench fire was considered a large blaze. In March, I attended an agency administrator’s wildfire training class in Arizona, where we studied the nature of firefighting today and the responsibilities I might have to take on should a large fire occur in or near Glacier National Park. We learned that the size of fires today has increased dramatically and their behavior has become more extreme due, in part, to hotter and dryer weather trends. In the last five years there have been numerous fires nationwide that are three to four times the size of Red Bench. A single fire in New Mexico’s Gila National Forest burned more than 300,000 acres in 2012. But sometimes it’s not just the fire itself that wreaks havoc. The following winter, significant damage occurred in the Gila when a 1,000-year flood event struck the area, ripping through a landscape made unstable by the loss of vegetation.

Another significant change is the objective of fighting these large fires. We can no longer hope to contain them entirely, but often have to focus on protecting particular resources within our domain, such as historic structures, personal property, or, in the case of the 2013 Rim Fire in Yosemite, irreplaceable resources such as the giant Sequoia trees. Over the last decade I’ve found myself focusing on climate change adaptation, thinking about how I might manage a national park in the face of climate change and high levels of climate variability. I’ve given numerous presentations to other park superintendents about adaptation strategies, and in doing so have noticed the struggle many of them are having with developing management strategies that can successfully address the uncertainty associated with climate change.

Montana Headwall Page 60 Summer 2014

There are proven strategies one can use for managing uncertainty. “Scenario Planning” is a term used frequently in the world of business and investment planning to manage uncertainty. It’s about considering one’s actions across multiple possible and divergent futures, as opposed to trying to forecast a single future. It’s something most of us do instinctively, like when we walk out the door and debate whether to take the Gore-Tex shell, pack the fleece or slather on sunscreen (or all three). Similarly, I believe the National Park Service can develop a greater degree of flexibility by using scenario planning as a way to develop plans and make decisions in the face of increased uncertainty driven by climate change. Scenario planning will help, but it won’t take away the discomfort associated with climate change Chad Harder uncertainty. I once had a mentor who counseled a group of us to “embrace ambiguity.” We all had a good laugh when we heard that, but now I see its applicability to thinking about planning for the future. The future is always ambiguous, there is always a degree of uncertainty, and there is always a need to be adaptable. As I think about the future of the park, it’s clear that it needs to be managed in a way that allows it to be responsive to change—potentially massive change. As I look at the next generations and the challenges and opportunities they’ll face, I recall something I heard in a presentation last year: “I won’t be able to give my children everything, but I want to make sure that they’ll be prepared for anything.” I think that’s an approach well worth adopting, both personally and professionally.

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Montana Headwall Page 61 Summer 2014

Be prepared

by Jeff Mow


A simple motto for an uncertain time at Glacier National Park landscape once the glaciers themselves species like whitebark pine and the As a teenager growing up in are gone, but what other changes will diminutive pika are observable and California, I was pretty heavily involved there be to the ecosystem, to our well documented. Some climate with backpacking, climbing and backfacilities, and to our ability to provide change research indicates that we will country skiing. School holidays were our visitors with a meaningful and be experiencing a “no-analog future,” spent in Yosemite, the eastern Sierra quality experience? meaning one with climate patterns and at Joshua Tree National Park. Before moving to Glacier I Through the Boy Scouts I learned spent 22 years in Alaska working how important it is to “be prein and managing national parks. pared.” While being prepared in “As I about the future During my time there I witnessed those days often meant hauling some pretty incredible short-term around a 50-pound backpack, takchanges. At Kenai Fjords National ing the lesson to heart ultimately of the it’s clear it Park we spent every summer gave me confidence in my ability extending the trail out to Exit to adapt to changing conditions in to be Glacier in an attempt to keep up the backcountry. with its retreat. In 2013, Alaska Forty years later, I find that saw record-breaking high being the superintendent of in a way that it to be temperatures for the month of Glacier National Park has given May followed by more recordme a new appreciation for what it to breaking heat in June. I have means to be prepared. Certainly come to describe this kind of my responsibilities managing one crazy weather pattern as if of the country’s iconic national —potentially change.” someone has cranked the dial parks, overseeing up to 450 on the weather so that when it’s employees during the summer cold it’s really cold, when it’s season and more than 2 million warm it is really warm, and when it and ecosystem shifts that have not visitors a year, are more complex. But rains it comes down in buckets. occurred in recorded history. There is no Glacier National Park is a landscape that doubt that Glacier National Park will is changing—its shrinking glaciers and continue to be a wondrous and amazing reduced habitat for sensitive alpine Continued on page 60


park needs managed allows responsive change massive

Cathrine L. Walters

Montana Headwall  

Outdoor Adventure Under the Big Sky

Montana Headwall  

Outdoor Adventure Under the Big Sky