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MOUNTAIN

WINTER 2020

10TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

YELLOWSTONE WOLVES 25 YEARS LATER

AK:

THE BUCKET LIST MONTANA TACKLES THE OPIOID CRISIS JAPOW! SKIING IN HOKKAIDO PLUS: HOW TO SLEEP BETTER

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FEATURES

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SCIENCE AND THE SILENT KILLER By Alex Sakariassen America’s opioid crisis has reached epidemic proportions, claiming the lives of 130 people each day and 400,000 since 1999. In a nation grappling with one of the worst drug crises in history, Alex Sakariassen in Science and the Silent Killer uncovers two Montana groups working to solve the epidemic and turning heads on a national scale.

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YELLOWSTONE WOLVES 25 YEARS LATER By Todd Wilkinson It’s been 25 years since wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park, at once celebrated by some and intensely maligned by others. Their presence revealed fault lines among the people of the Greater Yellowstone, leading many to question their affiliations and priorities for the landscape. Todd Wilkinson looks back on the watershed ecological event.


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MENDING FENCES By Claire Cella Across the West, more than 6 million acres of public lands have been rendered inaccessible to the public as huge swaths of land are snatched up. It’s a new conflict requiring new solutions and Montana is at the forefront of that quest. Claire Cella’s Mending Fences looks at potential solutions being discussed in the Treasure State and beyond.

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THE LAST FRONTIER: ALASKA’S BRISTOL BAY LODGE By Eric Ladd and Joseph T. O’Connor Alaska’s Bristol Bay is home to the world’s largest salmon run. Pack your rods and waders for an epic fly-fishing trip to Bristol Bay Lodge, arguably the most epic fishing experience on the planet. Also, the long-contested Pebble Mine is back on the books. Could it destroy Bristol Bay’s pristine fishery?

I visited the Mission Mountains in hopes of capturing the Milky Way over an old turn-of-thecentury barn. By far, this was one of my favorite photo sessions in a long time. I listened to birds, geese and packs of coyotes all night while watching the stars come and go. PHOTO BY NICHOLAS PARKER


DEPARTMENTS TRAILHEAD 22 Events: Monster Jam Triple Threat Series, Big Sky Film Festival and U.S. Biathlon National Championships 23 Cause: Fork and Spoon Homestyle Kitchen 23 Visit: Old Montana Prison 24 Reel: Damned to Extinction 24 Read: The Man Behind the Maps: Legendary Ski Artist James Niehues 25 Trending: Five of the West’s hottest trends

OUTBOUND GALLERY 28 The best of the last 10 years

NOW 40 Montana’s cutting-edge war on opioids 48 Sleep: why aren’t we getting enough? 52 Jackson’s fight to Save the Block 56 How to Build a ‘Bomb: Restoring a vintage Bombardier snow coach

REPORTS 62 Fresh tracks: biotech skis take to the slopes 70 The dream and reality of buying a ski hill

LAND 74 A quarter-century of wolves in Yellowstone 82 The Crow Tribe and the Crazy Mountains 90 Mending Fences: Land access in Montana

CULTURE 101 106 108 115 122

Hitchhiking the Teton Pass A slightly cracked Easter Story The tender thorns of Eduardo Garcia Cooking with the kids Teddy Roosevelt’s famous bear

GEAR 126 The best eco-friendly products on Earth

ADVENTURE 130 Japow! A guide to skiing Niseko, Japan 136 BBL’s Alaskan salmon fishing and the goliath Pebble Mine

FEATURED OUTLAW 150 Bode Miller: After the Last Gate

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Despite the colloquial name “mountain goat,” Rocky Mountain goats are not classified under the Capra genus, which includes all other goat species. Instead they fall under the genus Oreamnos, the same as gazelle, cattle and antelope. PHOTO BY TIM RAINS

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Owned and published in Big Sky, Montana. PUBLISHER Eric Ladd

Montana at your fingertips Download the new EBS App Culture • Local News • Events

EDITORIAL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, VP MEDIA Joseph T. O’Connor ASSOCIATE EDITOR, DISTRIBUTION DIRECTOR Doug Hare ASSISTANT EDITOR, DIGITAL EDITOR Michael Somerby STAFF WRITER, DISTRIBUTION COORDINATOR Brandon Walker SOCIAL MEDIA ASSISTANT, DISTRIBUTION COORDINATOR Kirby Grubaugh CREATIVE ART DIRECTOR Catalin Corrigan

GRAPHIC DESIGNER ME Brown SENIOR VIDEO EDITOR Ryan Weaver LEAD VIDEOGRAPHER Jennings Barmore SALES AND OPERATIONS CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER Megan Paulson VP, SALES AND MARKETING E.J. Daws VP, EVENTS Ennion Williams MEDIA AND EVENTS DIRECTOR Ersin Ozer BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT LEAD Sam Brooks

GRAPHIC DESIGNER Kelsey Dzintars

CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER Blythe Beaubien

LEAD GRAPHIC DESIGNER Marisa Specht

CONTROLLER Treston Wold

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Jessianne Castle, Claire Cella, Scott Davidson, Kate Hull, Brigid Mander, Amanda Monthei, Michael Ober, Alex Sakariassen, Bay Stephens, Ednor Therriault, Sophie Tsairis, Brandon Walker, Todd Wilkinson CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS/ARTISTS Brian Amdur, Jason Ching, Edward Curtis, Seth Dahl, Ronan Donovan, Alyssa Henry, Nate Hill, Cynthia Matty Huber, John Layshock, Carson Meyer, Kim Michels, KT Miller, Michael Ober, Brad Orsted, Madison Perrins, Erika Peterman, Erik Peterson, Shawn Raecke, Shawn Robertson, Jacob Smith, Kene Sperry, David Swift, Jason Thompson, Adam Sings in The Timber Subscribe now at mtoutlaw.com/subscriptions.

Mountain Outlaw magazine is distributed to subscribers in all 50 states, including contracted placement in resorts across the West. Core distribution in the Northern Rockies includes Big Sky and Bozeman, Montana, as well as Jackson, Wyoming, and the four corners of Yellowstone National Park.

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To advertise, contact Ersin Ozer at ersin@theoutlawpartners.com or Sam Brooks at sam@theoutlawpartners.com OUTLAW PARTNERS & MOUNTAIN OUTLAW P.O. Box 160250, Big Sky, MT 59716 (406) 995-2055 • media@outlaw.partners © 2020 Mountain Outlaw Unauthorized reproduction prohibited

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On the cover: A 7-year-old male Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) nicknamed Mr. Blue locks eyes with a camera-trap. This radiocollared male, research number is 755M, lives in the central part of Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. PHOTO BY RONAN DONOVAN


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At 14 years old, I was told I wasn’t good enough to be a ski racer. I worked harder. It was said that I was a fluke when I broke onto the World Cup scene. I went faster. I retired with the most Olympic and World Championship medals of any US skier. And my pride. I’ve suffered and still live with unspeakable tragedy.

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C O N T E N T B Y L O C AT I O N

ALASKA Bristol Bay p . 136

M O N TA N A Missoula p.90 Deer Lodge p.23

HOIKKAIDO

Maverick Mtn p.70 Big Sky p .150

Niseko p . 130

IDAHO

F E AT U R E D CONTRIBUTORS

J A PA N

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Originally from Northern Michigan, AMANDA MONTHEI (Japow! p. 130) began her writing career covering wrestling matches and parades for a regional newspaper in Michigan’s U.P. She is now a freelance writer and U.S. Forest Service hotshot who spends her days hiking, ski touring or biking when she’s not writing about skiing and fishing for Mountain Outlaw, The Ski Journal, The Flyfish Journal and The Drake Magazine.

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B o z e m a n p . 31 Livingston p.66 P a r a d i s e Va l l e y p .109 YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK

WYOMING

Jackson p.52

SCOTT DAVIDSON Scott Davidson (The Teton Pass Project, p. 101) grew up in Bozeman, Montana’s Valley of Flowers and graduated with a B.F.A. in film and photography from Montana State University. He currently lives in the Tetons and is planning his next ski trip around the world. PHOTO BY CODY NOTT


F RO M T H E E D I T O R Creating Dialogue September 14, 2019, 7:19 a.m. A cool breeze slips under the boat’s canvas cover as we prepare to launch across Lake Aleknagik, away from Bristol Bay Lodge and the millions of fish composing the largest sockeye salmon fishery in the world. A long sunrise begins as an orange-pink glow along the eastern horizon. The roar of the engine drowns out voices on the boat as I think about this special place and its impact on a larger conversation. Over the past year, the development of Pebble Mine (p. 146) has reentered the realm of possibility for Bristol Bay and may threaten an ecosystem that provides half the world’s wild salmon. The argument on both sides is heated and has been ongoing for decades, not unlike Alaska Silver salmon on a mouse pattern other topics featured in called a “wog” (p. 136) this edition of Mountain Outlaw. Writer Todd Wilkinson has our cover story (p. 74) on the 25th anniversary of reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone National Park. Clashes between hunters, ranchers and wolf advocates have been just as explosive as they were in 1995, and on par with the Pebble Mine controversy. Similarly, Claire Cella writes about the complicated issue of public lands and public access in the West (page 90).

BRANDON WALKER (Trailhead, p. 22) grew up in the Green Mountains of Vermont where he earned an electronic journalism degree from Northern Vermont University-Lyndon. An outdoor enthusiast, he combines a passion for hunting, fishing, backpacking and camping with an affinity for writing.

Through the work of these writers and our other talented contributors, a fundamental truth becomes apparent: in the West, in America and around the globe—as we expand into wild places long untouched by human hands—we will find opposing viewpoints. We will come across issues without simple answers and we will ask ourselves the tough questions. And we will talk because without dialogue we have no empathy. As the boat hummed across the lake under a fading Alaskan moon, I was reminded of what matters. One story out of the Alaska trip was heart wrenching. Four brothers at Bristol Bay Lodge were on a bucket-list journey that may have been their last together. The youngest brother, Eric, had been diagnosed with ALS a week earlier. This trip was a celebration of brotherhood, of toughness, of what matters. We tell his story in Last Light (p. 154) and urge you to fight along with him. Outlaw Partners published the first edition of Mountain Outlaw magazine a decade ago to highlight the wild places in the world; a view of our planet through the lens of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. We wanted to tell its stories. As we celebrate this 10-year anniversary, what stands out in the hundreds of articles we’ve published is a shared goal: create dialogue about what matters. We hope the following pages inspire you to learn and reflect, but most importantly to listen and remain open to dialogue. And recognize what matters in this world. Joseph T. O’Connor Editor-in-Chief joe@theoutlawpartners.com

National Geographic Explorer and photographer RONAN DONOVAN (Where Wolves Dare, p. 74) began as a wildlife biologist before he turned to photography as a way to communicate conservation stories. Over the past five years, he has covered how the human experience relates to our fellow social mammals: wolves, chimpanzees and mountain gorillas.

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TRAILHEAD EVENTS

JANUARY 4-5: MONSTER JAM TRIPLE THREAT SERIES Ring in the New Year in style: with monster trucks. Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah, will host the Monster Jam Triple Threat Series January 4 and 5. The Triple Threat Series features not only the household monster truck icons like Grave Digger and El Toro Loco, but also events involving ATV’s and UTV’s.

FEBRUARY 14-23: BIG SKY DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL Looking to catch a film this winter? Look no further than Missoula, Montana, which hosts the annual Big Sky Documentary Film Festival taking place February 14-23 this year. The films, all based off of true stories, come from around the globe and organizers show about 150 over the 10-day span.

MARCH 26-29: US BIATHLON NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS West Yellowstone, Montana, will ring out with rifle shots this winter as Rendezvous Ski Trails hosts the U.S. Biathlon National Championships March 26-29. Cross-country skiing and target shooting are the two events that comprise a biathlon and contestants across multiple divisions will compete to finish the course in the fastest time possible. – Brandon Walker

The Big Sky Documentary Film Festival audience awaits a screening at the Missoula Children’s Theater. PHOTO BY ERIKA PETERMAN

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CAUSE

FORK AND SPOON HOMESTYLE KITCHEN Fork and Spoon offers a one-of-a-kind dining experience right in the heart of Bozeman, Montana. The restaurant operates unlike any other in the area: they only ask those dining with them to pay what they can. Fork and Spoon is known as a social enterprise restaurant. And it’s Montana’s first and only so far. Patrons are seated, waited on and served just as is custom in any other restaurant, but at the end of the meal, the customer determines how much they pay in a no-pressure environment. Kate Wiggins, Fork and Spoon’s fundraising and marketing coordinator, summarized the restaurant’s goal: “The mission of Fork and Spoon is to ensure that everyone in the community gets a hot, delicious, scratch-cooked meal at least once a day.” The restaurant first opened in 2012 under the name Community Café, but was perceived in the community more like a soup kitchen than a restaurant, Wiggins said. “That

PHOTO BY ALYSSA HENRY

brand refresh, and the remodel of the space, was intended to be more inviting and let everyone in the community know that they were welcome and encouraged to come in for a meal. Those who can pay and those who can’t.” The restaurant is funded through a multitude of platforms. Donations, sponsorships, catering, fundraising events and any revenue that comes from the pay-whatyou-can meals keeps the model afloat. “We get to not only witness people who come in for a meal who need to utilize our services, but also people who want to come in, to have great food and use it as a way to give back to the community by paying full price for their meal,” Wiggins said. “Some even pay extra to help support the work that we do.” Striving to also support the local economy, Fork and Spoon gathers 60 percent of its ingredients from the immediate community for each meal it prepares. – B.W.

VISIT

OLD MONTANA PRISON

PHOTO COURTESY OF OLD PRISON & MONTANA AUTO MUSEUM COMPLEX

I know what you’re thinking: It’s just an old prison with old towers and an eerie feeling to accompany you as you stroll through the corridors of cells. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Constructed in the 1800s, the prison walls reach more than 20 feet high and dive another four feet underground. The structure was erected by prisoners themselves, and 1979 marked the final year that it served as a correctional facility. Open every day of the week, four additional museums coincide with the Old Montana Prison in Deer Lodge, Montana. Besides visiting one of the oldest territorial prisons in the U.S., you can also stop into Frontier Montana Museum, Montana Auto Museum, Powell County Museum and Yesterday’s Playthings Museum while you’re there. Visitors can choose to delve into the rich history solo or accompanied by a guide. If a tour isn’t for you, a plethora of events take place at the prison throughout the year. Just don’t forget your keys. – B.W. M T O U T L AW. C O M / MOUNTAIN

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REEL

DAMMED TO EXTINCTION

In their film Dammed to Extinction, director Michael Peterson and writer Steven Hawley document the trials and tribulations of an orca group inhabiting the Pacific Ocean off the coast of the western U.S. Chinook salmon are the primary food source for this particular pod of killer whales, but dams constructed along the Snake River don’t allow nearly enough salmon to pass and sustain the orcas’ population. Approximately a million salmon are necessary to feed this group of whales every year, but the story doesn’t have to end grimly. Hawley hopes the film will help lead to favorable results for all parties: “We made this film partly because in the midst of yet another ecological emergency, we saw an opportunity. Orcas and salmon are at risk of extinction. But the solution to their problems—removing some outdated dams—is not only the best shot we have at saving killer whales and fish, but also would provide a lot of benefits to people in the Pacific Northwest. It could be a rare case where everyone wins. But we have to act now.” “My hope for the film is that it will continue to inspire the public and policy makers to take action to restore a free flowing Snake River. This is our best chance to save the southern resident orcas and the salmon they rely on,” said Peterson. Dammed to Extinction has earned numerous awards, including Best Endangered Species Film at the 2019 Wildlife Conservation Film Festival, and Best Feature at the 2019 Eugene Environmental Film Festival where it also received the Audience Choice Award. Dammed to Extinction is currently being shown primarily on the West Coast, including at the Big Sky Ideas Festival on Jan. 24. The following day, Peterson and Hawley will speak at TEDxBigSky. – B.W.

READ

THE MAN BEHIND THE MAPS: LEGENDARY SKI ARTIST JAMES NIEHUES

The digital age offers nothing to equal the giddy joy of poring over a printed ski map. In college, I would open trail maps from ski hills my schoolmates had visited, examine them closely and either dismiss or dreamily aspire to ski them one day. Yet, like millions of other skiers inspired by those maps, I didn’t realize for years nearly all were hand-painted by one artist: James Niehues. The recently released coffee-table book, The Man Behind the Maps: Legendary Ski Artist James Niehues, lays bare the process of the man’s distinguished career painting trail maps, that most unsung agent of skier dreams. Published in September of 2019, the book is beautifully laid out with more than 200 ski maps accompanied by essays from professional skiers, cartographers, ski writers and other industry notables. Each illustration has the same amount of attention and reverence, from tiny Cataloochee in North Carolina to giants like Vail, Colorado, or Big Sky, Montana. For any skier, it is enormously entertaining to leaf through. Niehues, among the inductees for 2019 U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame, has painted more than 300 trail maps for ski areas around the world since 1987, and these have been printed over 300 million times to date. The book reports amusing 24

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PHOTO COURTESY OF PETERSON HAWLEY PRODUCTIONS

anecdotes, such as how ski areas tried digitally designed maps, and came right back to Niehues— something intangible was always missing. It’s true: as an artist, he managed to include just enough detail: little cliffs, say, or a little darker shading to denote exciting steeps; or background illustrations to show the place in the world, such as Anconcagua in the background of Chile’s Portillo ski area; or how the morning alpenglow hits Tamarack, in Idaho. Ultimately, the quality in trail maps we all understood subconsciously becomes splendidly clear in the book: despite their utilitarian purpose, each painted map captures the elemental feel and character of each mountain. “James Niehues has given the ski industry a phenomenal, enduring gift with maps of exceptional quality and detail,” said Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Executive Tyler Lamotte. “Since his first painting of JHMR in 1993, we continue to find his art an essential tool that perfectly captures the unique character of our big mountain experience in the Tetons.” – Brigid Mander


TRENDING

WHAT’S HOT IN THE MOUNTAIN WEST

We poked around to find the coolest, hottest trends in the West this winter. Whether you seek gear, an investment opportunity or maybe goggles for your dog, here’s a fast-five worthy of your attention.

1. DISTILLERIES: Ski towns have become a hotspot for distilleries over the last decade or so because, well, skiers are a fun bunch, ski bums (sometimes) make good entrepreneurs, and long winters and aprés-ski cultures are nothing if not fertile ground for booze perfection. From Crested Butte, Colorado to Whitefish, Montana, the trend shows no sign of slowing down. 2. REX SPECS: Doggles have been around for a long time, but not like this. Rex Specs were developed by Wyoming-based Aiden Doane and her husband Jesse after both their dogs developed eye conditions that made their outdoor lifestyle an issue. Their solution? A bona fide, highquality protective dog goggle that has been embraced by dogs and owners in situations ranging from police needs to a dog that likes to ride in the sidecar of a motorcycle. Most of the time, they’re donned on doggos needing a little relief from the sun. The fast-growing company makes six sizes, and each comes with two adjustable straps and two lenses.

3. RECYCLE THAT JACKET: Brands across the apparel industry are upping the conservation ante, encouraging consumers to use technical outerwear to its full lifespan. The environmental toll of our protective layers is high, due to petroleum-based fabrics and coatings. The good news? Quality gear has materials and construction built to last many a storm and season. Examples include Patagonia’s Worn Wear tour, promoting repair over trashing, Arcteryx’s new Rock Solid program, where you can sell or buy used Arcteryx, and standard repairs services offered (often at no cost) by companies like Mammut or Flylow. It’s becoming easier—and trendier—than ever to keep that beloved jacket in use.   4. ALL WOOL: Wool once held the hot ticket as the only textile use in mountain sport for centuries, until synthetics arrived in the mid-20th century. But while the sheep-borne fiber has been back on the rise over the last decade, brands are now vowing to eliminate synthetics altogether. Take Icebreaker, the New Zealand-based merino wool brand that has committed to replacing all synthetic fibers woven in with their wools with 100 percent natural fibers. That trend will broaden as companies increasingly seek accountability to consumers who want to support truly sustainable businesses.    5. TWO WHEELS, ALL YEAR: Across the Mountain West, outfitting bikes for winter use is still a growing trend. Sales of fattired bikes for riding snowy trails or commuting on icy pavement, as well as fat e-bikes and e-cargo bikes for commuting, errands and even picking up the kids from school aren’t slowing down. Another driver is the increase in bike lane construction, from Boise, Durango, Jackson Hole, or Vail, mountain towns and mountain cities are working to encourage a biking lifestyle, giving riders a safe place to get from here to there and making it more feasible for the modern rider. – B.M.


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G A L L E RY THE BEST OF THE LAST

A large part of Mountain Outlaw’s success has been due to the outstanding photography from our esteemed contributors. As we celebrate the magazine’s 10th anniversary, we invite you to savor our top picks from the Outbound Gallery published over the last decade. - The Editors

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ISSUE: Winter 2012 PHOTOGRAPHER: Travis Andersen

“We had the rare opportunity to join the Bridger Ski Patrol for morning routes on Schlasman’s. This was Pete Lazar’s first turn. Pete was a beast on his skis and always had a smile on his face. The kind of smile and stoke for winter that could change your whole day, going to miss him this winter for sure.” (Pete Lazar, 1983-2019)

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ISSUE: Summer 2014 PHOTOGRAPHER: Cynthia Matty Huber

Rancher John Hoiland, on his ranch in McCleod, Montana

Left: ISSUE: Winter 2017 PHOTOGRAPHER: Seth Dahl FEATURE: The Art of Happiness

“To be happy, you have to give it back, you know? If you don’t give it back or pay it forward, you can’t keep it.” – Joel McBurney

Right: ISSUE: Summer 2013 PHOTOGRAPHER: Brad Orsted

This big tom cat posed for a few moments in the Wineglass area outside of Livingston, Montana, before jumping down to resume his role as king of the mountain.

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Clockwise from left: ISSUE: Summer 2013 PHOTOGRAPHER: Jason Thompson Whit Magro nearing the top of pitch five on Virtual Reality, a 5.13 in the Beartooth Mountains, Wyoming.

ISSUE: Winter 2018 PHOTOGRAPHER: Erik Peterson FEATURE: Art for Social Change A young Afghan girl skips across rocks in a meadow near the village of Krit in Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor.


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ISSUE: Winter 2016 PHOTOGRAPHER: Kim Michels FEATURE: ‘Traveler’

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G A L L E RY ISSUE: Winter 2015 PHOTOGRAPHER: KT Miller A mother polar bear and cub bask in the midnight sun on melting summer sea ice in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago. Bozemanbased Polar Bears International advocates for this endangered species by saving their sea ice habitat. polarbearsinternational.org

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ISSUE: Summer 2011 PHOTOGRAPHER: Shawn Robertson Montana’s stand-up paddleboarding pioneer Kevin Brown surfs the Lochsa’s infamous Pipeline wave.

ISSUE: Winter 2011 PHOTOGRAPHER: Kene Sperry Chad Robbs gets the goods while taking in the last few rays of afternoon sunshine.

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Stio.com | #lettheoutsidein | Visit a Stio Mountain Studio® Jackson Hole | Teton Village | Park City

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W E S T E R N M O N TA N A’ S B I O T E C H S E C T O R I S TA C K L I N G THE OPIOID CRISIS AND IT M AY J U S T C H A N G E M E D I C I N E 40

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N OW T O P A S S I N G E Y E S , the town of Puyallup where Tomi Cook spent her high school years looks the perfect picture of Seattle suburbia. Quiet cookie-cutter houses, rows of shopping centers, happy upper-middle-class families going about their happy lives. She doubts anyone would have suspected that pills were tearing through her community. For Cook it started with “baby blues,” those 30-milligram Percocets she and her classmates would grind up and snort. Then she learned how to rub the time-release coating off OxyContin pills and, as her tolerance grew, how to boil the pills down and put them in a needle. It felt to Cook as though her entire graduating class was using and abusing prescription pills, an epidemic parents seemed to keep hush-hush. Before long, she turned to heroin. “I felt at that point I was already so deep into it and I hated myself so much for what I was doing to myself,” Cook says. “I was accepted into the University of Washington, which was my dream school, and ended up dropping out because of my drug use.” Cook sits cross-legged on a floral print ottoman inside her office at Missoula’s Open Aid Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to fighting the stigmas swirling around

drug use and HIV. As she tells her story, her hand gestures—index and middle fingers outstretched as one— invoke the deep spirituality that’s been central to her recovery. Her office is soft and soothing, a painting of a hummingbird mounted below a string of Christmas lights on the wall behind her. Nothing about the 30 year old shows that she used to be, as she puts it, “that girl that was strung out, shooting up behind your dumpster.” Heroin ushered Cook into a darkness she describes as warm and seductive. When rehab proved unsuccessful, she thought a move to Tokyo would provide the fresh start she needed. Instead she wound up worse off than before, struggling to finance her addiction and switching from heroin to crystal meth. Suicide became the only out she could see, and she slid kimono-clad into her bathtub one day intent on taking her life. After that, her friends got her a plane ticket to Seattle to be with her mother. But during a layover in Honolulu, Cook simply walked off the plane and spent the next year homeless and high on the streets of Hawaii, where she says she became a ghost. She didn’t sleep, didn’t brush her teeth, didn’t change her contacts, and rarely ate more than a candy bar. >>

ce nt killer’ BY ALEX SAKARIASSEN

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SECTION: SUBHEAD C O O K M A Y H A V E H A T E D H E R S E L F at times. Yet there’s a side to drug use that’s rarely acknowledged, one that might be difficult to grasp for those who have never wrestled with an addiction. “There’s something about drugs that gives you an instant sense of connection and belonging and peace and contentment,” Cook says. “As soon as you shoot up, it’s just like, ‘ahhh.’ And that’s what kept me using for a long time. I had this belief of, ‘All of these normal people going around their day-to-day lives, they don’t get to experience that incredible blissful euphoria that I get to feel … They’re just going through the motions and I feel sorry for them, and I would never want to be them living their boring fucking Tomi Cook in her office at lives.’” Missoula’s Open Aid Alliance Cook’s point PHOTO BY ALEX SAKARIASSEN helps to explain why people caught in the churn of the opioid epidemic continue to use substances that, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, claim more than 130 lives a day nationwide. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that, between 1999 and 2017, more than 700,000 people have died from drug overdoses. In Montana with a population just topping 1 million, first responders this year alone have administered more than 500 units of Naloxone, a nasal spray that reverses opioid overdoses. And those are just the numbers recorded by the Montana Department of Health and Human Services; the 2017 Legislature made Naloxone available over the counter, meaning any member of the public can get it and use it without a prescription. Major crises like this have a tendency to attract novel solutions, and that’s where western Montana comes into play. Backed by a windfall in research funding and rising interest among private investors, two separate biotech projects in Missoula and Bozeman are attempting to tackle a national crisis from very different angles. For people facing the challenge of overcoming an opioid addiction — a challenge Cook equates to scaling a mountain — the outcome of that research could mean the difference between life and death.

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what usually springs to mind are those nasty germs lurking on every public doorknob and in every sneeze echoeing through the line at the coffee shop. Influenza, tuberculosis, whooping cough—these are the sorts of diseases that prompt us to be pricked with needles every season in the hope of keeping fever and sniffles at bay. Jay Evans, director of the Center for Translational Medicine at the University of Montana, has spent nearly 20 years endeavoring to help our bodies better fight back against microscopic invaders. Even with the knowledge that comes from those years of research, Evans would be among the first to admit that the idea of a vaccine against drugs like fentanyl or heroin sounds, well, rather strange. Yet in fall 2018, that’s exactly the idea Evans found himself kicking around. As part of its ongoing effort to marshal soldiers to the opioid conflict, the National Institutes of Health had rallied experts in drug abuse and vaccine research from across the country for a workshop in Bethesda, Maryland. Evans was on the organization’s list in part thanks to the decades of work his team has performed in the field of adjuvants, immunological agents that enhance the body’s antibody response. “NIH calls us and asks us to help them; wants us to give them a project so they can send some money to the University of Montana. We’re going to apply for that every time,” he says. Evans looks every part the quintessential scientist. With inquisitive eyes set behind a pair of frameless glasses, a wry, knowing smile creeps across his face anytime he rattles off complex biomedical terms. That he wound up on the frontlines of the opioid crisis comes as no surprise. The Center for Translational Medicine has a deep, rich history both in the

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research community and in western Montana. The group got its start when Edgar Ribi, a researcher at Rocky Mountain Labs, founded Ribi Immunochem Research in 1981 to focus on improving the efficacy of vaccines through use of a compound called monophosphoryl lipid. What started as a small outfit in Ribi’s garage has since blossomed into a full-scale biotech facility owned by multinational pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline. Evans joined the company’s adjuvant team in 2000, fresh from a lab gig where he’d worked on HIV and gene therapy. In early 2016, the research group left the GSK facility to establish the Center for Translational Medicine and Inimmune, a Missoulaheadquartered corporation designed to carry the center’s biotech breakthroughs to market. “That’s why NIH contacted us, because that’s right in our wheelhouse,” Evans says. “And because of that, we’re in a position

2129%

o f pat i e n t s p r e s c r i b e d opioids for chronic pa i n m i s u s e t h e m

to move something from an early discovery research phase into people quickly … We just plug that into our current portfolio of vaccines we’re working on.” After the meeting in Bethesda, work moved quickly. Evans’ team dove into the early research phase, and in July 2019 secured a $3.3 million NIH grant to fund its efforts. Evans submitted a grant request last


NOW: THE SECTION: ‘SILENT SUBHEAD KILLER’

September for an additional $10 million, which he says is enough to carry the opioid vaccine project through to phase 1 trials in humans. The science behind how Evans hopes to vaccinate people against fentanyl and heroin is, in a word, cool. And it all starts with a synthetic molecule known as a hapten. Due to the strictures of Federal Drug Administration regulations, not to mention the potential hazards for lab personnel, Evans’ team doesn’t actually work with fentanyl or heroin. Instead the center’s chemists create a hapten that looks like the drug, just without all the nasty effects. On its own the hapten won’t trigger the immune system, so the team attaches an adjuvant to it called CRM 197, a bacteria toxin that tells the body to get down to business. The antibodies created as a result will react not only to the CRM 197 but to the hapten riding on its surface, blocking the fentanyl- or heroin-lookalike from crossing the blood-brain barrier. If actual fentanyl or heroin enters the bloodstream, those same antibodies will attack it just like the hapten.

for more than 20 years. There is a unique challenge to the opioid vaccine, however. The Center for Translational Medicine has to ensure that the vaccine only acts against the intended target. In some ways, that challenge is the inverse of what Evans is attempting to tackle with the flu: making a nonseasonal vaccine that applies more broadly across strains. “You don’t want to give someone a vaccine and then have pain meds not available to that person if they got injured and needed it,” Evans says. “It’s a regulatory component to make sure we are successful in targeting the drug we want to target but the antibody response doesn’t spill over and stop that patient from being able to take any kind of opioid-based medicine to control pain.” Evans also notes that the opioid vaccine isn’t a permanent fix. Over time, a recipient’s antibody response will decline and, without CRM 197 to kick things into high gear, they’ll be just as susceptible to the negative effects of fentanyl and heroin as before. If a recovering addict relapses, Evans says, they’d need a booster shot. The Center for Translational Medicine

812%

46%

develop an opioid use disorder

Lost yet? Well, think of your immune system like a search and rescue team, and hapten as a small child in dark clothes lost in the woods. Odds are, search and rescue won’t have much luck spotting the child. But stick a big pink backpack on the kid and he or she will stick out from a long ways off. CRM 197 is the big pink backpack. None of this is new to Evans or his crew. It’s exactly what they’ve been doing with influenza and other infectious diseases

who misuse prescription opioids transition to heroin

isn’t forging ahead alone. During the workshop in Bethesda, Evans had a chance meeting with Marco Pravetoni, associate professor of pharmacology at the University of Minnesota. Pravetoni hails from a research team that specializes in vaccines against addictive substances. In fact, he’s currently preparing for phase 1 clinical trials of an oxycodone vaccine he first began developing in 2008. The two immediately recognized the combined

*ACCORDING TO THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON DRUG ABUSE

strength their teams would bring to the opioid crisis—a true peanut-butter-andjelly moment, with Evans’ adjuvants promising to enhance the effectiveness of Pravetoni’s vaccines. “Vaccines such as the ones against opioids have a weakness, which is that these vaccines may not be very immunogenic,” Pravetoni says. “That means they may not work necessarily in everybody that receives [them]. One way to get around this particular problem is to combine the vaccine with adjuvants so that adjuvants will increase the immunogenicity of these vaccines. In simple terms, you are more likely to generate an effective and protective response in more people after immunization.” Six months into the project, Pravetoni has already recorded decreased respiratory distress and decreased toxicity levels in mice treated with the adjuvant-enhanced vaccine from Evans’ team. He expects the research to move from rats to mice this winter, and eventually, pending FDA approval, into phase 1 trials. Once complete, the vaccine could prove an invaluable resource not only for those

of people who use heroin first misused prescription opioids*

fighting opioid addiction but for those in high-risk occupations who may accidentally come into contact with fentanyl, including law enforcement personnel and airport security. “If you had a custom official vaccinated against carfentanyl, that’s an added protection so those people are less likely to be suffering from the toxicity if there is even the remote possibility that they’re exposed to this material,” Pravetoni says.>>

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SECTION: SUBHEAD Jay Evans, director of the Center for Translational Medicine at the University of Montana, stands inside the lab where he and other researchers are endeavoring to create a vaccine against opioid addiction. The center landed a $3.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health in July 2019 to help fund the effort. PHOTO BY ALEX SAKARIASSEN

this, we could potentially change the world and how pain is managed, not only post-operative pain or pain from injury but also things like chronic neuropathic pain.” So far, SiteOne is primarily focused on intravenous application of its non-opioid pain therapies, with the intent of supplementing or replacing opioid use in hospitals. Because blocking Nav 1.7 doesn’t involve a drug binding to opioid receptors in the brain, SiteOne’s approach carries none of the respiratory depression risk or addiction potential of Vicodin W H E N I T C O M E S T O S O L V I N G A P U B L I C H E A L T H C R I S I S as severe as or fentanyl. opioid addiction, no stone is being left unturned. And in Bozeman, Montana, But blocking Nav 1.7 is tricky business. All one biopharmaceutical company has opted to tackle the long-game. SiteOne those sodium channels in the body look similar Therapeutics was founded in late 2014 with a singular mission: to reduce, and hitting the wrong one could have dangerous or eliminate for good, the nation’s need for opioids by giving people in pain a if not lethal consequences. Accidentally block, non-opioid alternative. say, Nav 1.5 and you could stop a patient’s SiteOne’s research is rooted in a rare disorder, first described in the early heart. It’s a promising enough avenue, however, 1930s, known as congenital insensitivity to pain, or CIP. The human body that SiteOne isn’t the only company exploring contains a number of sodium channels, pathways that support essential how Nav 1.7 could help solve the opioid crisis. functions like breathing and circulation. One of these channels, Nav 1.7, is Pfizer, Merck, Amgen—many of the major specifically involved with pain response, and patients with CIP have a genetic pharmaceutical companies also have active Nav mutation that blocks this channel. 1.7 programs. “They can actually take their hand and put it in a pot of boiling water SiteOne’s work has proven promising and they wouldn’t sense pain,” says SiteOne President and CEO Stan Abel. enough that the NIH awarded the company a “They might be able to feel warmth, they might be able to feel the concept $1.4 million grant in September 2018. The highof the water, etcetera, but they wouldn’t feel pain. And it extends beyond profile nature of the fight against thermal pain. They can break a bone and not feel it.” opioid abuse and dependence That a condition like CIP attracted the attention of pain “They can has also helped attract private therapy researchers doesn’t exactly stretch the imagination. actually take investors and venture capital It’s exactly what set SiteOne founders Justin Du Bois and dollars, Abel says. And while John Mulcahy down the path of identifying a compound that their hand he hopes SiteOne team’s work could act in a similar manner to the genetic mutation, and they and put it will reach the phase 1 trial phase eventually settled on marine guanidinium, a toxin present in 2020, Abel adds they’re still in a pot of in, among other things, red tide. By reverse engineering lot of work and hundreds of the compound, they were able to block the Nav 1.7 channel boiling water amillions of dollars in capital effectively preventing pain response from reaching the brain. and they away from making good on their Again, the science can be a bit befuddling so think of the mission. wouldn’t pain as an oil leak running into the side-channel of a river. You “Unfortunately science could catch the oil by dropping one of those absorbent booms sense pain ...” is science, development is in the main channel downstream of the leak, the same way development, and the regulatory opioids block pain in the central nervous system. Or you could, as SiteOne process is what it is. And it’s for good reason. hopes to do, drop that boom into the side channel itself, keeping the oil and We’re trying to understand whether our drug the boom safely in the river’s periphery. candidates are safe to bring into people and [if] “We would have none of the addiction potential and presumably none they work the way that we hope they do. That of the other important concerning side effects that opioid-based or narcotictakes time to understand.” based pain therapeutics would have,” Abel says. “If we’re successful with

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“The people who are dying from overdose and becoming addicted are not the homeless people you see on the street, the gangs and all the violence associated with that. It’s people on university campuses and people in the workforce. It can impact anybody.”

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T I M E I S A L U X U R Y S O M E D O N ’ T H A V E . Montana’s opioid death rate in 2017 was 2.3 people per 100,000, or roughly 23 people in a population of one million. Nationwide, more than 47,000 people died from opioid overdoses that same year. Each of those deaths spirals outward, altering forever the lives of family and friends. Evans feels fortunate that no one in his immediate family has been hit by the epidemic. “But also,” he says, “it’s only a matter of time because opioids are so easy to get addicted to.” Tomi Cook feels fortunate too, for how her story played out. While in Hawaii, she received a Facebook message from a childhood babysitter noting her potential and the profound impact she’d had on those around her. Days later, Cook awoke on a beach with a bent needle in her arm, wondering why the universe refused to let her go. That was when her dealer handed her a brown baggie containing iboga, a West African psychedelic known for producing intense hallucinations and, at least anecdotally, for reducing opiate withdrawal symptoms. What Cook experienced upon taking it was a spiritual awakening, one that forced her to acknowledge that her drug use was a symptom of deeper childhood trauma she’d never truly grappled with before. “We’re not taught how to face our traumas, how to emotionally regulate, how to stop perpetuating these generational patterns that get passed down to us, like ‘shut up and buck up,’” Cook says. “I think the opiate epidemic is a result of a cultural epidemic. We’re so fucking isolated and lonely and lack meaning in our lives.” That Facebook message and the iboga trip were enough to convince Cook to detox in the rural Montana basement belonging to her dealer’s parents. From there she struck a new path, earning a master’s degree in clinical mental health from the University of Montana, landing a job at the Open Aid Alliance and reconnecting with the natural world she’d grown up loving.

SECTION: SUBHEAD NOW: THE ‘SILENT KILLER’

A vaccine like the one Evans and his team are developing would have made the struggle easier, Cook says. One of the most daunting obstacles to getting clean is the withdrawal process, which lasts anywhere from a week to 12 days. The picture Cook paints is pure hell: melting into a pool of her own sweat, throwing up into a bucket, defecating for what seems like the first time in a year. Then there’s the thought of facing your emotions again, and the desire to return to that familiar numbing agent. “[A vaccine] would have allowed more space to focus on healing and alternative, healthier coping skills and behaviors,” she says. “It would have created more space.” Cook did relapse once, an experience that reinforces the need for non-opioid painkillers like the one SiteOne is developing. She had her wisdom teeth pulled and got a prescription for hydrocodone. Then she went back for a second prescription. She was on the tail-end of a breakup, and the emotional pain gave her an excuse to embrace an old habit. Cook laid in bed for a week, high and terrified and wondering who she might know that would have heroin. A friend pulled her back by reminding her how hard she’d worked, how much she’d gained, how far she’d come. It’s an overwhelming temptation to hit what Cook calls the “fuck it button.” The world’s ending, we’re destroying the planet, why not just pop a pill to numb it all? It felt good, she says, to surrender to the darkness once more. However, she’s brutally honest with herself about what would happen if she ever started using again. “What’s helped me stay clean is I just know, in the deepest part of myself, that if I were to relapse I would die this time,” Cook says. “I just know that would be the end of me.” In many ways, Cook’s story represents the extremes that addiction can drive people to: homelessness, desperation, suicidal ideation. The research being conducted at the University of Montana and SiteOne could certainly benefit those who have found themselves in similar straights. However, opioids have been nicknamed a “silent killer” for a reason. They afflict a broad range of citizens and not just those who are, as Cook described herself, shooting up behind your dumpster. “The people who are dying from overdose and becoming addicted are not the homeless people you see on the street, the gangs and all the violence associated with that,” Evans says. “It’s people on university campuses and people in the workforce. It can impact anybody.” As the nation grapples with questions surrounding the worst drug crisis in American history, western Montana is working toward its own solutions. For many, the answers can’t come soon enough. M T O U T L AW. C O M / MOUNTAIN

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VITAMIN Z ,

ADEQUATE SLEEP IS CRITICAL TO GOOD HEALTH. SO WHY AREN’T WE GETTING ENOUGH?

BY SOPHIE TSAIRIS

The arrival of winter brings cold weather, shorter days and for most people a decreased exposure to sunlight. Rising before the sun and returning from work in darkness is not uncommon. In Montana’s mountain towns, societal emphasis on productivity coupled with the arrival of ski season can turn “burning the candle at both ends” into a vicious cycle. Sleep is a critical part of the human experience, and most of us don’t get enough of it. On average, adults need between seven and nine hours a night for optimal performance and health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But, the CDC says, at least 35 percent of us fall short of that mark. In Montana, that number drops down to 30 percent, which experts say could be related to lower levels of light pollution and higher latitude, among other factors. What remains still is how we sleep. Nearly every night from cradle to grave we enter into our subconscious; our breathing and blood pressure slow and our bodies become predominantly motionless. This lack of movement, however, is largely contrasted by the complex and essential activities occurring in our brains.  As it turns out, a lot happens while we snooze. In fact, says Cara Palmer, director of the Sleep and Development Lab at Montana State University, our brains are just as active when we sleep as when we’re awake. “There is a misconception that we’re almost lifeless while we sleep,” she says.

Palmer is working on a number of studies to help better understand sleep issues, specifically in Montana. “Once we have a better idea of the types of sleep problems faced by Montanans and potential causes of these sleep disturbances, we will be able to better design interventions to target these issues directly,” she says. This research is important for a number of reasons, including the role sleep plays in brain health. During our slumber, we gather and store memories away to make room for new information, all while balancing hormone levels and mood. While the body lies dormant, the brain alters its behavior and priorities. It functions as a washing machine clearing out the junk that has accumulated over the course of the day and recalibrating the immune system to battle disease. In essence, we’re recharging. But when we don’t get the appropriate number of Z’s, problems arise. Natalie Bryant, a sleep and dream coach based in Arizona, has been researching the role of sleep in memory processing in adulthood and adolescence. Specifically, she studies the importance of sleep during those transformative adolescent years, the time period ranging from 13-19, when 85 percent of teens report getting less sleep than the national average, according to Bryant.


“If you’re sleep deprived you actually aren’t able to pay attention, which is seen a lot in adolescents because of early start times in schools,” Bryant says. “The process by which teens take in information about the world becomes compromised because their brains are too full of information from the day before.” Bryant speculates that differences in the average amount of sleep people get may be attributed to variables related to their geographic location. “These factors include depression rates, physical activity and nutrition, socioeconomic status and travel time to places of employment,” she says. One large piece of the puzzle may be latitude, which affects amount of daylight, or as Bryant says, light-dark cycles. On the longest day of the summer, Montanans soak up 15:40 hours of daylight, according to weather and light-measuring website Climatemps.com. Now, compare that to only 8:19 hours on the shortest day of winter. Montana’s northern latitude and its toenumbingly long winters can have both positive and negative effects on sleep. The upside of these long, cold winter nights is that the extended hours and chilly temps are optimal conditions for quality sleep. The trouble is that few people adjust their routines to take advantage of it. During seasonal changes of light and dark cycles, our circadian rhythms, those internal processes that regulate the sleep-wake cycle over the course of 24 hours, adjust to accommodate for this shift. “We are influenced by the light in our environment telling us when to sleep,” Palmer notes. “If you are in a place like Montana, it’s important to find ways to make sure you’re not confusing your biological clock.” If you have to get up before the sun, one way to make it easier on your body is to use “daylight bulbs” that mimic natural light and gradually pull you from your slumber. Equally important to focusing on how you wake up, is making sure your evening sleep routine is regulated. Bryant says that increased exposure to blue light, the type emulated from smartphones and televisions, can delay the release of melatonin.  “Cortisol is very closely tied to the sleep-wake cycle,” Bryant says. “When we are about to go to sleep our cortisol is low, allowing melatonin to lull us to sleep. Electronics like video games increase cortisol and decrease melatonin, making it difficult for the brain to wind down and prepare for sleep.” >> 

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Sleep and dream coach Natalie Bryant

Bryant suggests abstaining from screen time for 30 minutes prior to bedtime in order to allow the body to slow down naturally and prepare for sleep. You may have to answer that email in the morning, but you’ll sleep better. One of the most interesting things about sleep, says Palmer, is a lack of measurable data. Through several new studies in conjunction with MSU’s Sleep Lab, Palmer is trying to shed some light on the physical and mental health risks associated with disordered sleeping. “It’s amazing how little we know about sleep, even though we will spend our whole lives doing it,” she says. “Especially here in Montana, there is very little research being done on it. I’m hoping to change that.” What we do know is that most people are not getting enough shut-eye. This winter it’s time to slow down, reset and reconnect with your natural circadian rhythm. Your body and mind will thank you. Sophie Tsairis is a Bozeman, Montana-based freelance environmental journalist and writer who often burns the candle at both ends in an effort to spend as much time outdoors as possible. Recently, however, she’s attempting to prioritize sleep.

TOP SLEEP TIPS from Natalie Bryant

• KEEP REGULAR BED AND WAKE TIMES, EVEN ON WEEKENDS • AVOID SCREENS AND OTHER BRIGHT LIGHT AT LEAST 30 MINUTES BEFORE BEDTIME • WATCH THE THERMOSTAT: KEEP IT BETWEEN 62 AND 67 F • MAKE BEDROOM AS DARK AS POSSIBLE (INVEST IN AN EYE MASK OR BLACKOUT CURTAINS) • CONSIDER BRIGHT-LIGHT THERAPY TO BATTLE DARK WINTER MORNINGS • PRIORITIZE REST AND SLEEP!


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SAVE THE BLOCK AN OVERRUN MOUNTAIN TOWN TAKES IT BACK

BRIGID MANDER

On August 16, 2019, yet another multimillion-dollar land deal was announced in the heart of Jackson, Wyoming. This deal, however, had a number of peculiarities and was a story far from the ho-hum, just-another-ski-town-developer transaction. It was the end result of a rapid and massive public fundraising campaign named Save the Block, during which an anonymous local family fronted the entire purchase price—undisclosed, but reportedly in the neighborhood of $25 million—to keep one beloved, historic downtown Jackson block out of developer hands. To help pay for the conservation easement, the community raised more than $7 million through more than 5,700 individual donations ranging from a buck to $1 million—in just under four months. The object of all the fuss exists quietly, presided over by mature, towering cottonwoods one block from Jackson’s Town Square. The land holds three small historic settler cabins, now home to bustling eateries, two other cabins with local design shops, and one residence. Wide green lawns in between provide spaces where the community meets and socializes. It’s an idyllic space, nearly untouched by time and greed and seemingly protected from the lucrative development crush consuming the rest of the near 11,000-resident town. But it wasn’t protected. Not only are historic protections nonexistent in the state of Wyoming, this space occupied a zoning area that would allow the block to be leveled and a luxury hotel built, encompassing the entire property. And that almost happened. In August of 2018, the owner at the

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time Max Chapman, a former Wall Street executive at the now-defunct Kidder, Peabody, and Co., and then Japanese bank Nomura, was ready to cash out, putting the land under contract with a high-end luxury hotel developer. Chapman then sought even higher density zoning for the buyer using the cabins as leverage, preserving one small cabin onsite and mandating the hotel developer move two others offsite, instead of outright razing. A notice for a planning meeting on September 6, 2018 was posted, serving required public notice. Development-weary locals were both mortified and depressed. The Teton County Historic Preservation Board, which has only advisory powers, supported the deal at first believing it the only way to save some of the cabins. Widely considered a shame to lose lovely green spaces and little buildings that connected the present to the past, widespread grumblings also focused on overtourism pressures. Most locals voiced that they didn’t need more hotels, more cars jamming the small-town streets, more majority lowwage service jobs that can’t pay a living wage in a town like Jackson. Destroying a cherished and unique cultural asset for yet another hotel was a profoundly unpopular idea. But legally it could and was, in fact, happening. Local resident Ryan Nourai was not impressed. He attended the September 6 meeting and found 50-60 people, most speaking in opposition of the zoning change. “I thought we should not be entertaining this kind of offer from a private entity. This is a bad deal,” said Nourai, who works for the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, a wildlife and community advocacy nonprofit. Nourai did some digging on his own time and found a number of influential people in


Historic downtown Jackson block that was once threatened by developers is now a permenant entity.

The Harry G. Weston home in 1958 and 2019. PHOTO BY DAVID SWIFT

PHOTO BY DAVID SWIFT

1958

2019

the community who would support a plan for a community a vested interest in the community who was willing to put buyout, an idea others scoffed at as hopeless. the land under contract for six months and front the money Undaunted, Nourai, along with participants in the annual on behalf of the community if needed. Under a complicated JHCA fellowship program known as the Conservation legal plan, the involved parties announced the community Leadership Institute, worked to publicize the issue. Local needed to chip in $8 million to pay for the conservation opposition to the zoning change began to swell and the easement. The seller, Chapman, wanted to close earlier, Historic Preservation Board, heartened that a better deal meaning the community would need to raise $8 million might be reached, pulled its support for the upzone-fordollars in under four months. cabin trade. With success unlikely, Chapman’s people pulled In mid-April the new plan was announced to the public. the zoning application and by early 2019 the contract with In an editorial letter published in the Jackson Hole News & the hotel expired, officially killing the sale. Nourai and his Guide, the directors of the Land Trust, JHCA, the Historic home; Van Vleck home to west team had effectively stopped the transaction by stopping the Society and the Historic Board informed the community rezone. the time had come to step up for their values. They wrote, With the big picture in mind from the get-go, a in part: At a time when many locals feel that the growth of determined Nourai, the CLI students and community tourism is suffocating the things we love most about town, members had already reached out to other nonprofits more the block is a refreshing reminder of why so many of us suited to running a large-scale fundraiser in order to buy and choose to live here. When a dense hotel development was preserve the land. Best suited to the task was the Jackson imminent last fall, our community united in opposition to Hole Land Trust, with a mission to protect open space, the plan and articulated a desire to see the cultural landscape wildlife habitat and community spaces. “The CLI identified of the block remain intact. Strong in spirit, that initial effort this priority, put the word out about the sale contract, lacked a mechanism for permanent preservation. Thanks to the attended meetings, got media coverage, and really put it community’s action, now we have that mechanism. on the community radar,” said Jenny Wolfrom, director of The project partners have developed a plan that reflects 48 Z:\IMAGES\006\19582956001.JPG advancement at the Land Trust. the priorities outlined by the community and preserves the “There is no doubt community uproar can chill a sale, cherished aspects of the block with limited development that and developers may choose not to touch a property with that makes the plan economically feasible. As a community we kind of public attention. It certainly opened up doors for the must all step up—now—to save the block as we know it today. community to propose a different outcome,” said Robbin It was a lot of money to raise, and in a short timeframe. Levy Mommsen, a real estate attorney who became involved The Land Trust was concerned, but pressed forward and on with the next transaction, the community buyout idea. the first day of the fundraiser, a donor told the nonprofit if But the campaign still needed a deep-pocketed sponsor they could get 100 individual donations that day, he would willing to take the risk and enter into a legal contract for the chip in $100,000. “He didn’t care how much was raised, he reported $25 million sale price. Laurie Andrews, president just wanted to see if the community would show up for this,” of the Land Trust, met with an anonymous local family with said Wolfrom. “And they did. We got 355 donations on the first day, and raised $240,000.” M T O U T L AW. C O M / MOUNTAIN

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Jenny Wolfrom, Director of Advancement at the Jackson Hole Land Trust PHOTO BY DAVID SWIFT

Ryan Nourai, of the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, a wildlife and community advocacy nonprofit PHOTO COURTESY OF ORIJIN MEDIA

It set the tone for the entire campaign. Another big donor challenged the community to give 1,000 donations of any size by the end of May, and he would put in $1 million. Nicknamed Million Dollar May, the community again showed up. “It really made people feel even if they only could give $5 they were having an impact, and it was really important to offset the idea that, if we need to raise millions, my $10 won’t help. All donors and every dollar really did count, said Wolfrom, “from ski lift ops to billionaires.” Charming stories of children with change jars, tourists donating and raft guides bringing all their own tips to the fund proliferated. According to Robbin Levy Mommsen, who became the attorney for the anonymous family who actually purchased the land, that effort was monumental. “[It] demonstrates broad community commitment to the bigger donors, which motivates them to contribute significantly. [The project] was so weighty, so complicated and so important to so many people. It was the most complex project I’ve worked on in my 22-year legal career.” After Million Dollar May, the next challenge was to raise $4 million over the month of June—by July 4, the goal was met. With one month to go and confidence at an all time high, even the seller joined the effort, cutting the community a break by knocking $1 million from the price. So with over $7 million raised via nearly 6,000 donations, the deal was sealed, the land was bought and the community had saved the block. “The beautiful story is how the community rose to do something about it,” Wolfrom said, a sentiment echoed by Skye Shell, executive director of the JHCA. “This is a really inspiring, hopeful precedent,” he said. “It shows a community can say no and step up and demand something better.”

Brigid Mander is a writer based in Jackson, Wyoming. Among her top priorities, skiing has taken her around the world including into creaky-floored Wyoming pioneer cabins serving excellent modern coffees, such as can be found on Jackson’s Cafe Genevieve block.

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“The Bomb,” a vintage 1952 Bombardier over-the-snow tour coach. PHOTOS BY JOHN LAYSHOCK

HOW TO

BUILD A ‘BOMB’ BY MICHAEL OBER

THE EXPRESSION “SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED” DOESN’T COME CLOSE TO THIS PROJECT. WHAT LOOMED BEFORE JOHN LAYSHOCK IN 2015 WAS A LIFE-CONSUMING RESTORATION EFFORT. Layshock, an accomplished Yellowstone area photographer with over a decade of experience guiding snowcat tours, also cranked wrenches as a snow coach mechanic near the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Knowing that summer visitors already tour the park in iconic yellow 1930s tour buses, Layshock calculated that a parallel experience could await winter visitors in a vintage 1952 Bombardier over-the-snow tour coach. So he bought one. 56

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The coach needed a little, well, TLC and Layshock dug in, summoning the cavalry by way of technicians, neighbors, fellow wrench turners, steel fabricators and plain old motorheads.Working on other area snow coaches helped, he says. “It inspired me to get my own [snow] coach,” Layshock remembers. But what would drive a person to quit his job for two years, exhaust family savings and seek out loans from friends and banks? “I was possessed,” Layshock says. “These ‘Bombs are really hard to find but I used the Canadian equivalent of Craigslist and tracked one down. It’s always been in my blood to try new things.”


LOOKING LIKE 6,000-POUND BEETLES clicking across the snow, these signature snow vehicles made a name for the Canada-based Bombardier Inc. as early as the 1940s. After building tank-like tracked vehicles for the Canadian Army in World War II, the corporation morphed the design into a truck-sized over-the-snow machine with a rear track and front ski designed for transporting tourists in winter recreation areas. Its graceful contours and curves gave it a cocoon-like shape; still, it was no beauty queen. It was all utility. Bombardier produced more than 3,000 C18/B12-model variants from the ‘50s through the ‘70s when the front ski configuration fell to competition featuring all-track designs. In their day, the B12 and C18 vehicles were used as school buses, and mail delivery and emergency vehicles throughout the northern U.S. and Canada. And they were fast, too, with top speeds of 30 mph in the flats, a rate unmatched even by today’s modern overthe-snow coaches. Layshock’s Bombardier is an R18 version, which he calls “The ‘Bomb” and reconfigured to seat eight passengers.

LAYSHOCK’S BOMBARDIER IS AN R18 VERSION, WHICH HE CALLS “THE BOMB” AND RECONFIGURED TO SEAT EIGHT PASSENGERS. “The Bomb,” pre-restoration

NOW: OUTLOOK

Several owners used Layshock’s ‘Bomb over the years in Canada, and the States including the U. S. Bureau of Land Management, which used it for winter maintenance on pipe lines and power lines. Eventually it landed in private hands as a mobile ice-fishing platform complete with a jury-rigged ice auger fastened to the stern and powered by a clumsy array of pulleys and drive belts. When Layshock bought this R18 in Quebec in 2015, he trailered it to his home in Island Park, Idaho, where most of the restoration took place in a neighbor’s garage. The paint was faded and weathered, the portholes boarded over. Instruments were missing and the seats torn out. One porthole doubled as a chimney hole for a woodstove inside. It seemed like the old Bombardier had come to the end of its purposeful life. But, then, fortune smiles on those who dream. Like all such projects it was one trip to the hardware store after another, except that all conventional outlets seemed fresh out of 1952 snow coach parts. This was the watershed moment in Layshock’s project: Restore the ‘Bomb with all original parts or go with a modified version that blended its traditional style with a fresh appearance? Layshock and his crew decided to blow out the original cabin and running gear, and start from scratch. The effort was like jacking up the radiator cap and building a new vehicle underneath it: More calls to the bank, more loans. In all, Layshock spent nearly $100,000 on the restored Bombardier. Out came the original 318 Dodge V8 power plant and Layshock leveraged in a powerful, gleaming new aluminum block GM L83 EcoTec3 engine from a wrecked 2014 Chevy Silverado. Such a motor was necessary to be compliant with Yellowstone National Park’s emission and noise regulations. Meanwhile, back at the garage, all vestiges of the ‘Bomb’s former life were disappearing. Tiny porthole windows rendered the interior dingy and cramped so fabricators designed larger openings, including a rooftop opening for panoramic views of the snow-brilliant Yellowstone landscape. Next came insulation and carefully fitted bamboo panels trimmed to perfection, then bench seats padded and covered with vinyl. A resourceful soul, Layshock scavenged additional parts from a Land Rover (heated windscreen), Dodge 3/4-ton truck (rear end), Corvette (fuel pump), Ford (heated seat), Jeeps and Mini Coopers. Over time the interior became a thing of beauty, the one place in the gutted shell where eye candy could run rampant. Gone was the original cracked-plastic steering wheel replaced with a mahogany version atop the new chrome steering column. All new instrumentation found fresh homes in the walnut-trimmed dashboard and the new high-backed leather driver’s seat looks like it belongs in a man cave in front of a 60-inch flat screen. Highlighting the additions are heat, a back-up camera, M T O U T L AW. C O M / MOUNTAIN

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NOW: OUTLOOK

satellite radio, power steering and a heavy-duty front cable winch. For paint, the team chose a gunmetal gray atop many coats of primer and, scalloped in a bold graphic, “Caldera Tours” proudly announces its new commercial persona. For weeks on end, though, the ‘Bomb sat on jacks in a neighbor’s garage-turned-shop awaiting parts or on sawhorses under the paint shroud. Meanwhile, Layshock busied himself in the negotiating process with the National Park Service to prepare the coach to transport passengers into Yellowstone—no easy task, he says. It took hours of paperwork, documentation, phone calls, meetings and inspections in a slow dance with government officials. He “piggybacked” with a sub-concessioner already licensed by the park in a unique partnership. “Concessioner permits in Yellowstone,” Layshock explains, “are like liquor licenses: hard to get and even harder to maintain. I needed all my own insurance just for $2 million in coverage.” Finally, in 2019 the authorizations materialized. Everything, according to the Park Service, was squeaky clean. The ‘Bomb was ready to perform. Its first official season began in Yellowstone on December 15, 2019. “I’m just a risk person,” Layshock says. “It’s in my blood to jump off the cliff. I was raised to explore new stuff and not regret having to try.” Layshock settles into the driver’s seat of his frisky new coach. “I can’t wait for the first snow, but…” his voice trails off. “It’s been a long haul and it’s still a long time ‘til December.” He hits

“I’M JUST A RISK PERSON,” LAYSHOCK SAYS. “IT’S IN MY BLOOD TO JUMP OFF THE CLIFF. I WAS RAISED TO EXPLORE NEW STUFF AND NOT REGRET HAVING TO TRY.”

the ignition switch and the whisper-quiet engine settles into a low murmur as if to say “I think I can, I think I can.” In early October as a series of snowstorms descended upon Montana, Layshock was in Manitoba, Canada doing what any tinkerer would do: buying another one. This ‘Bomb once served as a school coach. “It even has the faded lettering of the original school district on the front cowling,” he says with a wry grin. First steps: Grab the impact gun and light up the wood stove.

LEFT: The restoration took place inside and out, fully replacing all parts including this vintage steering wheel. RIGHT: John Layshock in 2019 installing a new Chevy L83 EcoTec3 engine from a wrecked 2014 Chevy Silverado.

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E R U T NA NEW BIOBASED MATERIALS

THE GAME IN SKIING HOW CHANGE MATT STERBENZ IS USING BIOBASED

MATERIALS TO CHANGE THE GAME IN SKIING

“I became more and more desperate for new materials as I got more and more familiar with ski building,” Sterbenz said, “and there just weren’t very many other alternatives.” For Sterbenz, Checkerspot furnished the opportunity to reimagine how we source materials. While the science is not exactly simple, the process has massive potential. Scientists at Checkerspot’s molecular foundry in Berkeley grow algae in fermentation tanks. When they feed sugars to the organisms, the algae produce various oils depending on the specific strain the scientists are growing. They can also change the type of oil produced by manipulating the organism’s genetic code.

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What if sustainably derived materials can not only compete with traditional, petroleum-based materials, but actually beat them out? That was the first question Checkerspot founders asked themselves. Once the Berkeley, California-based biotech startup answered the question resoundingly in the affirmative, it set its sights on new pursuits: among them, building skis. In the scope of history, every type of oil that humans have ever studied on a broad scale has been comprised of 14 triglycerides, or fatty acids, most derived from petroleum sources. Yet in nature, more than 200 naturally occurring triglycerides exist and have yet to be thoroughly probed for consumer application, much less to build skis. WNDR Alpine, the outdoor brand launched by Checkerspot in July 2019, is the first to utilize oils derived from algae to design new materials from the molecule up. The Intention 110 backcountry ski is WNDR Alpine’s first product. And it’s the first of its kind, comprised of materials designed for skiing, rather than building skis from the leftovers of more lucrative industries such as construction. The best part? Checkerspot’s process allows scientists and designers to tweak the molecular components of a plastic or composite to bring out desirable characteristics, for skiing and beyond. “We can go in and augment the specific ways that oil is behaving specific to applications through organic chemistry and through genetically engineered chemistry,” said Matt Sterbenz, WNDR Alpine’s founder and Checkerspot’s general manager for winter sports. Sterbenz, a ski industry veteran and professional freeskier for a time, segued into ski building and launched the popular brand 4FRNT Skis in 2002. A defining feature of his company was changing the geometric shapes of skis to enhance performance, but he found his craft limited by the available ingredients to make skis. 62

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From there the oils are converted to different materials and tested for desirable qualities in Checkerspot’s material science arm, also located in Berkeley. These plastics and composites then ship out to Salt Lake City where Sterbenz and a crew of savvy ski industry pros craft skis in their design lab then test them in the mountain environment where they were designed to perform. After ski testing, the riders send feedback to the biology and chemistry side to tweak the material in order to further improve performance. “If you wonder why this hasn’t been done before, it’s because it’s really difficult,” said Xan Marshland, who heads up brand development for WNDR Alpine. “‘What if this ski had a little bit more pop?’ or ‘What if this ski had more edge hold?’ Some of it is translating the ski-performance


WHILE NOT EXACTLY SIMPLE, THE PROCESS HAS POTENTIAL TO SEND BIG WAVES. terminology … back into materials’ performance characteristics that we can engineer for, and then using that information to inform the biology and chemistry.” When the Checkerspot team saw the possibilities of these materials, they started the WNDR Alpine brand to act as proof of concept. They chose backcountry skiers as the target demographic because the ski’s development aligns with their ethos. “If you’re a backcountry skier you’re fairly keen on preserving nature and your experience immersed in nature, therefore we used that as our guiding target demographic for our products,” said Sterbenz, who traded in park skis for pow skis and these days earns his turns on the skin track. When it comes to skiing, materials have hardly progressed in the last 20 years, Sterbenz said, and the wasteful aspects of ski manufacturing have been largely ignored. In his mind, it’s time consumers were met with higher standards of production for the gear that gets them out on snow. “I wholeheartedly believe that consumers are demanding more in the outdoor space than what they have available to them,” Sterbenz said. “And if they knew as much about how we manufacture gear as we’re learning about food systems,

I think they’d be a hell of a lot more preferential in their buying behavior.” Checkerspot has a lot more than skis cooking—from working to redefine materials for commodities the world over to recycling old skis—but the company’s entrance into the ski realm is certainly a watershed. Though newly christened, WNDR Alpine has a measure of experience at the helm. And if these skis live up to the process behind them, the ski industry may never be the same.

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The best of man’s best friend

SVALINN DOGS

In the amber hills tucked between the Bridger, Crazy and Absaroka mountain ranges, five dogs sit on benches around a fire. They stare into the blaze with inquisitiveness more simian than canine.

It’s an image that harkens back to ancient days, long before “man’s best friend” had been coined, when but a few key wolves born more curious, more social, crawled toward fires lit on cold nights in hopes of a handout. As with any great risk, it came with great reward. Early human societies saw utility in those ancestral dogs, hailing them for their companionship, usefulness and protective qualities. The period kindled a roughly 15,000-year relationship that has flourished over time yielding a partnership unparalleled in the animal kingdom. That partnership has reached an apex at Svalinn’s 167-acre facility in Livingston, Montana. There is no question: These canines constitute the very best among man’s best friends. As for the immediate history of the Svalinn dog, one need only travel back to 2005, when Kim Greene and her husband Jeff, security and protection specialists working in Kabul, Afghanistan, moved to Nairobi, Kenya—an equally dangerous capital city in an unstable pocket of the globe. “We like to say that these dogs were actually bred out of necessity,” says Kim Greene, Svalinn’s co-founder and owner. “When my husband and I started the company about 14 years ago in East Africa, we were expecting twins. The notion of our safety and wellbeing for our family was very much at the forefront of our minds.”

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Ironically, she had placed a condition upon the marriage: Dogs would never be a part of the family nor the Greene household dynamic. Yet it’s a position that softened immediately once her husband insisted she meet the well-trained, family protection assets that served as precursors to the Svalinn venture. “I was actually not a dog person but once I saw some of these dogs in action I saw their stability, their agility, their highly lovable, capable selves and I understood right then that this would be a no brainer for us,” Greene says. For a new mother in a city rife with violence, Svalinn dogs provided a sense of unmatched security, allowing her to enhance the quality of time spent with her family—particularly when her husband was not immediately present. The couple soon saw opportunity in cultivating this particular form of security asset on their own, with a mission to share the ease their dogs provided with individuals and families the world over. And Svalinn was born. “What these dogs really provide is peace of mind,” Greene says. “They’re a true deterrent that possesses some real capability if, God forbid, you ever need it. [They] truly are your best friend, your best protection, your best option for your family’s safety.”


SECTION: SUBHEAD

PHOTOS FROM SVALINN

“What these dogs really provide is peace of mind,” Greene says. “They’re a true deterrent that possesses some real capability if, God forbid, you ever need it. [They] truly are your best friend, your best protection, your best option for your family’s safety.”

It would be another eight years before the company went transatlantic in 2013, seeking an ample American market and a stabile environment to grow their business and nurture their family. The Greenes and their world-class company first formed roots in Jackson Hole, and eventually found a permanent home in southwest Montana in 2016. There the operation has truly matured into the “overnight, 14year success story,” as Kim Greene calls it due to the crucial, steadfast ingredients of their secret sauce. Once one digests the Svalinn method, the reasons behind the poise and curiosity of the five dogs around the fire are easy to understand. Those traits aren’t an accident; they’re a direct consequence of carefully tended bloodlines dating back to World War II. Couple that lineage with the Svalinn curriculum, an Ivy-League-fordogs regimen that boasts more than 2,000 hours of training in a puppy’s first year of life and years of additional training, and the end product is an animal that gives weight to the phrase “seeing is believing.” Svalinn dogs, a thoughtful fusion of German, Dutch and Belgian shepherds with only the best qualities and attributes of each breed represented, are much like any other—playful and friendly, eager to join in the throng of littermates and humans working their way through the gorgeous Montana landscape surrounding the Svalinn grounds. But they aren’t like other dogs, from the fundamentals of their psychology to the minutia of their top-notch physiology. On the latter, that rigorous Svalinn curriculum includes a physical training regimen so demanding that muscle groups down to the paws

are visibly more developed than those of their counterparts. In this sense, it’s fair to liken them to the highest caliber of professional athletes.

The true sticking point of the Svalinn program, however, is the curriculum’s unique and proprietary emphasis on honing a dog’s ability to discern a human’s intent. In a sense, they’re mind-reading dogs. By tapping their natural talents to sense our biological rhythms, a Svalinn dog can alert an owner to danger well in advance of potential conflict with a stranger, or in some instances an acquaintance, by detecting spikes in vitals and hormones associated with anger, aggression and violence. If necessary, the dog will then put its physical advantages to use in providing time and space to evade a threat. Even with that ability, the Svalinn team emphasizes their dogs are stable and obedient, first and foremost. “A lap dog that’s ready to protect you at need be, but will just as fast lie down and lick a newborn,” says Svalinn President Holt Price. “The investment in a Svalinn dogs is obviously significant for families, but the great thing about investing in a protection asset from Svalinn is you’re not only buying the three years of training and care, but also 15 years of a breeding program, 15 years of a training methodology that has been developed in real-world circumstances,” Price said. It’s somewhat a mantra at the Svalinn facility: stable, social, obedient and agile. Pair those with a superhuman sense of detection of intent, a world-class training program and a highly capable staff and you have a protection asset—a best friend—that is priceless.


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in private client assets. Scott Brown CFP®, CIMA®, CRPC® recognized as Barron’s Top 1000 Advisor’s in 2011, 2012, and 2013.* *The rankings are based on data provided by thousands of advisors. Factors included in the rankings were assets under management, revenue produced for the firm, regulatory record and client retention. Investment products and services are offered through Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network, LLC (WFAFN), Member SIPC. Shore to Summit Wealth Management, LLC is a separate entity from (WFAFN).

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To Own A Ski Hill MAVERICK MOUNTAIN BY ALEX SAKARIASSEN

A FEW SKI SEASONS PAST, ERIK BORGE FOUND HIMSELF PATCHING TOGETHER A BROKEN GROOMING MACHINE ON THE SLOPES OF MAVERICK MOUNTAIN ABOUT 40 MILES WEST OF DILLON, MONTANA. It was well after midnight, the temperature was in the neighborhood of 40-below, and Borge had already driven the three-hour round trip to Butte twice—once to buy a replacement hydraulic hose, and once to get the hose remade when it wouldn’t fit. Borge says a side of him wanted to give up, to announce to the ski area’s guests that there’d be no groomed snow today. But with a youth ski race slated for the following day, the internal debate was short lived. “I literally didn’t have a choice,” he says. The job got done that night, as so many have in the five years since Borge and his wife, Big Sky native Kristi Borge, sold their lives in Bozeman for the prospect of owning a ski area. They were 29 and 27, respectively, when they purchased Maverick Mountain. On paper, the couple’s story sounds like the Hollywood version of a skier’s fantasy: A chance mention by a friend of a for-sale ski area during a dip in the Boiling River; a new home put back on the market to raise capital; months of uncertainty culminating in a purchase on theeve of the next ski season. As Borge’s frigid night of groomer maintenance attests, reality was—and is—vastly different.

70 / M T O U T L AW. C O M PHOTOS MOUNTAIN COURTESY OF RYAN WELTY, POLARISPHOTOLAB.COM

“I think the general concept is you buy a mountain, you ski, you do a little bit of people management, you answer a couple emails, and then in the spring you shut it down and you go on vacation,” Borge says. “That’s not even close.” Nowadays Borge smacks of that reality, from the top of his worn beanie to the hems of his grease-soaked coveralls. He kicks back inside Maverick’s lodge on a blustery early-October afternoon, sipping a bottle of Bud Light and cracking jokes about windblown shingles with the frank, easy-going manner of ranch hand. Kristi is down valley at Polaris’ one-room schoolhouse, where she got a job as a teacher before they’d closed the deal on the mountain. The couple’s new pup BB chases flies against a window that looks out on the steep snowless pitch of the ski trail Remely, where during a 2001 demonstration, former pro mogul skier C.J. “Turbo” Turner hit nearly 90 mph on a rocket-propelled monoski. Replacing the lodge roof would be nice, Borge says after another strong gust. It’s currently on his list of dream projects.


To get to that list, though, the Borges first have to first check off the essentials, a task which starts the moment Maverick’s single chairlift closes down for the season at the beginning of April. There are chairlift components to repair or remake, a lift terminal to lubricate, safety systems to check, firewood to stock up on, equipment to pull apart and put back together. Borge says he’s lucky just to stay on top of the many things a ski area needs to survive another season. And the work only gets tougher when the snow starts flying. Borge estimates he gets between four and five hours of sleep a night during the winter. The couple spent their first few seasons living in an RV in the ski area parking lot, before moving to a cabin at nearby Elkhorn Hot Springs, which they and their fellow college-buddy Maverick investors purchased about two years ago. On the eve of the couple’s fifth season helming Maverick, Borge has yet to pay himself in anything other than a ski pass and beer. “There’s dream things that you wish you could do, but you just have to do the best you can with what you got,” Borge says. “Nobody that buys a ski area is going to make it rich.” For the Borges, Maverick has quickly become a labor of love. Love, in part, for the sport they grew up with. Both were competitive ski racers as children, and actually met as ski instructors at Big Sky Resort in 2009. Neither had skied Maverick as adults, but Kristi still recalls racing there during elementary school and her parents, Marjorie and J.C. Knaub, himself a former ski patroller at Big Sky, still live in the area. “The fact that [skiing] was a huge part of our lives is a big reason why it happened,” she says of the Maverick purchase.

Erik and Kristi Borge trade boards for wheels at Maverick PHOTOS COURTESY OF ERIK BORGE

Looming equally large in their decision, however, was a desire to return to their rural roots. Borge was raised in a small town near Oregon’s iconic Timberline Lodge ski area. Kristi spent her childhood in a Big Sky still relatively untouched by the past decade of development, and was inspired to become a teacher by her years attending Ophir Elementary. Prior to the name “Maverick Mountain” entering their lives, the Borges had discussed a move to the countryside and commutes into Bozeman. Stepping inside the lodge to join Borge for a beer, longtime local skier Dave Miller confesses the Polaris community was apprehensive when the couple first arrived. But their willingness to buckle down quickly and keep the mountain operating proved what both the Borges claim: that neither sees themselves as Maverick’s owners, rather as caretakers of a place belonging to the town. “I think you’d have a hard time finding anybody that’d complain,” Miller says, before heading back out to pick up his son from Kristi’s classroom. Life has a funny way of coming full circle. After making such a drastic and unexpected life change five years ago, Kristi’s primary role at Maverick is now as coach of the new youth ski racing team. The team skied 36 kids from the greater Dillon area last season, she says, and her long-term goal is for the mountain to host a U.S. Ski and Snowboard Northern Division race once again. “I have pictures of myself racing at Maverick when I’m 10 years old, and that really puts it in perspective,” she says. “I’m wearing the same racing bibs, these cloth bibs, that we still have in the lodge. That’s kind of wild to see.”

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Dare

Mr. Blue, a 7-year-old gray wolf, stands over a bison that drown after falling through the ice in the Yellowstone River. Hayden Valley, Yellowstone National Park. This is a camera trap image. PHOTO BY RONAN DONOVAN


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Wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park 25 years ago. Where do they stand now? BY TODD WILKINSON

Outside a rural firehouse in Alder, Montana last November, pick-up trucks filled the parking lot as a steady stream of modern ranchers and their range-rider cowboys packed the meeting hall to standing room only. Frustration was palpable in the air. An hour later, iPhone photos of dead calves and half-eaten heifers were projected onto the screen, which not long ago would have elicited gasps and fiery fighting words. Instead they were met by stone-cold silence in the room. Gray wolves and grizzly bears were to blame for the depredations. But everyone conceded they are not going away. Cited time and again was a watchword that only a generation ago would have been culturally impossible to embrace in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The concept: coexistence between those who raise livestock and advocates for wildlife that have canid teeth and eat meat to survive. This winter an anniversary is being recognized, a kind of big-bang catalyst that forced a cultural shift to happen: the 25th anniversary of wolf reintroduction to Yellowstone National Park.

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In January 2018, the Lamar Canyon Pack spent much of its time along the Madison River in Yellowstone National Park. PHOTO BY JOHN LAYSHOCK

A quarter century ago—some 60 years after they were exterminated by federal and state governments—wolves were brought back to Yellowstone and a separate central Idaho wilderness area in perhaps the most momentous restoration of an annihilated species in human history. That it could have happened at all, many say, is a miracle. Even before the first lobo transplants from Canada arrived at holding pens in Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley prior to release, boisterous predictions were made by ranchers and hunters that disaster would ensue—that wolves would lay bloody siege to cattle and sheep while also devastating big game herds and attacking people. And if that weren’t enough, passionate advocates for Canis lupus on the other side claimed that wolves, as top predator and a missing link forcibly removed, would instantly reinvigorate a lost sense of ecological balance and yield the perfect assemblance of Eden. After a series of unsuccessful legal maneuverings to block their reintroduction, a dozen wolves were brought to Yellowstone and by 1996 the two-year effort would reach 31 (separately 35 were released in Idaho). Today, their dispersed descendants can be found in five different states and the wolf population numbers upwards of 2,000. Astonishing is how the convergence in Alder in November 2019 demonstrated how far the conversation about wolves has come, for inside the firehouse were descendants of cattle and sheep growers who believed in their day that completely purging wolves had been for the betterment of the West. On January 12, 1995, then U.S. Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt,

In January 1995, officials carried into Yellowstone the first wolves as part of the reintroduction. (L-R) Project leader Mike Phillips, Yellowstone Superintendent Mike Finley, Director of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Mollie Beattie, Maintenance Jim Evanoff, and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt. NPS PHOTO

the late Mollie Beatty, head of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Mike Finley, superintendent of Yellowstone, carried wolves into the park as a symbolic gesture showing humankind was righting an act of biocide. °°°° Travel back to the early 1990s.

While political winds had begun to shift, tempering the “wolves-will-never-ever-be-reintroduced-to-Yellowstone-inmy-lifetime” sentiments that prevailed in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, it still seemed that wolf reintroduction was, at best, a longshot. In 1991, Yellowstone hosted a gathering of reintroduction advocates that I, as a young reporter, attended. On a knoll rising above Tower Junction, L. David Mech, the world’s foremost wolf researcher, joined Yellowstone


interpretive ranger Norm Bishop who recounted events when the National Park Service was part of the wolf eradication campaign. Between 1904 and the late 1920s, 132 wolves (a number greater than the park population today) were destroyed. In 1926, trappers killed a pair of surviving wolf pups near a bison carcass at Soda Butte and it represented the last whimper for a species that had been there since the end of the Ice Age. Bishop in the 1980s and 1990s gave more than 400 public talks, reaching tens of thousands of people and laying the groundwork for bringing the pack back. He met resistance from rural communities in the Northern Rockies, with some citizens vowing that any lobos would be greeted with “shoot, shovel and shut-up.” Some politicians in the region wanted Bishop muzzled. “Nothing has been more satisfying to me than seeing the numerous ways that wolves have been demonstrated to affect the ecosystem and restore it to its normal working relationships, including the dynamics of predators and prey,” Bishop says. “I thought it would be a rare person who would be able to see a wolf in Yellowstone but it’s become an industry, a phenomenon. People come from around the world to see wolves in the Lamar Valley like they would go to the Serengeti to see African lions.” For his part, Mech says, “It’s become the best lab for studying wolves in the world because you’ve had researchers and a huge involvement from a very engaged and enthusiastic public. Flowing out of it has been a bonanza of information.” °°°° Doug Smith is Yellowstone’s senior wolf biologist and has been profiled on CBS’s 60 Minutes. He is the lead author of a soon-to-be-published book Yellowstone Wolves: Science and Discovery in the World’s First National Park, a tome featuring the perspective of 70 different ecology experts. It is unprecedented and offers the most intensive examination to date of the Greater Yellowstone wolf population. “It represents the state of the art and while it’s a Yellowstone-centric book we took on all of the big themes for wolves and ecology,” Smith said, noting that while a massive amount of information had to be cut to meet length limitations, it will be shared in the coming years. Inside Yellowstone, Smith notes, 80 percent of wolf deaths are caused by other wolves and outside the park seven of every 10 wolves die from having contact with humans. Wolves endure because they have high reproduction capabilities, according to Smith, because female and male alpha wolves produce new pup litters every year. During the last 25 years, no one has been a more intent witness than now retired park naturalist Rick McIntyre. He spent, during one

stretch, 6,175 consecutive days in the field and put LAND: more than WOLF 100,000 wolf sightings into 12,000 pages of meticulous journal notes. He is a lobo ambassador nonpareil and his new longwaited book, The Rise of Wolf 8: Witnessing The Triumph of Yellowstone’s Underdog, has received critical acclaim. McIntyre’s book reads like a lobo version of War and Peace and he uses Wolf 8 as a lens. Wolves have helped transform Yellowstone but perhaps their biggest impact is transforming the attitudes of people, and it can be seen in the tens of thousands of park visitors raised on the tale of Little Red Riding Hood and the “big bad wolf” mythology. “It can be magical, when you allow [the reality of wolves] to come in,” McIntyre told me during one of our many chats over the years. “I once heard someone say, ‘It is hard to hate someone if you know their story.’ If I can tell the story of wolves, I hope to help people see them like I do and therefore treat them with the respect they deserve.” Ed Bangs, the former wolf recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said that “working with wolves guarantees that you’ll be either famous or notorious.” Smith has been on the receiving end of public vilification, which has flared less as years of accruing scientific data have replaced the hearsay and emotion that has flowed as polemics from both wolf advocates and despisers. °°°°

Half a decade ago, writer Paul Schullery made this observation about how the arguments surrounding wolves have shifted. “Here, as always, we struggle with the same mythic temptations of narrative as did our predecessors,” he wrote in a 2014 edition of Yellowstone Science. “Ecologist David Mech has recently articulated a concern many of us have felt, over what he has called the ‘sanctification’ of wolves. Few beliefs have seemed so urgently overwhelming to many of us in the modern Yellowstone community as the apparent conviction that wolves are furry little Anakin Skywalkers who will finally Yellowstone Wolf Project members process three tranquilized wolves from the Junction Butte Pack in December 2014. Doug Smith (back), Yellowstone’s senior wolf biologist, handles radio transmissions while the team fits the wolves with GPS collars. PHOTO BY RONAN DONOVAN


As many as 16 wolves made up the Lamar Canyon Pack in the winter of 2018. They covered Yellowstone territory from Old Faithful to Mammoth Hot Springs and West Yellowstone to Canyon Village. PHOTO BY JOHN LAYSHOCK

bring balance to the Force. From that point of view, all that’s jobs and close to $700 million annually for the region. In left is deciding who in Yellowstone’s colorful cast of characters neighboring Grand Teton, the numbers are 8,000 jobs and is Darth Vader, and who is Jabba the Hutt.” $800 million. Two of the main attractions are grizzly bears and Indeed, Mech has told me that wolves don’t deserve their wolves that can be viewed from the roadsides. dastardly reputation, “but neither do they float across the In Yellowstone, wolf watching alone is estimated to landscape on angel’s wings.” generate at least $35 million in annual spending based on Last August, along the eastern slope of both the Tobacco people who say they are coming to the park primarily to Root and Gravelly mountains, Bob Sitz who attended the see wolves and the amount of money they spend to make it meeting in Alder expressed frustration about predators. The happen That’s according to a study by University of Montana Sitz Angus Ranch outside Harrison is nationally renowned economist John Duffield, who notes the trickle-down effect for selling prize Angus bulls. Each summer, Sitz trails a few could actually be worth twice that. hundred cows into the Gravellies and As wolf watching became a sensation in in recent years he and other cattlemen Yellowstone amassing a rapidly growing army “Wolves are have contended with predation by of adherents, some rushed to tout the alleged grizzlies and wolves in their cattle ecological benefits of wolves. On YouTube, neither ‘good’ allotments on the Beaverheada video titled “How Wolves Change Rivers” nor ‘bad,’” Deerlodge National Forest. and homemade spinoffs have been watched Wolves, which sometimes descend more than 100 million times. Doug Smith from the Tobacco Roots onto his Scientists long surmised that by says. “They are restoring wolves, as the vital missing link property, are dispersers from the original transplants in Yellowstone. extinguished in a less-informed ecological key players in Since 1995, Sitz has lost 40 confirmed era, balance and harmony to the food wild ecosystems chain—the so-called “trophic cascade”— cattle kills to wolves though he estimates the toll could be double would be restored too. The problem of that help that. Like other ranchers, he says “too many” elk populating Yellowstone’s regulate the more generous compensation to cover Northern Range where heavy browsing livestock losses might achieve more severely impacted aspen trees and willow in populations of tolerance for predators and that the the absence of wolves would be remedied other wildlife wolf and grizzly presence stresses out setting off a positive chain reaction, livestock and creates other hassles. according to the video. they eat...” “We can live with wolves—well we Wolves have knocked down a coyote have to whether we like it or not, but population blamed for intense predation with all predators we want flexibility to nip problems in the on the park’s small pronghorn herd. By reducing elk numbers, bud,” Sitz said. His sprawling private ranch provides habitat for aspen trees have rejuvenated and willow abundance is public wildlife and in order for the ranch to stay undeveloped returning, bolstering beaver (that eat its branches) and they he needs to stay economically viable. would create jams and more wetland habitat. “Wolves are neither ‘good’ nor ‘bad,’” Doug Smith says. Both Mech and Smith, the latter of whom assigned experts “They are key players in wild ecosystems that help regulate to intensely review the data, said not so fast—indeed wolves the populations of other wildlife they eat, and if the goal is are causing ripple effects but not enough to justify the idyllic having a full complement of original species as an expression of narrative in the YouTube video. To state it simply, nature is a complete ecosystem with its main wildlife parts, then we have complicated. success. And the public today, for the most part, gets that.” This doesn’t mean the insights now emerging aren’t In Yellowstone, “wolf watching” is an anchor in the park’s astounding and that the dividends aren’t dramatic. The elk popular nature-tourism economy that generates around 7,500 population has the richest carnivore community in North 78

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America and is holding its own, Smith says After the elk population of the Northern Range fell from a high of around 19,000 elk to around 4,000 in recent years it has grown to around 7,000, according to surveys carried out by the state of Montana and Yellowstone personnel. Simultaneously, the original wolf population there, supported by prolific elk numbers and reaching 174, has dipped and resettled to around 100 in 10 packs, existing with a sort of dynamic equilibrium. A lively debate exists among scientists. “The evidence shows elk do change their behavior in the presence of wolves and it involves both congregating in larger group size and adopting different ways to avoid wolves,” Smith says. Others have argued that wolf presence has resulted in elk not using prime-favored foraging areas. Some claim the combination of having to be on the move and poorer access to nutritious edibles has negatively affected cow elk pregnancy rates. And yet, data shows a high pregnancy rate in cow elk. Ironically, some ranchers now complain that too many wapiti are wintering in their pastures. °°°° Mike Phillips is finishing his final year in

the Montana Legislature after getting term-limited out from serving in both the House and Senate. Notably, he came to the region on a job assignment—overseeing wolf recovery in Yellowstone. Earlier, Phillips had been a senior management specialist for the Fish and Wildlife Service working on red wolf management in North Carolina. He had the position in Yellowstone 25 years ago that Smith now holds. I asked him what’s been most significant as he looks back. “That’s simple,” Phillips said. “It’s their ability to inspire changes in thinking. Wolves have always been about more than wolves and Yellowstone about more than the park itself.” Phillips today is helping spearhead an effort to restore wolves to Colorado by putting the issue on the ballot and he’s using the lessons learned to debunk the same kind of resistance he encountered in Yellowstone. “The Yellowstone wolf story has a lot to teach people,” he says. “So much of our poor treatment of the natural world has been caused by ignorance. But we can do better and this proves it.” Abby Nelson, a wolf management specialist for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, has seen it all. “From my perspective living with wolves is 90 percent people and engaging with them where they are at and understanding

Bob Sitz on his ranch near Harrison with one of his cowboys following reports of dead cows on his public-lands grazing allotment in the Gravelly Range. PHOTO BY TODD WILKINSON

the constraints facing those who deal with wildlife conflicts,” Nelson says. All of it revolves around a bottom line that, especially for mom-and-pop ranchers, can be thin. Many people, including wolf advocates, might not fully appreciate how beneficial it is to all to help keep rural ranchers and farmers on the land. Their properties provide free habitat for wildlife and open space that contribute to inspiring views for all around. Nelson has found that many ranchers have tolerance for wolves in the northern valleys that spiral out of Yellowstone—the Paradise, Madison and Boulder—so long as wolf packs don’t become cattle and sheep killers. Some will even admit candidly they kind of enjoy seeing wolves around but if leaders of the pack start keying in on livestock instead of wildlife, then producers want swift remedies. And that’s where she comes in. If non-lethal deterrents such as stringing flag-like fladry and electric fencing around cows at calving time, employing loud horns and flashing lights with motion detectors don’t work, decisions have to be made. Either the state or agents affiliated with the federal agency Wildlife Services might be called in to kill wolves. “We need to respect and work with ranchers,” Nelson says. “That’s how you build tolerance.” The estimated size of the wolf population in Montana is 800, she says, and the average number of wolves killed over the last six years annually is between 230 and 260. Since wolves were removed from federal protection, the Fish and Wildlife Service no longer assembles a comprehensive report but the last one prepared in 2014 by the person who succeeded Ed Bangs, Mike Jimenez, is instructive because the numbers haven’t fluctuated much. He wrote that there were an estimated 1,800 wolves comprising roughly 313 packs right in the heart of Western cattle country. Wolves account for about 1 percent of total livestock M T O U T L AW. C O M / MOUNTAIN

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Abby Nelson, wolf management specialist for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, inspects a legally harvested 4-year-old female wolf taken by a hunter just beyond the Northeast Entrance of Yellowstone National Park in November 2014. PHOTO BY RONAN DONOVAN

wildlife populations until they are destroyed, one would think the wolves on Isle Royale would have wiped out moose. But it didn’t happen that way; in fact, wolf numbers tumbled on Isle Royale necessitating a wolf reintroduction in recent years. In Yellowstone, emerging research does not implicate wolves as being the most formidable predators of elk. Field data shows that cougars, as ambush predators, are far more dangerous. During spring, meanwhile, grizzly bears take more elk calves. “When wolf reintroduction began, there were assumptions that major predation would be a wolf-driven dynamic, but it’s not,” Smith says. Tellingly in the northern Rockies, the vast majority of elk hunting units with wolf presence are at or above population objectives, state wildlife officials say. There are more elk in the West today than in at least 140 years.

losses, according to federal ag statistics. Noteworthy is that only 62 of the 300-plus wolf packs were involved in livestock °°°° depredation and the majority of those cases involved only a Although some ranchers, mostly sheep handful of livestock depredations at most. “What it means is producers, have at times sustained losses of dozens of animals that four of every five packs are existing without incident,” in a short time, such occurrences are in fact rare, doubly so Jimenez noted, suggesting that in the realm of perception for given that wolf control measures have been swift. At the some, the opposite is true. meeting in Alder, Montana last fall, Wyoming rancher Albert Lethal control of wolves outside of Yellowstone and Grand Sommers appeared as a special guest. Sommers, also a state Teton was always part of the deal in bringing them back though legislator from Pinedale and a member of the Upper Green it still doesn’t sit well with some environmentalists. For as River Valley livestock grazing association, offered a confession. many wolves as there are today live in the West, at least that “I thought that wolves showing up would be a major nightmare many have been killed, mostly in lethal removals but also but it really hasn’t been. We can by hunters and trappers. The live with them. A bigger issue is I thought that wolves number of dead wolves exceeds grizzlies,” he said. Other Montana the number of cattle that ranchers echoed the sentiment. showing up would be a have been taken and millions major nightmare but it of dollars have been spent in Looking back, David Mech control actions, federal and state contends that reintroducing wolves really hasn’t been. We officials told me. to Yellowstone was the right thing can live with them. Generating huge amounts of to do. “Society should have brought controversy, inflamed by social wolves back and this should apply - Wyoming rancher Albert Sommers media, the deaths of park wolves to more than charismatic megafuna with radio collars around their necks have been important parts but anything we’ve extirpated where places exist that you of research in Yellowstone where they live most of their lives. can do it,” he said. “It doesn’t mean it will be popular but the When those animals have wandered across the park’s important thing is having a dialogue, using facts where you can, invisible line some have been shot and what’s especially galling listening to peoples’ concerns and addressing them.” for advocates is that those wolves, because they spent a lot of As for his protégée Doug Smith, he’s had an epiphany. “I’ve time inside the park within eyesight of people, did not associate flipped my thinking on why all of this matters. I said 25 years danger with humans. ago that the reason to restore wolves was purely ecological. This was something done for nature but in fact it has been °°° a gift to our species, demonstrating what we are capable of Regarding the impacts of wolves when naysayers claimed it couldn’t be done,” he said. “We— on big game, a reference point can be found at Isle humans—have been the biggest beneficiary. I think it’s a sign Royale National Park in the Upper Midwest where research has of hope. If we can do it with wolves, we can do it with a lot of been ongoing for more than half a century, ever since a few lobos issues that divide us.” crossed the frozen ice of Lake Superior from the mainland and Todd Wilkinson, a correspondent to National Geographic and remained on the isle, which had significant numbers of moose The Guardian, has been writing about the West for three decades. Over decades, wolf numbers rose and fell, correlating to the He lives in Bozeman and is founder of the nonprofit environmental size of the moose population. journalism site, Mountain Journal (mountainjournal.org). Based on the old premise that wolves will prey upon


R. Tommy Snyder P. Kevin Nolan

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THE LASTING BOND BETWEEN THE CROW T R I B E A N D T H E C R A Z Y M O U N TA I N S BY JESSIANNE CASTLE

PHOTO BY MADISON PERRINS

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From 11,000 feet, Crazy Peak sends whispers in all directions across the landscape. It looms on the horizon northeast of Livingston, Montana, joined by the severe angles of its brethren, all gazing upon the Yellowstone River as it makes its meandering decent to the Missouri. Snow holds tight even in August on the tops of these mountains and in January whispers from the pinnacle are caught on gusts of wind that send crisp snowflakes tumbling into the air. It was in the summer of 1857, during the short recess when winter relinquishes its stony grip on the mountains, when a 9-year-old boy tied his horse at the base of Crazy Peak and climbed toward the sky. He stopped near the top and waited, seeking spiritual guidance and blessing. On the fourth day of prayer and fast, the boy was given a vision. Looking out across the valley, he saw the buffalo

disappear into the ground to be replaced by the white man’s cow. He saw the white man come and change the land, and he experienced a mighty storm that destroyed all but one tree in an ancient forest. Within the surviving tree, the boy saw a chickadee. Now known as Chief Plenty Coups, the young boy came to be a great leader for his people, the Apsáalooke, or Crow tribe. Plenty Coups’ vision guided his people, and many tribal historians believe it was key to the tribe’s survival. Awaxaawippíia, or the Crazy Mountains, are no longer a part of the Crow Reservation, but their power remains prominent in Crow Country. And as Montanans seek ways forward together amid explosive growth in the Greater Yellowstone, a powerful statewide recreation economy and the already palpable effects of climate change, the story of the Crazy Mountains offers something more. >>

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The chickadee

When young Plenty Coups—or Alaxchíiahush in Crow— came down off the mountain, he rushed to his camp to share news of his dream. “It took a strong leader to get to that high of elevation and put his knees on those rocks, without food and water, and to get an understanding of what his purpose is in life; of who he is,” said Adrian Bird Jr., a tribal historian with the Crow Tribal Historic Preservation Office, located in the Crow Agency 60 miles east of Billings. Bird’s eyes flashed as he recounted the story. “He wasn’t thirsty when he got down to the bottom of the mountain. He wasn’t hungry. He was excited.” Apsáalooke elder Yellow Bear interpreted the dream at the time to mean that Plenty Coups would witness the disappearance of the buffalo. It was foretelling of what would come to pass in less than a half century, and Yellow Bear said in order to survive the Crow would need to be like the chickadee, a bird notable for its ability to listen and adapt. Plenty Coups wasn’t the first to seek a gift in the Crazy Mountains, nor has he been the last. A rich oral tradition attests to the fact that for hundreds of years, young Crow boys have journeyed to the Crazies—and the Beartooth Mountains to the south—to seek blessings. “We’ve heard stories of Crow chiefs and medicine men who would go up into the Crazies specifically because they are high and treacherous,” said Roberta Bird, Adrian’s wife, and an employee at the Crow Agency Department of Education. “When they were searching for a prayer they would physically try to get their body close to the Creator or God or whatever you call Him in order to pray and fast and to search for answers or prayers or good things.” Given the powerful Crow Medicine in the Crazy Mountains, their name makes sense. Awaxaawippíia, the Birds say, is translated roughly as the Snowcapped, Ominous or Amazing Mountains.

Plenty Coups (c.1908) PHOTO BY EDWARD CURTIS

The young chief embodied the message of his vision, guiding his people to adapt and to work cooperatively with the white man. Crow warriors subsequently acted as scouts for the U.S. Army and leaders sought to compromise with the U.S. government. In Montana, their efforts drew the admiration of Bozeman’s founder. “John Bozeman really loved the Crows at one point,” Adrian Bird Jr. explained, “for their protection, for their friendship, for their way of using the land. They shared their knowledge of what they used to do and how they lived and what they lived off of. We worked together and this is how far we’ve come.” “I think that’s why we still have our reservation,” Roberta added, a smile dancing across her face. “It’s still on our land, we still have strong traditions and culture and language, all of those things are still intact.” Even though the Crazy Mountains are nearly 100 miles from the current reservation, Crow boys still seek solace from the mountains today and the tribe actively advocates for wilderness protections on the national forest land within the 140,000-acre island mountain range. “It’s more about the sacredness of the mountains and our ties to it,” Roberta said. “We’re not trying to exclude anybody. You wouldn’t want trash and ATVs and things running in the middle of your church.” “IT’S STILL ON OUR LAND, WE STILL HAVE

1930.47 War Record Drawing, Crow, 1884. Pencil, ink and commercial pigment on paper. 20.5 cm x 58 cm. Provenance: Charles H. Barstow Collection, Montana State University Billings Library Special Collections

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STRONG TRADITIONS AND CULTURE AND LANGUAGE, ALL OF THOSE THINGS ARE S T I L L I N TA C T. ”


LAND: A VISION

In the shadow of the mountain The land around the Crazy Mountains, a mosaic of sagebrush hills and fertile river bottoms, was settled by homesteaders in the late 19th century like much of the Greater Yellowstone. Tribes were shuttered onto reservations through a long procession of treaties, making way for miners, ranchers and towns. The Crow Reservation was established in 1868 at Fort Parker, a fully stockaded military post located on Mission Creek 10 miles east of Livingston. The mighty Crazy Mountains were nearby sentinels for the Crow until the agency was moved in 1875 to Absarokee on the Stillwater River farther east. In 1883, the Agency was established where it is today in eastern Montana. Along the way, the tribe relinquished its hold on its historic territory, but the Crow still maintain interest in the land. It was 100 years later, in 1966, when Sarah Anzick’s family purchased land in the Shields Valley near Wilsall, a land graced almost daily with fiery skies as the sun rises over the Crazy Mountains. Nestled in the cradle of the Bridger Mountains and Crazies, Anzick says the landscape was her playground. “It was a very special place growing up,” she said, admitting, however, that she knew little about the area’s history. Anzick was 2 years old in 1968 when construction workers found stone artifacts at the base of a high bluff on her family’s property. Later, they unearthed the 13,000-year-old remains of a male toddler, who had been buried with more than 100 stone and bone tools—all thoughtfully covered with red ochre. “This is probably one of the most important skeletal remains found,” Anzick said on the phone from her home in the Bitterroot Valley. Anzick went on to become a molecular biologist at the National Institutes of Health where she studies the relationship between genetics and disease. In the early 2000s, Anzick partnered with archeologist Mike Waters at Texas

A&M University and geneticist Eske Willerslev at the Centre for GeoGenetics in Denmark in order to analyze the ancient child’s genetics. It was a time of controversy. A few years earlier, in 1996, two Sarah Anzick, who grew up on the west side of the Crazies, carries the college students remains of a 13,000-year-old child during a reburial ceremony in 2014 near Wilsall. PHOTO BY SHAWN RAECKE   wading in the Columbia River identical,” she said. “In that .1 percent of in Kennewick, Washington, discovered difference, how big is that difference? I the remains of a 9,000-year old skeleton, felt like the little child gave us a gift for now known as the Kennewick Man and all of humanity but it was time to lay him considered among the oldest complete to rest.” skeletons ever found. The discovery In 2014, the ancient boy was returned threw speculation into the ancestry to the earth, once again in the shadow of of contemporary Native Americans the Crazy Mountains. He was reburied and launched a protracted legal battle near the original site where he was between the U.S. government, native found and tribal representatives from tribes and paleoanthropologists over around the U.S. attended the ceremony. whether ancient remains should be As owners of the land, the Anzicks reburied. remain stewards of the little boy and Understanding the inherent risk in the artifacts once placed in his grave. her quest to learn the child’s ancestry Anzick says her family will protect and after visiting with several tribes in the site but often allow access to those Montana, Anzick and her team continued who ask and one day hope to install their research, guided by Doyle, though a memorial. The artifacts—chert, the work remained controversial among porcellanite, antler points and tools— the tribes. One tribal member was are currently on loan at the Montana interested in learning what science could Historical Society in Helena where the glean, but another was opposed to the public can visit. work. “I think it’s really great that resource Anzick’s tone was cautious, a is there for everyone to go and enjoy pronounced reverence in her voice. and learn from,” Anzick said, adding “I have so much respect for tribal that she thinks Native engagement is communities,” she said. “I had to figure critical and that it’s important to find out that balance because I’m a scientist ways to work together. “How can we too. It’s really that quest for knowledge.” advance the wellbeing of humanity Ultimately, analysis of the toddler’s and science with the involvement of ancient DNA revealed the boy and his Native American communities and not relatives to be direct descendants of leave them out?” she asked. “Really many contemporary Native American it’s communication and interaction, tribes, but most closely related to relationships and bonds, and trust. Trust those originating in Central and South is huge.”>> America. “All of us are 99.9 percent M T O U T L AW. C O M / MOUNTAIN

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Ties to the land

Bent over in a chair in the tiny Livingston airport, Shane Doyle is quiet, composed despite the loud hum of small airplanes coming and going outside. He’s just stepped off of a six-seat Cessna 210, having circumnavigated the Crazy Mountains. Nodding north, Doyle says his Crow ancestors wintered on the Judith and Musselshell rivers and sometimes camped in the Shields Valley and along other tributaries of the Yellowstone River. Doyle lives in Bozeman and is the program coordinator at the American Indian Institute. A Crow tribal member, he’s sought guidance twice in the Crazy Mountains through prayer and fast. Doyle and other Crow members have asked the U.S. Forest Service to uphold treaty rights that recognize the tribes still have interests on lands that once existed on the reservation. A part of that recognition is to manage the Crazies as a sacred landscape—without new roads or trails. “It’s going to be hard … for people to traverse that territory and that’s the way it should be,” Doyle said. “They’ve never been an easy range to navigate through. They’ve always been hard and I don’t think it’s up to us to make that easy. “There are other sacred areas all over,” he added, referencing sites from the three forks of the Missouri to the Black Hills to central Missouri. “I think it’s real important people are aware of that.” Doyle is among a strong cohort of Indigenous peoples seeking to reclaim their tribal heritage and achieve recognition in mainstream society after Euro-American colonization destroyed Native lifeways. He was a collaborator and principal performer in Bozeman’s Mountain Time Arts opera performance of Standby Snow: The Chronicles of a Heatwave produced in August of 2019, in which he sang about Plenty Coups’ vision, a prophecy Doyle interprets as a foreshadowing of climate change. He says for Montanans to move forward together in the future, we all need to engage in conversation. “We share with each other our stories, our concerns and our vision. I think those are the ways we overcome those gaps or barriers.”

“WE SHARE WITH EACH OTHER OUR STORIES, OUR CONCERNS AND OUR VISION. I THINK THOSE ARE THE WAYS WE OVERCOME THOSE GAPS OR BARRIERS.”

Sings In The Timber constructs portraits of women wearing traditional regalia in the built environment. Pictured is Shakira Glenn of Apsáalooke/Crow Descent PHOTO BY ADAM SINGS IN THE TIMBER


LAND: SUBHEAD A VISION SECTION:

The power of pictures

One way to prompt that conversation is through imagery. Francesca Pine-Rodriguez grew up on the Crow and Northern Cheyenne reservations and in Billings and has been an active advocate for tribal representation in Bozeman. A member of both tribes, she says settlers moving West were sold on maps and images portraying a wide-open, unpopulated landscape. “It’s just amazing how powerful pictures are [but] all of that was just a fantasy,” Pine-Rodriguez said. “It was really a recipe for disaster when the settlers came because they were basically bought and sold on a lie.” A board member of the Montana movement seeking to rename the federal holiday Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Pine-Rodriguez says she was recently asked to be a model in a public art project about recognizing tribal heritage. For the project, Mountain Time Arts commissioned Montana Crow photojournalist Adam Sings In The Timber to photograph five Indigenous women who live in the Gallatin Valley as a part of his national “Indigenizing Colonized Spaces” photo series. The images illustrate that wherever people go in North America, they are on Native land. “Moving everybody forward together is recognizing real history,” Pine-Rodriguez said. “It’s recognizing that the land you walk on every day was a tribes’ [land] in all of North America. And to recognize it is a minimum. The next step is to honor and celebrate it.” That recognition and celebration is just what Sings In The Timber hopes to achieve. After graduating from the University of Montana School of Journalism, he moved to Chicago and dedicated his career to capturing Native lifeways through photographs to empower Indigenous Peoples, while also educating the non-Native world. For Sings In The Timber, reclaiming his people’s cultural history expands to the very basic use of the word “Indian.” “Growing up, I was Indian,” Sings In The Timber told me during his recent trip to Bozeman. “[But] Indian is no longer a part of the next generation for me.” Instead, he prefers to use words like “Indigenous” or “Native.” “Out here, we don’t say ‘Indian’ anymore.”

A way forward together

The Crazy Mountains overlook so much more than a landscape. They are keepers of the stories of the past, and they could provide keys for the future. Those who live in the shadow of the Crazies know of their beauty, and others, those who’ve experienced or heard stories of their power, can feel their presence from afar. “Yes these are sacred [mountains]. I can feel it,” Adrian Bird Jr. said. “I can feel it seeing them from the highway.” From all directions, the Crazies stand as united peaks, working cooperatively to give sanctuary to life, to trees, flowers, wildlife, birds—even the chickadee, one of Montana’s songbirds that stays through the winter and sings to the quiet, snowy landscape. “We need to work together,” Adrian said. “I know about these mountains, my son knows about these mountains. I want my grandson to know about these mountains and what has taken place here.”

Jessianne Castle is a freelance writer and editor who grew up under the Montana sky. She writes from the Shields Valley, where she explores by pen and experience what it means to be a Montanan. M T O U T L AW. C O M / MOUNTAIN

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MENDING FENCES

LAND ACCESS IN THE WEST IS A STORY FENCED IN AND FRAMED BY CONFLICT. BUT MONTANA IS FINDING OPPORTUNITIES THAT LIE ON COMMON GROUND BY CLAIRE CELLA

BRENT MANNIX TELLS A MODERN VERSION OF AN AESOP’S FABLE ABOUT A WESTERN RANCH COMING UP FOR SALE: A prospective buyer from out of town enters a coffee shop to ask about the ranch. “And what are the neighbors like?” he asks a table of older men. One turns. “Well, what are they like where you come from?” The man grumbles, “Oh, they aren’t great at all. They’re cliquish. They don’t get along. They put up gates, fences.” The old man thinks and says, “Well, I think you’ll find your neighbors here will be a lot the same.” Later, another potential buyer enters and asks the men a similar question. Again, an older man asks, “What are they like where you’re from?” The man replies, a smile lighting up his face, “Wonderful. Everyone there is honest and decent. They are so easy to get along with.” The old man replies, “Well, you’ll find your neighbors here to be just the same.”

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Mannix has a penchant for lively conversation and a soft spot for the story’s moral since it was something his father taught him: work hard and treat your neighbors fairly. For the Mannix family, who has owned and operated the Mannix Brothers Ranch for three generations, hard work certainly lent itself to success: the ranch currently covers 12,000 deeded acres and leases another 30,000 to raise cattle in the heart of Montana’s Blackfoot Valley northeast of Missoula. But Mannix believes treating his neighbors fairly has been more beneficial for all involved. And in his mind, these folks include not only bordering landowners, but fellow Montanans—fellow humans—as well. Which is why he’s been more permissive than many to allow hunters to access his land. “There’s something rewarding about a person who has no connection or nothing to offer calling up and asking for something,” he says in a voice that’s eathern but kind. “And you give them permission not because you’re going to gain something. [You] just let them.” Mannix’s example runs contrary to an oft-told story about access to public and private land in the West— a story fenced in and framed by conflict. And, thinks the public needs to hear more stories like Mannix’s; stories about people and organizations who, by demonstrating proud Montanan values, are creating positive, cooperative, “neighborly” change. No one denies that conflict is present—land access is a deep-rooted debate mired in legal complexities, political views and personal values where both camps show signs of abuse and misunderstanding. The issue is unavoidably embedded in the West.


Last June, The New York Times touched on one of these nuances in “Who Gets to Own the West?,” an article that shed light on the trend of changing landownship as wealthy out-oftown families buy up large swaths of public land and often shut out public access. A theme in the thousands of comments the article received? The problem isn’t necessarily changes in land ownership, so long as access and Western neighborly values are preserved. The Times story succeeds in stirring conflict but offers no answers to the questions it raises: What does it take to preserve access today in light of technological advancements, palpable value shifts and a need for economic diversification in the West? At the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Joel Webster, director of TRCP’s Center for Western Lands, believes answers to these access questions have only just begun. But Montana is at the forefront of this work, becoming a place to watch as the issue evolves on the national stage and as the state continues to create opportunities for local, on the ground, constructive work that requires people respecting one another as they work toward an underlying shared goal. The effort is also complicated and takes time. “At the end of the day, you can’t make a good neighbor … through legislation,” admitted Governor of Montana Steve Bullock. He knows it’s the kind of work that happens on the ground, “over a fence row or a cup of coffee. But if I have something to contribute,” Bullock said, “I should.” This is why, as a Democratic contender in the 2020 presidential race, Bullock developed what he calls a “detailed and actionable” public lands policy initiative—one of the only candidates to do so. Within his plan are initiatives to protect and expand access, reverse rollbacks of national monuments, combat climate change, and fully finance the Land and Water Conservation Fund, among other proposals. It’s a concept bolstered by six years of experience as governor, where he unveiled a public lands and access agenda for Montana in 2016, and four years as attorney general in a Western state where he has remained a visible, vocal and successful supporter of public lands and access, recognizing it as an issue that transcends party politics and unites Montanans. Bullock and others who interact daily with this issue all seem to imply that through difficulty, and even within conflict, lies opportunity. And Montana is seizing that opportunity.

THE ETHIC OF RECIPROCITY Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has been a cornerstone to collaboration between landowners, sportsmen and recreationalists for years, helping create an active center for the access discussion. FWP’s Block Management Program is its most well-known and longest standing. Beginning in 1985 and significantly expanding in 1996, it makes public hunting available on private land, relying on landowners to offer access in exchange for

compensation in the form of limited liability protection, funds to offset impacts from activity, or management assistance, among others. Some Block Management Areas, or BMAs, are self-regulated by hunters, while others require permission from the landowner or FWP. Despite its success, Block Management only addresses one form of access and does not alleviate all points of conflict. The compensation for landowners reveals one of the most common disincentives to granting public access: potential impacts. These impacts, stemming from a handful of bad experience with irresponsible recreationalists, are a primary reason landowners pull access from their properties.

A pair of hunters take to the field thanks to land access from local ranchers. PHOTO COURTESY OF RMEF

Take, for instance, one story that sticks with Jennifer Doherty, director of lands at the conservation and prohunting Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Although a private landowner had been successfully enrolled in the Block Management Program for many years, he faced everything from people off-roading on his property to typical fence disturbances. What eventually solidified his desire to leave the program was when an old homestead on his ranch was burned to the ground, Doherty remembers. “This sort of behavior from the public is unacceptable,” she said. And these concerns—over gates left ajar, fences bent back, piles of trash left behind, trucks tearing up spring roads—are real enough for landowners to heavily reconsider allowing access to or across their land. In order for Block Management or any public-access program to remain effective, landowners must be willing to participate, requiring trust and a mutual respect with the public. What begins with landowner frustration soon deteriorates into conflict, and all involved generally >> agree that the worst-case scenario is when a landowner gets so fed up he cashes out and subdivides. The key to avoiding this is ensuring all parties remain responsible and ethical, realize the land—and the challenge of access—deserves respect, and continue to roll up their sleeves and find constructive outcomes.


SECTION: SUBHEAD Montana Gov. Steve Bullock is a key supporter of public lands access. PHOTO COURTESY OF STEVE BULLOCK OFFICE

Jim Hagenbarth, partner in the family-owned Hagenbarth Livestock, which occupies nearly 70,000 acres of federal, state and deeded lands in Montana and Idaho, says all factions need to work together. “If the state and federal agencies lose the willing publiclands rancher they lose a whole resource, one that promotes a working landscape that in turn supports rural communities and sustains wildlife. And when agencies lose that, they become even more hamstrung with their limited resources.” So agencies rely on ranchers, who in turn rely on hunters to help control large and sometimes overpopulated ungulate herds, Hagenbarth explained. Hunters are critical components to wildlife management by keeping numbers in check, adding value and contributing to landowners’ intent to be good stewards of the land. “We welcome people and think it’s important that they come out,” Hagenbarth said. “After all, we’re just caretakers of the land. Sure, I have a deed that says I own it but it’s just a package of property rights that society has given me. Those of us who have been on the land for years, we’re a part of nature so our first allegiance is to nature but the second is to society.”

A GROWING OUTDOOR RECREATION INDUSTRY Darlene Edge, the lands program manager for FWP, has seen her department stretched thin due to the growing interest in public access, too. A successful DiscoverMT campaign, led by the state’s Office of Tourism, has led to increasing numbers of people getting outside and using Montana’s bountiful outdoor resources … which has also led to overuse and irresponsibility. As a result, state and federal agencies have had to become more vigilant and hands-on in order to manage access on public resources, she said. 92

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“Sometimes that means closing down roads or consolidating recreation into managed areas,” she said. “You see this in other states, too, with new permit systems that restrict access to certain places.” Many Western states, including Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and New Mexico have established Offices of Outdoor Recreation to encourage, expand and manage access to and stewardship of public lands for recreation. Montana took this one step further in December 2017 when Governor Bullock created a Public Access Specialist—currently Ryan Weiss—to work solely on opening up and improving public access across the state. Hiring Weiss was one of the most significant steps Montana has taken on this issue, according to Zach Brown, program director of One Montana’s Common Ground program. “While he doesn’t have the silver bullet, he can get people around the table and that’s powerful,” Brown said. “You don’t need a policy or a lawsuit or even an organization to fix this, you just need human beings being human beings.”. FWP is also thinking about ways that diverse groups of recreationalists—kayakers, birdwatchers, hikers, mountain bikers—can help fund and maintain the land, too. Right now, hunters and anglers, through license purchases, excise tax payments and donations fund many department programs and important conservation work. But in order to also contribute to conservation and land management, permits or access licenses for other recreationalists could be in Montana’s future. Although some frown on increased regulation and management of public resources, Edge says their sportsmen’s access programs have helped strengthen relationships between agencies, landowners and the public. Landowners tell her that hunters behave better when they’re in BMAs or accessing land through department-managed easements: they not only see stricter enforcement but also an opportunity they stand to lose. “They realize they have a vested interest in that land staying open for their recreation,” she said.

Participants in One Montana’s Master Hunter program practice their shooting skills as a part of the program’s curriculum. PHOTO COURTESY OF ONE MONTANA


STEPPING IN AND STEPPING UP

struggling with conifer encroachment so in order to gain access, hunters help cut down conifers. Jake Schwalbe, a Master Hunter graduate, participated in two days of tree felling and says it was more than fair: he was giving back to the land as well, something he already loved. Over the years, nonprofit and advocacy groups Schwalbe also won a chance along with another Master like the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Western Hunter to camp on the Snowcrest property and more easily Landowners Alliance and One Montana have also stepped access a remote stretch of public land for a three-day archery in to develop lists of recommendations, suites of tools hunt. He ended up taking a cow elk, his first with a bow, and and working programs to guide how landowners, the said it was an experience he won’t forget anytime soon. public, and state and federal agencies can work together. Schwalbe, who grew up hunting near Helena on public Similar to Montana’s state-run programs like FWP’s lands but now lives in Billings, was initially intimidated by Unlocking Public Lands Program and the Department hunting on private property and usually kept away from of Natural Resources and Conservation’s Montana boundaries. Public Land Access Network, RMEF also utilizes The Master Hunter program, however, gave him a tools like conservation easements, access agreements, deeper understanding of access easements and land ranching and the challenges purchases. But Doherty of land ownership. Schwalbe said the most important walked away thinking of ways work is done on the ground We’re proving to he could “mend some fences,” and involves RMEF as an he said with a laugh, “literally intermediary, listening landowners that there are and figuratively.” “What I to and meeting both sides thoughtful hunters and we’re really appreciated was that it’s where they are. always better, isn’t it, if you showing the hunting community This type of work—that try to come to a solution that which proactively builds that there are open-minded works for everyone? It makes relationships and increases landowners. That it doesn’t have everyone look better. As the level of commonality, hunters, we recreate and love education and investment in to be divisive, or us versus them, having access and landowners the land—has been the most as it is in the media or within are just trying to run a powerful in creating change interest groups. business and take care of the on this issue in Montana. land. Why would you drive a One such program, called - ZACH BROWN wedge between that?” Master Hunter, was launched in 2018 by One Montana working group Common Ground. The program’s six-week curriculum, which was developed by landowners, trains hunters to understand ranching, farming and forestry, noxious weed management, the North American conservation model, and state hunting regulations, in addition to helping FWP also facilitates and funds similar annual service programs them sharpen their shooting skills. So far, the program like erecting fences and cattle guards or building parking lots, has graduated 90 Master Hunters who now have access which benefit access and show appreciation. That appreciation to lands owned by 17 landowners. Beyond opening goes a long way toward maintaining these often fragile up access, the program’s most meaningful outcomes relationships. stem from an increased sense of commonality and “[Landowners] host the public’s natural resources and wildlife understanding between all involved, Brown said. “We’re and that’s a huge honor and responsibility for them,” said Rocky proving to landowners that there are thoughtful hunters Mountain Elk Foundation’s Doherty. “It’s a job that deserves and we’re showing the hunting community that there gratitude.” are open-minded landowners. That it doesn’t have to be Many don’t realize what landowners as well as state and divisive or us versus them as it is in the media or within federal agencies do on behalf of the public to keep these places interest groups.” accessible, protected and pristine, which makes it increasingly Among its other initiatives, Common Ground is also important that recreationalists on any type of land, public or working closely with one ranch, Snowcrest Ranch in private, are also good stewards. Montana’s Ruby Mountains, to create a service-for-access “It’s rewarding to give someone permission without strings program. Brown explained that the ranch is currently attached,” Mannix explained. “And on the same hand, I don’t like

IN ALL THINGS, GRATITUDE

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LAND: MENDING FENCES

to be taken advantage of or to feel like I’m, or the land is, being taken for granted. Respect goes a long way for me, whether that’s shutting gates behind you or picking up your trash.” And while a few bad apples can ruin the experience for the rest, Mannix believes that the positive interactions he’s had—and there are many— make it all worth the effort. “There are families and hunting groups who bring gifts and treats, who buy us gift certificates to restaurants, who help with maintenance projects,” he said. “Those are just neighborly things to do. Those are the things out there to celebrate.” Governor Bullock for his remaining time in office, and whatever lies beyond 2020 for him, remains committed to finding ways to celebrate and preserve Montana’s outdoor heritage and values, and thinks others can, too. “We all own those lands equally,” Bullock said. “You don’t have to be from the West to recognize the importance of these places. But then being grounded in the West, as I am and have been, to not recognize the importance of these lands to our economy, to our environmental health, to our physical health and well being, I think we’d be missing something.” Montanans, Westerners and Americans all stand on common ground: public lands and a uniting appreciation for them. Cooperation, collaboration and the programs that bring people together over coffee and kitchen tables go a long way toward helping folks realize a profound truth: the one thing they’ve been arguing over is because they all deeply love that same thing.

Wardens from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks explain issues they experience on a landlocked parcel outside of Bozeman each fall. PHOTO COURTESY OF JESS MCGLOTHLIN

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Claire Cella, a New York state native, never imagined herself living in the West. Now after just four years here, she can’t imagine herself living anywhere else. When she’s not working for the Wyoming Outdoor Council in Lander, she’s outside enjoying the West’s exceptional access any way she can.

PHOTO COURTESY OF RMEF


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BIG SKY LOCATIONS Town Center 88 Ousel Falls Road Suite B 406.995.4009

Mountain Mall Across from the Pendleton Store 406.995.5583

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(406) 586-9707 www.amerigas.com


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1970

2020

CARIBOOS • MONASHEES • ROCKY MOUNTAINS

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BIG SKY’S

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EASTER EGGS / P. 106

EDUARDO GARCIA / P. 108

RECIPE GUIDE / P. 115

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C U LT U R E

the

P R O J E C T NO LIFT TICKET? NO PROBLEM I GOT A TETON PASS BY SCOTT DAVIDSON

HIGHWAY 22 WINDS CLIFFS AND UP TETON PASS, separating Victor, Idaho from Wilson, Wyoming. Thousands of travelers drive the road each day commuting to Jackson or hitting the resorts in winter. But what draws me to that same stretch of highway is the skiable terrain; more than 36,000 acres of it. The top of Teton pass is just over 8,000 feet and allows parking for up to 60 vehicles in winter making it difficult to park on a powder day. I find it best to park my truck each morning at the famous Stagecoach Bar on the Wilson/Jackson side, stick out my thumb and hitchhike to the top. It never takes long for someone to pick me up and share the 10-minute ride to the top. These locals are some of the most helping, compassionate people I’ve ever met. They love to chat and live vicariously through my ski lines. Over the years I’ve shared countless beautiful moments with some of the most unique people on the planet. I love asking people why they picked me up and what they’re doing that day, and their amazing stories inspired me to create The Teton Pass Project. >>

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THE FIRST, IN NOVEMBER 2017, came from a gentleman who scooped me up on his way to grab his wife’s baby bag in Driggs; she had just gone into labor. When I asked him why he picked me up, he said, “I wanted to tell someone that I’m going to be a dad.” It was moving. The fact that this man took time out of this special day to help me out shows what kind of community we have here in Jackson. I wanted to share it with others. After I’m picked up and nearing the top of the pass, I ask the driver if I can take their photograph, and I explain the project. Not one person has said no. I pull out a Polaroid camera and snap two photographs, one for me and one for them. I find that the Polaroid creates a natural and more comfortable setting compared to a large DSLR camera. The images become romanticized highlighted by faded colors and imperfections. There’s something about watching a Polaroid develop that brings a smile to their faces. It’s like unwrapping a gift: you never know what you’re going to get. I ski Teton Pass nearly every day in winter, hitchhiking to the top every time. It’s not something everyone feels comfortable doing, but in this community and unique scenario it’s one of the reasons I love skiing the Pass. The folks that pick me up add a little something extra to that powder day.

TOP: Interlaced photos depict the parking area at the summit of Teton Pass. PHOTOS BY SCOTT DAVIDSON

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TETON PASS NUMBERS

3/4 50/50 2/5 1/8 100%

VEHICLES ARE PICKUP TRUCKS

MALE / FEMALE

SKING THAT DAY

NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING

AGREE TO PHOTO


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THE DRIVERS

Nick

Sami

Christian

Nick picked me up in the most massive diesel dually I have ever seen. You never want to run into Nick when he’s at work. Why? He’s a repo man and doesn’t take crap from anyone. Nick told me about the time a man pulled a shotgun on him while he was repossessing the guy’s car. He took the gun right out of the guy’s arms then took the car. Nick is tough as nails but has a huge heart.

Before I even unclicked my skis, Sami asked me if I wanted a ride. She told me she keeps a logbook of hitchhiking the pass in the summer and claims she’s given over a hundred rides. After I took her photograph, I guess I wasn’t super clear with where to sign the Polaroid.

When Christian pulled over, I noticed the words “Taxi” on the side of his vehicle. I looked into the car and saw a woman sitting in the back seat. Christian, the driver gestured to me to jump in the front and away we went. The woman was his fare and he had driven her to test drive a car in Driggs. The car turned out to be a junker and now he was giving her a ride back to Jackson. On their way back Christian picked me up free of charge. He claims it was his good deed for the day.

Mike and Jean

Henry

Mark & the Mystery Machine

Mike came to Yellowstone National Park on a vacation from Scotland 15 years ago. When he ran out of money he landed a job here in the Tetons. The rest is history. He was very proud of his baby and asked if I would take a photograph with her, too.

Henry picked me up on Old Pass Road. He had moved to Jackson two weeks earlier from Boulder, Colorado, and was driving to Rexburg, Idaho, to cash a check because he didn’t have a local Jackson bank account yet. He still needed a job and a place to live, a common problem for many people around these parts.

When I saw this thing pull over, I thought Scooby Doo and the gang were going to jump out and solve a mystery. Instead the five folks in the van just wanted to shred powder on the pass. Mark imports vintage vans from Japan and resells them here in the U.S. This awesome little rig is a diesel 1992 Mitsubishi Delica. Zoinks!

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YOU’VE SEEN AND HEARD OUR WORK SOUND & LIGHTING | EVENT PRODUCTION | HOME & COMMERCIAL INSTALLS JERECOSTUDIOS.COM | 888.776.5582

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DISCOVER

Linda Swope

Teton Valley

Explore snow-packed trails, experience endless ski terrain, delight in must-try restaurants, and stay in unbeatable accommodations perfect for any winter-wonderland getaway—whatever you’re searching for, it’s all waiting in Teton Valley, Idaho.

Linda Swope

Snowmobiling? Stop by the Teton Basin Ranger District headquarters in Driggs for trail information.

discovertetonvalley.com

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CULTURE

A SLIGHTL Y CRACKE D EASTER STORY

BY EDNOR THERRIAULT SPRINGTIME IN MONTANA IS A WONDERFUL AWAKENING.

It’s a time when crocuses and tulips tentatively push their colorful shoots through the thawing soil, and the landscape begins to shrug off another long, hard winter’s worth of snow, exposing all that dog crap in the backyard. One of the official harbingers of spring is Easter, which means so many different things to all of us. You know what Easter means to you. If you’re Christian, Easter celebrates the resurrection of Christ three days after his crucifixion, as described in the New Testament, wrapping up a 40-day observance that begins with Lent. The Jewish faith celebrates Passover, which sometimes overlaps Easter and commemorates the freeing of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. For us secular humanists, Easter means eggs are a buck a dozen at Albertsons. Whatever your religious leanings, when it comes to the “Big Three” candy-producing holidays, Easter is right up there with Christmas and Halloween. Throw in a few piñata birthday parties and your kids will have a year-round supply of candy,

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and your dentist will be able to buy that third home in the Hamptons. Everybody wins. And who delivers all that candy to your home on Easter? No, not Amazon, although they’re surely involved somewhere in the supply chain. I’m talking about the Easter Bunny, of course. The whole Easter Bunny legend has its roots in Germany, not surprising for a culture that gave us such horrifying things as the accordion, Nosferatu, and Hefeweizen beer. The Americanized version of the Easter Bunny goes something like this: The mysterious nocturnal creature is said to enter each home the night before Easter when the kids are asleep, and when they wake up at oh-dark-thirty the next morning they hunt around for the baskets hidden by this giant, night-dwelling rodent that reportedly wears a colorful felt vest and wire-rimmed glasses. And, oddly, no pants. Never pants. When the delighted children locate the baskets, they’re overjoyed to find nestled in a bed of plastic grass—in a variety of colors that don’t appear in nature—a bounty of candy and small toys, a chocolate likeness of the bunny himself, and a clutch of brightly colored eggs, purportedly laid by said rabbit. And you thought the Santa Claus story was far-fetched.

ILLUSTRATION BY KELSEY DZINTARS


THE EASTER EGG IS THE CHILDHOOD CURRENCY

of this holiday and the best way to amass a fortune in hard-boiled chicken ova is to hunt for them. Easter Egg hunts are everywhere. There’s always an Easter egg hunt at your local university and they even have an Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn, a tradition that dates back to 1878 during the Gilded Age, a time of American prosperity when chocolate rabbits were still solid. These public events rarely use actual eggs, preferring to give the kids a hollow, plastic, lawsuit-resistant egg that contains a piece of candy, or perhaps a coupon for a free car detailing. When my kids were still in grade school we hosted a few Easter egg hunts at our house, also using plastic eggs. Over the years, I gained a distinct reputation as an unreliable egg stuffer. Occasionally when I ran out of candy, I’d put in a couple small rocks or perhaps some drywall screws. Whichever kid found one of those eggs— Finding some pea usually high up in a tree— gravel in an egg was would rattle it and crack it nothing compared open only to be disappointed to the Sugar Babies and somewhat confused. I Incident of 2005, always thought it provided a however, which valuable life lesson. I wish I earned me a lifetime could remember what it was. ban from eggFinding some pea gravel in stuffing and almost an egg was nothing compared ruined that year’s to the Sugar Babies Incident egg hunt. of 2005, however, which earned me a lifetime ban from egg-stuffing and almost ruined that year’s egg hunt. I’d poured a full bag of Sugar Babies next to a pile of deer droppings in the front yard, and as soon as I had an audience of three or four kids I got down on all fours and started popping Sugar Babies into my mouth. The resulting panic caused a few tears and strained some friendships, and I imagine was responsible for a couple kids requiring intensive therapy a few years down the road. Even though I’m not allowed to stuff plastic eggs anymore, I still like to color the real ones. Once our kids were old enough to get into the act, it really got fun. We always get that Paas egg-dyeing kit from the grocery store, the kind where you drop a tablet of dye into a cup of vinegar. As a drinking man who’s encountered more than one wastebasket-sized jar of pickled eggs behind the bar at countless watering

holes, this makes total sense to me. We cover the kitchen table with a plastic tablecloth and set up a series of on-the-rocks glasses, which are just the right size for one egg. Or for one cocktail to be enjoyed while the eggs are boiling. Both kids and my wife are pretty artistic and our Easter egg coloring sessions have, of late, taken on a competitive edge. We started augmenting the dye with Sharpies, crayons, glitter, sequins, Swarovski crystals, feathers and other supplies you might find in the closeout bin at Michael’s. I got into the spirit too, and eventually found myself spending three hours on one egg, when everybody else had tricked out a dozen apiece. I realized I was in too deep last year when my wife intervened while I was at the kitchen counter shooting a video of an egg that was covered in meticulous black Sharpie lines, carefully patterned after a spinning wheel in an obscure television demonstration from the early 1950s. “Watch this,” I said as I hit the record button and gave the egg a spin. “Even if you’re watching this on a black and white TV, you should be seeing colors on this egg.” My daughter also realized I had a problem when, two Easters ago, I’d used Sharpies to color one egg in bright yellows, reds and oranges to look like flames were shooting up from the butt end. I taped a length of fishing line to the pointy end, and had my daughter capture a video while I slowly lowered the suspended egg toward the lens, all the while screaming, “Oh my God, Houston! We’ve reentered the atmosphere at too steep an angle! We’re burning aliiiiive!” Even with my sloth-like production speed, we’re left every Easter with several dozen hard-boiled eggs all colored up with no place to go. It’s a good thing I love eggs. That reminds me—I’ve also been asked by my family to quit pulling a Cool Hand Luke on my son: “My boy says he can eat 50 eggs, he can eat 50 eggs.” However you celebrate Easter, I hope you and your family have a good one this year. Maybe I’ll start an online petition: If we can get the Easter Bunny to cut out the middleman, he can just bring egg salad sandwiches. Ednor Therriault is a Missoula-based humorist, writer and musician who has published six books and released five CDs of original music under the moniker Bob Wire.

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THE

TENDER THORNS OF EDUARDO GARCIA

STORY BY MICHAEL SOMERBY PHOTOS BY KENE SPERRY

FIVE DAYS WITH EDUARDO

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A

n armada of raspberry bush thorns bury themselves into the flesh of Chef Eduardo Garcia’s arm. It’s a grey, mid-September afternoon in Gallatin Gateway, Montana, and the chef is tending his permaculture garden. He uses his right forearm, bare from rolled flannel sleeves, to push back the overgrown tendrils of the massive fruit bush. The thorns leave white and pink scratches from wrist to elbow. He doesn’t notice. The act seems illogical: Garcia’s prosthetic-capped left arm would effectively prevent the plant-borne wounds. But get to know him and you realize it’s right on brand. “I just get in there. You might get a little scratched up but that’s what Mother Nature’s all about,” says Garcia, CEO of Montana Mex, a savory and unique seasonings, spices and cooking oils company he started with members of his family and close friends back in 2010. “The harder you work toward something, the sweeter the reward. I’m just a little bit of a masochist for that type of stuff.” Nothing in Garcia’s quest to achieve harmony with nature and the nourishment it provides comes easily. Take his permaculture garden, a one-acre plot of earth that is a plain beast to manage—even for someone with two working hands. Driving his shovel into a potato patch packed hard with rain and near-frosts, his right hand and the two anterior prongs of his prosthetic align the handle into position as his foot provides the oomph to break apart the soil. He stoops, snapping apart the clumps of earth to reveal purple and red and golden potatoes, tossing them into a bucket for the evening’s meal. “It’s like mining,” Garcia says. Looking at his left arm clad in plastic, nylon cord and metal he adds, “Sometimes, and only barely, it makes [cooking] cool, but more often than not it’s like, ‘Damn I wish I had my hand back.’ You know what I mean? But I don’t ever find myself losing sleep over it.” To contend that the 2011 accident that nearly claimed Garcia’s life was the sole facilitator of his intimate connection to the landscapes of the Greater Yellowstone, the regal creatures that roam it and the fruits it bares is to romanticize the incident and the man left in its wake—he earned his admiration through a lifetime of hunting, fishing, foraging and exploring those wilds. “Out there in the rolling hills, deep forests and steep craggy faces I see a multivitamin of sorts,” Garcia wrote on a #PublicLandsMonth Instagram post last September. “A timeless equation ripe with complete mind, body and soul nutrition … Out there in the dirt and the wind exists a magic, a secret sauce for our spirit. A comfort food that at every step and every bite feels innately like going home.” It’s impossible to ignore that Garcia, an avid outdoorsman, is also a chef, a profession requiring ample dexterity. The story behind the prosthetic arm doesn’t merely lend weight to his world-class abilities. It adds to the richness of his person.

More than eight years ago, during a solo bow-hunting expedition in the Paradise Valley of southwest Montana, Garcia spotted dead bear in a drainage. Prodding a paw with a hunting knife in hopes of prying off a claw, 2,400 volts of electricity coursed through his body: The bear had become entangled in the wiring of a neglected electrical junction box, which destroyed the bear before nearly killing Garcia, too. Two thousand, four hundred volts. As low as 42 volts have been known to kill a human. He was a “bag of bones with a heartbeat,” according to the doctor on call at the University of Utah Burn Center in Salt Lake City, where a then-31-year-old Garcia was airlifted after willing his way on foot back to safety. Infection in the damaged tissue of his left hand required an amputation to keep it from spreading to his heart. He would spend 50 days in the center’s intensive care unit and endure 21 surgeries over the following two years. For Garcia, dubbed the “Bionic Chef,” a man who remains impressively grounded despite a steadily growing celebrity since the accident, every moment of toil that goes into a mundane potato harvest is celebrated. They become cherished pieces in a story essential to dish those potatoes, and include using a prosthetic to dig them up. That part of the potatoes’ story is relatively unimportant for Garcia. The bits that are, however, include the folks behind every note of flavor on every plate he serves up hot from a bed of coals or cast iron skillet. >>

Garcia breaking apart the earth in search of potatoes, a sweatinducing, yet worthy, task.

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One obvious absent presence was that of a father; Garcia’s mother and father had separated when he was but a few months old, and the future chef wouldn’t meet his dad until he was 13 years old. Only later in their lives would “Papi” become a major source of inspiration, straddling the line of role model and cherished friend. Another was that of purpose, of vocation. Cooking played a large part in his deliverance after he landed a job in the Chico Hot Springs kitchen at 15. It was an experience he calls “ground zero,” where he stood on the precipice of delinquency and a life made complete through food.

It’s about a connection to those flavors that goes beyond simply tasting them; it’s about establishing a community through the power of food. “I call it a ‘Weed and Feed,’ inviting folks to come out for a breakfast or a lunch or a dinner, and having there be some kind of work to be done beforehand,” Garcia says. “You’re connecting over shared goals, you’re connecting over food. There’s now a shared story and something added to that garlic you harvested and cleaned a month earlier.” Garcia wants you to remember the driving rain that backdropped planting the bulbs, the cold winds that cut through jackets during harvest—never the woes of navigating the busy aisles of a grocery mart, or the afternoon traffic endured to get there. The effort is always worth it. “Once the work is done, I don’t overthink it. I’ll open up a good bottle of wine or bourbon, grill some burgers and invite some homies over to eat and help clean it all up.” The legacy of togetherness through harvest—food as a whole—carries over from his youth when he worked the fields of the Church Universal and Triumphant in the Paradise Valley after moving there at 5 years old with his older sister, twin brother and mother from his first home in the Van Nuys neighborhood of Los Angeles. The church operated as any other, Garcia says, only they derived much of their spirituality from a “huge fricking property” where the congregation worked the land and animals together. Yet, Garcia was no altar boy. At age 11, he was shoplifting cigarettes and pilfering beers, earning his first ride in the back of a cop car at 12. By 14, he was smoking pot and by 15 had dabbled in psychedelics, cocaine and speed. “I always lived in a house full of love, but one mom trying to do it all is naturally outnumbered by the kids,” says Garcia, stripping fragrant leaves from fresh sprigs of lemon thyme in his home’s rustic brick and stucco kitchen. “So at a certain point there was just opportunity to fall into the cracks, to seek whatever was missing.” 110

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A few hours have passed since Garcia pushed the raspberry bush back into order, and a select group of kids from Big Sky Youth Empowerment, the Bozeman-based social service for at-risk teens, pours out of cars in Garcia’s driveway. They’ve arrived for the third installation of a three-part workshop, sponsored by Montana Mex, that taught them how to plant, tend, harvest and cook produce. The chef welcomes them, parents and organizers in tow, with bear hugs and words of friendship. As the teenagers amble through the garden, nibbling on bits of herbs, fruits and vegetables in the Eden-like jumble of produce,


Garcia stokes the coals and assembles the last pieces of the evening’s meal: watermelon with mint, lime and chili seasoning, barbecue chicken, Mexican street-style corn, potato salad and a cast-iron-baked strawberry rhubarb pie. The kids rotate duties, some flipping ears of corn and chicken breasts, some plucking the dry skin from garlic bulbs—others skirt duties altogether for more time among the raspberry bushes, asparagus stalks and apple trees.

LEFT: Eduardo Garcia and his twin brother Eugenio as kids in the Paradise Valley, an area of southwest Montana known for its ample wildlife and natural beauty. PHOTO COURTESY OF EDUARDO GARCIA BOTTOM: Garcia sharing words of love and gratefulness with members of Big Sky Youth Empowernent, in a sense blessing a meal earned through community.

“I have no interest in just trying to run a business

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MONTANA MEX

BBQ CHICKEN RECIPE Serves: 6 Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 45 minutes

2 pounds chicken thigh, bone in and skin on 1/4 cup fresh thyme, roughly chopped 1/4 cup fresh oregano, rough chopped 1 lemon, zested and juiced 1 tablespoon Montana Mex Chile seasoning 1 teaspoon Montana Mex Jalapeno seasoning 1 teaspoon Montana Mex Sweet seasoning 2 tablespoons Montana Mex Avocado oil 2 tablespoons Montana Mex BBQ sauce

In a large bowl, add all ingredients except Montana Mex BBQ sauce. Work the marinade into the chicken evenly, and let sit in a refrigerator for up to two days (though grilling immediately works too). Once marinated, heat a grill to a medium-low heat, placing the chicken skin side down on a cleaned and seasoned grill grate. Grill the chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 F, and be sure to turn and rotate throughout cooking process so that chicken browns and cooks evenly. Baste the chicken with BBQ sauce throughout the cooking process.

*

CHEF’S NOTE: “I change how and when I add the BBQ sauce all the time, so it really depends on what you like here. For a stickier, more caramelized chicken, use a grill brush to baste with BBQ sauce throughout the cooking process. Enjoy!”

for profit or success in any stereotypical sense,” he says peeling back the charred cornhusks. “I have the ability to see myself in these kids. What would I have done without food coming into my life, without purpose?” To some, Garcia’s life seems a bounty, traveling around the globe and starring in sponsored cooking, hunting and foraging videos that have racked up millions of views on YouTube and other platforms. But Lanai, the southern reaches Yucatan Peninsula, and even the Texas portion of the Gulf of Mexico are far from home in Montana, far from evenings spent harvesting and cooking meals with friends, family and those that need his spirit most. “I feel like I say yes to too many things and it ends up diluting my ability to turn a bright light on in the room that I really want to be in,” Garcia says. “I end up shining dull lights in lots of places.” Yet, on this September evening, his hazel eyes alight watching the kids bounce through the vegetation. It’s easy to see that for Garcia, this is a story worth more than concerns of tomorrow. “I’m proud to be working, right now, for this.” .................................................................

BELOW: Garcia is a giving man, sharing his love for food with BYEP teens, among other countless examples.


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COOKING

the KIDS with

RECIPES SPANNING GENERATIONS

THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT HARD WINTERS IN THE MOUNTAINS THAT INSPIRES SOME OF THE BEST CUISINE OUT THERE, AND THERE’S A COZINESS ASSOCIATED WITH THESE COLD-WEATHER DISHES THAT DELIGHT IN WAYS A SUMMER BARBECUE CAN’T. The answers are simple: wafting, mouthwatering scents throughout the house, fire-lit rooms in which to feast, an emphasis on the hearty and, most importantly, togetherness in the pursuit of beating the chill with comfort food the fam can cook together. As a parent, uncle, aunt, grandmother or grandfather, few cabined moments are as charming as those spent with the youngest members of the family tree. Adults are time and time again inspired by the whimsical and imaginative qualities of kids, and we can promise cooking with them, passing along recipes that transcend generations and space, is time never wasted. Three recipes from members of the Mountain Outlaw team tell stories of heritage, tradition, family and togetherness. Try your hand at one or all with the little ones in your household. Better yet, break out the family cookbook and find recipes from your own DNA. Then, for some alone time once the kitchen is clean, head to Tanglewood in Bozeman for a well-earned date-night dinner or glass of wine with your sweetheart. – The Editors

Sunday Morning Sleepe r Buns 1 loaf frozen bread dough 1 stick butter, melted 4 ounces butterscotch pudding mix (not instant) 1/2 cup brown sugar 1/2 cup chopped nuts (baker’s choice)

Allow the dough to soften and grease a bread bundt pan. Slice the dough into 1/2-inch slices and add them to the pan, pouring the melted butter over them once positioned. Sprinkle the dry pudding mix over the dough and melted butter then pour brown sugar and chopped nut mixture on top. Cover with greased saran wrap and leave on the counter overnight. In the morning, bake at 325 F for 25-30 minutes. Invert the pan and serve hot. Enjoy with a mimosa (adults only!). “This is a Midwestern brunch or lazy morning staple that comes from my wife’s grandmother in Harbor Beach, Michigan. The family doesn’t have much of an opportunity to all get together more than a couple times per year, and this recipe is a staple at every gathering. It’s very simple, but delicious and allows for a fun time in the kitchen for siblings to reconnect over a mimosa and family stories. We usually make sleeper buns at every holiday.” – EJ Daws, VP Sales and Marketing


Lefse - Norwegian potato pancakes

5 pounds Russet potatoes, peeled, boiled and riced 1/2 cup evaporated milk 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour 1/2 cup butter 1 teaspoon salt 1 tablespoon sugar Cover potatoes with water and cook until tender then run hot potatoes through a potato ricer. Place in a large bowl. Beat butter, milk, salt, and sugar into the hot riced potatoes. Divide into two batches and let cool in fridge overnight. When ready to cook, stir 2.5 cups flour into 4 cups of the potato mixture (a food processor with dough blade works great). Mix until soft dough forms then roll dough into small walnut-sized balls.  Heat griddle to 500 F. Generously flour a pastry board and roll out balls into 1/8-inch thickness, cook on hot griddle until bubbles form and each side has browned (approximately 30 seconds per side). Place on a damp towel to cool slightly and then cover until serving to prevent drying out. Nyte!

ROADHOUSE SHRIMP & GRITS Sautéed shrimp, Bovine and Swine Andouille Smoked Sausage, Cheddar Grits, Tabasco Butter and Scallions GRITS:

SERVES 4-5

4 Cups milk 1 Cup grits 1 Stick butter 1/2 Pound white cheddar, shredded Pinch salt and pepper -Heat milk -Add grits, cook over low heat stirring often -Fold in cheese, salt and pepper when grits are ready

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PUB & EATERY

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Spoon 3 ounces of cheddar grits onto plate. Pour shrimp and andouille sauté over warm grits, garnish with chopped scallions and enjoy with a Roadhouse IPA!

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Country French chicken soup with salsa verde Serves 4

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chicken thighs, diced canola oil red wine homemade chicken stock each: diced carrot, onion, celery fresh garlic, minced dry thyme, oregano, and parsley Dijon mustard Salt to taste braised chicken drummette per order

Salsa Verde S 1/2 C each cilantro and 1 tablespoon parsley chopped chopped garlic 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil 2 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon red chili flakes mix ingredients

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The original “Teddy’s” bear on display at the National Museum of American History. SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION ARCHIVES

Theodore Roosevelt in the West. LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

Teddy’s Bear BY KATE HULL

LEGEND AND LORE BEHIND THE CUDDLY STUFFED FAVORITE

THE TEDDY BEAR IS A MAINSTAY IN CHILDHOOD MEMORIES. These cuddly characters have brightened birthdays and Christmases for more than a century and, as symbols of youth and comfort, teddy bears are sold by the millions and remain a top collector’s item. But have you heard the tale behind the bear? Ties to the long-lasting popularity and emotional value placed on teddy bears can be traced back to the origin of these furry favorites. In 1902, thenpresident Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt accepted a hunting trip invitation to Mississippi after a highly public coal-strike crisis was absolved, according to Smithsonian archives. The 10-day venture took place near Vicksburg and was led by prolific hunting guide and former slave Holt Collier. Various stories of that trip depict Roosevelt as being impatient to pursue a bear, hoping to find one the first day. While scouting ahead, Collier tracked a large, old black bear with his dogs and was able to knock it over the head with his gun and tie it to the tree. Collier wanted Roosevelt to have the honor of shooting the bear. Arriving at the scene, Roosevelt saw a nearly dead bruin tied up and refused to shoot it, calling it unsportsmanlike. “It’s true that T.R. said ‘I can’t shoot a tied-up bear,” said Ted Roosevelt, the former president’s great grandson and the managing director at Barclay’s Capital Corp. “He had a concept of fair chase that was very clear; the old lion loved hunting but it had to be done in an ethical way.” News of Roosevelt’s leniency spread. On November 17, 1902, The Washington Post ran a political cartoon by artist Clifford K. Berryman showing Roosevelt with his back turned to a bear cub that had a rope around his neck and sad eyes, with the words, “Drawing the line in Mississippi,” written across.


CULTURE: TEDDY’S BEAR

Brooklyn candy store owner Morris Michtom saw the cartoon of the bear cub and an idea sparked. He showed his wife, Rose, a talented seamstress, and asked her to create a children’s toy like the bear in the cartoon. He called it “Teddy’s bear.” The adorable stuffed toy was an instant hit, but Morris was concerned about using Roosevelt’s name. He wrote the president asking for permission and included a stuffed bear. Roosevelt let them use his name, and the teddy bear cemented its place in American history.

HE HAD A CONCEPT OF FAIR CHASE THAT WAS VERY CLEAR; THE OLD LION LOVED HUNTING BUT IT HAD TO BE DONE IN AN ETHICAL WAY.

- ROOSEVELT’S GREAT GRANDSON TED ROOSEVELT

Dr. Lori Verderame, a Ph.D. antiques appraiser and art historian, says the details of that day may have been exaggerated over the years, but the teddy bear’s legacy and ties to politics are firm. Verderame attributes the stuffed bear’s international cultural staying power to its continued use in politics of that time as an image of perseverance. “[Roosevelt’s] role in the construction of the Panama Canal in 1914, which changed the face of international relations and worldwide trade, made the teddy bear a symbol of power and perseverance,” she says. Political cartoons and postcards depicted jovial cartoon bears digging the canal, a metaphor for Roosevelt’s commitment to finishing the canal. “Since that time, teddy bears have remained popular childhood toys always in an effort to instill such important qualities in American youngsters,” she says adding that teddys are among the most popular objects at more than 150 appraisal events she presents each year. Today, one of the original velvet fabric stuffed bears is on display at the American Presidency gallery at the National Museum of American History. Whether the centuryold Roosevelt tale is all true or peppered with some extra color is hard to say. But no matter, Teddy’s bear is a household favorite.

Clifford K. Berryman’s 1902 political cartoon printed in The Washington Post depicts President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt declining to shoot a tied-up bear. The cartoon led to the name of the stuffed “Teddy’s” bear. IMAGE COURTESY OF THE HARVARD CLUB OF NYC

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1| BLUELAND: NON-TOXIC CLEANERS

REVIEW IN

GREEN THE BEST ECO-FRIENDLY PRODUCTS ON EARTH THE FACTS ARE STAGGERING: 14 BILLION

Blueland has revolutionized the cleaning product industry. Now, instead of trashing a single-use plastic spray bottle, simply refill a Blueland shatterproof, BPA-free acrylic bottle with water, drop in a tablet of concentrated cleaning solution, and begin cleaning within minutes. Skeptical? Investor and star of ABS’s Shark Tank Kevin O’Leary, aka “Mr. Wonderful,” recently gave the company a $9 million valuation. Products include hand soap, bathroom cleaner, glass and mirror cleaner, and multi-surface cleaner. blueland.com

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POUNDS OF PLASTIC ARE DUMPED INTO THE OCEAN EACH YEAR; THE WORLD PRODUCES 400 MILLION TONS OF PLASTIC ANNUALLY, WITH SINGLE-USE PLASTICS COMPRISING 50 PERCENT OF THAT FIGURE; 90 PERCENT OF THE

2 | BITE TOOTHPASTE BITS

WATER WE DRINK CONTAINS PLASTIC;

Annually, over a billion tubes of toothpaste end up in landfills and 400 million of those are attributed to Americans alone. And because toothpaste tubes are made with a unique blend of aluminum and plastic, they are nearly impossible to recycle. Bite Toothpaste Bits is changing the game, not only with glass containers but also with toothpaste tablets. All Bite Toothpaste Bits deliveries, including refills via subscription service, come in recycled, biodegradable packaging. bitetoothpastebits.com

BY 2050, THE OCEAN WILL CONTAIN MORE PLASTIC BY WEIGHT THAN FISH, ACCORDING TO THE WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM. The most bone-chilling fact? We don’t know how this pollution will affect our planet and personal health. There isn’t enough historical data to make ironclad

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predictions, but signs are grim: The world is taking a beating at the hands of humans. The last five years have been the hottest five on record, and catastrophe after catastrophe pummels our precious environments and subsequently the lives of millions of humans and animals worldwide; typhoons and hurricanes ravage our coasts, unprecedented wildfires tear gashes through huge

3 | STASHER BAGS

swathes of forested lands while droughts drop whole ecosystems into nothingness. It can feel somewhat a helpless situation, but here at Mountain Outlaw magazine, published in the pristine wilds of Big Sky, Montana, we believe we each have a responsibility to make positive change. Here are some products to help get the ball rolling. – The Editors

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Americans use 100 billion plastic bags a year, requiring 12 million barrels of oil to manufacture, a portion of which is comprised of single-use food storage bags. Eek. Enter Stasher bags. Non-toxic, reusable, 100 percent recyclable, resistant to temperatures up to 400 F, microwave and dishwasher safe, oven and freezer ready, and available in “pocket” to a halfgallon sizes, Stasher bags are the logical replacement for single-use food storage bags. Environmental impacts aside, have you ever baked veggies or sous vide a roast in a Ziploc? We didn’t think so. stasherbag.com


REVIEW 4

4 | BEE’S WRAP A solution to wasteful and environment-damaging plastic food wraps, like Saran, Bee’s Wraps are a reusable, sustainable, plastic-free and biodegradable food storage option. Use the warmth from your hands to fold a Bee’s Wrap around any food-storage need—cooling will hold the shape and form a seal. Use it again and again, and once it’s time to re-up on a new Bee’s Wrap, chop the old one into bits and toss into your compost pile. beeswrap.com

5 | BRUSH WITH BAMBOO The plastic toothbrush is a dinosaur, non-biodegradable, and a billion of them are trashed each year in the U.S. Imagine something better. Brush with Bamboo to the rescue, a toothbrush made almost entirely out of plant materials, with plans to be 100 percent plant-based in 2020. Made with an organic bamboo handle and castor bean-based bristles, and packaged in compostable paper boxes, Brush with Bamboo toothbrushes just might be the silver bullet in eliminating plastic toothbrushes forever. brushwithbamboo.com

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6 | TRU EARTH LAUNDRY STRIPS Tru Earth’s concept is simple—pack all the laundry cleaning goodness found in a capful of Downy or Tide into a low-profile, eco-friendly strip of paper. Ultra-concentrated, paraben-, chlorine-, 1,4-Dioxane and phosphate-free, biodegradable, vegan and hypoallergenic, these pre-measured strips of laundry detergent work in all types of washing machines. Now ask yourself: Why do I need to buy a clunky, plastic (read: oil) guzzling detergent bottle ever again? Answer: I don’t. tru.earth

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7 | HYDRO FLASK WIDE MOUTH BOTTLE Globally, humans purchase 1 million plastic water bottles every single minute. Do the math and you’re looking at nearly 530 billion plastic water bottles a year, 91 percent of which don’t get recycled. Reusable plastic water bottles are nothing new but not everyone uses one, which we think is silly. The Hydro Flask Wide Mouth Bottle line is perhaps the best on the market. With an easy-fill opening, dishwasher-safe proprietary powder coating and the ability to keep drinks cold for 24 hours (and hot for 12), you’ll never look at a single-use plastic bottle the same way again. Did we mention they’re 100 percent recyclable, BPA- and toxin-free? Do yourself (and Earth) a favor: make the switch. hydroflask.com

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8 8 | REEL BAMBOO TOILET PAPER Everyday, 27,000 trees are cut down to make paper you use to, well, you know. So here’s the rub: bamboo is the fastest growing plant on the planet. Growing up to 3 feet every 24 hours, bamboo uses 30 percent less water and gives out 35 percent more oxygen than hardwood trees. It’s also easier to harvest and never needs to be replanted if done properly. The toilet has long been hailed as a place for thinking, and these 100-percent bamboo, three-ply, biodegradable and inkfree rolls might just get you thinking bigger picture. reelpaper.com

9 | PLANETBOX Remember the days of packing your lunch in a lunchbox? Why did we stop, instead opting for Ziploc bags or takeout packed in Styrofoam and plastic shells? Consider a PlanetBox: eco-friendly, non-toxic, nonleaching, BPA-, lead- and phthalates-free, dishwashersafe, keenly designed and incredibly durable. This sleek, stainless-steel food carrier, which comes in three models and can be transported in stylish wraps, sleeves and carry bags, is a smart way to kick plastic and Styrofoam to the curb. Don’t be a child about it. Buy a lunchbox. planetbox.com

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A LOOK

IN THE MIRROR

It’s easy to point fingers and blame the government, industry and social practices for our plastic woes and environment-damaging consumption. The reality is, change must occur on both a macro and micro level. Take a look in the mirror: How are you taking a stand? Without using the products listed, this is what your annual impact might look like. Multiply by 7.5 billion people, and the result is truly horrifying.

ONE PERSON’S ANNUAL IMPACT 1/2 A TREE WORTH OF TOILET PAPER 365 SINGLE-USE BOTTLES OF WATER 2 TUBES OF TOOTHPASTE 4 PLASTIC TOOTHBRUSHES 10 PLASTIC CLEANING BOTTLES 260 ZIPLOC BAGS 100 SQUARE FEET OF CLING WRAP 4 JUGS OF LAUNDRY DETERGENT

EACH PERSON DISCARDS 1,606 LBS OF WASTE ANNUALLY M T O U T L AW. C O M / MOUNTAIN

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ALASKA FISHING / P. 136

ADVENTURE

JAPOW! A GUIDE TO SKIING NISEKO, JAPAN

NISEKO, JAPAN WITH 6,277 FOOT MT. YOTEI IN THE BACKGROUND. PHOTO BY JACOB SMITH


BY AMANDA MONTHEI

WE’RE SKINNING along a ridgeline on a mountain near Niseko, Japan, on the country’s northernmost island of Hokkaido when the sky suddenly opens up. Before us an expansive view of the slender ridgeline we’d just toured up is laid before us, while 6,227-foot Mt. Yotei makes a brief appearance in the distance. Before long, as tends to happen on this island, the snow begins again in blinding waves indicating we’ve finally arrived in the Japan we’ve been hearing about—the powder is deep and untouched, and snow-encrusted maple trees dot the slope as far as we can see. Our group is comprised of husband-wife duo Will and Natalie Sloop of the Niseko-based Rising Sun Guides, as well as a group of five friends I met in college in Michigan. We spend a few minutes gawking at our surroundings before dropping in to the kind of snow you travel across oceans for, fleeting moments of perfect turns between maple trees and surrounded by the profound quiet of a forest in the midst of a snowstorm. Making effortless turns through waist-deep powder we finally stop at the bottom where we all, in almost perfect harmony, agree: “That was the best run of my life.” >>


ADVENTURE: NISEKO, JAPAN

Niseko is the undisputed skiing metropolis of Hokkaido— Japan’s north island and agricultural hub—where a combination of cold and dry Siberian air and moisture from the Sea of Japan marry into a constant onslaught of blower pow. The island gets so much snow that while I was there in January I rarely bothered to check the weather forecast. It was a safe bet that there’d be new snow on the ground in the morning. And if a notable amount were predicted I’d hear whispers of it around town, in lift lines or among crowds in restaurants and bars. It’s no secret that the island of Hokkaido is the place to be

“DID YOU HEAR?” THE BARTENDER WOULD SAY IN A WHISPER ONE MIGHT USE TO DISCLOSE THEIR MOST SECRET OF STASHES. “FORTY-FIVE CENTIMETERS BY TOMORROW NIGHT,” THEY’D CONTINUE, EYES WIDENING. in January (there’s a reason it’s referred to as “Japanuary”) and with a monthly snowfall total of 305 centimeters (120 inches) last January, it lives up to its reputation. This has meant a boost in visitors, but not everything is tracked and blown out—Will, whom I met through my job in wildland fire in the summer of 2018, and Natalie have found not only the best skiing but also the finest sushi spots, izakayas (a tapas-style Japanese bar and restaurant) and onsens (natural hot springs prevalent across the hyper-volcanic country). The surprising part is that these treasures are often in sleepy towns well outside of Niseko’s bustling hubs. “My most memorable moments in Japan have come from experiences that aren’t comfortable or that are uniquely Japanese,” Will said when I talked to him a few months after the trip. Will is tall—towering above almost everyone while we were in Japan—and has the most wholesome belly laugh I’ve ever heard. He loves karaoke and has an endearing goofiness, but is serious about safety in the backcountry—and about pulling your weight and being respectful of the culture. “Some stuff here … is getting really popular,” he continued, “but there are still ways to have your own adventure.”

WHEN IN JAPAN, ALWAYS ORDER THE SAKE (OR ANOTHER FAVORITE, PLUM WINE). PHOTO BY BRIAN AMDUR

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TOP LEFT: A quintessential Japan scene: skier Max Rhulen airs off a pillow through snow-covered maple trees. PHOTO BY JACOB SMITH

Beyond exploring the zones outside of the main hubs, the best way to find your own ski adventure in Hokkaido is to head into the backcountry—whether your sights are set on big, off-piste lines or in the confines of the resort, Niseko is the perfect center for whatever you’re into. The real mecca of the Hokkaido ski scene, however, is Niseko United Resorts, which is made up of four adjacent ski resorts—Annupuri, Niseko Village, Hirafu and Hanazono—located 10-20 minutes apart at their bases but all intersecting via chairlift at the top of Mt. Niseko-Annupuri. Our group stayed in a hostel at the base of Annupuri, the westernmost resort at Niseko United, and found it a hidden gem—crowds were light even on the biggest pow days, and the terrain was unexpectedly steep. Another surprisingly fun experience? Night skiing, particularly while it was storming (which is virtually always). Despite a plethora of in-bounds options, it didn’t take long for our group—a collection of skiers and snowboarders who now live in Oregon, Colorado and California—to seek backcountry access beyond Niseko United’s boundaries. This turned out to be pretty easy, actually. Annupuri alone has access to a handful of backcountry gates, while a dozen more scatter the greater Niseko United area. When the gates were open, a status dependent upon weather and avalanche danger, they were often the best places to find afternoon powder when other zones were skied out. Some gates are fully lift accessed and others require a bit of hiking, but all are worth the effort when the forecast is right and the inbounds snow is tracked. Like backcountry skiing anywhere, you’ll need avalanche gear to venture out of bounds (buying or renting in Japan is relatively expensive so I highly recommend bringing your own), and should consult the avy forecast and weather to stay safe. Yet, while it’s worth a few days of exploration, the Hokkaido experience doesn’t—and shouldn’t—start and end with a trip to Niseko. Some of my most memorable Japanese experiences came on a 10-day solo road trip around the island in a tiny Suzuki rental with tires no wider than my powder skis. It was during this leg that I discovered more ski resorts than I could possible hit in one trip, along with onsens tucked


into mountain passes, and beautiful views of the mountains and vast agricultural fields of central Hokkaido. I also found the cutest (and cheapest) hostels, the best deals on skiing (usually $30 or less for a day ticket), and some of the best snow during this part of my trip. “If you want a more authentic ski holiday or Japan experience, the road trip is the way to go,” said Wanaka Yokoo, who was born in Niseko and now winters there as a ski instructor. “You’ll see so many tiny little public ski hills that are owned by a town; some of them are only like two or three chairs, but they’re so much fun to ski [and have] so much powder because no one goes there. And usually, they’re only like $10 to ski and have a cute little restaurant at the bottom where a little old lady serves you great food.” The Asahikawa area (about four hours northeast of Niseko) is the ideal hub to access the dozens of tiny ski resorts dotted throughout the region. Daisetsuzan National Park, another hour east of Asahikawa, is also a key stop for anyone seeking old-fashioned onsens with prime backcountry skiing a few steps away (there are even a handful of trams in the national park that provide backcountry access for just a few bucks per ride). During my two-day trip through Daisetsuzan, I’d onsen in the morning, ski all day, and finish the afternoon with another onsen. Where else in the world can you soak in a natural hot spring before and after a day of backcountry skiing in the midst of active volcanoes? I’d be willing to bet not many, and experiences like these are what make a trip to Japan unparalleled by other ski destinations. Japan was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. And the best moments were those that took us a little further, a little deeper into the mountains and a little more off the beaten path.

RIGHT PAGE: Just 30 minutes from Niseko, Rusutsu Resort has no shortage of powder stashes for riders like Sandra Sperry to find. BOTTOM RIGHT: Niseko receives over 45 feet of snow every winter, turning its vast maple forests into playgrounds for skiers like Max Rhulen. PHOTOS BY BRIAN AMDUR

ADVENTURE: NISEKO, JAPAN


DETAIL OF HOKKAIDO, JAPAN

SKIING

RYOUNKAKU FURANO

NISEKO UNITED RESORTS

HOKKAIDO

This Hokkaido mainstay is popular for a reason—endless terrain coupled with insane snow and an endless variety of food and drink options makes it a one-stop-shop for

NISEKO UNITED RESORTS

great skiing and even better aprés. YUKICHICHIBU ONSEN

MAKKARI ONSEN RUSUTSU

With a huge amount of terrain and a location just far enough away from Niseko (half-hour) to cut down on the crowds,

Rusutsu is worthy of at least a day or two of skiing while visiting the Niseko area, and the ideal place to be on a powder morning.

HOKKAIDO SKI RESORTS ONSEN HOT SPRINGS RESTAURANTS

FURANO A critical stop on any road trip through Central Hokkaido, Furano is a fantastic, family-run ski area with cheap tickets, delicious food and beautiful views of the west side of Daisetsuzan National Park to the east. If you do stop in Furano, check out the Ningle Terrace—a small artist market in the woods below the ski area, all housed in tiny, charming log cabins nestled into a snow-covered pine and maple forest.

ONSENS

JAPAN

A CRITICAL STOP ON ANY ROAD TRIP THROUGH CENTRAL HOKKAIDO, FURANO IS A FANTASTIC,

RUSUTSU

REN BAR GYU

FAMILY-RUN SKI AREA WITH CHEAP TICKETS,

u

DELICIOUS FOOD AND BEAUTIFUL VIEWS

(HOT SPRINGS)

YUKICHICHIBU ONSEN Tucked in the mountains above Annupuri, the Yukichichibu Onsen sits right next to a calderic marshland and is known for its high sulfur content (meaning it’s a little stinky.) Despite the smell, with eight pools, a mud bath on the women’s side and insane views of the surrounding mountains, Yukichichibu was hands-down my favorite onsen in Japan.

MAKKARI ONSEN Another onsen in the Niseko area, the Makkari Onsen is located directly between Niseko and Rusutsu, making it a good stop after a day of skiing at Rusutsu. For the real aprés triple threat, I recommend adding a ramen and beer onto your onsen ticket (usually around 12 bucks for all three) to enjoy after your soak.

RYOUNKAKU Located deep in Daisetsuzan National Park and easily accessible from Furano, Ryounkaku wasn’t the fanciest or best onsen I visited, but its location was top notch. Located at the base of Mount Furano, a trailhead for backcountry skiing is located across the road and the scenic drive up the mountain was itself worth the trip.


ADVENTURE: NISEKO, JAPAN

FOOD/DRINK BAY GYU Tucked into an alley below the town of Hirafu, Bar Gyu was an unsuspectingly excellent place to grab a drink after skiing at Niseko our first day. After ducking through the refrigerator door that serves as the bar’s entryway, we were greeted by warm lighting and cozy chairs, where we drank spiced wine and watched snow pile up outside the bar’s huge windows.

REN Also located in Hirafu, Ren is one of the best izakayas (a bar and restaurant specializing in shared plates like seafood, meat skewers, fried vegetables and tofu dishes) we visited, though any izakaya you can find is worthy of a visit. Order a variety of dishes (I recommend the burdock root, gyozas or sashimi salad) and share with the table for a relatively cheap dinner option. Matsuri Izakaya, located west of Annupuri near Moiwa Ski Area, was another favorite of our group.

SKI AREA RAMEN Mt. Yotei towers over the downtown scene in Hirafu, which is just one of the four base areas that make up Niseko United. PHOTO BY BRIAN AMDUR

WORTH YOUR YEN

Some of the best ramen I ate in Japan was either at an onsen or at a ski area lodge. Maybe that was a result of being ravenously hungry after skiing bottomless powder or maybe I just didn’t eat enough ramen at restaurants (probably because I was too busy finding izakayas or eating hot pots). Either way, I stand by my assertion that one of my best meals in Japan was the spicy miso ramen at Rusutsu’s base lodge. Annupuri’s lodge had some similarly delicious (and surprisingly cheap) ramen options, while the Makkari Onsen had a few great choices.

RENT A CAR To get outside of the Niseko area, you’ll want a rental car—it allowed me to both road trip to Central Hokkaido (about four hours from Niseko) and also check out ski resorts just outside of Niseko. To drive a rental car, you will need an International Driving Permit, which can be purchased at any AAA. Another thing to note: tollways in Japan are not cheap. My first 60-mile trip on a tollway ran me over $15 and I ended up spending much more than that by the end of the trip.

INVEST IN A GUIDE Having lived in Niseko and worked for Rising Sun Guide for the last two winters, Will and Natalie were an invaluable asset to our exploration. They took us to some of our favorite spots of the trip, told us how to not look like idiots in the onsen (in

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short: shower fully beforehand, don’t let your hair get in the water, be respectful, no drinking and no bathing suits) and got us into some of the best snow some of us had ever skied. They even gave us some remedial Japanese language lessons, carted us around in the guide van and generally contributed to us having a blast. One of the most important things Will and Natalie taught us, however, was how to fit in to the Japanese culture—a necessary lesson for a bunch of loud Midwestern girls in a place that reveres courtesy and quiet above almost all else.

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BBL Crossing off a bucket-list trip to Bristol Bay Lodge and the BY ERIC LADD AND JOSEPH T. O’CONNOR world’s largest salmon run

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iny water droplets form and run up the windshield of the small floatplane as we cruise down to Rainbo camp. The fog is thick, reducing visibility to near zero and when the clouds part the vastness of this country becomes apparent. Creeks braid and meander through tundra fields as Troy Albplanalp, or “T-Bird” as he’s better known at Bristol Bay Lodge, expertly mans the floatplane, Ted Nugent’s “Gonzo” jamming on his iPod. We’re in the southwestern portion of America’s 49th state, surrounded by the Alaskan wilderness. Stunning, for lack of a better English word, is an understatement. Visiting Alaska is a humbling experience that inspires, testing one’s will and connecting one with nature like no place on earth. In an era where growth and urban sprawl are headline news, the remoteness of Alaska has allowed the backcountry to remain intact and cities trapped in time. The one reliable outcome from a trip to AK is a lack of prediction, much inspiration, the need for a good raincoat, a good chunk of time and extra memory cards for your camera. One must be prepared for a trip to Alaska, and especially for one to Bristol Bay Lodge. It’s the trip of a lifetime. >>

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On a mid-September day, the fall colors paint the vast hillsides and valleys with every

shade of red, orange and tan. Twelve friends and family have gathered for this pilgrimage into the AK backcountry with excitement brimming after four flights and a boat ride to reach this nirvana of fishing. Massive moose and bear traipse among a landscape absent of human impact; the sky is big, the weather aggressive, the people hearty.

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Bristol Bay Lodge Owner/G.M. Steve Laurent has spent the last 29 years working at the lodge on the shores of Lake Aleknagik. PHOTO COURTESY OF STEVE LAURENT

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rriving at the five-star Bristol Bay Lodge, you’re welcomed to the “BBL family,” a business that launched in 1972 and is now run by seasoned guide, then manager and now owner, Steve Laurent. Laurent has a gentle but commanding presence having spent 29 summers in the Alaska backcountry sharing the rivers and mountains with guests and calling tents home for hundreds of nights. The lodge is complete with hot tub and sauna, and the highly trained staff takes care of every need, from stocking refrigerators in your room of the cabin to running daily loads of laundry. For Laurent, who has now traded his tent life for lodge life as he runs his 20-plus guide operation and is also a talented pilot and photographer, his experience at Bristol Bay reflects a decades-long commitment to a place he truly loves. “This was a calling,” says Laurent, 53, who first visited Alaska in 1990 as a college student at the University of Minnesota. “I talked to my dad and said, ‘Hey, I may have an opportunity to guide in Alaska. What are your thoughts?’ He said, ‘Listen, those are things that if you don’t seize that opportunity you might regret that in life.’ Now, 29 years later, we still laugh about it because I’m now an owner of a world-famous lodge in Alaska.” Entering its 48th year, BBL is a welloiled machine, taking guests deep into the Wood-Tikchik Wilderness to chase a variety of fish, and operating on six different rivers highlighted by two backcountry

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camps where guests stay overnight. Each day, clients rotate rivers and guides often accessed by floatplane and guests stay a few nights at backcountry camps, a signature moment for most trips to BBL. A trip to Bristol Bay is much more than a fishing trip, though. It’s a backcountry immersion experience where you happen to have a fly rod in hand. “This is the greatest fishery on the planet for wild salmon,” says Laurent during one of the lodge’s five-star dinners, this one including massive helpings of Alaskan king crab legs. “You have to wear a lot of hats when you own and operate a lodge in Alaska. I love logistics but you can’t do it yourself, you have to have a great team.” Running BBL consists of up to 29 staff members, three de Havilland Beaver floatplanes, and as many as 29 guests at a time over the course of a summer. “We’re busy,” says Laurent, a smile emerging from his brown and gray-flecked goatee. “I still lose 10 pounds a summer.” One of the many unique aspects of the BBL fishery is the variety of options in these waters. Bristol Bay is home to the largest salmon run on the planet, including all five species: sockeye, coho, Chinook, chum and pink. But it doesn’t stop there. Starting in May and June, a massive king salmon run graces the waters in the Bristol Bay fishery, followed by the aggressive bite of the silver salmon, anchor-sized rainbow, dolly varden and grayling that pepper the catch throughout the season ending in mid-September. It’s not uncommon for rainbows to approach the 30-inch mark and king salmon north of 30 pounds to smash your line (though 50-pound salmon are not unheard of). “Bristol Bay is one of the last places on earth of its kind and they’re not making any more like it,” Laurent says. “You can’t really describe it.”>>


The main lodge at BBL.

Start your engines. A pair of de Havilland Beavers preps for flight.

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The de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver is a single-engine, propeller-driven short takeoff and landing (STOL) aircraft developed and produced by de Havilland Canada. It’s primarily operated as a bush plane but has also been used in utility roles including cargo and passenger hauling, crop dusting and U.S. military search and rescue duties. Sir Edmund Hillary used the DHC-2 in his South Pole expedition from 1955-58 and the plane was named one of Canada’s top 10 engineering achievements of the 20th century. When manufacturing was discontinued in 1967, some 1,600 of these planes were in use.

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THIS RIVER WE’RE ON … THIS PLACE IS MAGICAL ... IT’S NOT A LIVING, IT’S A PASSION.

he most remote camp in the BBL portfolio is an hour flight from the main lodge nestled riverside on what’s aptly named the Good News River. Dan Claus, a seasoned backcountry pilot with a dry humor, lack of hearing and incredible skills on the sticks, has been with BBL for more than 25 years. Claus flies a 1952 de Havilland Beaver floatplane and shows up to work layered in hoodie sweatshirts and hip-high fishing waders. The flight to Birch winds in and around the valleys and from the lofty view, passengers can glimpse the occasional moose or grizzly feeding in the wetlands and vast miles of stream banks. Landing at Birch, the staff that lives there all summer greets you on the small pothole of a pond that doubles as the landing strip. Seasoned guide, Eric Mannon has been working at Birch Camp for 13 years and has a wiry frame, long hair spilling out from his ball cap and a Midwestern accent as he recalls tales from the summer. We land Mannon, 34, and his guide colleague Jared Koenigsfeld, 30, on their last trip of the season having been at the outpost for more than 100 days. Mannon’s wife works in Idaho and the only means of connecting is via satellite text, a recent technology upgrade for the backcountry guide. Few guides make it as long as Mannon and Koenigsfeld, who was closing out

his sixth year on the Good News. “This river we’re on … this place is magical,” Mannon says. “If you came every week of the year you’d see something different. It’s just full of epic days. It’s not a living, it’s a passion.” Settling into our wall tent—a full and comfortable arrangement with soft beds and down comforters—we hear the guides announce the afternoon plan: “Hustle up, let’s fish for a few hours. The silvers are in!” Roger’s first cast in Alaska yielded a 9-pound silver salmon, a foreshadowing of the next 24 hours. The silvers have migrated 30 miles from Good News Bay in the Bering Sea to reach Birch Camp and are still fresh and aggressive. Late-season rains swell the rivers pushing the angling up the litany of back eddies and small side streams making the fishing even more dramatic: every third or fourth cast yields the equivalent of a cinder block on the end of our 8-weight rods. Family-style meals are served streamside and on this night steak, wine and decadent chocolate cake help round out the hours of storytelling from the day’s adventures. Comments around the table include “… the biggest fish of my life” and “… the best day of fishing I’ve ever experienced.”

Silver salmon on the Goodnews River at Birch Camp yield silver salmon averaging 8-12 pounds.


SECTION: SUBHEAD At 663,268 square miles, Alaska is more than twice the size of Texas, the next largest state in the country. On March 30, 1867, the U.S. purchased Alaska from the Russian Empire for $7.2 million, or about 2 cents per acre. ■■ Alaska holds more than 3,000 rivers and 3 million lakes, the largest being Lake Iliamna covering 1,000 square miles. ■■ In 1985, auto dealer Les Anderson caught the largest king salmon ever recorded on a rod and reel. He landed the monster on the Kenai River. It weighed in at 97.5 lbs. ■■ Bear Necessities: There is approximately one bear for every 21 people in Alaska. ■■ Alaska has more coastline than the rest of the U.S. combined, about 34,000 miles

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Like magic: Rainbows at Rainbo.

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short flight across the tundra revealed a horizon line with jetting rock islands and the Bering Sea. The smell of salt is in the air and pelicans and seagulls dot the open landscape. As the plane lands, we’re greeted by the staff and the guests departing after their 24-hour stay. The four brothers we’re exchanging spots with are on a heart-wrenching bucket list trip to Alaska and the parting comment from them was telling: “This camp was amazing, the fishing was unreal and Dawson’s cooking was the best!” Rainbo Camp is situated on the banks of a large tidal zone and the tail end of the Nugukthik River where it enters the sea. It sees one of the largest tidal shifts in the world, and one morning hit 19 feet. The camp is staffed by three colorful personalities who recall tales of bears and star-filled nights, and endless hauls of monster fish. At the tip of the Bering Sea, the camp is exposed to all the Alaska elements with

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bears trolling the shoreline, eagles feeding on chum and the occasional moose nestled in the bushes. A picture-perfect afternoon greeted our group with calm air, deep falls colors and soft afternoon light on the tundra, a perfect reason to go fishing and some for a hike. The Rainbo fishery is a small river with twists and turns providing perfect runs, back eddies to target tailing salmon and endless side channels. Targeting any fish with a surface fly is considered by many seasoned anglers the holy grail of fishing and catching 15-pound silver salmon with a custom pink mouse patter called the “wog” was just that. The wog mimics a mouse having fallen in the water and swimming for a safe shoreline, and as you tease it across the surface, a v-wave appears behind it followed by an explosion of the fish take. Back at camp, the group watches a young grizzly bear with a tan working the shoreline eating salmon while enjoying a glass of wine and watching the sunset. >>


Eric Stevens presents a beautiful rainbow on a trip with his three brothers to Bristol Bay Lodge in September 2019. He was diagnosed with ALS a week earlier. Read more about Stevens and ALS on p. 154. PHOTO COURTESY OF CRAIG STEVENS

Grizzly bears line the rivers fattening up for the long winter ahead.

Wood-Tikchik State Park sits north of Dillingham, Alaska. At more than 1.6 million acres and about the size of Delaware, Wood-Tikchik is the largest and most remote state park in the United States, comprising more than 50 percent of all state park land in Alaska and 15 percent of total state park land in the country. Wood-Tikchik was created in 1978 and employed no staff for its first five years, and even now sometimes a single ranger is tasked with patrolling the entire park, often by aircraft.

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A monster silver salmon poses with one intrepid angler.

Life of Coho: Coho salmon, also known as silver salmon, can grow upwards of 30 pounds but most adult “silvers� run between 10 and 20 pounds. They mostly eat insects until they grow into small fish and shrimp hunters. Female silvers return from the sea to their original spawning ground in rivers to lay eggs, which hatch in late winter. The fry remain in streams for three years before returning to the sea as smolt. After about 18 months of feeding and growing into adults in the ocean, coho head back to their home stream to spawn. As the silvers swim upstream into freshwater, their sides turn red and their backs dark. They die within a few weeks of spawning and become food for bears and eagles, and as they decay their bodies release valuable nutrients into their home streams.

BBL is an extended, generational family trip of a lifetime.


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THE GUIDES GAVE OUR GROUP A QUICK ONE-HOUR FISHING SESSION THAT YIELDED 20-INCHPLUS SILVER SALMON, A LARGE SOW GRIZZLY BEAR AND A MOTHER GRIZ WITH THREE CUBS, A LIFETIME CHERISHED MEMORY...

Another beautiful day catching rainbows, dolly varden and grayling on The Wok.

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laska is a guessing game: wake up and see what the day brings: weather changes quickly and extreme tidal fluctuations can dictate what the plan will be. Bad news hit our group on our Rainbo day when we learned we had to fly out of camp early because two converging typhoons off the coast of Alaska were bringing massive wind to this exposed piece of land. Before being whisked back to the BBL main lodge, the guides gave our group a quick one-hour fishing session that yielded 20-inch-plus silver salmon, a large sow grizzly bear and a mother griz with three cubs, a lifetime cherished memory all in the span of just one hour. “Five minutes out,” BBL pilot T-bird radioed in and 28 minutes later we were back in the main lodge with a crackling fire in the two-sided fireplace and a three-course meal in the dining room.

Laurent is relaxed but drifts between guests cracking jokes and asking about their days. He’s put in another full week in another full season at his lodge but smiles, relaxed and satisfied. He draws a deep breath, exhales. “BBL is my livelihood,” he says. “I’ve got a lot of blood, sweat and tears here, but it’s more than that. I pride myself that I’m the same person in the spring that I am in the fall. If you love what you do, it’s easy. Just look at where you are. There’s nothing else like it in the world.” As thick slices of apple cobbler are served for dessert, the conversation in the lodge is easy, ranging from the massive grizzlies fishing from shore, to the epic sunset that evening, to the camaraderie each guest has discovered in this wild and wonderful place. Bristol Bay, as we heard many times on this trip, is a bucket-list item to be crossed off.

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Brawl Over Bristol Bay A massive gold and copper mine is back on the books in Alaska. BY JOSEPH T. O’CONNOR The effects could be catastrophic. On the fourth anniversary of National Salmon Day, October 8, 2019, five Alaskan native and fishery groups sued the Environmental Protection Agency for tabling Clean Water Act protections and fast-tracking a goliath mining venture in an area that also produces half of the world’s salmon: Bristol Bay. If the proposal is granted, Pebble Mine would be the largest open mine in North America, unearthing some 1.5 billion tons of gold and copper, and residents fear the mine would threaten the area’s delicate ecosystem and its world-renowned fishing industry. The 2019 season marked the second largest sockeye harvest in the fishery’s 133-year history as Bristol Bay commercial fishermen plucked approximately 43 million anadromous sockeye from their epic homecoming voyage to the freshwater rivers and lakes of their infancy— nearly doubling the 38-year average. It was a haul that emphatically justifies the 14,000 jobs supported by the fishery, a resource that has likewise sustained the region’s native tribes for centuries. Last July 30, news that the mine proposal was again under consideration shook Bristol Bay Lodge owner Steve Laurent. Laurent is celebrating 30 years working at the lodge, located some 150 miles west of the proposed Pebble Mine site. He’s been in this battle for decades and worries an infrastructure failure at the mine would devastate Bristol Bay. “This is the greatest fishery on the planet for wild salmon,” Laurent said at his lodge in early September. “I think it’s asinine that the Pebble Mine is even potentially back on the books.” In an unsettled economy, nervous traders tend to shift assets into less volatile ventures. Some look to the healthcare sector or real estate plays. Others turn to gold and precious metals. “Copper Extends Its Rebound on Growth Optimism,” read a September 6, 2019, headline in The Wall Street 146

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Journal’s Business and Finance section. “Precious Metals Are On a Tear,” heralded another article in the same edition. Shares of gold were up more than 30 percent since the beginning of summer, the article said, an indicator that a stumbling world economy, ongoing U.S trade wars with China and the threat of interest-rate hikes have investors worried. “There is so much flight to safety right now and metals is where that money is going,” Chicagobased commodities broker Bob Haberkorn told WSJ. The debate over the mine is not a new one. For decades the Pebble Mine has been at the center of a heated controversy; on one hand, mining jobs and billions of dollars in precious metals are at stake; on the other, an entire ecosystem and a $1.5 billion commercial fishing industry in Bristol Bay, home to the largest sockeye salmon run in the world.

“THIS IS THE GREATEST FISHERY ON THE PLANET FOR WILD SALMON ... I THINK IT’S ASININE THAT THE PEBBLE MINE IS EVEN POTENTIALLY BACK ON THE BOOKS.” What is new is the timing: When the EPA loosened Obama-era mining regulations in Alaska last July 30, effectively throwing Pebble a renewed lifeline, the news rocked Wall Street. The next day, Canadian company Northern Dynasty Minerals, the sole owner of Pebble Limited Partnership, saw its stock skyrocket 65 percent, with shares surging from 54 cents to 91 cents, prompting accusations of insider trading. Northern Dynasty representatives have called the insider-trading allegations “entirely false.” >>


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The proposed Pebble Mine location sits along the shores of 1,000-square-mile Iliamna Lake, the largest lake in Alaska, and about 125 miles from a fault line known as the Alaska-Aleutian megathrust, which saw the 1964 Good Friday earthquake near Anchorage.

The magnitude 9.2 quake was the most powerful ever recorded in North America and Laurent is concerned. Residents are also worried about toxic chemicals from mine tailings seeping into the water. For its part, Pebble Mine operators claim that the mine infrastructure is sound, even in the face of a severe earthquake, and Pebble Group CEO Tom Collier has placed a zero-percent chance of irreparable harm to the Bristol Bay fishery. “Mine tailings are not ‘toxic,’” reads the Pebble Partnership’s website. Covering more than five square miles and running nearly as deep as the Grand Canyon, the Pebble gold, copper and molybdenum mine in the Bristol Bay watershed would involve more than the mine pit itself. “In total, these three mine components (mine pit, tailings impoundments and waste rock piles) would cover an area larger than Manhattan,” read the 2014 EPA determination referencing the Clean Water Act and curtailing the Pebble Mine proposal. Gina McCarthy, then head of the EPA under President Obama, stated that the mine would have “… significant and irreversible negative impacts on the Bristol Bay watershed and its abundant salmon fisheries.”

The 30-plus year tug-of-war has of late seen a renewed intensity. In May 2017, then-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt took the first steps to reverse the Obama-era EPA restrictions on mining in Alaska. On June 26, 2018—nine days before resigning his post under a litany of ethics scandals—Pruitt signed a memorandum limiting his own agency’s ability to curb projects on the grounds that they might pollute adjacent waterways. His successor, Andrew Wheeler, has recused himself from Pebble Mine decisions because his former law firm provided services to Pebble developers. And in July 2019 the EPA, under pressure from President Trump and conservative groups including the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity, fully withdrew the 2014 determination and is currently reviewing the mine proposal with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. If granted the 20-year lease by the Army Corps of Engineers, Pebble Limited’s play would be worth hundreds of billions of dollars. The Corps plans to announce its decision to approve or deny the project in mid-2020. Residents of the area wait and worry. “For me personally, the mine is something I don’t believe in,” said Rhonda Nicazio, a descendent of the Inupiat peoples of the NANA region who works at the air taxi service Fresh Water Adventures in Dillingham, Alaska. “Fishing is a way of life for most people in Bristol Bay,” she said. “It’s a natural resource that the community depends on.”

Alaska Salmon Program research station on Porcupine Island, Iliamna Lake. PHOTO BY JASON CHING

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Mountain living starts here. bigsky.com

Four office locations in Big Sky

25 TOWN CENTER | 145 TOWN CENTER | 66 MOUNTAIN LOOP ROAD | 181 CLUBHOUSE FORK

All information contained herein is derived from sources deemed reliable; however, the content contained herein is not guaranteed by Lone Mountain Land Company LLC or is affiliated or parent companies, subsidiaries, officers, mangers, employees, agents, brokers or salesperson and none of the foregoing make any representations regarding the accuracy of such information. Any photos described herein are for illustrative purposes only and are subject to change without notice. Offerings are subject to error, omissions, prior sales, price changes or withdrawal without notice. Prospective purchasers are urged to independently investigate the property. No governmental agency has judged the merits or value, if any, of this property. This material shall not constitute an offer to sell in any state or jurisdiction where prior registration is required and shall not constitute a solicitation if you are working with another real estate agent. Š 2019 The Big Sky Real Estate Co. All rights in and to the content are owned and controlled by The Big Sky Real Estate Co.

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BODE MILLER

After the Last Gate BY DOUG HARE


O U T L AW It’s mid-October

Bode Miller hits the gas while running gates in Portillo, Chile, in 2016. PHOTOS COURTESY OF BOMBER SKI

and Bode Miller answers the door barefoot, wearing board shorts and a flannel. Inviting us into his Orange County, California, home he takes a moment to prepare for our interview. His wife Morgan is making scrambled eggs. She’s eating for three on this sunny morning with twins due in less than a month, while her youngest son Easton Vaughn Rek is flanking her side in only a diaper. Miller remerges: “You should wait until after the eggs are cooked to add salt,” he suggests to Morgan. Bode Miller isn’t one to hold back an opinion when he thinks he’s right. And he doesn’t peddle in mediocrity. Never has. Growing up outside of Easton, New Hampshire, his competitive nature shown through early on, and not just on the slopes of nearby Cannon Mountain. He credits much of his success, as the most decorated American male alpine ski racer of all time, to the lessons he learned growing up in summer camps at the Tamarack Tennis Club, which his grandparents started in 1962. Various media articles have mentioned Miller’s cross-training in a multitude of sports, but those pursuits were always downplayed, he says. “Tennis was the primary structured activity,” Miller said from his shaded front porch. “But there was soccer, capture the flag, ping-pong, volleyball, frisbee, football, you name it.” The exposure as a camper with kids from around the world was formative in what you could describe as his cosmopolitan views rooted in the libertarian soil he grew up on, usually barefoot in the woods when he wasn’t on a soccer pitch, tennis court or ski slope. It would be this eclectic, rogue perspective that he would refine during his travels in pursuit of the two overall World Cup titles and six Olympic medals he lays claim to. While the narrative of Bode Miller as a renegade ski racer, some kind of undisciplined rebel bucking the system at every turn, gained traction and snowballed in media coverage, that depiction was never the most accurate portrayal of his true nature behind the piercing blue eyes and provocative

comments. He wasn’t so much obstinate and contrarian as he was uncompromising in the pursuit of his goals, unwilling to conform and unorthodox in his methods to achieve greatness. “I think I was aware of that at a young age,” said Miller, now 42. “I didn’t want to look back on my career and blame other people for why I wasn’t successful. So at the end of the day I had to look more critically at what people were proposing to me. Unfortunately most of the coaches, no knock against them … they didn’t have the right answers for me. “When you’re trying to talk about being the best in the world, it’s like anything—art, or music or acting—you can have people that stimulate certain thought processes but … in the end it has to be that individual that does it. You can’t just follow a template and become the best.” A young Miller discovered that at tennis camp and on the ski hill competing against older, more talented kids. He knew he had to make adjustments and play to his strengths to achieve the level of excellence that would satisfy him. The impressive results of his lengthy ski racing career have been well chronicled and speak for themselves. “I’d put my career, very subjectively, up against anyone in the history of the sport and I think I had a better time doing it than anyone else.” In order to succeed on the world ski stage, Bode innovated a racing technique that was uniquely matched to his athletic strengths and fearless style. As he tells it, at his prime in his best races he was far from flawless but could correct mistakes and adapt in real time, something that he could only practice going full speed— something that inherently didn’t work out every time, like his last race in 2015 at Beaver Creek, Colorado, when he severed his hamstring with his own ski. He retired from racing in 2017, briefly returning as an NBC commentator during the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The six-time Olympian’s name might appear less frequently in the sports news nowadays, but last year the Millers made nationwide news after losing their daughter Emmy in a tragic drowning accident.

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Miller on location in Jochberg, Austria.

Miller at Turtle Ridge Foundation’s Annual BodeFest fundraiser supporting youth and adaptive sports at Cannon Mountain, New Hampshire, in April 2019.

Asked about grief, he pauses. “No one’s getting out of this alive. Loss, grief, suffering and pain are all part of it. It doesn’t really discriminate between class or wealth. There’s nothing right about what your natural feelings are after losing a child. You have to be able to get to the point of accepting the new normal.” ________________

Miller last summer announced his partnership with Moonlight Basin and Spanish Peaks Mountain Club, two communities that flank Lone Mountain in the burgeoning hamlet of Big Sky, Montana, where he plans to live for most of the winter. No stranger to southwest Montana, Miller visited this region often when his sister attended Montana State University in the late ‘90s, traveling to Yellowstone National Park and skiing Big Sky Resort when he could. For Miller, Big Sky has “that culture—the terrain is gnarly and rugged, the people are hearty and the community is warm and welcoming.” His plans to help develop the mountain culture, facilities and amenities around his new hometown are in the earliest phases, but he doesn’t rule out the possibility of starting his own ski academy. Then he rattles off five ways that the operations surrounding his new home mountain could improve—already racing in entrepreneurial mode. Scot Schmidt, godfather of extreme skiing and now ambassador at the Yellowstone Club just outside of Big Sky, admires Miller’s ski career and looks forward to his next chapter. “In that all-or-nothing discipline that Bode was in, he was the real deal; a true hero,” Schmidt said. “I have a lot of respect for somebody who figures out that something isn’t working for him, taking control of the situation … and becoming a champion.” There are no pre-race inspections in life; no way of knowing what’s around the next corner. If anything, Bode Miller taught us you can catch an edge and still regain composure. Miller was an athlete who gambled that perseverance and resilience would eventually pay off. “I knew that since I was 11,” he says. “I wasn’t training to develop skiing muscles, I was training to survive the crashes.” Thankfully, sport can teach us lessons that transcend the physical realm, helping us navigate even the most difficult sections of the course.

“When you’re trying to talk about being the best in the world, it’s like anything—art, or music or acting—in the end it has to be that individual that does it.”

Last Nov. 8, Morgan gave birth to healthy, twin baby boys, delivering them at their SoCal home with the help of her husband and his mother. While their life is a far cry from where Bode Miller grew up, a cabin with no running water or electricity nestled in the woods of the Live-Free-or-Die state, he tries to keep the same ethos under which he was raised. “Morgan and I try to be pretty hands-off in a lots of ways … you can’t remove obstacles from their path because those are the times they learn most effectively and with the least amount of risk.” Even though his commitment to raising his now five children is his biggest priority in retirement from alpine racing, Miller’s ambitions are these days redirected into the business world. “At the end of ski racing career, you usually go find a job and get one fast,” Miller said. “There’s usually not a lot of money in your bank account after a ski racing career.” These days, Miller’s skillset, connections and competitive drive align nicely with what is known as ‘disruptive entrepreneurship,’ a way for small companies to innovate and succeed where larger, more established brands have blind spots or inefficiencies. In the fall of 2015, Miller became an equity partner and chief innovation officer for Aztech Mountain, a performance ski apparel company based in Aspen, Colorado and New York City. That same year, he announced his partnership with Bomber skis, hoping to offer to the public skis of the caliber he rode on tour. “Luckily, I’m at the point where I can pick and choose who I partner with.”

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Find your on-mountain resource for everything from sniffles to sutures at b2Cares.com Open Everyday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. | Located at the base of Lone Peak - 100 Beaverhead Drive


LAST LIGHT

The Stevens brothers (L-R) Craig, Eric, Jeff, and Brett having an epic day with behemoth rainbow trout on the Togiak.

#axeALS

EARLY LAST SEPTEMBER, ERIC STEVENS held up a large Alaskan rainbow trout for the camera with the help of his older brother, Craig. A few months ago he wouldn’t have required assistance but the former NFL player and Los Angeles City firefighter’s grip was weakening by the day. On August 27, 2019, exactly one month after marrying his wife Amanda, Eric Stevens was diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. “I was in shock,” said Stevens, who turned 30 in October. “You hope it’s not true but when I heard it from the doctor’s mouth I almost passed out. It was the hardest hit I ever felt.” Also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, ALS is a rare and incurable neurological disease involving the progressive degeneration of nerve cells that control muscle movement. About 30,000 people are living with ALS in the U.S. and have a life expectancy of two to five years at a cost of $300,000 annually. Although trial-based treatments that could slow or stop ALS progression exist, they have not yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and are not available to patients. “My brothers, my family, my wife, we’re fighting,” Stevens said. “A big part of the story is that there is hope and there are treatments on the horizon for the first time in ALS history. They’re so close, but unfortunately so close can be years away—years I don’t have.” 154

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PHOTOS COURTESY OF CRAIG STEVENS

The early September fishing trip to the Bristol Bay Lodge in Alaska was a bucket list venture. Eric and his three brothers Craig, Jeff and Brett didn’t Eric and his wife Amanda in front of an engine know if it would be at L.A. Fire Station 21. their last. On the final night, the Stevens brothers pushed their beds together in the same wall tent. They brought extra beer from the lodge to the remote Rainbo Camp and drank late into the night, celebrating togetherness and the anvil-like toughness of the youngest brother Eric. During a November 2019 episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Stevens’ entire crew from L.A. City Fire Department Station 21 appeared. Fellow firefighter Tim Coulombe said Eric Stevens had always been the strongest guy in the room. “And you are remaining the strongest guy in the room,” he said. – J.T.O.

Visit stevensnation.com and follow #axeALS to learn more about Eric Stevens, Lou Gehrig’s disease and how to donate. Reach out to your congressional representative and tell them to push for access to treatment for ALS now.


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2020 Winter Mountain Outlaw  

With award-winning editorial content, design and photography, Mountain Outlaw magazine has been described as “Powder Magazine meets Rolling...

2020 Winter Mountain Outlaw  

With award-winning editorial content, design and photography, Mountain Outlaw magazine has been described as “Powder Magazine meets Rolling...