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MOUNTAIN

FEATURED

WINTER 2021

OUTLAW:

TOM

BROKAW The Exclusive Interview

Gallery: Awakening

TOURISM:

THE TIPPING POINT INSIDE MONTANA’S FOSSIL HUNT THE SURGE IN BACKCOUNTRY SKIING

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FEATURES

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BUILDING IN THE LAND OF THE THUNDER DRAGON By Bay Stephens

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? By Brigid Mander

More than 7,200 miles separate Bozeman, Montana, from Thimphu, Bhutan. But, as Bay Stephens writes, Bozeman craftsmen have built more than just the country’s first locally owned five-star hotel. They’re building rapport with the Bhutanese while Building in the Land of the Thunder Dragon.

In 2020, the global pandemic wreaked havoc on the international travel industry from Amsterdam to New Zealand. Citizens rejoiced. When the American West braced for impact, they found a shocking surprise. Brigid Mander asks the question facing tourist destinations: Where Do We Go from Here?

Grizzly bear 399 pictured with her four cubs in the spring of 2020. The world’s most famous griz uncharacteristically migrated south with her cubs last fall toward Wilson, Wyoming, seeking food in preparation for hibernation and the winter months. PHOTO BY THOMAS D. MANGELSEN

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MORE THAN BONES By Alex Sakariassen

THE VISION OF TOM BROKAW By Joseph T. O’Connor

The first T. rex was discovered in Montana in 1902. Now, 119 years later, Alex Sakariassen dusts off mysteries of the Treasure State, revealing fissures between archaeologists digging for science and fossil hunters digging for gold. Explore which is worth More Than Bones.

Tom Brokaw has covered nearly every major event in the last 50 years. The legendary newsman sat down with Mountain Outlaw’s Joseph T. O’Connor to discuss his historic journalism career, how luck is a lady, and what drove Vladimir Putin to tears. Peer into The Vision of Tom Brokaw.

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DEPARTMENTS TRAILHEAD

22 LISTEN: Slide guitarist Dan Dubuque 22 READ: Ernest Hemingway in the Yellowstone High Country explores Papa’s life 23 VISIT: Historic mining in Silver Valley, Idaho 23 NEWS: Montana Sen. Tester to sponsor Headwaters Legacy Act 24 REEL: Max Lowe’s Torn documents life after death 24 CAUSE: Humanities for Montana 25 TRENDING: Four hot fads you need to know

OUTBOUND GALLERY

28 Awakening: Breaking barriers of race

NOW

38 Bozeman and Bhutan are oceans apart. But new construction is bringing them closer than you think OUTLOOK            50 Spreading awareness on the water REPORTS             58 One ski fits all             60 The climate’s change on maple syrup             62 Drive-in resurgence 64 Travel: Montage Cabo’s pristine beaches 66 Ski Bum: The essence of ski film legend Warren Miller  

EXPLORE YELLOWSTONE 84 88 90 92

One family’s authentic backcountry experience Yellowstone National Park app lets you visit from anywhere A winter guide: The animals of Yellowstone Snowshoe serenity

CULTURE

98 Is there such a thing as too much tourism? Destination towns worldwide are learning a delicate balance ART            114 Legendary artist Monte Dolack captures Montana’s history HUMOR             119 The finer points of ice fishing (hint: bring whiskey) RECIPES             122 Regenerative agriculture grows healthier foods  

ADVENTURE

126 Backcountry skiing was on the rise. COVID-19 accelerated it 130 How outdoor adventure is creating digital community 134 Dueling dinos: Inside Montana’s fascinating fossil world 146 Madison Double R: Catching the best new fishing lodge on the fly FAMILY             148 Pack the kids and snowshoes and check out these forest service cabins EXPLORE             152 On living the dream: Four skiers discuss ripping with the best  

FEATURED OUTLAW

158 Legendary newsman Tom Brokaw sits down to talk journalism, climbing with the Do-Boys and what Montana can do to preserve itself

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Hard freezes. Sharp fences. Such is the beauty of the Montana West in wintertime. PHOTO BY JEFF MOORE

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MOUNTAIN Owned and published in Big Sky, Montana.

PUBLISHER Eric Ladd EDITORIAL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, VP MEDIA Joseph T. O’Connor DEPUTY EDITOR, NEW MEDIA Mira Brody ASSOCIATE EDITOR Brandon Walker ASSISTANT EDITOR Gabrielle Gasser COPY EDITOR Claire Cella

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 CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER Blythe Beaubien

CREATIVE ART DIRECTOR Marisa Opheim LEAD DESIGNER – MEDIA Kelsey Dzintars GRAPHIC DESIGNER ME Brown

CONTROLLER Treston Wold PROJECT MANAGER Eli Kretzmann

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS/EDITORS Claire Cella, Dan Egan, Henry Hall, Kate Hull, Amanda Loudin, Brigid Mander, Eddy Murphy, Alex Sakariassen, Bay Stephens, Patrick Straub, Ednor Therriault, Todd Wilkinson

Partnering to preserve beauty. Meandering along in the Madison River Valley runs the newly restored O’Dell Creek. It’s an award-winning preservation project of area ranchers and statewide

CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS/ARTISTS Shana Baisch, Lauren Burgess, Daniel J. Cox, Devin Day, Lynn Donaldson-Vermillion, Dan Dubuque, Oskar Enander, Tom Fowlks, Jacob W. Frank, Audrey Hall, Richard Hallman, Jun Hao, Neal Herbert, Tailyr Irvine, Aly Kaufman, Killian Ladd, Peter Lobozzo, Max Lowe, Holly Mandarich, Thomas D. Mangelson, Mary McIntyre, Doug McLennan, Rocko Menzyk, Carson Meyer, Mark Meyer, Jeff Moore, Josh Myers, Jim Peaco, Karen Ramos, Mark Rhoads, Ken Ryder, Ian Shive, Drew Smalley, Angelo Tolfa, Alexandra Tran, Alejandro Velasco, Stephen Voss, Brandon Ward, Will Wissman 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. To advertise, contact Sam Brooks at sam@theoutlawpartners.com.

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and ensures a brighter future for its habitat and beloved wildlife.

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explorebigsky.com On the cover: Tom Brokaw peers out from the porch of his West Boulder Ranch in July 2011. Photographer Audrey Hall captured this image as Brokaw was completing finishing his book The Time of Our Lives: A Conversation about America. She also photographed the cover for the book. PHOTO BY AUDREY HALL

View more of the story at NorthWesternEnergy.com/BrightFuture


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C O N T E N T B Y L O C AT I O N ISCHGL p. 58

ACME p. 60

WA S H I N G TO N

MALTA p. 134

WHITEFISH p. 22 KALISPELL p. 28

M O N TA N A

SILVER VALLEY p. 23

PHILIPSBURG p. 119

HOOD RIVER p. 152

BOZEMAN p. 112 ENNIS p. 146

OREGON

BIG SKY p. 23, 126

IDAHO

LIVINGSTON p. 158 COOKE CITY p. 22 ABSAROKA RANGE, PARADISE VALLEY p. 114 YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK

DRIGGS p. 62

SUN VALLEY p. 152

p. 84

GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK

JACKSON DUBOIS HOLE p. 98 p. 50

WYOMING

p. 152

ALASKA

Mount Shishapangma, Tibet, China MOUNT SHISHAPANGMA, TIBET p. 24 PARO VALLEY, BHUTAN p. 38

NEW BRUNSWICK

SALT LAKE p. 59

UTAH

CHINA

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS p. 66 CARBONDALE p. 130

COLORADO

MEXICO

F E AT U R E D CONTRIBUTORS

MONTAGE, BAJA P. 64

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AMANDA LOUDIN (“Forging Outdoor Community from the Inside,” p.130) is a Maryland-based freelancer who frequently covers her area of passion, the outdoors, and her work appears regularly in The Washington Post and Outside magazine. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her out on the trails running or hiking with two-legged and four-legged friends.

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DAN EGAN (“Finding our Inner Warren Miller,” p. 66) skied in 14 Warren Miller movies and leads adventure ski trips around the world when he’s not teaching steep camps at Big Sky Resort. His latest book, Thirty Years in a White Haze, tells the story of extreme skiing, family, and Egan’s adventures from Boston to skiing the most remote regions of the world.


F RO M T H E E D I T O R

Awakening “As certain as weather coming from the west, the things people know for sure will change. There is no knowing for a fact. The only dependable things are humility and looking.” – Richard Powers, The Overstory Well, we can all agree on one thing: let’s bury 2020. Not in the sense that we should forget “that year,” as we’ll refer to it henceforth—it will be studied feverishly for how many damned things went wrong—but that we should wrap it up and toss it kit and kaboodle off the back of the ship. As we move forward with 2021, we are, however trepidatiously, emerging from a dark cave and into the sunlight of a promising year. “I think America is at a real crossroads,” Tom Brokaw told me in our interview in fall of “that year.” “We’ve never had in the history of the country so many traumatic experiences going on simultaneously. But I’m confident that America will come through.” We’re honored to have Brokaw as our Featured Outlaw for this winter 2020-2021 edition of Mountain Outlaw magazine, and while the legendary newsman is concerned about the country, he’s also hopeful. And so are we. The theme of this issue is “Awakening,” and from our Outbound Gallery (p. 28), to Last Light (p. 166) to the theme of 2021’s Big Sky Ideas Fest and fifth

HENRY HALL (“A Future of Many,” p. 126) is an aspiring sports and outdoor journalist who graduated from the University of Denver last June. He recently moved to Bozeman, Montana, where he hopes to continue to grow as a writer, outdoorsman and skier.

annual TEDxBigSky event, we’ve decided to open our eyes to the hope and possibilities that 2021 can provide. The concept of awakening permeates these pages: Brigid Mander writes in Where Do We Go from Here (p. 98) of the awakening many residents of worldwide tourist destinations felt when COVID-19 ripped the guts out of the travel industry; and she discusses the awakening we, as residents and visitors in the American West, should recognize in order to preserve these wild lands. Dan Egan honors the incomparable Warren Miller (Ski Bum: Finding our inner Warren Miller, p. 66), the prolific ski filmmaker who awakened an entire outdoor industry to the joy and connection skiing can bring us. And Alex Sakariassen awakens the dormant archaeologists in us all as he digs up More Than Bones (p. 134). In Bram Stoker’s classic novel, Dracula, protagonist Jonathan Harker writes in his journal: “No man knows till he has suffered from the night how sweet and dear to his heart and eye the morning can be.” Let’s recognize what we can learn from “that year,” flip it off, and roll into 2021 with a newfound perspective that, no matter how isolated and fearful we felt, how we missed our loved ones, and how we longed for human connection, we can agree on one other thing: To awaken in 2021. Joseph T. O’Connor Editor-in-Chief joe@theoutlawpartners.com

TAILYR IRVINE (“Awakening,” p. 28) is a Salish and Kootenai photojournalist born and raised on the Flathead Indian Reservation in western Montana. Her work focuses on providing indepth representations of the lives and complex issues within the diverse communities that make up Native America.

BAY STEPHENS (“Building in the Land of the Thunder Dragon,” p. 38) is a freelance writer and former Outlaw Partners staffer. A recent transplant to Chattanooga, Tennessee, he’s learning the art of flipping burgers, making friends responsibly during a pandemic, and coping with a winter without snow.

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Listen:

DA N D U B U Q U E

Dan Dubuque, a Montana native and slide guitarist, plays his instrument outside against the backdrop of beautiful Montana scenery. PHOTO COURTESY OF DAN DUBUQUE

Slide guitarist Dan Dubuque, known for his heavy percussive style, tours Montana playing a variety of gigs from Yaak in the northwest corner of the state to White Sulphur Springs. The Polson, Montana, native who now lives in Whitefish, plays both original pieces and unique covers, and he recently received national attention for his widely acclaimed cover of Killing in the Name by Rage Against the Machine. Rage’s lead singer Tom Morello called it “mesmerizing.” The YouTube video of Killing in the Name, which as of early December had 1.8 million views, features Dubuque sitting on a snowy riverbank dropping a catchy beat, shredding riffs and providing his own percussion. One commentor said: “This is the coolest thing anybody’s ever done while wearing slip-on Merrell shoes.” Dubuque lost gigs in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic but has garnered more attention than ever through his YouTube videos. “It’s a weird and crazy time right now for everybody so now more than ever I really want my sounds to mean something,” Dubuque says. “I’m grateful that my sounds can give some kind of relief, optimism, sanity and happiness to people that are going through some real shit right now.” – Gabrielle Gasser

Read:

E R N E ST H E M I N G WAY I N T H E YE L LOWSTO N E H I G H CO U N T RY Author Chris Warren takes a deep dive into the life of writer Ernest Hemingway, specifically, the time he spent in Cooke City, Montana. Herein lies a robust body of work, in part examining Hemingway’s time in Paris and Madrid and the importance of those locations to his writing and his time in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, which has never been fully researched. Until now. In the 1930s, Hemingway spent five summers at a ranch on the edge of Yellowstone National Park and Warren explores how the experiences “Papa” had in those mountains connect to many of his most famous works, including the timeless For Whom the Bell Tolls. In Ernest, Warren relays how Hemingway declared that the ranch in Montana was one of his favorite places to write. Warren, a resident of Cooke City who completed the book in 2019, spent years researching Hemingway’s time there and examines how the author’s life and work were influenced by the Mountain West. – G.G. 22

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Ernest Hemingway in the Yellowstone High Country provides a detailed look into the life of famed author Ernest Hemingway who was deeply influenced by his time in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. PHOTO COURTESY OF RIVERBEND PUBLISHING


TRAILHEAD

Visit:

S I L V E R VA L L E Y , I DA H O

The Silver Valley Historical Area is a 40-mile-long swath of Idaho encompassing several towns and nestled in the Coeur d’Alene Mountains, the northwestern portion of the Bitterroot Range. The area was once an active mining district, though today the focus is recreational tourism. These days you can tour the historic Sierra Silver Mine (over 100 years old) in Wallace, Idaho, which is part of the Coeur d’Alene Mining District, the world’s largest silver producer. Both Wallace and its sister town Kellogg offer museums and tours detailing the rich history of mining, logging and intercontinental railroads in the valley. Wallace is listed in its entirety on the National Register of Historic Places making it one of only four towns in the country to boast this distinction. Once you get your fill of history, outdoor recreation abounds in the valley, including two ski resorts. Silver Mountain Resort boasts America’s longest gondola, a three-plus mile ride. And Lookout Pass Ski and Recreation Area, just 20 minutes up the road and located on the Montana-Idaho border, is home to the second oldest ski lodge in the Pacific Northwest. – G.G.

The Silver Valley Historical area is home to a rich history of silver mining, two ski resorts and a myriad of opportunities for outdoor recreation. PHOTO COURTESY OF VISIT IDAHO

News:

T E S T E R E Y E S H I S TO R I C R I V E R D E S I G N AT I O N

The Montana Headwaters Legacy Act will be sponsored by Sen. Jon Tester and, if passed, will protect 336 river miles in Montana including 39 miles of the Gallatin River. PHOTO BY GABRIELLE GASSER

The most significant “wild and scenic” river designation in 45 years is in the works. In 1968, Congress passed the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act establishing the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, which, by March of 2019, had already provided conservation protections for more than 225 rivers throughout the U.S. Last October, Montana Sen. Jon Tester stood on the banks of the Gallatin River and announced he would be sponsoring the Montana Headwaters Legacy Act, legislation that’s been in development for 10 years and was made possible through a collaborative effort called Montanans for Healthy Rivers. Among the collaborative: American Rivers, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition and the Gallatin River Task Force, as well as various Montana businesses. If it passes, the act would protect 336 river miles in Montana, ensuring the prohibition of potentially destructive projects such as dams, which could harm the river’s free-flowing condition, water quality, or outstanding resource values. The designation will not affect current water rights or existing state or federal jurisdiction, according to officials. While Tester says his announcement is a huge step forward, he also acknowledged a long and potentially difficult process ahead. “We’ll try to talk with the [U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources] to have a hearing on it and then we’ll get somebody to testify in favor of it,” he said. “And then we’re off and running.” The rhetoric last October focused on the unifying power of rivers and the importance of these waterways to outdoor recreation and Montana’s economy. And, Tester says, the designation would act as an insurance policy, protecting rivers and preserving them in perpetuity. – G.G. M T O U T L AW. C O M / MOUNTAIN

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Reel:

TRAILHEAD

In his new film, Torn, Max Lowe documents the recovery of his father’s body 16 years after his death and the emotional journey he and his family have navigated. PHOTO COURTESY OF NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC DOCUMENTARY FILMS

Cause:

H U M A N I T I E S M O N TA N A

Humanities Montana offers a variety of programs, workshops and grants to help Montana’s cultural institutions thrive. PHOTO COURTESY OF HUMANITIES MONTANA

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TO R N

In the new Nat Geo documentary Torn, filmmaker/photog Max Lowe turns the lens on his family and the death of his father, renowned climber Alex Lowe. The film details the recovery of Alex’s body 16 years after his death in an avalanche on Mount Shishapangma in Tibet. Alex’s best friend, legendary mountaineer Conrad Anker, was with Alex that day and miraculously survived the avalanche. Anker went on to marry Alex’s widow Jenni and raise his children, including Max. The film follows Max as he makes the harrowing journey back to Mount Shishapangma to finally put his father to rest after climbers discovered the body preserved in glacial ice. Alongside this physical trek, the film explores the Lowe-Anker family and their emotional journey since 1999. Max attempts to understand and document the life of his father, a dedicated family man who was taken too soon. Torn is currently in postproduction and is slated for release fall of 2021. – G.G.

Humanities Montana was founded in 1972 by the National Endowment for the Humanities as one of 56 state councils across the country aiming to support the humanities and make them a larger part of public life. The organization, active across Montana, serves communities through stories and conversation and has helped the state’s cultural institutions thrive. For nearly 50 years, Humanities Montana has offered grants and special programs, created and supported humanities-based projects, and sparked meaningful conversations between attendees of their programs and workshops. One program called Big Sky Reads supports book clubs engaged in thought-provoking discussions about literature. Any public book club in Montana can apply to be funded through Big Sky Reads and can receive a $500 stipend to support their activities. – G.G.


Trending: Sales of alpine touring equipment have soared and avalanche educators are bracing for a busy season in the backcountry. PHOTO COURTESY OF HOLLY MANDARICH ON UNSPLASH

AT H L E I S U R E Yep, you read it right. Athleisure is the potentially obvious combination of the words “athletic” and “leisure” that’s changing the fashion industry and even causing high-end brands to release new lines of sweatpants and sneakers. What does this mean? First, it’s totally acceptable to wear sweatpants in public. And now fashionable, too. Athleisure has also changed the way consumers buy outdoor apparel and how companies like Lululemon or Burton market to outdoorsy types (who also want to chill). B AC KCO U N T R Y G E A R S A L E S S P I K E After COVID-19 shut down ski resorts in March of 2020, legions flocked to the backcountry to scratch that pow-turn itch. This season, retailers are seeing spikes in sales of uphill equipment and avalanche safety gear. At the same time, avalanche educators are ramping up outreach and education efforts while Search and Rescue teams brace for higher call volumes. Sales of alpine touring equipment, including boots, skis and bindings, climbed 15 percent in the 2019-2020 season according to New Product Development Group’s Julia Clark Day. Expect that number to soar.

PHOTO COURTESY OF ABOVE: Pattie Gonia is a fierce ALEXANDRA TRAN ON UNSPLASH intersectional environmentalist who calls for inclusivity in outdoors spaces. PHOTO COURTESY OF PATTIEGONIA ON INSTAGRAM

LEFT: Karen Ramos is an activist for sustainability and racial justice who started Get Out Stay Out, a nonprofit that encourages Indigenous Migrant youth to get outside. PHOTO COURTESY OF KAREN RAMOS ON INSTAGRAM

T H E O U T DOO R S A S A S PAC E F O R AC T I V I S M Instagram personalities call for inclusivity in outdoors spaces. PAT T I E G O N I A ( H E / S H E / T H E Y ) : Drag queen and activist Pattie Gonia describes herself as “a lady in the streets but a freak on the peaks.” She is a tireless and vivacious advocate for inclusivity in outdoors spaces for members of the LGBTQIA community, among other marginalized groups. An “intersectional environmentalist,” as she says, Pattie Gonia, or Wyn Wiley (He/ Him) when not in heels, lives in Nebraska and aims to protect the planet and the people who live here. K A R E N R A M O S : Karen Ramos is a Latina, indigenous woman and an activist for the outdoors, sustainability and racial justice. Ramos started Get Out Stay Out, an indigenous, youthled nonprofit looking to reconnect Indigenous Migrant youth to the outdoors through culturally equitable outdoor programming. W I L D L I F E CO N S E R VAT I O N P H OTOG R A P H Y In the new coffee table book, “REFUGE: Earth’s Wildest Places,” award-winning conservation photographer and environmentalist Ian Shive creates a breathtaking tribute to America’s National Wildlife Refuge System. Dive in for an in-depth look at the largest network of protected lands and waters in the world through Shive’s masterful photography and essays from the globe’s leading conservationists and environmental leaders.– G.G.

Photographer Ian Shive creates a detailed tribute to America’s National Wildlife Refuge System. PHOTO BY IAN SHIVE

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F A U R E

H A L V O R S E N

ARCHITECTS


MontanaLifeRE.com Joe Duval

406 570 7837

joe@MontanaLifeRE.com


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Civil unrest, uncertainty and confusion have defined 2020. It’s been a terrifying year in many ways but through pain can come growth. Montana’s population is nearly 90 percent white, but we at Mountain Outlaw wanted to seek out diversity here and recognize how Black, Indigenous and People of Color are impacting the Treasure State and sending powerful messages. – The Editors

awakening. P H O TO G R A P H Y B Y TA I L Y R I R V I N E

I grew up in western Montana on the Flathead Indian Reservation. The way I was raised shaped who I am and the work I do as a photojournalist, as the home I know exists in sharp contrast with how it’s often represented in the mainstream media. Native American history and stories have been documented by outsiders since this country’s inception. I’ve seen the damage this storytelling has inflicted on Native America and how outside perspectives have shaped how my community is perceived by the rest of the world. This is why I became a photojournalist. It’s my hope that my work will be a tool to educate and help dismantle stereotypes for underrepresented communities. – Tailyr Irvine

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OUTBOUND

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G A L L E RY

Donna Kipp, a member of the Blackfeet Nation, wears a red skirt representing the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Movement to school in Browning, Montana. Kipp, 17, organized an event to have girls wear similar skirts to school in order to bring more awareness to the movement.

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Hundreds of participants came to Ashley’s Walk, many holding signs of their own missing loved ones on June 8, 2019. Ashley Heavy Runner Loring is a prominent face of the movement, but thousands of Native Americans have stories of their own missing loved ones that have never been found. And some cases of murdered family members have never been solved. Indigenous women have the highest murder rates, but Native men are also murdered without proper investigations due to poor coordination between law enforcement agencies.

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G A L L E RY

Above: A float dedicated to Ashley Heavy Runner Loring and other MMIW rolls down the street during the North American Indian Days parade in Browning, Montana, on July 12, 2019. North American Indian Days is a July celebration that includes a powwow, rodeo and parade. Kimberly Loring uses the event as an opportunity to address the community and the visitors that attend from across the state and country. As the float rode by the parade attendees, Kimberly shouted, “I know someone knows what happened to my sister! Speak up! I know you know!” Her voice is hoarse. Right: Donna Kipp wears MMIW painted on her shoulder as she prepares for the second annual Ashley’s Walk in Browning. Red paint, hand prints and ribbon skirts represent the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Movement. According to a study by the Urban Indian Health Institute, 5,712 indigenous women went missing in 2016. Only 116 were logged by the Department of Justice's missing persons database.

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Judith Heilman, Executive Director, The Montana Racial Equity Project Judith Heilman is a former Palo Alto, California, police officer and now the founder and executive director of the Montana Racial Equity Project based in Bozeman, Montana. MTREP is a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization advocating equity and justice for historically marginalized, disenfranchised and oppressed peoples in Montana. They educate, train and activate organizers, individuals, groups, organizations, institutions and businesses to invest in interrupting racism, bigotry and prejudice. Following the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, MTREP along with Montana State University’s Black Student Union organized a rally in solidarity for racial equity in Bozeman’s Bogert Park, with roughly 2,000 people in attendance. themtrep.org

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There’s so much education that needs to be done, and getting people to recognize racism, bigotry and prejudice, and then act on it … be an antiracist. Push back on it. Whether it’s something that can be done right then, or whether it’s a big project, because this is an ultramarathon, not a sprint. -Judith Heilman, Executive Director, The Montana Racial Equity Project.


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G A L L E RY

Alex Kim, Racial Justice Engagement Specialist, EmpowerMT and YWCA of Missoula Alex Kim is the joint racial justice engagement specialist for EmpowerMT and the YWCA of Missoula, Montana, working to build anti-racism initiatives for organizations and within the community. He has worked for the University of Montana college radio station performing community outreach, and for Backcountry Hunters and Anglers leading diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. Kim’s commitment to racial justice work is rooted in celebrating our differences, elevating BIPOC voices, educating the community, and building compassion and empathy for one another. EmpowerMT is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that began in 1998 as a volunteer-run chapter of the National Coalition Building Institute at the University of Montana. To accomplish its mission, EmpowerMT has developed a leadership development program and comprehensive course curriculum to reduce prejudice, prevent violence and resolve conflict. Since they began, over 50,000 participants have received support and leadership development, learned skills to interrupt

I believe that if we can continue to encourage change within the systems that we operate and participate in we can start to make differences in our communities which can be models for the rest of the country. -Alex Kim, Racial Justice Engagement Specialist, EmpowerMT and YWCA Missoula

oppression, prevent violence, and resolve conflict, and developed strategies for building just systems. empowermt.org

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Gerald Gray, Chairman, Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana Gerald Gray is currently in his second term as chairman of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana. Chairman Gray led his tribe’s effort to restore its federal recognition, which they have sought since the 1930s. In December 2019, the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians became the 574th federally recognized tribe in the United States. On January 25, 2020, tribal citizens celebrated their victory in Great Falls, Montana, and remembered those who helped pave the way. Gray was Senator Jon Tester’s guest of honor at President Donald Trump's State of the Union address on Feb. 4, 2020. “He is a relentless advocate for his people who built strong coalitions but wasn’t shy about putting the screws to me and the rest of the delegation when he needed to,” Tester told the Great Falls Tribune. “Because of his leadership, federal recognition is a battle the next generation won’t have to fight.”

We had to go through a system that the federal government put in place. The same government that tried to get rid of Indians. I don’t like it, but it’s the system we were forced to operate under — and we did it. They get to tell me I’m Indian now. -Gerald Gray, Chairman of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana 34

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Left: Little Shell Tribal Chairman Gerald Gray accepts a basket of gifts from Rynalea Pena, president of the Northern Cheyenne Tribal Council. Gray said the support of their sister tribes was invaluable in Little Shell’s battle for recognition. Below: Scott Jenkin, 47, carried a portrait of his grandmother, Alice LaTray Schnabel, into the inauguration. She had died three days before the Little Shell Tribe was recognized. “I wanted her here in spirit,” Jenkin said. “It’s her blood that makes me Little Shell.”

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SECTION: SUBHEAD MT. EVEREST GLEAMED A BRILLIANT WHITE THROUGH THE PORTHOLE OF THE SMALL PLANE.

Then Ken Ryder spotted Kangchenjunga, the world’s third highest peak. Ryder, a middleaged boutique homebuilder from Bozeman, Montana, smiled to himself. He’d dreamed about these mountains since his college days in the late ‘60s. The Drukair airplane threaded down through the Himalaya’s steep-sided canyons to Bhutan’s only airport at 7,300 feet above sea level. Ryder’s host, Sonam Jatso, greeted him warmly, taking his bags and leading him out to the Toyota Hilux pickup. They drove past ancient monasteries, quaint villages, serpentine rivers and sweeping mountain slopes. More than once, Ryder asked Jatso to pull over so he could photograph traditional rammed-earth homes under construction. This was, after all, why he was here: to observe Bhutanese building techniques and consult his client, Druk Construction, on how mechanization might improve efficiency. It was 1997, and neither internet nor television had touched down in this secluded nation. Little did Ryder know that this was the beginning of a rich 20-plus-year relationship with the country. He would go on to lead teams of Bozeman craftsmen and tradespeople to help build the kingdom’s first Bhutanese-owned five-star hotel, its first log cabin, and a state guesthouse for the Bhutanese government, currently under construction. The endeavors would afford the opportunity for upward of 25 Bozemanites to experience this hidden country for a month or more. Many would fall in love with Bhutan and its people. Ryder and Jatso made their way toward the capital, Thimpu, a small city of about 50,000. The Toyota bounced between rice paddies ringing the city, then through narrow streets to drop Ryder at a small guesthouse in the heart of town. Accommodations were simple but that was part of the adventure. Ryder spent a week in the capital and one day found himself standing by a vegetable stand as thunder boomed down from the mountains. It was legend revealing itself: the rumble of the great dragon that Tibetans witnessed centuries ago when they crossed northern passes to pick medicinal wildflowers. Ryder was awestruck. This was Druk Yul, as the locals know it: Land of the Thunder Dragon. >>

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The Zhiwa Ling Heritage hotel in Bhutan’s Paro Valley is the only Bhutanese-owned five-star hotel in the country. Built in part by Bozeman, Montana craftsmen, it’s one of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ZHIWA LING

IN THE L AND OF T HE

BY BAY STEPHENS

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ON THAT FIRST TRIP, RYDER TOURED 11 OF THE

kingdom’s 20 dzongkhags, or districts, taking copious notes on construction practices. The insane amount of hand labor stood out more than anything else. Upon returning stateside, Ryder wrote a report concluding that, if one tool would improve the efficiency of construction in Bhutan, it would be the Wood-Mizer Sawmill. A nifty piece of machinery, the Wood-Mizer can transform massive logs into beautiful planks or pillars and be towed behind a truck. The thin blade yields more wood than a circular saw, saving timber in accordance with Bhutan’s lofty environmental standards. Ryder mailed Jatso a VHS tape—this was the ‘90s, remember—of the Wood-Mizer in action. And in November 1997, Jatso bought one in Oregon and shipped it across the Pacific. That sawmill cut the timber for the next two projects Bozeman builders would have a hand in, along with many others. Ryder estimates the machine has sawn more than 4 million board feet of timber. While Wood-Mizers had scarce been heard of in the East at the time—and could only be purchased in the U.S.—today, they are ubiquitous in Bhutan, and dealerships operate in Singapore and Thailand.

THE BUILDS

A couple years later, a young Bhutanese businessman, Ugyen Rinzin, visited Bozeman. He and Ryder had become friends on a prior visit thanks to a mutual connection in Jennifer Read, former owner of the Tibetan Trader apparel shop in Bozeman. This time, Rinzin was there on business. He wanted to build a hotel in Bhutan’s Paro Valley that would wed traditional Bhutanese architecture with modern amenities. Ryder toured the young entrepreneur around several Bozeman construction sites, recalling Rinzin’s amazement at the efficiency, use of power tools, quality of stonework and plumbing. Rinzin asked Ryder to assemble a volunteer team of Bozeman builders, crafts- and tradesmen to come to Bhutan and turn his vision into the Zhiwa Ling Heritage hotel. In exchange for their time and efforts, these Montanans would experience a country whose resources, culture and people the rest of the world wishes were more accessible. The job would afford them special travel status, side-stepping the tourist fees and visa hassle often required of visitors.

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NOW: THUNDER DRAGON

“ONE-ON-ONE, THEY’RE KIND. ALL THEIR MANNERISMS, THEIR TONE OF VOICE, IT WAS HARD NOT TO BE IMPRESSED AND DRAWN IN.”

Left: A team of seven pushes a massive log into place on the Wood-Mizer portable sawmill to make pillars for the Zhiwa Ling. Above: A Bozeman stonemason works among pillars carved with traditional Bhutanese patterns that now stand in the Zhiwa Ling. PHOTOS BY KEN RYDER

Ryder called on trusted subcontractors and friends: Bruce Tollefson to head woodworking; Mark Croghan and Jeff Madsen for stonemasonry and tiling; Pat McMullen of PJ's Plumbing and Heating as master plumber; and Larry “Barney” Barnard as master electrician. From 2001 to 2005, these volunteers and others came for monthlong stints. The American builders shared a consistent impression of the people as remarkably welcoming, gentle and warm. “They’re humans [and] have their issues like everybody else,” Barnard said. “But one-on-one, they’re kind. All their mannerisms, their tone of voice, it was hard not to be impressed and drawn in.” The time building the Zhiwa Ling fostered vibrant relationships between the Montanans and Bhutanese, according to Karma Lotey, the CEO of Yangphel Adventure Travel, Rinzin’s guiding company that now operates the hotel. “We went out together, socialized together and we taught [the Americans] … archery,” Lotey said of Bhutan’s national sport. Barnard learned the customary way to drink tea, dipping a finger in and flicking one drop out for the deities, another for Buddha, then enjoying the rest. When the project came through, it featured 45 well-appointed suites, a yoga studio, restaurant, greenhouse with Bhutanese orchids, Meditation House, spa, tea house, a view of the iconic Tiger’s Nest monastery, and an in-house temple with 450-year-old wood from a treasured monastery. Its design recalls a dzong, the monastery fortresses throughout Bhutan built to ward off Tibetan attacks. In 2015, National Geographic added it to the list of Unique Lodges of the World, the first hotel in all of Asia to make the cut and remains the country’s first and only 5-star Bhutanese-owned hotel. “Zhiwa Ling is a work of art, painstakingly constructed, carved, and painted by Bhutanese artisans,” Nat Geo wrote. “… The stunning architecture conveys an atmosphere of timeless tradition that fits right into Bhutan’s cultural landscape.” The hotel became a benchmark for quality as well. Lotey said hotels constructed after the Zhiwa Ling replicated aspects of it such as the intricate carvings, façade, architectural style, double-glazed windows, and quality plumbing. The hotel even inspired a Zhiwa Ling-esque house in Telluride, Colorado. After the hotel’s completion, the Americans returned home and a decade passed. Ryder and Barnard thought fondly of the country almost daily. >>

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“YARINGTON RECALLS THE SAWYERS, TOUGH LIKE THE BARK OF THE TREES THROUGH WHICH THEY HEWED, STILLING THEIR CHAINSAWS TO MOVE EARTHWORMS OUT OF HARM’S WAY.”

IN APRIL OF 2015, RYDER STUMBLED UPON A FACEBOOK POST OF

then-Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay giving a $1 million check to the Nepalese government after the devastating earthquakes. Intrigued, he visited Tobgay’s Facebook page and followed a link that said, “Email me.” In his “curious and sometimes impulsive way,” as Barnard put it, Ryder drafted a note to the prime minister about an apprenticeship program for Bhutanese youth that he’d been mulling over, and shot it across the globe. Prime minister Tobgay responded that same afternoon. Though their

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correspondence didn’t result in an apprenticeship program, it did lead to another invitation: come back to Bhutan and build the kingdom’s first authentic log cabin. Thrilled, Ryder rang Barnard, who contacted his friend and master log builder Skip Brelsford. And just like that, handfuls of volunteers began making their way across the sea for monthlong rotations between 2016 and 2017. The project proved challenging due to its remote location in the forest district of Haa, the large number of Bozeman volunteers, and it being their first build with the government. It


NOW: THUNDER DRAGON

Carpenter Kinzang at work on the log cabin project. “Kinzang uses a chainsaw like I use a toothpick,” said Bozeman carpenter John Yarington. PHOTO BY JOHN YARINGTON

stretched Ryder and others thin, but they persevered, made new friendships and deepened existing ones. The volunteers worked the days and explored the pine-clad slopes during free time. John Yarington, a middle-aged carpenter on the project, was curious about Buddhism and fond of running. He would clock out and jog up to 12 miles to visit one of the many monasteries tucked away on the slopes and join the young monks in prayer or play—they loved soccer. The Montanans noted how Buddhism, the national religion, wasn’t just practiced on Sundays. Once, Yarington was walking through the site with a carpenter named Tshering, talking about the project. Mid-sentence, Tshering shot his arm out in front of Yarington: “Stop!” Confused, Yarington looked around, then watched his counterpart bend down to retrieve a spider from the ground where the American was about to step. Tshering transported it to safety and resumed the conversation. Yarington recalls the sawyers, tough like the bark of the trees through which they hewed, stilling their chainsaws to move earthworms out of harm’s way. “That kind of thing is a part of their daily life, whether they’re on the construction site or at a monastery,” Yarington said. “It’s like their life is their religion and I was really struck by that.” On National Day in December 2017, Barnard, Ryder and Brelsford were honored for their contribution of the log cabin to the nation of Bhutan. Wearing traditional Bhutanese garments known as ghos, the Americans met Jigme Singye Wangchuck, Bhutan’s fourth king since the people unanimously voted in a hereditary monarchy in 1907. His son and the current Druk Gyalpo, or Dragon King, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck introduced himself to the Americans as well. The Bhutanese adore their monarchy and call their current leader the “Dharma King” for his compassion, according to Karma Lotey. “We have been gifted with one benevolent king after another,” Lotey said. The day after National Day, Ryder and Barnard got the chance to sit and talk with His Majesty for half-anhour while the king inquired about their home lives and perceptions of Bhutan. “That was pretty cool,” Ryder said. He thanked the king for allowing them to volunteer in his country. “And [the king] looked me right in the eye and he said, ‘No, the honor is mine.’”>>

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THE LOG CABIN LED TO ANOTHER PROJECT WITH THE GOVERNMENT:

a log and wood-frame state guesthouse in Thimphu. Despite a delayed start, the project was on a roll and lessons learned from the previous build were paying dividends. Then the COVID-19 pandemic struck, slowing progress to a crawl and barring other Montanans from entering Bhutan. Barnard flew to Bhutan on March 6, 2020 for his shift, planning to leave in April. As of November, he was going on nine months in the country and dragging the project along any way he could. A third of the way finished, he estimates the guesthouse will take at least another year to complete. Bhutan’s government responded proactively to the pandemic, shuttering its borders early. As of mid-November, the country of 817,000 people had not seen a single death, and only 369 total cases. While Barnard awaits another friendly Bozeman face, he enjoys relative comfort. Bhutanese friends, the work, and even his Bhutanese fiancée—or am su, in Dzongkha—whom he met while working on the log cabin, are all within the country’s borders. Yarington, Ryder and other volunteers have their eyes peeled for when flights into Bhutan resume. In the meantime, lockdowns have prompted reflection, including on how quickly Bhutan, the Gallatin Valley and the world are changing.

“BHUTAN’S GOVERNMENT RESPONDED PROACTIVELY TO THE PANDEMIC, SHUTTERING ITS BORDERS EARLY. AS OF MID-NOVEMBER, THE COUNTRY OF 817,000 PEOPLE HAD NOT SEEN A SINGLE DEATH, AND ONLY 369 TOTAL CASES.”

Tshering, another carpenter on the log cabin project, taught Yarington about Buddhism just by how he lived his life. PHOTO BY JOHN YARINGTON

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NOW: THUNDER DRAGON

A WORLD IN FLUX

The difference between today, compared with the pre-television and pre-internet Bhutan that Ryder first encountered in 1997, is staggering. The country has developed in leaps and bounds, but Ryder sees the law of unintended consequences at work. After a decade away, he remembers his shock upon returning in 2015 and finding concrete apartment buildings and hotels hulking where the rice paddies surrounding Thimphu had once been. Instead of using GDP to measure progress, the country goes by Gross National Happiness, a metric they consider more holistic. The government provides free internet and education to its people and a GNH board reviews all development proposals to ensure they abide by strict pillars: sustainable and equitable socioeconomic development; good governance; preservation and promotion of culture; and environmental conservation. Despite its careful approach, the broadcasting of American culture over social media has resulted in youth fleeing to the capital seeking new lives: having an apartment, car and office job. Such migration is both emptying the countryside and filling a city that lacks substantial economic opportunity.

Above: Bozeman log-home builders balance atop a preassembly of the Haa log cabin before moving it to the building site for completion. Right: Ken Ryder with his friend Tshering in front of a truck that transported lumber for the log cabin project. PHOTOS BY LARRY BARNARD

“I’m really somewhat dismayed about the amount of rapid development and, ironically, unhappiness that it’s caused in a country that prides itself on being a happy country,” Ryder said. And climate change is slamming Bhutan—the world’s only carbon negative country—rapidly melting glaciers into lakes that burst and sweep away whole villages. “My people and my country have done nothing to contribute to global warming but we are already bearing the brunt of its consequences,” said former Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay in a 2016 TED Talk. Additionally, tensions between India and China which sandwich Bhutan, are heating up. Together, these countries represent a third of the world’s population and both have nuclear arms. >>

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View of Thimphu valley with Tashichhodzong from Wangditse trail PHOTO BY PEMA GYAMTSHO

AS THEY’VE WATCHED BHUTAN DEVELOP, Ryder and Barnard have also watched Bozeman grow up, though far less intentionally and sustainably. Like many Bozemanites of their generation, they miss pre-‘90s Bozeman, before rapid growth changed the community’s fabric. Barnard acknowledges that he benefited from the growth as an electrician, but also says he never lacked work before development exploded. “We need to do everything in our power to protect public lands and not denigrate them,” Barnard said. “Ostensibly, that’s why everyone came here. But people tend to make a mess of their own nest sometimes, and that’s what we’re doing here [in the Gallatin Valley].” Bozeman was their first love, Bhutan their second. The two master craftsmen hope to impart sustainable timber construction practices to replace concrete construction. “Concrete has become a very common material for construction, but for the cold climate concrete is not really good,” said Tenzin Dorji, a Bhutanese interior designer who worked with Ryder and Barnard. “I think we should get back to timber but use modern technology. In that part we can learn from you guys.” Wood-frame construction suits the country’s resources and environmental ethos. Indeed, only a small fraction of Bhutan’s

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allowable quota of forests is harvested annually. A 2019 World Bank report stated that making more robust use of forests might boost the dearth of income opportunities in rural areas, keeping younger populations from fleeing to unemployment in the city. Only time will tell, but Tenzin believes the two Americans’ time in the Himalayas will have long-reaching effects. He expects wood-frame construction will become commonplace and plans to use what he’s learned from them for his own projects, merging Bhutanese architecture with American techniques. “Their contribution will always be remembered,” Dorji said. “A lot of Bhutanese have learned a lot from them and continue to. They have been very generous.” These Montanans’ legacy will far outlast them, either through the work of the Bhutanese friends and apprentices they’ve taught or in the structures they’ve helped to realize. Ryder and Barnard’s initial romanticism of Bhutan has been tempered by their decades-long relationship with the country— they know it’s not Shangri La. But they count themselves fortunate seeing how the country has enriched their lives, and the small role they’ve played, and will continue to play, in the Land of the Thunder Dragon.


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Rising Tides How Wyoming Rivers Cooperative is taking clients down rivers of adventure and awareness BY CLAIRE CELLA Landon Blanchard turns and bends over to light the propane cookstove in the cabin and I find myself studying the logo on the back of his shirt. It’s for his barely-one-year-old river outfitting company, Wyoming Rivers Cooperative, and was designed by his partner in life and now business, Elyse Guarino. The logo is a black cottonwood leaf with thin teal veins coursing through it—Wyoming’s river system. One might wonder what a cottonwood has to do with water, or what it has to do with this story, but their point is that everything has to do with everything else—it’s all interconnected. And although their fledgling but flourishing packrafting company’s No. 1 objective is to help people get on the water, their mission runs deeper. I stand in their cabin. Chopping echoes throughout the open living space. Blanchard dices garlic with a deftness of having held a knife in this way before, while Guarino stands inches from him, dropping old tortillas into a pot of hot oil, making do, not wasting.

An ethos permeates the moments I spent with these two people. Together, they are a cooperative: helpful and striving for an outcome that is of common benefit. But more broadly, what they’ve managed to build in the span of a few months—during a global pandemic, no less—and what they aspire to continue building, is cooperative, too. In January 2020, Blanchard and Guarino launched their business in Lander, Wyoming, intending to name it “Wyoming Rivers,” but the name was taken. Surreptitiously, I’ll argue. But Wyoming Rivers Cooperative is much more than a boating or packrafting company. Sure, you’ll learn the skills you need to manage rapids, pack a rafting bag, leave no trace in the wilderness, but you’ll also learn a lot more on your trip—about the water you float upon, where it came from, where it’s going, and how you fit into this broader system, how you can cooperate with it. It’s a company with a mission and model that was born out of the questions Blanchard and Guarino were asking themselves at the end of 2019—about water, rivers and the course of their lives. After one particular trip on the Green River with his previous employer, Blanchard said he came back inspired to help people have these types of experiences and translate that appreciation and awareness into advocacy for river conservation in Wyoming. “We wanted to start a company that was conservation based, community focused and sustainable,” he said, “where the business model is built so that we don’t have to grow our numbers in a way that negatively impacts the resources. “Every community has a river flowing through it somewhere,” he continued, gesturing outside to the cottonwood-lined banks of the South Fork of the Shoshone that flows steps from their cabin. And that should, the duo says, help foster conversations about the state’s recreation economy, the collaborative use of rivers and sharing of water. It can also spark discussions about the value and quality of water in all of its forms and uses—even if that means, for them, not having access.

Left: Landon Blanchard and Elyse Guarino talk with the Local Motives crew along the North Fork of the Shoshone after paddling the river. PHOTO COURTESY OF LOCAL MOTIVES

Right: Blanchard and Guarino paddle the Wind River near Dubois, Wyoming, on an early season scouting trip. PHOTO BY BRANDON WARD

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“We want to be involved at every level and not just about Wyoming. She likens the impact they’d like to have when it affects us,” Blanchard said. “From my work to a pot full of water, tipped over and trickling into other in advocacy, I know it’s more beneficial to be the one communities and states. who continually shows up. And if that means that “We want to give people an awareness that we don’t get to float a river but that the resource is moves people to action and makes them realize this more protected, or the water is of higher quality, it is interconnectedness—climate change to economy to absolutely in our mission to still be involved.” recreation to inequality—and how that is related to “We want to showcase this for other businesses,” water.” Guarino added. “That we don’t only have to prioritize This winter, the couple is diving into the water things that make us money. If we issues that may arise during the continue to do that, we’re never Wyoming Legislature’s 66th session, “We wa n t to gi ve going to have vibrant recreation or as well as fostering more collaborative p eop le a n awareness healthy communities. We have to partnerships with businesses, th a t m ove s peopl e recognize that we are part of a bigger organizations and user-groups to be able to a c t ion and makes system. It seems obvious with water, to expand their current trip schedule. th em r ea li ze thi s but sometimes people still miss that.” But only to a certain point. The primary in ter con n ectednes s— clim a te change to For instance, as I’m writing this goal remains the experience they impart econ omy to recreati on piece, the Western mountains have to other people, and not necessarily to in eq u a li ty—and already been dusted with early snow themselves. If they continue with that how t h a t i s rel ated to and while we may think that only model, they think that water will always wa ter .” avid skiers and snowboarders are be here, too. taking watch, Blanchard, Guarino— “How you exist in a place is just as and, they argue, anyone who cares about water in the much a part of the experience as what you’re doing or West—are, too. what you’ve accomplished,” Blanchard said. “And if we “It’s important to understand the connection between can build trips that show this and the connection between how much snow we get, when we get it, how long it things, it won’t save the world, but it might help protect stays, how it consolidates, what quality it is, to how much these resources.” water we’ll have throughout the summer,” he said. “It’s okay to give instead of take,” Guarino said, For Blanchard and Guarino, snow is fundamental handing me a bowl of curry. to whether they can operate a certain river; for others, whether they can grow crops; still other places, if they’ll Claire Cella, a New York state native, never imagined have enough to drink. It’s a communitywide issue, not herself living in the West. That was five years ago just about recreation, and, Guarino adds, not even just and now she can’t imagine living anywhere else.

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R E P O R T :

So long, ‘shrink it and pink it!’ Ski companies return to marketing the genderless ski At some point in the 1980s, skis—those silly sticks people strap on their feet to slide down snowy hillsides for entertainment—were no longer simply “skis,” as they had been for millennia. Instead, the world was presented with men’s skis and women’s skis. Fast forward a few decades, and aggressive industry marketing had pushed any woman who didn’t know she needed special skis to the proper gendered ski wall. The problem was, making skis shorter, lighter and softer—derisively referred to as “shrink it and pink it”—were for weaker, intermediate-level skiers. To be fair, not every brand fell headfirst into this travesty. Some kept on making plain old skis for whomever wanted to ski them. The real mistake wasn’t in making women’s skis a category, it was in the forceful new campaigns that pushed any female skier toward this lower performance gear. For female intermediates, they worked perfectly because, just like male intermediates, they prefer less aggressive

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BY BRIGID MANDER

gear (turns out, skis respond to the weight and power a skier applies, not skier gender). Nevertheless, unsubstantiated theories about women’s biomechanics requiring special ski engineering proliferated, sowing confusion everywhere. Many women, even powerful skiers, began to feel even skill-appropriate “men’s” skis were not for them anymore. This year, however, we may finally see the beginning of the end of a gendered ski as a necessity. Industry powerhouse Fischer has announced the cessation of women’s specific construction and launched a new campaign for 2020-2021 titled “Skis for Skiers.” Fischer isn’t alone. Salt Lake City-based DPS Skis is phasing out its women’s line. Both companies say their once-again unisex skis will simply be made in more sizes to fit more skiers. Other ski makers may soon follow suit.


NOW: REPORTS

Left: Skier Lynsey Dyer, full slash in Ischgl, Austria. PHOTO COURTESY OF FISCHER SPORTS

Right: Combining prepreg carbon with the world’s finest supporting materials, Salt Lake City-based DPS Skis is shaking up the ski world with genderless boards. PHOTO BY ROCKO MENZYK

Mike Hattrup, former ski movie star, ski legend, and now Fischer’s U.S. product manager and global freeride ski program leader, explained the company’s bold about-face. “We realized a lot of our [freeride] women—professional athletes, patrollers, instructors—were choosing the men’s skis. So we took a look and the data does not support gender-specific skis,” Hattrup said. “We also looked to the World Cup, where the women race on the exact same skis as the men, just shorter.” There, he points out, in the world where any miniscule advantage is worth a lot of money, if there was any advantage to female-specific engineering, racers would be all over it. According to DPS’s Alex Hunt, the story is similar. After conversations with female freeskiers, it was clear “women’sspecific” wasn’t a huge draw anymore. “A quality ski with strong performance that also looked good was important, but a ‘ladies’ or ‘women’s’ tag didn’t have much to do with choices made,” Hunt reports. Similar to Fischer’s “Skis for Skiers,” DPS will simply market each ski to the type of skier who will like it. This is a bright spot for women’s skiing, but only if it’s coupled with actual promotion of talented, aggressive professional female freeskiing athletes. Instead of ads about gentle turns, smiles and swirling butterfly graphics, the industry may find women prefer to have aspirations rather than their own category. And that would be doing actual good for women in skiing.

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R E P O R T :

The climate’s change to the maple sugar industry

BY BRANDON WALKER

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SECTION: NOW:SUBHEAD REPORTS

What would pancakes, waffles and French toast be if not for maple syrup? Like a tux without the bowtie. Or Burt without Ernie. However you pour it, that sweet, sticky substance that adorns our breakfast plates may be under siege. Dr. Selena Ahmed, Montana State University Associate Professor of Sustainable Food Systems, says maple syrup is being adversely affected by our warming planet. “The locations that will have the maximum amount of maple sap flow are expected to shift northward by 400 [kilometers] … by 2100,” she said. In addition to the northern migration of sugar maple sap flow, Ahmed—who’s part of the collaborative research group Acer Climate and Socio-Ecological Research Network, aka ACERnet—and the group believe the halfway mark of “sugaring season” will be accelerated by a month and the sugar content within sugar maple sap will decline by roughly 1 Brix, a widely utilized sucrose measurement, in the next 80 years. With reduced sugar content comes the need for greater quantities of sap to produce each gallon of maple syrup. ACERnet reports that for every degree Celsius the average annual temperature increases in March, sap collection is accelerated by more than four days. Ahmed and ACERnet say the sugaring season will vary in the future, but that maple production in Canada could be less affected. “The situation is not looking as good here in the United States,” Ahmed said. “We are expecting declines in syrup yield and higher frequencies of poor syrup production years across most of the U.S. range.” The 10-year outlook for the maple syrup industry isn’t overly alarming, Ahmed noted, but as the planet’s temperature increases over a prolonged period of time, the effects become more profound. Fortunately, this doesn’t mean the end of maple syrup—Ahmed and ACERnet believe the industry can combat negative trends. Revised management practices, some derived from indigenous methods, such as diversified forests—including tapping different species of maple trees—varying sap harvesting tactics, adapting to the shifting sugaring season, and creating new maple-based products for alternative revenue methods are practices Ahmed believes maple sugar producers should start embracing in order to stem the warming tide. Neil McCleod of Neil’s Bigleaf Maple is part of an early wave of modern-day syrup producers when it comes to adopting new methods, specifically by tapping a different species of maple tree. His Acme, Washington maple syrup operation utilizes the bigleaf maple tree. McCleod says many in the region refer to bigleaf maples as weeds. The tree’s reach is widespread, spanning from San Diego, into Canada, as far as Vancouver Island. Since little insight exists on harvesting sap from bigleaf maples, McCleod’s method has drawn interest from the

Left: McCleod walks along bigleaf maple trees at his Acme, Washington-based maple sugaring operation. Above: Taps, collecting sap, adorn a cluster of bigleaf maple trees in Washington at Neil’s Bigleaf Maple. PHOTOS BY DEVIN DAY

world of academia—particularly the University of Oregon, Washington, and Washington State University. “I’ve got universities getting grants to basically pick my brain to see how I do it,” he said. In the four years that he has been operating commercially, McCleod has planted roughly 3,600 bigleaf maples to not only absorb carbon dioxide, but also to learn how the trees grow in varying environments as the climate continues to change. McCleod hasn’t witnessed an economic impact due to the adverse effects of climate change and is raking in between $250 and $400 per gallon of syrup—he attributes this to the limited quantity of his unique syrup. “You know everybody is worried about what it’s going to look like,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going to shut me down.” The industry may not disappear overnight, but without adaptation efforts, similar to McCleod’s, and awareness with regard to the warming of the planet, much like the sap runs dry each spring, profits and the maple sugaring livelihood may soon begin to recede.

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R E P O R T :

The Second Coming of the Drive-in

BY KATE HULL

Call it a comeback, a resurgence or a silver lining of the current times, but drive-in movie theaters are having a moment. Prior to the onset of COVID-19, the drive-in was a much-loved nod to history—a roadside throwback to simpler times cloaked in all the charm and nostalgia of mid-20th century America. Patrons would cruise up in their cars, order a heaping tub of popcorn and a milkshake or two, and tune their radio dial as the sun set and the big screen illuminated.

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SECTION: NOW:SUBHEAD REPORTS

Now, drive-in theaters are giving an entire industry a chance at redemption. For the rest of us, they’re providing what we crave: an escape. From throwback classics to live concerts, festivals and even church services and weddings, drive-in theaters have become not only the venue of choice for socially distanced events, but one of the only available options for entertainment. In the mid-1950s, the height of the drive-in era, more than 4,000 theaters dotted the country. By the 1990s, this number had dropped significantly as indoor theaters took hold. Today, just over 300 theaters are still in operation, including The Spud Drive-In in Driggs, Idaho, and Bozeman’s Starlite Drive-In Theatre, which reopened last summer after a 31-year hiatus at its new location near Four Corners, Montana. The live-events industry continues to be one of the hardest hit during the pandemic. Employment reports from the industry nonprofit Live Events Coalition reveal that upwards of 85 percent of employees—ranging from DJs and musicians to sound engineers, light technicians and producers—have been furloughed since March. While the long-term economic loss is yet unknown, live-event trade publication and research firm Pollstar estimated ticket sale losses alone could reach $9 billion. The second coming of the drive-in has allowed for, at the very least, some forward momentum. Since last May, drive-in events have popped up across the country, from small, local gatherings to big-name headliners. Country star Keith Urban held a live drive-in concert near Nashville. Events promoter Live Nation hosted a drive-in concert series, “Live From the Drive-In,” in Alpharetta, Georgia. The Arts Council of Big Sky hosted “Mountainfilm on Tour - Big Sky” by way of a pop-up drive-in to showcase the short docu-film series. And the model continued throughout the fall at drive-ins from Texas to Florida.

“These events have gone exceptionally well, with many screenings selling out,” said Crystal Merrill, tour director of Mountainfilm on Tour. “It’s a superb way for audiences to gather together and experience Mountainfilm under starry skies while still prioritizing safety.” Instead of the usual packed-house festival in Jackson, Wyoming, Teton Gravity Research kicked off the fall tour and world premiere of Make Believe, its latest ski and snowboard film, at The Spud. Known for the vintage potato truck monument at its entrance off of Highway 33 in Driggs, The Spud has become a haven for the community since the pandemic began last March. “Talking to family and friends, it became apparent that my experience with COVID-19 has been starkly different as a business,” said Katie Mumm, who serves as general manager of the drive-in alongside her husband, Jedd. Mumm says during COVID-related shutdowns The Spud experienced a silver lining. “People who had become desperate for social interaction and a sense of community turned to The Spud as a place where they could social distance and feel safe, while still enjoying the smiles of comrades and sights and sounds that took them back to a feeling of normal again,” Mumm said. Whether or not a concert from your car or wedding held drive-in style will stick around as the new norm remains to be seen. While the festivals and gatherings of our pre-pandemic past feel sometimes too far gone, the chance to reinvent the live events industry in the embrace of a vintage era is a welcomed second coming. A Texan-turned-Idahoan, Kate Hull balances her role as the co-publisher and editor-in-chief of Teton Valley Magazine with time enjoying Teton Valley’s seemingly endless snow and gravel bike trails.

The Spud Drive-In, located in Driggs, Idaho, is one of 300 or so surviving drive-in theaters out of approximately 4,000 that existed in the 1950s. PHOTO BY JOSH MYERS, COURTESY OF TREC

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An aerial view of Santa Maria Bay and Montage, Los Cabos, with on-property access to the finest swimming beach in the region

SECTION: SUBHEAD T R A V E L

PHOTOS COURTESY OF MONTAGE HOTELS AND RESORTS

Montage Los Cabos

S A N TA M A R I A B AY , L O S C A B O S , M E X I C O As the sun crests the horizon line in the early morning hours, a group of sea kayakers departs from Santa Maria Bay in duckling formation, paddling toward the sunrise across the colorful reef full of bait fish. Birdsong fills the air and the calm surf rolls up against the beach. In the distance a whale breaches displaying its broad back and tail heading north with an array of sting rays jumping in its wake. This is Santa Maria Bay, Los Cabos, Mexico. Amid the global pandemic, a sliver of opportunity existed for a trip to Mexico. A reasonable flight to San José del Cabo and one could time-travel away from the stresses of life and immerse oneself in the warmth of Baja Mexico. Montage Hotels and Resorts is a refined force in luxury travel founded in January 2002 by Alan Fuerstman, now with six locations with two more to come in Big Sky, Montana, and Montage Cay, Bahamas. The Montage brand is making a mark in the art of luxury, hospitality, residences and experiences. Montage Los Cabos is situated 15 minutes north of Cabo San Lucas, nestled in the idyllic marine sanctuary of Santa Maria Bay. Opened in 2018 under the leadership of General Manager Marco Ortlam, Montage Los Cabos 64

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is an understated oasis of manicured grounds, beautifully appointed rooms and meandering infinity pools that tier down to the crescent-moon beach. The Montage rests on Santa Maria Bay with its swimmerfriendly waters, a beautiful reef for snorkeling, and the signature assemblage of water experiences at guest’s fingertips. The 39-acre seaside resort features 122 expansive guestrooms/suites and 52 private residences, and luxury amenities include a full-service spa and fitness center, tennis courts, multiple dining options, a 20,000-square-foot main pool, and an easy access beach, arguably the best in all of Los Cabos. The Sea of Cortez is a wintering grounds for whales that typically arrive in late November after a long migration from Alaska, and it’s not uncommon to see passing whales at the front edge of bay. The resort also faces east giving guests an amazing experience to witness the sunrise over the Sea of Cortez. Rock bluffs flank the front of the resort frame and caramel-red sunrises reflect off the series of infinity pools at the doorstep of the guest rooms.


SECTION: SUBHEAD NOW

PA L E TA S

Left: A scuba diver swims in Cabo Pulmo National Park, Sea of Cortez

Paletas are a Mexican frozen treat made from fresh natural fruits such as strawberry and mango or made from rich creamy ingredients such as chocolate and Sicilian pistachio. The right mix of these main ingredients with water, milk and condensed milk, among others, opens a wide world of flavor possibilities.

TWIN DOLPHIN GOLF

Adjacent to the Montage property, the Twin Dolphin Club features an 18-hole Fred Couples Signature golf course (the first in Mexico) with dramatic views of the Sea of Cortez. The course is lightly etched into the landscape giving it a beautiful feeling of immersion in the desert landscape with amazing foliage and soaring hawks above rolling fairways. The rest stations, called “Red Doors,” feel like small homes positioned thoughtfully along the course where staff serve amazing meals and cocktails to celebrate the round. Golf Pro Eric Romero is curating an incredible golf experience for members and hotel guests in this desert oasis, including hidden bar boxes and a 19th hole for a relaxed and polished golf experience.

Right: An amazing Thai dish from the on-property Talay restaurant PHOTOS BY ALEJANDRO VELASCO

What sets Montage Cabo apart from most is the staff: hands down among the finest teams ever assembled for a highquality resort, they are attentive, kind and want guests to feel like VIPs for the week. A biproduct of the pandemic, masks forcing you to become more focused on the eyes of an individual and the eyes of Montage Los Cabos staff are inviting, kind and attentive. The concierge program is a wellorchestrated machine that involves layers of the guest-service team who are tuned in to each visitor and execute at the highest level, a signature experience of the resort and trip. Additional moments include an array of adventure experiences, curated mezcal tasing menus, a 40,000 square-foot spa and rooms appointed with outdoor showers. At 4 p.m. daily, staff drive the property delivering “paletas,” or custom frozen treats, a perfect respite from a hot summer day in Mexico. A curated kids program immerses the younger generation in a series

of activities that not only entertain but educate youth on the particulars of ocean life and Mexican culture. The food experiences at the Montage are beautifully prepared with locally inspired cuisine matched with worldclass culinary skills. The property has three dining locations including the beachside Marea, the signature Mezcal restaurant and the newly added Talay, featuring exquisite Thai food. Each dining location features a unique setting and highly customized menu by a team taking great care and passion in their craft. Days close at Santa Maria Bay with alpenglow reflections on the cliff walls as the resort comes to its evening identity and includes candlelit sidewalks, towering fire pits on the infinity pool rims and elegant turn-down service of the suites. The bay has a long history on the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula and the recent addition of Montage to its shores is an elegant one that’s welcoming for romantic couples and family reunions alike.

M O N TA G E B I G S K Y (COMING IN 2021)

Nestled within Big Sky’s 3,530-acre Spanish Peaks enclave, the soonto-come Montage Big Sky features 150 guestrooms and suites, and 39 Montage Residences less than an hour’s drive from Yellowstone National Park. Guests will enjoy ski-in, ski-out access to Big Sky Resort and an easy approach to an 18-hole Tom Weiskopf-designed golf course.

Sunrise over the infinity edge pool at the Montage resort

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SECTION: Warren MillerSUBHEAD the filmmaker loved to create

interesting camera angles for his films. Photo taken circa 1960. PHOTOS COURTESY OF LORTON ENTERTAINMENT

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NOW

WARREN MILLER BY DAN EGAN

Warren Miller once told me: When you ski, think about the beauty of the place and your role in it, which is to complement the surroundings, to be the accent or exclamation point on the mountain. My tracks are that sign; how they flow with the fall line illustrates my vision for the run. It’s at these times I summon my inner Warren Miller and smile a deep-soul chuckle that reminds me that I seized the moment and embraced this winter opportunity. Like a child, I still get giddy when I ski, from the minute I slap down my skis on the snow to the last run of the day. There’s something special about gliding on, over and through snow and nobody every summed it up as well as Warren Miller. >> MOUNTAIN

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rguably one of the most prolific American filmmakers, Miller produced 39 feature-length movies from the 1950s to the 1980s and his films captured scenes like the ones I described. He brought them to theaters and auditoriums across the country year after year and, like the turning of the seasons, the official kickoff to winter was when the annual Warren Miller film came to town. Patrick Creadon, director of the new documentary about Warren’s life, Ski Bum: The Warren Miller Story, sums it up this way: “In 1962, Warren toured town to town doing 100 shows in 110 nights, by himself. Think about it, he took three to four months to make the movie, six months to edit it and write the narration, and three months to tour with it. [At] home he’d rest for a week or two and did it all over again.” A Warren Miller production was special because the venue didn’t matter, the film did. Warren released his first film, Deep and Light, in 1949. He debuted it in an auditorium at John Marshall Junior “ ... HIS CORE High in Pasadena, California. Ski Club MESSAGE WAS Alpine, which sponsored the event, took ALWAYS SIMPLE: 60 percent of the ticket sales, leaving ‘THIS IS THE WORLD Warren with the remaining 40. Over eight IN WINTER. GO LIVE hundred people paid $1 each to see the IN IT, SEE IT, TOUCH show. Warren made $334.40 that night. IT, SHARE IT.’” Over the years, Warren’s audiences were as impressive as the productions themselves. They’re full of families, friends and passionate winter sports enthusiasts who make the annual pilgrimage a rite of passage. The chatter before the film is full of anticipation of the winter ahead, questions of when will the snow fly, which resorts are open and what’s the hot gear this season. These comments echo the halls of performance centers across North America and have for decades planted the generational seeds of winter. 68

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Left: Warren Miller the skier originally bought his first camera to film himself and his buddy Ward Baker as they took to the slopes. Below: Warren Miller the promoter’s movie poster for Around the World on Skis (released 1962).


NOW: WARREN MILLER

But the magic sauce was Warren’s narration. His snarky jabs at the mundane and bits of humor mixed together with jawdropping footage and rocking music stir emotion for skiers of all abilities. And his core message was always simple: “This is the world in winter. Go live in it, see it, touch it, share it.” Marcus Caston, a star of the last eight Warren Miller ski films, says Warren inspired his professional ski career. “His films are inclusive,” Caston says. “Watching his movies in a packed theater is like hanging out with 500 of your best friends, hooting and hollering for 90 minutes.” He goes on: “What I liked about Warren Miller’s films when I was a kid was that I saw myself in the everyday people from run-of-the-mill ski areas riding rope tows and bombing down the hill. Today, when I watch a group of school kids race off toward the bottom of the mountain, I’m reminded of the simplicity of the sport.” 2020 was a year few of us will ever forget, and as we embark on 2021, with snow falling in the mountains, it challenges us all to draw on our inner Warren to make sense of it all. Today, as he did countless times during his life, Warren, I believe, would rush forward into the mountains to embrace the solitude of the view, turn his chin to the wind on a high mountain ridge, and simply point his skis downhill, letting the acceleration of the shape of the turns speak for themselves. I miss Warren and often like to think of him on a lift with a stranger spinning a tale about traveling across Europe from resort to resort or making a joke about how he managed to find a free lift ticket and how lucky we are to experience winter. I’ll never forget the first time he told me about the Yellowstone Club. He called it “Giggle Mountain.” “You won’t believe it,” he said. “The slopes are wide open with no one around and the grooming is perfect till late in the day. I giggle every turn.” Warren made you earn his respect. Longtime Warren Miller cameraman Gary Nate explains how he came to work for Warren: “I drove down to the theater where he was showing his movie in Salt Lake City and I waited from him to walk out the door at the end of the show,” Nate says. “I went up to him, introduced myself as a ski filmmaker and said, ‘You can either hire me or compete with me.’ Two weeks later, he called and sent me on location, and I worked for him for the next 30-plus years.” It was that sort of brazen confidence that Warren looked for in people around him. I recall one time being on the road for one of the first ski movies I produced with Warren’s help and support. After the show, I called him and said, “Warren, there were two people in the audience tonight and the screen fell over in the middle of the show. It was a complete bust.” And Warren replied, “Did anyone buy you dinner?” “Yes” I said. “Then you had a great night,” he laughed. That was his spirit, as if to say, “Hey, you got something: a free meal. What are you complaining about?”

Above: (Left to right): Ski Bum director Patrick Creadon, ski legend Scot Schmidt and Ski Bum associate producer Brian Wimmer during the film’s production on Orcas Island, Washington, in May of 2017. All the main interviews for the film, including Miller’s three-day-long interview, took place at his home and property.

Below: (Left to right): Ski Bum producer Christine O’Malley, Warren

Miller and director Patrick Creadon during production. This turned out to be Warren’s final interview; he passed away eight months later in January of 2018.

“Warren liked making a buck,” says Eric Ladd, publisher of this magazine and a former business associate of Warren’s. “He really enjoyed the side hustle. Whether it was drawing his lithographs, coloring them in himself and selling them, or sitting down at a lodge to autograph and sell his book, he saw it as an accomplishment. He believed anything could be achieved with hard work.” >>

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NOW: WARREN MILLER

Warren Miller the visionary captured, recorded and documented the growth of the winter sport industry in his films from 1950 to 1987. Through his lens, his adventures, stories and tall tales made us all smile.

arren died in January of 2018, but he ultimately was a master storyteller. And his message was timeless. The only film that Warren ever skied in was my movie: The Extreme Dream. Warren and I skied together at Jupiter Jones Snowcat operations in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, which left me with the daunting task of narrating Warren while he skied. I figured the best way to do that was narrate Warren with Warren. I researched his films, and this is what I said as Warren smoothly skied the powder in his red one-piece Bogner on a pair of Atomic powder skis. “Three thousand years ago, nothing roamed on these mountains except animals as big as the machines that brought us up here today.” To me, that is a well-structured Warren phrase: it tells a story in one sentence through time and brings the viewer to a place that is special. The movie Ski Bum: The Warren Miller Story, was the last time Warren sat down for an interview. Creadon recalls the interview, stretched out over three days.

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“What was so revealing,” he said, “was how Warren told us his story of being a Walt Disney paperboy as a kid. Then he moves away from L.A. to the mountain and lives in a parking lot at a ski area, starts to make movies, gets married, has all of the struggles of life with adversity of family and running a business, has his highs and lows, never gives up on his passion or his filmmaking, becomes one of the most prolific filmmakers of all time, and eventually lands on top of the heap as the face of the YC, the most exclusive private ski clubs in the world, where the lodge is named after him and he is adored. “Those threads standing alone could lead anywhere,” Creadon adds, “but woven together by the school of hard knocks tell the story of a ‘ski bum’ who became a king.” Visit white-haze.com for more info on Dan Egan’s new book, Thirty Years in a White Haze, and find Ski Bum: The Warren Miller Story on Amazon Prime or iTunes.


Lehrkind Mansion

Entry of Lehrkind Mansion

Welcoming foyer, Garden House

Located 1/2 block to Main St. to mountain trail system

Garden House

LEHRKIND MANSION - 719 N. WALLACE The Lehrkind Mansion Estate offers the perfect fusion of Historic Grandeur, Urban Oasis, and Mountain Connection. Located in the heart of Bozeman’s Historic Brewery District and 7 blocks from Main Street, this quintessential, 1897 Queen Anne Victorian is truly a sanctuary amongst a town teeming with life. This estate includes Lehrkind Mansion, Garden House, and Carriage House and boasts mature landscaping all on .797 acres, offering a perfect private oasis!

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2020

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Photo by Whitney Kamman Interior Design: Kathy Koelzers | Montana Expressions General Contractor: Journey & Sons

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YOUR GUIDE TO AMERICA’S FIRST NATIONAL PARK

VOL. 7 | 20/21


Winter portrait of an elk from behind. PHOTO BY NPS/JAMES W. FRANK

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WINTER 20/21

Owned and published in Big Sky, Montana

PUBLISHER Eric Ladd EDITORIAL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, VP MEDIA Joseph T. O’Connor DEPUTY EDITOR Mira Brody ASSOCIATE EDITOR Brandon Walker STAFF WRITER Gabrielle Gasser COPY EDITOR Claire Cella CREATIVE ART DIRECTOR Marisa Opheim GRAPHIC DESIGNER ME Brown

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 CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER Blythe Beaubien CONTROLLER Treston Wold EXECUTIVE COORDINATOR Tucker Harris PROJECT MANAGER Eli Kretzmann

CONTRIBUTORS Jacob W. Frank, Neal Herbert, Killian Ladd, Eddy Murphy, Jim Peaco, Todd Wilkinson To advertise, contact Sam Brooks at sam@theoutlawpartners.com. OUTLAW PARTNERS P.O. Box 160250, Big Sky, MT 59716 (406) 995-2055 • media@outlaw.partners © 2020 Outlaw Partners unauthorized reproduction prohibited

ON THE COVER: Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone from Lookout Point. PHOTO BY NPS/JACOB W. FRANK

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D E PA R T M E N T S EXPLORE Maps: Getting to and traveling in Yellowstone.......................................................................82 Three Generations moving at 3 mph: A journey into the Yellowstone backcountry.............84 Find your Yellowstone app.....................................................................................................88 FLORA AND FAUNA Winter animal guide................................................................................................................90 ADVENTURE Snowshoeing: Discovering Yellowstone in winter.................................................................92

Shades of white in Hayden Valley. PHOTO BY NPS/JACOB W. FRANK

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EXPLORING YELLOWSTONE Gardiner Cooke City

WYOMING

MONTANA

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK WINTER UPDATES

Lamar Valley

West Yellowstone

Most park roads are closed to automobiles for the winter season. The park begins reopening roads April 16, 2021. The road from the North Entrance at Gardiner, Montana through the park to Cooke City, MT is open year-round.

Grant

IDAHO

Check the road status map before you leave, and make sure you have the proper winter safety equipment for your car: snow tires, a flashlight, a first-aid kit, a blanket or sleeping bag, booster cables, maps and a shovel. People can explore Yellowstone on a snowmobile by hiring a guide or applying for a non-commercial permit. Snowmobiles must remain on groomed roads and obey all posted speed limits.

YELLOWSTONE AND GRAND TETON ENTRANCE FEES VEHICLES

$35 per vehicle to visit each individual park, good for seven days

MOTORCYCLES OR SNOWMOBILES

$30 for each park, good for seven days

INDIVIDUAL (foot/bicycle/ski, etc.) $20 per person for each park, good for seven days 82

ANNUAL PASSES

$70 for each individual park. An $80 America the Beautiful Pass is valid for entry to all fee areas on federal lands and is valid for one year.

SENIOR PASSES

$80 lifetime pass, or $20 annual pass, available to U.S. citizens or permanent residents age 62 or older

explorebigsky.com / Explore Yellowstone

ACCESS PASS

Free for U.S. citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities

MILITARY ANNUAL PASS

Free annual pass available for active duty military personnel and their dependents

FREE ENTRANCE DAYS

August 25: National Park Service Birthday September 26: National Public Lands Day November 11: Veterans Day

Due to COVID-19, park access and amenities may not be available at full capacity. Visit nps.gov/yell for timely updates.


L i v e w i t h t h e t h i n g s yo u lo v e . M e a d o w Vi l l a g e , B i g S ky

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THREE GE N ERATION S MOVING 3 MPH A journey into the Yellowstone backcountry BY ERIC LADD

Eleven miles into the Yellowstone backcountry and quietly seated on a log alongside the Lamar River, Kelsey, 10, writes in her journal nearby her favorite horse “Chad,” sporting his freshly braided tail and mane. Chad is a Haflinger breed and part of the Rockin’ HK Outfitters team, and most agree he’s one of the best looking of the herd. Kipp Saile, owner of Rockin’ HK, has operated backcountry trips into Yellowstone since 1998 and this week his guests are three generations of my family in the park for a four-day pack trip. Kelsey is soon joined on the log by Jessie to further discuss life, the importance of space, calm, horses and the trip. Kelsey rated the day a perfect score, and what’s not to love, she says. “Horses, camping, Yellowstone Park. It’s a total 10!” Grandma and Grandpa are seated in the distance, admiring their granddaughter, her spirit and her love for the horses and mules surrounding her. Last night, Grandma Cheryl helped arrange for Kelsey to switch her broken sleeping pad for horse pads, and the new odor for the tent was quickly renamed “Kelsey’s perfume,” a 10-year-old horse lover’s dream come true. The art of slowing down and moving 3 mph is becoming a pastime for our family, something we

all enjoy and need more of in our lives. Whether its rafting on the Middle Fork of the Salmon, hiking the dogs on Porcupine Trail in Big Sky or riding on a pack trip with Kipp and his team of 21 horses and mules. The speed, 3 mph, is the perfect pace for three generations of our family and we need more of it. The math is simple: 11 miles on horse divided by an average of 3 mph equals 3.6 hours in the saddle. Add in a lunch and bathroom stop, and it’s the perfect pace for a fun-filled day. Yellowstone National Park sees more than 4 million annual visitors each year and yet less than 1 percent get more than 1 mile from the road. Kipp and Rockin’ HK arranged for our group of eight, with an age span from 10 to 70, to have three nights and four days on the Lamar River, isolated in the northeastern corner of Yellowstone. The Lamar River is famous for the roadside viewing of the massive bison herds and healthy wolf populations which have created historic traffic jams, so getting to dive 11 miles off the road is a treat and creates a certain sense of calm at camp. Kipp has spent 23 years mastering the art of taking strings of mules, horses and guests into the backcountry. His stock is seasoned, his wranglers adept, meals nourishing and his jokes and tales are on point.


EXPLORE

LEFT: Owner of Rockin’ HK, Kipp Saile, guides the family through the Lamar Valley. RIGHT: Kipp catches a cutthroat in the Lamar Valley. PHOTOS BY KILLIAN LADD

Kipp moved to Montana from Michigan where he spent many years living in the early rough and tough years of Big Sky before developing a passion and skillset for becoming an outfitter. He loves his horses, knows each of their personalities and is grateful for the peace and isolation the park provides with his crew, guests and family. It’s not uncommon to hear him use the word “lucky” when describing his business and his love for the park is evident. The Rockin’ HK team includes Kipp’s wife Heidi and their children Wyatt, Wilson and Scarlett, also integral parts of the business. Rockin’ HK Outfitters has a coveted permit for operating in the park and has a variety of trips offering everything from dedicated fishing excursions to 10-day trips into some of the most remote sections of Yellowstone.

Pack trips involve a tremendous amount of logistical planning including reliable stock, a strong knowledge of operating safely in the backcountry and the ability to plan complex packing management. It’s not uncommon to have amazing wildlife encounters like our breakfast one morning that included a 2,000-plus-pound bison roaming into the camp area and having a standoff with the mules. Back at Camp 3L7, the smoke-filled skies have created a dramatic sunset as Jessie and Kelsey dive deeper into stories, gratitude and theories on how to stay warm during the looming cool fall night. Grandpa Roger declares that it’s time to play Yahtzee as the family gathers around the table and the spirited game of dice rolling commences. >>

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TOP: Three generations of family on a fourday pack trip in the backcountry. BOTTOM: Grandma and granddaughter with their favorite Haflinger horse, Chad.

THE ART OF SLOWING DOWN AND MOVING 3 MPH IS BECOMING A PASTIME FOR OUR FAMILY, SOMETHING WE ALL ENJOY AND NEED MORE OF IN OUR LIVES. WHETHER ITS RAFTING ON THE MIDDLE FORK OF THE SALMON, HIKING THE DOGS ON PORCUPINE TRAIL IN BIG SKY OR RIDING ON A PACK TRIP WITH KIPP AND HIS TEAM OF 21 HORSES AND MULES.

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Nephew Killian, 14, sits on the shore of the mighty Lamar River thoughtfully cleaning the lenses of his camera, and has been awarded trip photographer duties this week, a perfect assignment for this up-and-coming photographer with a great eye. Wrangler and camp cook Kristen prepares dinner as Kipp begins grilling off-hand cut tenderloin steaks. The outfitting business is one that requires long days and short nights and with a slight twist of “glamping,” the crew delivers a great backcountry product. The camp setting is idyllic: riverside meal, tepees to sleep in, a bison roaming through the edge of camp and endless stories told by the wranglers of bears, wolves, elk and renegades who have roamed the park for years. Slowing down to 3 mph is not only a needed reminder for our family, but society in general, and operators of such activities are becoming celebrated. Exiting the Lamar Valley after four days, our group rides along a high ridge above the Lamar River with hundreds of bison dotting the valley floor. One large male bison blocks the trail and our group carefully navigates around the powerful creature while spotting a sneaky badger in the sage brush. A large bald eagle sits atop a tree hunting the riverbanks as the sun creates dramatic flares filtered by the smoke and hillsides. Approaching the trailhead, Kipp and his boys greet the group and celebrate with a tailgate feast of snacks and cold drinks. While the horses are unsaddled, our group sits amongst the horse trailers, cold beer and LaCroix in hand, three generations of family sharing hugs and handshakes with the crew that’s now a new extended family. The art of moving 3 mph, Yellowstone park style, has us all grateful for the experience. Visit rockinhk.com for details about pack trips with Rockin’ HK Outfitters.

TOP LEFT: Fishing for native cutthroat in the Lamar River. TOP RIGHT: Kelsey’s favorite Rockin’ HK horse, Chad. MIDDLE: Rockin’ HK mule ready for the pack trip through the Lamar Valley. BOTTOM: Kelsey, atop her horse and ready to ride through the backcountry.

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EXPLORE YOUR YELLOWSTONE WITH THE OFFICIAL APP BY TUCKER HARRIS

Serving Montanans since 1919.

If you’re not sure where to begin exploring the more than 2 million acres of Yellowstone National Park, or if you can’t make it to the park this season, don’t fret. You can give yourself a virtual visit via the official NPS Yellowstone app on your mobile device. The app provides everything from bear safety tips and road closures to self-guided tours, geyser predictions and park alerts. And you won’t get lost with access to a downloadable offline map that continues to track your current location even as you trek into areas without cell service. The search bar feature allows you to browse by service or site, finding what you need to know at your fingertips. So, what are you waiting for? Explore your Yellowstone by downloading the app! Download the NPS Yellowstone app at the Apple App Store or Google Play.

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Yellowstone National Park

ANIMAL GUIDE BIGSHORN SHEEP

MOUNTAIN GOAT

COUGAR

Which animals can you spot in the park? Check them off as you see them!

Horns can weigh up to 40 pounds, which makes up 8-12 percent of their body weight.

Cougars, also known as mountain lions or pumas, primarily eat elk and mule deer in addition to smaller mammals, especially marmots.

In winter you can find mountain goats on steep, south-facing slopes and windblown ridge tops.

Bighorns are herbivores and eat grasses, sedges and woody plants.

Both sexes have horns but female horns curve less, are thinner, and sometimes longer than male horns.

Their skulls have two layers of bone that function as shock absorbers for collisions during head-on fighting.

PRONGHORN

Litters range from 3-4 kittens on average, though only 50 percent survive their first year.

Pronghorn are the surviving member of a group of animals that evolved in North America during the past 20 million years.

Coyotes weigh far less than their wolf relatives, between 25-35 pounds.

They can run for sustained sprints of 45 to 50 mph, a theorized adaptation to outrun an extinct American cheetah.

They will eat almost anything from rodents to fish to fruit.

Prior to European settlement of the American West, the pronghorn population is estimated to have been 35 million. Today’s population is around 1 million.

Also known as “song dogs,” coyotes communicate with each other by different long-range vocalizations. They can run up to 40 mph.

RIVER OTTER

Adult males weigh over 300 pounds while females weigh only half that at 150 pounds.

COYOTE

Adult males usually weigh between 145-170 pounds and average 7 feet long including their tale.

The river otter’s long tail takes up one-third of its 40- to 54inch body. Otters eat crayfish and fish, frogs, turtles and sometimes young muskrats or beavers. Their ears and nostrils close when underwater, and their whiskers help them find prey.


WOLF

Also known as wapiti, elk are the most abundant large mammal in the park with a population over 10,000.

The average Yellowstone wolf pack size is 10. Wolves consume a wide variety of prey; 90 percent of their winter prey is elk. They can even kill bison! In 1973, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the northern Rocky Mountain wolf as endangered and designated Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem as one of the three recovery areas. Jan. 12, 2020 marked the 25th anniversary since wolves returned to Yellowstone.

FOX

BISON

Adult males tend to weight between 11-12 pounds.

On average, bison live between 12-15 years, and a few can live up to 20 years.

They live an average of 3-7 years, and up to 11 years in Yellowstone.

They feed primarily on grasses and sedges. In winter months, you can find bison in the Gardiner Basin— often roaming through town.

The average weasel is eight to 13 inches long and males are about 40 percent larger than their female counterparts. They eat voles, shrews, deer mice, rabbits, rats, chipmunks, grasshoppers and frogs and can be found in willows and spruce forests. Short-tailed weasel fur is light brown on top and white underneath in summer, but in winter, they turn completely white aside from their tail which remains black-tipped year round.

DID YOU KNOW?

Foxes eat voles, mice, rabbits, birds, amphibians and some plants. In winter, foxes increase activity around dawn and dusk. Look for them in forested areas along the Northern Range and in the town of Gardiner, Montana.

PINE MARTEN

Elk feed on grasses, shrubs, aspen tree bark, conifer needles and aquatic plants.

Adult males can weigh up to 2,000 pounds. That’s a TON!

SHORT-TAILED WEASEL

ELK Their antlers begin growing in spring and usually drop in March or April of the following year.

Martens are usually 18-26 inches long and weigh between 1 and 3 pounds. They eat primarily small mammals along with birds and eggs, reptiles, insects and fruit. Pine martins are active year round and hunt mostly on the ground.

Yellowstone National Park has 67 mammal species, 258 bird species,16 fish species, five amphibian species and one threatened species.

SOURCES: NPS.GOV, ANIMALS.NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC.COM, NWF.ORG, DEFENDERS.ORG PHOTOS: NPS, CC PHOTOS


Snowshoeing: DISCOVERING YELLOWSTONE IN WINTER

BY EDDY MURPHY

Two snowshoers traverse a trail in the Hellroaring area. NPS PHOTO

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ADVENTURE

Some winter adventurers go above the trees, into the big sky and glide through the powdery paradise of Lone Peak; some painstakingly contemplate the cardiovascular benefits of cross-country skiing on one of the area’s many groomed trails; and some of us delve into the blustery and glittering wilderness on snowshoes. I’ve spent a lot of time in Yellowstone during the summer, working as a barista. After those seasons ended, I returned home to Tennessee’s bland, rainy winters, sinking into nostalgia when I couldn’t lace up my boots and gawk at mesmerizing vistas whenever I saw fit. So, when the opportunity arose for me to avoid my mom’s shabby sofa in Tennessee and instead live in Montana yearround, I was elated. I also felt uneasy, because I have never skied. I knew the couple inches of cursed snow that fell in Tennessee every year were nothing compared to what these skies promised. I knew Montana winter would make everything I knew of that season seem trivial and ridiculous.

THE LODGEPOLES WHISPERED, AND YELLOWSTONE BECAME SOMETHING E N T I R E LY N E W TO ME: A WINTRY WONDERLAND, N O T O N LY V O I D OF THE SOUND OF LIFE, BUT A PLACE WITH TRUE SOLITUDE.

But I was going to be near the wonderland that stole my heart four summers ago, and I was not about to let some white fluffy stuff deter me from recreating in my new home. This winter, my first in Big Sky, I’ve spent many subzero mornings trying to extract my two-wheel-drive pickup from Crown Butte Drive’s ditches. When I first purchased snowshoes, I thought their alloy frames looked awkwardly shaped and odd. The next weekend, I took my inaugural solo snowshoeing adventure in the Yellowstone backcountry. I drove to the Fawn Pass trailhead in northwestern Yellowstone. My truck was the only vehicle in the lot on the gorgeous, clear and frigid day. A moose drank out of an unfrozen rivulet beyond the pavement, and I translated it as the beginning of a memorable experience. I watched the moose as I strapped on the snowshoes I’d blindly invested in, hoping they could carry me to the same kind of fond memories my hiking boots had in summers past. I sallied on, into the trees, without any idea what to expect. Right away, I noticed the silence. No birds chirping, no brooks babbling, no wind—only the thwack of my snowshoes breaking the surface of new snow. When I paused to sit under a tree for a snack, I lost my balance and fell into an impossible position in two feet of snow. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to escape. Then, a slight breeze brought the hoary contours of the earth to life. I stopped in wonder. The sun blazed cold and brilliant behind a transparent cloud. Its strange, slanted light animated snow skimming the surface into phantasmagoric spirits. The lodgepoles whispered, and Yellowstone became something entirely new to me: a wintry wonderland, not only void of the sound of life, but a place with true solitude. It surely is an amazing thing to have the opportunity to be the only person on earth outside of your front door. A version of this article first appeared in the Feb. 11, 2011, edition of EBS. Eddy Murphy is originally from Nashville. He lives in Big Sky and enjoys hiking, fishing and live music.

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Where do we go from here?

COVID-19 brought the booming travel industry to its knees. For some places, it was a relief. In the American West, the slowdown was short BY BRIGID MANDER lived.

T

he impact of global tourism was never as dramatically evident as in early 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic quashed human activity worldwide. Crowded, bustling travel hotspots the world over were suddenly silenced, contracted to only local residents. In places like national parks and forests, oceans and bays, the local wildlife, no doubt bewildered but surely pleased, had their ecosystems to themselves. Perhaps no image of overcrowded beaches, road-blocking moosejams, or selfie sticks wielded like periscopes over sardine-can crowds cut into the realities of high-volume tourism hot spots like the new images of hollowed-out-for-visitor-consumption, former community cores sitting quiet and still. The onset of COVID-19 and the subsequent halt in travel flayed open the complex paradox between culture, environment and residents, and the skyrocketing levels of modern tourism. Despite economic pain, many denizens of popular places breathed in relief. From Amsterdam to New Zealand, they expressed widespread hope that rather than rushing back to the crush of business as usual, the pandemic could be a golden opportunity to correct mistakes, reclaim residential spaces and city centers from visitors, and remake the travel industry into an economically, culturally and ecologically healthier resource. Many of those places remain quiet, their governments and organizations seizing the chance to regain control and management of tourism. But in the American West, by July, it was different. Road warriors from New York to L.A. and everywhere in between, desperate for a change of scenery, beelined for the only thing open: outdoor recreation in vast federal and state public lands, and their gateway communities. >>

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Visitors in Yellowstone National Park walk along the boardwalks in Midway Geyser Basin. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE


MONTE DOLACK / P. 114

HUMOR: ICE FISHING / P. 119

RECIPES / P. 122

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T

ourism has long been viewed as an easy avenue to profits and provided significant economic hope for depressed or nascent economies. After all, what’s the harm in making some money by inviting people to a beautiful place, selling souvenir trinkets, guiding a few trips and proudly sharing your beloved home and culture? This is the method through which entire countries have been lifted from dire poverty, downtrodden economies salvaged, citizens’ lives improved, and visitor viewpoints enriched simply by showcasing natural beauty and cultural assets. In other cases, it provides critical protections for those prized assets, such as in Africa, where wildlife tourism dollars have made animals much more valuable alive than dead, funded education of locals, and created jobs for wardens and guides to protect these creatures from poachers and preserve whole ecosystems. But many places, for too long, have been afraid to acknowledge and respond to the evidence that, at some stage, tourism passes a tipping point after which it begins to do significant harm: to social fabric, by creating economic monocultures, by undermining

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residential life, by contributing to both overconsumption and climate change. In 2016, the issue got a name: overtourism, referring to unsustainable numbers of tourists and ensuing negative impacts on the destination. While widespread examination of these issues is long overdue, we should recognize the good that tourism can bring, but also that it needs to be looked at, planned for and managed like a renewable resource by municipalities, governments and land managers. It remains to be seen whether the global shutdown, having exposed for many places just how much vibrancy and economic space has been given over to a devastating cycle of more and more tourism, will lead to lasting change. As a response to overtourism before the shutdown, many destinations began to address the issues, albeit somewhat feebly, by calling for “sustainable tourism” with only vague parameters of what that might entail. Steve McCool, professor emeritus at the University of Montana, says we need to rethink the concept of sustainable tourism. McCool, who has studied society, conservation and naturebased tourism for over fifty years, working

/ M T O U T L AW. C O M

Above: A pair of visitors at one of the infamous antler arches in Jackson Square PHOTO COURTESY OF VISITJACKSONHOLE

“We need to start defining tourism not as sustainable, but in terms of what is it sustaining? Mayors, as well as park managers, have seldom had any vision of what the tourism was supposed to accomplish.”


CULTURE: OVERTOURISM

closely with national park managers in the U.S. and around the world, suggests this involves changing the question from the well-being and amenities of visitors to that of the destination itself. “We need to start defining tourism not as sustainable, but in terms of what is it sustaining? Mayors, as well as park managers, have seldom had any vision of what the tourism was supposed to accomplish,” he said. Across the American West, however, including here in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the opportunity for fixes conceived in the lull of the pandemic was brief. The onslaught of visitors did, luckily, save small towns with economies reliant on the monoculture of tourism. The shutdowns nonetheless still can provide positive, thoughtful scrutiny about how to better balance visitation, community and natural resources for the long term, according to Samantha Bray, managing director at the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Responsible Travel, aka CREST. “This is an opportunity to step back from the incredibly fast pace we’ve been moving at and consuming life. COVID is providing a platform for these conversations,” Bray said. “It’s not too late to do things differently.” But in places like Venice, Italy, the long-suffering and original sorry poster child for overtourism, the dearth of international travelers continues, and with it renewed hope for forced change, to revive a vibrant Venetian culture and economic diversity instead of existing as an amusement park shell of a Renaissance city. Tourism still has its proponents, but most locals, despite being necessarily dependent on the industry for work, are thrilled. “It’s a good thing. We don’t want to go back to how things were before. Overtourism was the norm, but it wasn’t normal, the city was overwhelmed, it was like a transumanza [a cattle drive],” unemployed wine shop worker Nicola Ussardi told The New York Times in May of 2020, referencing things like Venetian complaints that they couldn’t get out

A family stands at an overlook in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. PHOTO BY GABRIELLE GASSER

their front doors, and the creation of one way pedestrian streets to manage wallto-wall, shoulder-to-shoulder tourism flows. “We had to deal with tourists at every waking hour, everything revolved around them. Sure, it will be a challenge economically. But eventually we’ll have to find plan B.” Among other economic crises precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the reason for panicking over the abrupt cessation of travel was clear. In 2019, the tourism sector accounted for more than 10 percent of the global GDP, which equates to nearly $9 trillion USD, and provided 1 in 10 (330 million) jobs worldwide, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. The drop in tourism, says the United Nations World Tourism Organization, could lead to an estimated loss of anywhere from $2.7 to $5.3 trillion USD in total tourism receipts in 2020, thanks to the explosive growth of travel in the last few decades. Well over a hundred million jobs are likely lost. That tourism had so far to fall stems from the extraordinarily rapid growth of what is today a widespread and powerful industry compared with the mid-20th century: 1950 saw 25 million

international departures. In 2019, that number was 1.6 billion, and one projected to grow another 500 million by 2030, according to the UNWTO. Before the current pandemic put a hard stop to the mayhem, news stories on problems stemming from overtourism had begun popping up all over the world with increasing frequency. Overtourism, as defined by CREST, is “Tourism that has moved beyond the limits of acceptable change in a destination due to quantity of visitors, resulting in degradation of the environment and infrastructure, diminished travel experience, wear and tear on built heritage, and/or negative impacts on residents.” But destinations must define their problem, then define a healthy long-term vision for their own community and tourism as a resource. Jennie Germann Molz, a mobility scholar and sociologist at the College of the Holy Cross and coauthor of Disruptive Tourism and its Untidy Guests, says the first step is toward shifting the focus of the conversation. “Tourism can be a very positive force,” she says. “But in order for it to do good, it has to be managed and regulated. And there has to be the political will to make that happen.” >>

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PHOTO BY DEVON JANSE

SECTION: SUBHEAD

“The Instagrammification of destinations has created unrealistic expectations for people, and it’s definitely a problem that has contributed to overtourism.”

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain

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or most of human history, leisure travel did not exist. Humans moved across the landscape for food and survival, then exploration and acquisition of wealth and power. Modern travel for personal enrichment as we know it began around the 17th century, when aristocratic young men took long journeys to explore Europe’s great cultural centers in the culmination of their classical education. Travel today looks nothing like that for the vast majority of people. Few have the opportunity to take monthslong, immersive enrichment trips, but understandably individuals still want to experience the world. Cheap, fast travel options make it possible. Content on things to see and do “before you die” could fill stores; bucket lists abound, and getting a photo of the travel object seems, increasingly, to supersede the experience itself. Unfortunately, much of the budget and group travel precludes any chance of cultural interaction, or exchange for mutual tolerance and respect and enlightening education. Throwing fuel on the fire, social media has become almost a reason in itself to travel: posting photos, building personal brands, and inspiring others to … come and take their own photos. “The Instagrammification of destinations has created unrealistic expectations for people, and it’s definitely a problem that has contributed to overtourism,” says CREST’s Bray. Travel writer Henry Wismayer, like many writers in the field, posits hard questions for himself in promoting travel via traditional media, when it’s become so hard on certain communities and an increasingly culpable player in climate change. Yet he notes, and rightly so, that traditional media’s negative effects wither in the face of the magnified impacts of social media, driving a “hyper-consumerist, bucket-listdriven travel.” If simply being in a place—rushing in, taking photos, rushing onto the next—has become all there is to travel, we as a species might question why we endeavor to travel at all. “We don’t want tourism to be just for the elite, but mass tourism is not democratic either,” said Germann Molz. “Just being in a place doesn’t mean you’re getting the benefit of the place.” But if the travail of Venice is any lesson for others, brief, low-quality and high-impact experiences are no deterrent.

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loaked in centuries of rich history, trade, architecture, the arts, science and Renaissance mystique, it took modern tourism to turn Venice into a nearly empty shell of itself. The world has heedlessly watched Venice’s prolonged death as a living city as it buckles under unmanaged tourism in a decades-long, socioeconomic disaster. A huge amount of revenue made on Venice flows away to foreign tour companies, cruise lines and chain hotels. Venetians have fled en masse citing declining quality of life and rising costs of living, from a post-WWII population of 170,000 to around 50,000 today. While tourism was inarguably beneficial up to a point, Venetians didn’t know how to determine what that point was, nor do most destinations suffering from unfettered tourism. And despite the transumanza experience, visitation increases every year; from 5 million people in 1988, pre-pandemic projections for 2025 were at 40 million. In light of examples like these, it’s no wonder up-and-coming destinations are getting the jitters, like the little-known Italian city of Matera. The UN named it the European Capital of Culture for 2019, which prompted the mayor of the Basilicata region community to complain to The New York Times that his town didn’t want to be “occupied by tourists” and that too many visitors would deplete its ancient soul.


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An interesting case in India saw Jibhi, a tiny, spectacular hamlet in the Himalaya recently exposed to the world via Instagram. Once outed, locals decided to limit guests, and these few would learn and adhere to Jibhi’s values, rather than the other way around. In order to dull the appeal to tourists not interested in their quiet culture, they forbade tourist parties and public smoking, alcohol, and loud noise. Plastics are highly discouraged in the Himachal Pradesh region, and guest house managers present visitors with any plastic trash they generate to take back out with them. The villagers developed their code of conduct to remind tourists they chose Jibhi because it is pristine, and visitors were firmly expected to help keep it that way Jibhi, of course, is a unique case that would be hard to replicate in most places, but it’s an optimistic lesson from a tiny, isolated village. It’s possible to make some money from tourism, while prioritizing the health and values of community

and the surrounding natural world instead of focusing on increasing profits. Extracting a place from the clutches of powerful tourism interests is hard, as evidenced by 2,000-year old Barcelona, Spain, population 1.6 million. According to data, 32 million annual tourists spend 22 million euros ($25.6 million USD) every day. Tourism accounts for 1 in 12 jobs. On the other hand, proliferating low-wage tourism jobs and businesses undermine economic diversity, and much of that revenue flows to outside investors, a set of conditions common with tourismdriven economies. Under increasing anti-mass tourism public pressure, Barcelona mayor Ada Colau recently banned new hotels, cracked down on homesharing platforms, and taxed and limited day-trippers, among other measures. The goal of the reforms is not to extinguish tourism, but to regain some control and balance. >>

San Marco Square in Venice, Italy, sits empty on a summer morning. PHOTO BY JUN HAO

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A pair of visitors shop in Jackson Square. PHOTO COURTESY OF VISITJACKSONHOLE

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mall towns in the American West have few things in common with Europe’s ancient cultural centers, but intense, unmanaged tourism binds so many desirable destinations with the same problems. But an important, added problem in the West is that the definition of the community being cared for and kept in balance needs to firmly and clearly include the wildlife, forests, open protected spaces, and watersheds on public and private lands. Marketing of wildlife tourism draws millions to the Greater Yellowstone region through Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. In the recent past, tourism has ballooned, bringing money but also expensive problems and visitor mitigation issues. In Big Sky, Gardiner and Livingston in Montana, as well as Cody and Jackson, in Wyoming, the same set of problems seen in Barcelona and other European cities exist: residential spaces become tourist rentals, hotels and other tourist-driven businesses encroach, creating low-wage jobs while the cost of living continues to skyrocket. Unlike other parts of the world, the pandemic didn’t give much of a respite for new or existing efforts in attempts to regain balance in much of the West. Pre-pandemic travel to Jackson, “COVID has really for example, ended in mid-March thrown gasoline on the 2020, and the shutdowns lasted tourism problems ... until about July when, with far-flung because of Wyoming destinations not possible, roadstate law, we are trippers converged on small towns more dependent on as well as national and state parks. In tourism and sales tax a way, it was a godsend. Towns like than the state is on Big Sky (which was built as a tourist hydrocarbons.” resort but has necessarily become a functioning town) or Jackson (which has relied on tourism in recent decades) had been wondering how they would provide services and municipal budgets when tourism roared back at record breaking numbers in July. Even with most of town shuttered and empty of visitors from March through June of 2020, tourists flooded back with such intensity that local taxable sales dropped only 16 percent since the pandemic struck, according to Jackson town councilor and economist Jonathan Schechter. All around the west, RV-ing families in teetering cabins on wheels snoozed in town streets. Hotels were packed. Campgrounds were full, local amenities and trails were jammed, supermarkets were commonly bare-shelved, restaurants backed up for hours, staff exhausted and overworked. “COVID has really thrown gasoline on the tourism problems,” said Schechter. “It isn’t at all clear to me how we are going to deal with this. But because of Wyoming state law, we are more dependent on tourism and sales tax than the state is on hydrocarbons.”>>

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SECTION: SUBHEAD A mask sits in Turquoise Pool at Yellowstone National Park. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE

“It’s always been a tradeoff for parks in managing recreationalists and protecting the land. But now, 80 percent of our population lives in cities. People have lost their connection with the land and don’t know how to behave. Education has to be seen as part of the way we manage people.” The statute Schechter refers to mandates how the county can spend its lodging tax revenue. The state government opposes new forms of real estate taxes on vacant vacation homes, excessive square footage and other potential revenue streams for Teton County. In recent years, Jackson has seen traffic worthy of the Long Island Expressway rush hour—derisively called the longest parking lot in the world—with snarling streets, frustrated drivers and blaring horns. In order to accommodate booming tourism traffic, as well as the 43 percent of the workforce that cannot afford Teton County and thus commutes in—and which the expansion of low-wage service jobs doesn’t help— Wyoming’s Department of Transportation is making two-lane roads into four- and five- lane thoroughfares across wildlife habitat and the pastoral valley floor.

Travel tips Being a good, more respectful and thoughtful visitor isn’t hard. Simple observation and consideration, a little bit of education, and creativity can go a long way to being an appreciated, not resented, guest in a new place.

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1. Research: Don’t take an Instagram influencer’s word for it, research any destination you are considering! Fodors, for example, publishes an annual No List, on places to avoid, from political/human rights violators to the “Places That Don’t Want You to Visit” list.

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These expansions don’t make Jackson quaint and discourage use of mass transit or carpools, but perhaps most importantly, these projects further jeopardize the No. 1number one attraction: wildlife. Like most development, they diminish habitat, impede migration routes and, as those wildlife specimens die under vehicle traffic, negatively impact survival rates for elk, moose, deer and other species in their valley floor winter range. Conversely, according to Wyoming state tourism data, which mirrors most of the Yellowstone gateway towns, the main drivers of visitation are wildlife, then scenery, and then recreation—in that order. Yet, it’s not only Jackson. The same issues are proliferating around the Yellowstone ecosystem, in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, to the detriment of the qualities that drive tourism.

2. Use public transportation:

Mass transit not only will reduce the traveler’s impact, it often provides a more genuine experience— and, saves you money.

3. Be observant:

When you’re traveling, you will find that people do things differently (also known as, “the whole point”). If you don’t know in advance, pay attention to local behavior and act accordingly.

4. Don’t be helpless: Buy maps,

hire a local guide, or learn a few phrases of the language! Excuse me, Hello, Goodbye, Thank you, etc. Even if your pronunciation is crummy, just trying will be appreciated.


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The preservationists who expanded and protected Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks in the 1900s knew these remnants of the ecosystem that once dominated the western states, was, and is still, the last real thread to the vibrant, wild continent before westward expansion. They saw the need for these awe-inspiring lands and remaining ecosystem to be protected for people, but simultaneously protected from them. It was here that trumpeter swans and bison were brought back from the brink of extinction. The protected land and relative lack of human development regionally means it is one of the only places where elk, antelope, and mule deer are still able to complete their epic, up to 200-mile migrations between summer and winter range, in the same paths handed down from mothers to fawns for millennia. Apex predators, small game, and birds of prey still play out the same story of 10-, 20,000 years ago, in the same mountains and valleys—for now. “What the park visitor takes away [should be] a transformative experience,” says UM professor emeritus McCool, “educated on values, inspired to learn more, and empowered to protect their own home and open spaces. My feeling on the COVID thing is we have a year or two to design new management of our protected spaces, and particularly our most popular parks cannot be allowed to go back to the way it was.” To get a handle on this would require tough decisions, and a regional approach. For example, not all tourism flow and traffic are within any town’s control. Nevertheless, Tim O’Donoghue of the Riverwind Foundation, a sustainable destination nonprofit focused on the Greater Yellowstone area, suggests that visitor reservations are needed for the entire region. “In parks, we must allow access, but we must protect the park, its ecology and why it exists, as well as the visitor experience,” concurs McCool. “It’s always been a tradeoff for parks in managing recreationalists and protecting the land. But now, 80 percent of our population lives in cities. People have lost their connection with the land and don’t know how to behave. Education has to be seen as part of the way we manage people.” But reservations, he allows, are not supported at all levels of the federal government, making proper park management difficult. How then to draw and then create better tourists, not more tourists, falls afoul of the idea of “heads in beds” being a

5. Be green: Bring

reusable shopping bags and a reusable water bottle and be strict about bringing them around.

6. Fund the local economy: Find out if

the dollars you spend are going to stay local, and patronize locally owned businesses whenever you can, whether that’s a mom-and-pop restaurant, corner-store bodega or quaint off-the-radar guesthouse.

good thing. But the new thinking about tourism needs a more sophisticated approach, says O’Donoghue. “It’s not just about profitability; not about groups of people running through buying cowboy hats. It’s a paradigm shift we have to do.” If all the gateway towns communicate and get on the same page, even if the parks’ actions were limited, O’Donoghue poses, a very positive shift could be manifested. But despite many wellmeaning attempts in the past, little real progress has been made in gaining better control on regional tourism. That shift potentially involves creating a destination management organization, or DMO, to work with marketing, to bring in people likely to care about why it’s special here, a project promoted by CREST. “There has to be an undercurrent to reach out to visitors: what we offer, what we want to share with you, and what we expect of you,” says O’Donoghue, whose Riverwind Foundation is researching and advocating for a destination management plan for Jackson, and who is a founding signatory of a COVIDera initiative called the Future of Tourism meant to help destinations regroup post-pandemic for profits aligned with conservation and community health. Ultimately, Greater Yellowstone’s parks and their surrounding gateway communities, in order to do better, must make tough, aligned choices. However, there is plenty of reason for optimism overall, says CREST’s Bray. “I’ve had a lot of conversations with destinations who want to come out of this better. But it is going to take uncomfortable conversations, and there has to be the political will, and public pressure, and a collaborative spirit of being in it for the long haul to make sure resources and communities are protected.” Whether the current various caretakers of a famed ecosystem and gateway towns will take stock and make the hard decisions with the long term in focus to shifting the current trajectory remains to be seen. But there are plenty of reasons— and people pushing—for just that success. Brigid Mander is a skier and writer based in Jackson, Wyoming, who prefers uncomfortable travel to hard-to-access—therefore, uncrowded—places. Her work appears regularly in publications like Backcountry Magazine and The Wall Street Journal.

7. Get off the radar:

Is a cool place really that great with 40,000 other tourists and the only locals around are being paid to talk to/deal with/ sell things to you? Strike out for little known destinations, and reap much bigger rewards (and then, maybe don’t put it on social media!).

8. Stay longer: Instead of a few short trips, take one and stay longer. It’s a rewarding, immersive experience that’s relaxing instead of hectic.

9. Travel with, or hire, organizations and hotels that care about making travel and our world something better for people and nature. Resources abound to find certified, sustainable services, often consolidated in one place, like CREST’s website, the Travel with Care Code tips, or the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.

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Special Advertisement SECTION: SUBHEAD

To the Skies How Summit Aviation is changing the face of private air travel BY PATRICK STRAUB

Ben Walton came to Montana in a van and with a pair of Rossignol skis. Nearly 20 years later, Walton is now responsible for over $100 million in jets flying throughout the U.S., has nearly 70 employees and pilots, and runs a comprehensive flight school. As modest as his Montana beginning was, Walton founded Summit Aviation in 1998 with one airplane and one hanger. Walton has a quiet confidence about him—exactly the personality one would trust at the helm of your safety at 45,000 feet. It is this calm collectiveness that has catapulted Summit into a nationwide player in private aviation, despite being in the relative geographic hinterlands of air charter service. “The world of private air charter is very complex, but it’s also very small,” Walton says from his office overlooking the tarmac at Bozeman-Yellowstone International Airport. “The personal

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component of our business meshes so well with our homegrown model.” Across the taxi and runway, snow blankets the Bridger Mountains. The backdrop of one of Montana’s most prominent mountain ranges is fitting for Summit’s home base. The idea of a local business going big isn’t new. The Gallatin Valley in Montana is filled with small companies whose visionary leaders ballooned their businesses into the national or international scene. But for Walton and Summit to do it in the world of private aviation required just the right amount of patience balanced with calculated decision making, much like landing a jet on a mountain runway. Just over 1.5 million passengers travel through Bozeman-Yellowstone International airport annually. On taxi or take-off, they all pass by Summit Aviation’s office, but they likely don’t

see Summit’s planes on the ground. With one of the largest fleets of Phenom 300s in the country and a nationally recognized flight school, Summit’s planes and pilots are often in the air more than on the tarmac. “Our commitment to safety starts right here,” Walton says as he opens the door to a DA42 TwinStar, one of the aviation industry’s most sought after small planes and one ideally suited for flight instruction. These planes, along with a fleet of Diamond and Cessna aircraft, are the engines that drive Summit’s flight school. “Many of our pilots started here and now fly our charter jets,” says Walton. “We’ve known them since day one.” “Whether it’s someone’s first solo flight or when someone purchases their first aircraft, our passion for flying resonates through everything we do and with our customers as well,” he adds.

Summit Aviation operates one of the largest fleets of Phenom 300 aircraft in the country. PHOTO COURTESY OF SUMMIT AVIATION

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“THE PERSONAL COMPONENT OF LEISURE OR BUSINESS AIR TRAVEL IS PARAMOUNT AT SUMMIT,” SAYS WALTON. “WITH ALMOST TWO DECADES OF FLYING PEOPLE THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY AND THE WORLD, OUR FOCUS ON SAFETY AND SERVICE IS UNPARALLELED IN THE INDUSTRY.”

Summit Aviation President Ben Walton looks on while giving a private tour during Summit Aviation’s Annual Cancer Survivor Flight Camp. PHOTO COURTESY OF CAPTURE NOW STUDIOS

“We have milestones each day at Summit.” For many, the milestone of purchasing a plane is a moment to recognize one’s hard work and a dream fulfilled. Fortunately, aircraft ownership can happen in a variety of ways and may be more attainable than some think. The cleanest and most flexible route is to own a plane outright and once it’s purchased the owner can hire Summit to manage the aircraft. This ensures all facets of ownership are organized and maintained, including pilots, safety and maintenance. With Summit’s industry-leading presence, the company offers the option to charter additional flights for the aircraft, creating a revenue stream for the owner when the plane is not being used. Other ownership strategies include fractional ownership or a prepay option. Fractional owners get all the benefits of outright ownership, they just have to coordinate their use with other owners. Summit provides this level of organizational assistance with a personalized support team, which includes educating people interested in private air charters. Plus, there maybe

some tax advantages to buying a private jet. Incentives have come in the form of the federal CARES Act, and fliers are enjoying some of the added benefits. “With all of its challenges, the current times are exciting for private air travel,” Walton says. “[And] with additional tax savings created by the CARES Act, paired with the safety and convenience of private air charter, more business and leisure travelers are gravitating away from commercial and going private.” The CARES Act reinstates the ability for taxpayers to deduct current year losses against the income from prior years, creating an immediate tax refund. If a private jet is acquired as a business asset and the taxpayer uses the 100 percent depreciation option, tax refunds can backdate as far as 2015. Tax savings are a consideration as well, but for business owners looking to keep employees safe and traveling less, shifting to private air travel may make more sense in the long run. Employees will spend less time in crowded commercial airports or large hotels. The shift to

private air travel may see charter flights as the new corporate boardroom. “The personal component of leisure or business air travel is paramount at Summit,” says Walton. “With almost two decades of flying people throughout the country and the world, our focus on safety and service is unparalleled in the industry.” Walton’s phone buzzes. It’s a text from a Summit client looking to have a plane ready tomorrow to bring a group of skiers to Bozeman—there’s a winter storm headed our way and the powder is forecast to be deep. As he reads the text, several students outside the large picture window ready a Cessna for a Discovery Flight, one of Summit’s signature offerings for first-time fliers. Beyond them a brand-new Phenom 300 pulls away from its hangar and prepares for takeoff. If the powder does indeed come tomorrow, Walton will surely ski it. He won’t have to sleep in his van to get first chair, but he will make sure the planes in the air and on the ground are safe and secure.

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THE VISION, MYTH AND MYSTERY OF

Monte Dolack Famed Montana artist celebrated in new coffee table art book of paintings BY TODD WILKINSON

Montana has nurtured a motherlode says Dolack excels in delivering a of creative talent, from globally renowned juxtaposition of the transcendent writers and poets to famous musicians, with the absurd. In 2018, Dolack was artists and actors. For years, Monte honored with the prestigious Governor’s Dolack, the homegrown “magic realist,” Humanities Award—the state’s highest has reigned perhaps as the closest thing civilian honor—and a year later it was we have to a modern “painter laureate.” McGuane who was feted. While Charles Marion Russell is “Charlie Russell was of course considered the best-known Montana easel a great painter, great character and painter who ever lived, it’s a sure bet there interesting writer, too often co-opted by are many more reproductions of Dolack’s the chamber-of-commerce drawn to the whimsical and aesthetically dreamy works colonial heroics of his work. Its oftenhanging in the homes and offices of 21stvaledictory quality—the last of the this century denizens than those of the famed or that—can seem an elegy for the West Monte Dolack stands outside his “cowboy artist.” as an interesting place,” McGuane says. home studio in Missoula not far from Russell is heralded for portraying On the one hand, Dolack might the Clark Fork River. PHOTO BY TODD WILKINSON the last gaps of the “Old West,” namely deliver soothing angling scenes inspired depictions of indigenous people, the near by the words of author Norman extermination of bison and the rise of ranching culture that Maclean and his classic novella A River Runs Through It. marked “the end of the frontier.” Meanwhile, on the other, he has called out the tragedy In contrast, Dolack has gained national attention over of Manifest Destiny causing environmental degradation, the last three decades for exploring themes of the “New be it the toxic legacy of copper mining in Butte, the West.” “The proliferation of his imagery has given him folk- destruction—and rehabilitation—of the Clark Fork River, hero status among people from all walks of life. and even Montana’s prairies holding underground nuclear This winter, a new and long-awaited coffee table art missiles that would bring doomsday if ever launched. book titled Vision, Myth and Mystery: The Art of Monte McGuane thinks of Dolack as a provocateur in the best Dolack is being published by the University of Montana way possible. “Monte's version is a potent evocation of Press. The volume brims with Dolack’s most popular the state as I know it, powered at one level by the natural paintings over the last 40-some years, including pieces that world, and on another by the persistent individualism of are part of major collections and have traveled the world. Montanans, natives and settlers, who feel entitled to define Thomas McGuane, the revered American novelist and Montana on their own terms, unencumbered by received essayist who lives near Montana’s Absaroka Mountains, versions.” >>

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“Haunted by Waters”—a soothing visual meditation— could be a Dolack painting about any of Montana’s beloved blue-ribbon trout rivers. But in this case, it is an homage to a passage in Norman Maclean’s novella “A River Runs Through It” and his favorite stream, the Big Blackfoot, where Dolack loves to fish.

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“He has captured the whimsy, the beauty and at times touched upon the significant conservation challenges of our state and does it in a way that both that grade-schooler in me long ago and now as a public servant can appreciate even better.” - Steve Bullock

Left: “Occurrence” is another Dolack work that attracted national attention and praise for the artist being a leading voice in blending fine art and environmental commentary. It is a depiction of angelic snow geese that, in the 1990s, descended to land on the Berkeley Pit in Butte and died after coming in contact with toxic liquid copper mining waste. Below: Over the decades, Dolack has assembled volumes of illustrated travel journals in which paintings and handwritten notes serve as reference points for pieces rising on his easel. PHOTO BY TODD WILKINSON

Few understood the larger universal appeal of Montana better than the late novelist and memoirist Ivan Doig. What he appreciated about Dolack, a good friend, was his attachment to “The Big Open” of the eastern plains that extend across Montana, the Dakotas, Nebraska and Wyoming. “Monte puts the two Montanas together. East of the Divide: the great mountain fronts out there in one direction, those blessed square buttes in a couple of others, the water of the Missouri forever passing through … This is that Montana of the eye, the unforgettable glimpse, the long gaze, the memory,” Doig wrote. Born in 1950, Dolack grew up a copper smelter’s son in Great Falls not far from where C.M. Russell had his studio a few decades earlier. He too toiled in the smelter while working his way through college at the University of Montana in Missoula and he relates to the ethic of the working class. Foremost, he is a champion of the underdog which has translated into epic battles between well-funded out-of-state companies and conservationists trying to protect habitat for wildlife that has no voice. “Montana has a notable and sometimes volatile relationship with its industrial legacy,” Dolack says. “A powerful tension exists. Some of Montana’s great natural beauty has been set aside in national and state parks. Its abundant rivers and wildlife are astounding and draw tourists from around the world.” The most recent major Dolack exhibition was a multimedia affair titled Altered State: Musings on the Contemporary Montana Landscape with Paintings and Construction. The showing featured dozens of works and premiered at the Holter Museum in Helena. It was an assemblage that easily could have 116

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hung at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Nothing better illustrated the bite of his commentary than his work Sacred and Profane. The setting is the Berkeley Pit, a mine tailings pond in Butte that is reputed to be among the most polluted in America. A few decades ago, a flock of snow geese landed on its surface and died from its poison. In the painting, Dolack turns to magical realism in portraying the real-life statue of Virgin Mary, called Our Lady of the Rockies, that is perched on a mountainside above the town. It’s as if the artist is exploring this question with us: How could Butte, once a beacon of prosperity, become one of the most contaminated small cities in the country? “I can relate to the plight of working-class people struggling to make ends meet and support their families—trying to give them a better life. That’s also my story,” Dolack says. “But what I don’t accept are situations when desperate people are taken


CULTURE: MONTE DOLACK

advantage of, and they’re basically told they have to accept environmental destruction, or they won’t have a job.” Early in his life, recent Montana Governor Steve Bullock remembered his father putting Dolack posters on the wall of their home. “Growing up, [Dolack] was almost this mystical person to me,” Bullock says. “I remember the whimsical fun of his posters portraying ducks in a bathtub and penguins chilling in the refrigerator and a wolf standing on top of a car howling.” Before Bullock ever learned about the French Impressionists or knew much about Charlie Russell, he knew the name Monte Dolack. “He was a pretty big deal in Montana and I kind of thought about him as I would a professional athlete I admired,” Bullock says. “You could travel across the state and his artwork was everywhere.” Dolack has no presumption about any impact his art might have on people in 50fifty or a hundred100 years. “I think people can get a pretty good sense of who I am, what I value and where I’ve been based upon my artwork,” the artist says. “If there’s any message latent in the paint, it’s that we need to pay attention to nature. It’s out there, right in front of us every day. All of us have one foot in her current.”

Right now, with the new book hot off the presses, Dolack is composing the visual pieces of his Third Act and has a major new art series in store. “He has captured the whimsy, the beauty and at times touched upon the significant conservation challenges of our state and does it in a way that both that grade-schooler in me long ago and now as a public servant can appreciate even better,” Bullock says. “Some fine artists choose to obscure out of some sort of pretentiousness. Even the most amazing and sophisticated Dolack paintings are approachable to folks from all stripes. You don’t have to be a fine art connoisseur for it to grab at your heart.” Todd Wilkinson, a regular contributor to Mountain Outlaw, is a Bozeman-based correspondent for National Geographic and The Guardian. He is the author of critically acclaimed books on Ted Turner, famous Jackson Hole grizzly mother 399, and scientific whistleblowers. He is also founder of Mountain Journal, a nationally recognized nonprofit online magazine devoted to exploring the intersection between people and nature in Greater Yellowstone.

Left: “Suspension of Belief” was among the works featured in a recent major Dolack exhibition that hung in Helena, the state capital, and Missoula, Montana. Mesmerizingly beautiful, the painting depicts coal coming out of the ground and contributing to climate change.

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BY EDNOR THERRIAULT

WHEN YOUR ATTITUDE ABOUT WINTER RHYMES WITH “BUCKET,” YOU GO ICE FISHING. ILLUSTRATION BY KELSEY DZINTARS

If your idea of a good time involves sitting in a dark tent the size of an airplane bathroom, hunched over a tiny hole in a frozen lake while an arctic wind threatens to turn your shelter into a kite, do I have the sport for you! It’s called ice fishing, and thousands of Montanans who apparently don’t have the NFL Sunday Ticket trudge out onto frozen lakes and reservoirs across the state every winter to test their mettle and establish their place atop the food chain. You don’t have to be crazy to enjoy ice fishing, but … you know what? I think you do a little bit. For one long weekend each February, I hole up with a few friends in a cabin near Philipsburg, where we revel in a few days of poker, beer, snowboarding, guitar playing and storytelling and, if there’s time, ice fishing. In the morning we walk out onto Georgetown Lake, one of Montana’s most popular ice fishing meccas, to try and harvest a few tasty trout or Kokanee salmon. Thankfully one of our bunch, Kevin, is a full-on enthusiast, and has all the gear we need to set up fishing camp. The first key to success is locating Kevin’s secret spot, which he triangulates by finding two landmarks on the shore (I’m almost certain that the word triangulation would indicate that three points must be used, but we usually catch fish so I let it slide). I did suggest to Kevin last year that maybe we spray paint a big X on the ice so we can come to the exact same spot next year. >> M T O U T L AW. C O M / MOUNTAIN

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Once you have your spot it’s time to drill holes in the ice, which on Georgetown can be two feet thick or more. Kevin has a gas-powered auger, basically a lawn mower engine on top of a giant drill bit, which makes the job much easier and quicker, not to mention louder. Small gasoline engines are famously temperamental, and more than once we have stood around on the ice watching Kevin have a frantic phone conversation with a service tech at Ace Hardware while we stamp our feet, jam our hands into our armpits and make the unanimous decision that, no, it’s not too early to start drinking. Once four holes are drilled in the ice, the tent is unfolded and slid over the holes on its sled-like base. Inside, we pop the covers off the floor to expose the holes and Kevin sets up a propane heater and a tiny folding table to hold tackle and bait. Did I mention the bait? Most people use live maggots. You read that right. Housefly larvae. Two or three of these little wiggly grubs are threaded onto a hook and lowered deep into the dark water where trout congregate, presumably laughing their caudal fins off at the morons up top who believe housefly larvae are a naturally occurring life form in a mountain lake in the dead of winter. Most ice tents are configured to hold four adult humans sitting back to back, perched on five-gallon buckets. Ice fishing rods are only about a foot long, and many fishermen dispense with the rig altogether, preferring to hold the line in their bare hands, especially if they forgot to stop by the sporting goods store on the way to the lake. Occasionally we bring along a newbie who needs a bit of guidance. Last year was Tim’s first time ice fishing. He had a little trouble with his bucket. “Is anybody else finding these buckets super uncomfortable?” he asked. “It works a lot better if you turn it upside down,” I said. Problem solved. Kevin smiled and continued staring down into his hole, plucking lightly at his line, making the maggots jump with a motion

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he calls the “Georgetown Jig.” I offered the tent, occasionally stepping outside him a sip of “mother’s milk” (ice fishing into the blinding daylight for a sandwich code for Crown Royal). or to create a yellow hole in the snow. “Ima whet yuss a lid bid,” he said. Some years we’re blessed with a sunny “What?” day, with temperatures in the 30s. He spit something into his hand. “I’m Downright balmy. Kevin will fire up the gonna wait just a little bit.” auger and set to perforating the ice sheet “Are those maggots?” with several holes so we can sit in the “Yeah, man,” he said. “They stay a lot sun in our shirtsleeves, free from the livelier if you keep them warm in your fart-scented darkness of the tent. mouth.” These warm days are usually less I asked Tim if I could borrow his chair productive on the fish front, but, as to throw up into. people who don’t catch any fish like to Like most forms of fishing, the ice say, catching fish isn’t really the point. variety takes patience. When the fish There’s also the bonus entertainment of aren’t biting, things can get tedious. We try “... these little wiggly grubs are threaded to keep the interest up onto a hook and lowered deep into the by predicting the fish dark water where trout congregate, movements as they presumably laughing their caudal fins swim past our holes. “Hey, Chris,” Kevin off at the morons up top who believe housefly larvae are a naturally occurring might say, “I just had a life form in a mountain lake in the dead couple picklers sniffing of winter.” around my maggot. Better keep your eyes on your hole.” watching the other fish camps. A couple I swear, you hear phrases in an ice years ago, we were 100 yards from a pair shack you’ll never hear anywhere else. of ice shacks with seven or eight dudes A “pickler?” That’s what Kevin calls a milling around outside, tending their Kokanee salmon too small to fry or smoke, lines. A sudden cheer erupted from the so he pickles them in brine. I can’t decide group, and we peered across the ice, if that makes it a delicacy or if it’s a slap in trying to get a glimpse of the action. the face to all self-respecting Kokanee. “Somebody must have pulled a big Sure enough, Chris will spot a pair of one up,” I said. Kevin, who spends fish making short runs at his bait only to nearly every winter weekend on the ice turn away at the last second. with his wife Wendy, has seen it all at “Ednor!” he screams. “They’re coming Georgetown Lake. He didn’t even look over to you!” Preparing for action, I sit up up to see what the commotion was all straight on my bucket. about. “OK, fish. Bring it.” “Somebody just found the bottle When someone does bring a fish up opener,” he said, setting the hook on a through the ice into the tight quarters small trout. “Got one!” of the dark tent, it’s pure pandemonium for a couple of minutes while we try Ednor Therriault is the author of several to grab the slippery, writhing fish. books, including Montana Curiosities, Then it’s removed from the hook and Myths and Legends of Yellowstone, Seven unceremoniously popped through a slot Montanas, and his latest, Haunted in the door onto the snow outside. Montana. He lives in Missoula, where he’s This goes on for several hours. If it’s learning to embrace the Montana winters, cold and windy, we stay hunkered down in one silly sport at a time.

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OUTLAW PARTNERS PHOTO

REGEN RECIPE GUIDE: FOODS TO SUSTAIN YOU

AND THE PLANET Cooking is as much a part of our genetic makeup as agriculture. We use food as a form of nourishment, cultural expression and a gesture of welcome. The methodology by which we procure our food can have adverse impacts on the environment and affect nutrient density in foods. Enter regenerative agriculture and RegenMarket. Born right here under the big skies of Montana, RegenMarket is an online, membership-based market connecting consumers with Montana producers working to grow food with the planet’s future in mind. All RegenMarket producers use regenerative agriculture practices to provide the highest quality, natural and healthy food without stripping nutrients from the soil or producing excessive emissions and by applying traditional knowledge to the land. Regenerative food fosters connection. Here are a few of our favorite recipes, inspired by RegenMarket—chefs, producers, growers, cultivators of the land we call home. Learn more about RegenMarket producers, products and memberships at regenmarket.com

ROAST PORK CHOP WITH ROASTED GRAPES BY CHEF LIZZIE PEYTON

A recipe borrowed from Italian grandmothers, roasting the grapes intensifies their sweetness, complementing the pork perfectly. Wonderful with any woody herbs from the garden, this is a quick and delicious weeknight meal that will leave your family wanting more. Prep time: 2 hours Cook time: 1 hour Serves: 2 2 pork chops, 6-10 oz. each 2 tablespoons canola or grapeseed oil (or enough to just cover the base of your skillet) 1 tablespoon bacon fat 1 bunch red grapes 1 sprig rosemary Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste One to two hours prior to cooking, remove the pork chop from the fridge to temper and bring to room temperature prior to cooking. Season all sides generously with salt. Pre-seasoning will allow the flavor to penetrate deeper into the meat and help in maintaining moisture.  Preheat oven to 400 F. Place red grapes onto a sheet pan and toss with a sprig of fresh rosemary, oil and salt. Roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the grapes are kissed with the golden brown, starting to shrivel, and releasing a bit of juice (save the juice for serving). Place a 10-12 inch skillet over high heat on the stovetop. Add just enough canola oil to barely cover the bottom. When the oil is shimmering and just beginning to smoke, lower the heat to medium high. Gently place the pork chop on the skillet. Sear the first side for 3 minutes. Gently flip the meat to sear the other side. (If the cut is very thick you can also give a little love to the thick sides with fat to help render and give extra browning for 1-2 minutes.) Place a knob of bacon fat onto the chop and put the skillet into the 400 F oven for 5-10 minutes for a perfect doneness, with an internal temperature of 135-140 F. The temperature will continue rising another 5-10 degrees once you take the meat out of the oven. Remove and let rest for 10 minutes prior to digging in. Plate with grapes, rosemary and grape juices. Freshly crack pepper over the dish and enjoy.

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OUTLAW PARTNERS PHOTO

CULTURE: RECIPES

Lizzie Peyton has lived in Montana for over a decade and believes in the connective power of food. PHOTO BY PETER LOBOZZO

PAN-SEARED RIBEYE WITH SALSA VERDE BY CHEF LIZZIE PEYTON

A classic for warm summer days with a fresh tomato basil salad from the garden or cool winter night with your favorite potato, kamut, or lentil dish—this ribeye is one you can enjoy year round. The pat of butter helps add a little extra luxury when you bite in. Prep time: 2 hours Cook time: 20 minutes Serves: 2

1 16 oz. ribeye 2 tablespoons canola or grapeseed oil (enough to cover the base of your skillet) Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 1 tablespoon butter (or bacon fat) One to two hours prior to cooking, remove the ribeye from the fridge to temper and bring to room temperature. Season all sides generously with salt. Pre-seasoning will allow the flavor to penetrate deeper into the meat and help in maintaining moisture. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Place a 10-12 inch skillet over high heat on the stovetop. Add just enough canola oil to barely cover the bottom. When the oil is shimmering and just beginning to smoke, gently place

the ribeye on the skillet. Sear the first side for 3 minutes. Gently flip the meat to sear the other side. (If the cut is very thick you can also give a little love to the thick sides with fat to help render and give extra browning for 1-2 minutes.) Place 1 tablespoon of butter onto meat and put the skillet into the 400 F oven for 3 minutes for a perfect medium rare, with an internal temperature of 125 F. Remove and let rest for 10 minutes prior to slicing.

CHEF LIZZIE PEYTON

Finish with freshly cracked pepper and serve with salsa verde.

A recipe borrowed from

SALSA VERDE 1 bunch of parsley 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced 1 tablespoon capers 1-3 anchovy fillets, to taste 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar 1 lemon, zest and juice 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper ¼ cup olive oil Salt and pepper, to taste Remove parsley leaves from stems. Place leaves into the bowl of a food processor with garlic, capers, anchovy, vinegar, lemon, olive oil, salt and peppers. Pulse in 1-2 second bursts until parsley and anchovies are well chopped. Taste for seasoning. Can be stored in the fridge for 5 days, and frozen if covered with a little additional olive oil.

Italian grandmothers, roasting the grapes intensifies their sweetness, complementing the pork perfectly. Wonderful with any woody herbs from the garden, this is a quick and delicious weeknight meal that will leave your family wanting more.

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BLACK GODDESS PUMPKIN HUMMUS BY CLAUDIA’S MESA

This hummus is made with black chickpeas, giving it a rich, dark color

The combination of black kabuli chickpeas, pumpkin, cacao and smoked paprika makes this hummus a favorite at the table. Use it as a dipper, spread on sandwiches, or as a Meze item along with roasted garlic, roasted eggplant, olives and pita bread. We love our eggplant chips and they are as easy to make as they come.

PHOTO COURTESY OF TIMELESS FOOD

CHOCOLATE CHIP LENTIL COOKIES

Prep time: 30 minutes Cook time: 1.5 hours Serves: 16-20

BY TIMELESS FOODS

2 cups of dried black kabuli, soaked overnight Water 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt 1 15-oz. can organic pumpkin puree 1 tablespoon olive oil 2 tablespoons tahini 3 large cloves garlic ¾ teaspoon of salt, or to taste 1 teaspoon organic cacao 1 teaspoon smoked paprika ½ teaspoon cumin ½ teaspoon cayenne 1 large eggplant, sliced very thin In a 4-quart pot, add chickpeas. Add enough water to cover over 3 inches of chickpeas. Add 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt and cook for about 1 hour. Keep an eye on the pot and add water as needed. When the chickpeas are soft-to-the-bite, remove from the pot and strain. Place in a bowl and allow to cool off. Meanwhile, in a food processor, pulse tahini, garlic, and salt, until smooth. Add the chickpeas, olive oil, cacao, paprika, cumin, and cayenne, until well blended. Transfer hummus to a large bowl and refrigerate for a couple of hours so ingredients settle. Before serving incorporate the pumpkin puree and garnish with cacao and a few whole, cooked chickpeas.

FOR THE EGGPLANT CHIPS

Salt the eggplant so as to release any bitterness. Preheat the oven to 200 F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Bake for an hour or until crispy. As they cook, they will dehydrate, and shrink a bit.

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Prep time: 20 minutes Cook time: 30 minutes Serves: 7 dozen cookies

PHOTO COURTESY OF CLAUDIA’S MESA

CLAUDIA KREVAT is a Colombian-born Montana chef specializing in global cuisine through her pop-up dinners, cooking classes, catering events and retail products. She is a recipe designer for Timeless Foods and the Montana Department of Agriculture. She is completing her cookbook, The Montana Lentil Table: Anecdotes, Recipes, and Gatherings in the Highlands.

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1 ½ cups butter 2 ½ cups packed brown sugar 1 cup white sugar 4 teaspoons vanilla 5 eggs 4 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon salt ¾ cups Timeless French Style Lentils, thoroughly cooked in 2 cups water, drained, pureed 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips 2 cups chopped walnuts Preheat oven to 375 F. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, brown sugar and white sugar. Add vanilla and eggs; beat until smooth. Add lentil puree to butter mixture. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, salt and baking soda. Add to creamed mixture and blend lightly. Gently blend in oatmeal, chocolate chips and nuts until evenly mixed. Chill dough until ready for handling. Drop dough in rounded tablespoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 5 minutes; turn pan and bake another 5 minutes, or until cookies are lightly browned.


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How shifting forces are pushing more skiers to the backcountry BY HENRY HALL

W H E N T H E S N OW I S D E E P I N M A R C H ,

Big Sky Resort is usually packed with locals and tourists from around the globe. Every tram is usually full from open to close while skiers and snowboarders try to shred every last inch of powder on the mountain. Usually. On March 16, 2020, however, the lifts stood still. Spring breakers were told not to come and the Mountain Village at the base of Big Sky remained silent during normal peak hours. While the resort’s parking lots were empty after the resort closed on March 15 due to concerns over the COVID-19 coronavirus, the Beehive Basin trailhead lot across from the resort was stuffed with Subarus, Sprinter vans and pickups with license plates from all corners of the country. Beehive has some of the most accessible backcountry ski and snowboard terrain in the Gallatin Valley, and is a favorite among backcountry enthusiasts. Earlier that same month, New York Magazine ran an article: “Everything You Need to Start Splitboarding.” The list: splitboard, bindings, skins, poles, backpack. Conspicuously absent was the safety gear one actually needs to start splitboarding: an avalanche beacon, shovel and probe. And the

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know-how to use it. The article illustrated one major beef that backcountry regulars have with some newbies: you don’t know what you don’t know. And that can be deadly. Ski touring and splitboarding have been gaining in popularity for years due to accessibility and affordability, but 2020 was different. Last spring brought with it COVID-19 and nobody could’ve predicted this backcountry onslaught before the pandemic. Unable to hop on Big Sky’s chairlifts, some newcomers to avalanche-prone areas that aren’t controlled, such as Beehive Basin, prepped with the right gear and learned about avalanche conditions and tendencies before heading out. But others shirked safety for themselves and others. They were uneducated and ill-equipped for backcountry terrain. And it pissed off off-piste skiers and riders who know the rules and follow them. There is little doubt that backcountry ski areas in the near future will be shared by many. Trailheads will see more traffic, demand for gear will be higher and folks will have greater access to the terrain. But silver linings can exist. >>

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CABIN GUIDE / P. 148

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Bluebird Backcountry guests earn the goods after touring up Whitley Peak, one of the many pristine mountains on Bluebird’s property. PHOTO BY DOUG MCLENNAN

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Bluebird Backcountry founders Jeff Woodward and Erik Lambert PHOTO COURTESY OF BLUEBIRD BACKCOUNTRY

when only 14 cases of COVID-19 had been reported in the U.S., Erik Lambert and Jeff Woodward’s yearslong dream came true when they opened America’s newest ski area, a Kickstarter-backed campaign they started just two weeks before opening day. Located just 30 minutes from the small town of Kremmling, Colorado, Bluebird Backcountry is a ski area like no other. Lambert learned to ski at age 1 in the mountains of New England and has spent the past decade working in marketing for various outdoor entities. Woodward is a Dartmouth grad who fell in love with backcountry skiing after becoming a ski patroller at Dartmouth Skiway and exploring the backcountry terrain in New Hampshire. The duo had a vision of a resort with no chairlifts, no fixed lodge and no grooming; the first uphillaccess-only ski area in the world. Bluebird, says Woodward, is backcountry area that’s safe for everyone. “An explicit part of our culture is to be as welcoming as we can,” he told Mountain Outlaw last August. “Because of COVID, there are tons of people who want to go backcountry skiing—more than usual—and it’s part of our mission to educate as many of them as we can.” After a successful two-week trial period in February 2020, Bluebird Backcountry is back this year for a full season with social distancing rules in place and a max of 200 customers a day. This year, Bluebird will be an official AIARE provider—short for American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education— which licenses them to offer courses and certifications in avalanche rescue, as well as Level 1 and 2.

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Co-founder of Bluebird Backcountry, Jeff Woodward, finds the deep turns last winter.  PHOTO BY DOUG MCLENNAN

As a precursor to the AIARE licensed courses, Bluebird also offers three levels of lessons that teach the ins and outs of backcountry touring and prepare customers for the avalanche courses to follow. And Bluebird has cadre of snow-savvy instructors and guides that will provide beta about terrain and daily avalanche conditions. “We make sure that everyone we hire is willing to be as welcoming as possible and will answer any question,” Woodward said. put the country into lockdown, the small town of Cooke City, Montana, was isolated from the rest of the state due to the closure of Yellowstone Park’s entrances. The pandemic shut down Beartooth Powder Guides, a Cooke City-based backcountry guide operation, for the season. “It was a bummer for business and we lost about six weeks of our season, but I got to be on lockdown in Cooke City and pretty much have the place to myself,” said Ben Zavora, who founded and operates Beartooth Powder Guides. “I think Cooke City is going to be busy this year, based on current trajectories of people trying to get out.” While growing numbers of backcountry skiers and riders can be concerning, Zavora is embracing the heightened level of activity in the area. “There is a lot of space to spread out,” he said. “I think it will be a good opportunity to educate people, and it’s good for the guiding business and the local economy in Cooke City.”

W H E N T H E C O RO N AV I RU S O U T B R E A K


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“Getting people outdoors, taking care of their health, being with friends and not [being] on the internet is going to be good for everyone. It’s also going to give everyone a good perspective of protecting our public lands and how important they are.”

Avalanche education classes at Beartooth Powder Guides will be limited to groups of six people this winter. PHOTO COURTESY OF BEARTOOTH POWDER GUIDES

With headquarters in Cooke City and two backcountry huts in the surrounding forests, Zavora and company will be running avalanche education courses as well as guided hut trips this coming winter. Classes will be limited to groups of friends and families maxed out at six people. They will also offer a COVID-19 cancellation policy which allows people to get credit The new BCA Tracker4 for a future class or trip. Zavora likes his solitude when he explores the backcountry but sees benefits to the growth. “Getting people outdoors, taking care of their health, being with friends and not [being] on the internet is going to be good for everyone. It’s also going to give everyone a good perspective of protecting our public lands and how important they are.” A prerequisite for any avalanche course is to have the right gear. Bruce Edgerly, cofounder and vice president of Backcountry Access, has established his company as one of the top sellers of backcountry equipment in North America. In January 2020, Edgerly announced a new avalanche beacon to the famed BCA Tracker series: the Tracker4. “What we’ve done is combine the robust design of the Tracker2 with the elegance and sophistication of the Tracker3,” Edgerly said. In the Tracker4, BCA has created one of the most

reliable, user-friendly avalanche transceivers in the industry, a redesign of the tried-and-true beacon that guides and ski patrollers have trusted for decades. Backcountry equipment—beacons, shovels and probes—are critical hardware for skiers and riders heading off-piste, but these are only the first, most basic tools for being safe in the mountains, say industry pros. Knowledge, they say, is power. And power is safety. Edgerly emphasizes keeping manageable group sizes. Woodward and Zavora say education and finding experienced partners are key. “Take an [avalanche] class, pick your partners carefully and don’t be afraid to question people when it comes to their knowledge in the backcountry,” Zavora says. Education is the first step to entering the backcountry. Finding elbow room comes next. You just might need to go a bit farther. “If you like people, it’s not a problem,” says Edgerly. “If you like powder, it’s time to get a snowmobile.” Woodward echoed the sentiment. “Get a map and go explore. There are miles and miles of terrain and no one is out there.” Backcountry terrain will inevitably see more and more traffic. For those frustrated about the growth, plenty of untouched terrain exists if you’re willing to find it. For everyone else, look at this as an opportunity to meet new people and to share your knowledge to make this a safe winter.

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Forging Outdoor Community from the Inside

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Running together can be a transformational experience. The Healthy Runners Community provides the space for runners to connect online and still find motivation and inspiration.”

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PHOTO COURTESY OF RUN WILD RETREATS

With outdoor gatherings in limbo, virtual indoor communities are serving as unlikely substitutes BY AMANDA LOUDIN

Kim Myers is a two-time veteran of Run Wild Retreats, an all-female running and wellness group that hosts events at various locales around the world. The 45-year old from Missouri found them helpful to her running, but also to her connectedness to other like-minded women. While she maintained contact with some of her fellow attendees after the events, when the pandemic hit she wanted more. Luckily, “more” was in the works. Run Wild Retreats is owned and operated by Carbondale, Coloradobased Elinor Fish. In March, as the pandemic took hold and ground many outdoor events to a halt, Fish found the very essence of her business model in jeopardy. She pivoted, hoping to not only keep her company operating, but also to continue providing the sense of community her clients desired. The result—a robust online platform called the Healthy Runners’ Community—has exceeded her expectations. “We were getting messages from clients that with all kinds of events having to cancel, they were feeling cut off from the greater running community,” Fish explains. “This opened the door for us to create something online. While we couldn’t replicate the retreat experience virtually, we could create a space for people to connect.” Run Wild is among several companies that, when faced with the stark reality that communal sharing of the outdoors is off the table for now, created an alternative. While none of these businesses suggests that virtual communities are on par with the real thing, in a time when nothing seems dependable, they are at least serving up viable options. Myers says the platform is much deeper than a run-of-the-mill Facebook group, and is providing a valuable experience. “This is much more supportive, plus Elinor has brought in really knowledgeable speakers for us, too,” she says. >>

A Good Alternative Danielle Stamford, a 31-year-old marketing professional from the Boston area, has always been active in the outdoors. She and her husband Ross have long hiked, backpacked and camped. But once their son was born, they found themselves stymied: How to get outside with a baby in tow? “We didn’t know which carrier to use, which tent might be safe or what gear we might need,” Stamford says. “With the pandemic, we couldn’t get out with other parents and young children to learn and ask these questions, so we were excited when we found WildKind.” Created by Brooke Froelich Murray and Healther Balogh Rochfort, WildKind is an online community designed with adventurous families in mind. Its mission: “To educate and empower families to find their wild.” While WildKind is off and running at nearly 300 members strong in just a few months, its original plan looked different than the iteration available today. “We wanted to build an outdoor community for families and offer inperson events, lessons and education,” says Rochfort. “Our plan was to launch in March, but obviously live events are no longer in play for the time being.” >>

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Rochfort and Murray, like Fish, got creative and launched their plan B in the summer. At the moment, that includes six main components: helping member families deal with the expense of gear by offering exclusive brand discounts; a community forum that allows parents to connect and ask questions; a private gear swap; a monthly online event covering a variety of topics; an online video course library; and access to a member directory. WildKind struck a chord with families seeking not just information, but a sense of community. “Our dream goal had been 100 members in the first month, but we quickly exceeded that and had to close doors to new members in September,” says Rochfort. “We’ll reopen in late November and hope to eventually grow to a community of 1,000.” Stamford says WildKind has been a lifeline while in-person connections aren’t available. “It’s been so nice to connect to like-minded people,” she says. “We feel very supported by this community.”

“You can absolutely build connections and engage with others in the virtual world. Just like in person, if you are engaged and enthusiastic, others will see, hear and feel that.”

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Community for now and later In an effort to bring more women into the sports of trail running and hiking, Gina Lucrezi founded the Trail Sisters community in 2016. Her approach was multipronged and included women-only retreats, local communities, road tours and other live events. An interactive website has always been a part of the plan, but the pandemic has given Lucrezi the incentive to beef up that side of the community. Currently with 3,000 members, Lucrezi says that when the pandemic began, her team migrated its platform and grew its community. “Virtual connection is so important right now,” she says. “We created a space where women can connect over their runs, send positive thoughts to each other and simply strengthen their camaraderie in the absence of live gatherings.” Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge, a licensed professional counselor in Connecticut, says virtual communities are essential right now and serve an important purpose. “You can absolutely build connections and engage with others in the virtual world,” she says. “Just like in person, if you are engaged and enthusiastic, others will see, hear and feel that.” Key to finding real community in these sites, says Capanna-Hodge, is drilling down to the specificity you need. “Find that niche group so you can really find other people who like the same things,” she says. The price range for joining these communities varies, from free in the case of Trail Sisters, which turns a profit from retreats, brand partnerships and a Patreon subscription model, to $29.99 a month for the Healthy Running Community, and a founders’ launch fee of $70 annually or $7 a month for WildKind, as of this report in mid-October. When things eventually reach “normal” again and outdoor groups start returning in person, it’s unknown if these virtual communities will see the same success they currently enjoy. Run Wild has already begun a return to live retreats in a much smaller and more local way in Colorado. But Fish says the online options will remain as well. “This isn’t like going to an online exercise class,” she says. “The value is in the true connection you make with people who understand you and your passions.”


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Cory Woodruff, director of paleontology at the Great Plains Dinosaur Museum in Malta, Montana. PHOTO BY TOM FOWLKS

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ADVENTURE

In Montana’s dinosaur-rich hills, fossils can be the path to scientific discovery, or a major payday BY ALEX SAKARIASSEN

Dried grass encircles a large stone sign at the end of a driveway east of Glendive, within spitting distance of Interstate 94. Below the chiseled profile of a triceratops skull, the words “Baisch’s Dinosaur Digs” advertise a side-business the Baisch family have been operating on their ranch for the past 12 years. Shana Baisch walks by the sign and past an old suburban with a cracked sideview mirror toward a set of blue double doors with white trim. A dog whines at her feet. The doors open to reveal a world roughly 68 million years old. “This is our display room,” Baisch says. “Not organized and cleaned yet for the season.” She crosses the concrete floor to a far corner, where the pallet-sized upper skull of a triceratops weighing several thousand pounds lies partially encased in plaster. Lumpy masses of hardened earth cover the fossil below the frill and around the horns like pale grey blisters, remnants of the ancient sediments that trapped this gigantic creature from the Cretaceous Period to the day a client from Sidney stumbled across its nasal horn in 2017. It took a bulldozer, a payloader and about 54 days, Baisch says, to move the specimen from its original resting place and into Baisch’s Dinosaur Digs HQ. “It was in a hole about 15 feet down,” she continues, running a finger gently along a blood groove in the triceratops’ frill. “We had to pull it out of this hole and then send it down the hill that was 250 feet or something.” Benches, tall shelves and glass display cases crowd the rest of the room, lined with bits and pieces of prehistoric flora and fauna. Fossilized palm branches, ancient turtle shells, the jaw bones and vertebrae of duck-billed Edmontosauruses, teeth from the infamous Tyrannosaurus rex. Along one wall crouches the fully articulated skeleton of a Struthiomimus, an exact replica of a specimen uncovered on the Baisch ranch and sold to a museum in Doha, Qatar, for a few hundred thousand dollars.

“Took us like 20 years, we finally got the replica,” she says. “It was 16-[feet] long.” Baisch’s tour unfolds on my laptop screen as I sit on my deck in Missoula, some 560 miles away. Originally, the plan was for me to see all this in person, from the display room to the mounds of sediment and mushroom-like rock caps that make up the northern slice of the Hell Creek Formation along the MontanaNorth Dakota border where the fossils were found. Then coronavirus swept its way into Montana. Baisch’s mother-in-law Marge, who started the operation, and Baisch’s grandson are both among the demographics likely to have trouble with the disease. For their safety and mine, I called off my field trip, and Baisch agreed to capture the experience for me as best she could on video. Baisch and her family are members of a small but dedicated cottage industry in eastern Montana that offers dinosaur fanatics and the Mesozoically uninitiated an opportunity to unearth the monsters of our planet’s past. These fossil hunting outfits have been around for decades, operated by farmers and ranchers much the way that some ag families on the fringes of the Bob Marshall Wilderness guide hunters and guests into the backcountry. On the Baisch’s ranch, you can pick through the hills for prehistoric bones for $120 a day—$80 for a half-day—and take home most of what you might find. To call it a side-hustle barely scratches the surface, though. The Struthiomimus that ended up in Qatar? “That one helped finish paying the ranch off,” Baisch says. There’s money to be made in the fossil game. That sentence alone opens a door to a nebulous world, one where the forces of science, capitalism, property rights and legal definition are in constant, dizzying contention. It’s a world that has birthed lawsuits, legislative action, criminal charges and one of the Treasure State’s most popular tourism calling cards. Welcome to Montana’s dinosaur country. >>

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Clayton Phipps had a heck of a time finding the Nanotyrannus’ skull. Following along the carnivore’s neck, he came across a smooth black ridge he at first took to be the ilium, or pelvic crest. Phipps scratched his head, wondering if he’d separated the skull from the rest of the specimen with his backhoe. “Then it dawned on me,” he says. “That skull is upside-down.” In response, chuckles echo across the cavernous lab near Fort Peck along the Hi-Line in northeastern Montana, including the laugh of world-renowned paleontologist Robert T. Bakker, who stands next to the specimen swinging his token white straw cowboy hat. The moment comes halfway through a video 136

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posted to YouTube in October 2011 by the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research. To date, the video only has 17,126 views. But if you’re looking for a glimpse of what might be the most famous fossil yet uncovered in Montana, that video is the best you’ll get. Few people today know exactly where the Dueling Dinosaurs are housed. According to a 2019 article by The Guardian, the number of individuals who have even seen them remains in the low double digits. Why this fantastic discovery—a horned ceratopsian and the aforementioned T. rex-like Nanotyrannus—lies hidden away is a story that’s generated national headlines and cuts to the heart of Montana’s paleontological struggles.

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Phipps and a friend first stumbled across the Dueling Dinosaurs in June 2006 while scouring the Hell Creek Formation for fossils. Phipps’s reputation as a fossil hunter in Montana, coupled with his trademark Stetson, had earned him the nickname “Dino Cowboy,” and his first big find in 2003, the spiked skull of a human-sized, plant-eating Stygimoloch, netted him $40,000. When he first saw the Dueling Dinosaurs, they were merely a pelvis and femur weathering out of the Hell Creek’s sandy, arid hills. A month later he returned to the spot with the landowners, a Glendive-area ranch couple named Lige and Mary Ann Murray. They gave him permission to excavate. What Phipps uncovered over the next three months was huge. Physically,


ADVENTURE: MORE THAN BONES

Left: Marge Baisch digging on the Baisch family ranch. Below: Baisch pointing out a triceratops in her garage museum. PHOTOS BY LYNN DONALDSON-VERMILLION

the Dueling Dinosaurs constituted four refrigerator-sized blocks of bone and matrix—the term for the layers of hardened sediment in which fossils are trapped—each weighing multiple tons. Scientifically, the specimen had the potential to resolve an ongoing paleontological dispute over the existence of a T. rex relative dubbed Nanotyrannus. Commercially, Phipps’ discovery was appraised at between $7 million and $9 million. The Dueling Dinosaurs weren’t the only fossils waiting to be dug up on the Murray ranch. In the seven years following Phipps’s initial find, the Murrays discovered a Triceratops foot and skull and the complete fossilized skeleton of a T. rex, all of which were

put up for sale. According to records from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the foot sold for $20,000, the skull was offered up for $200,000 to $250,000, and the Murray T. rex was purchased by a Dutch museum for “several million dollars.” The Dueling Dinosaurs themselves eventually went on the block at the New York auction house Bonhams in 2013, though none of the bids reached the $6 million reserve price. The commodification of dinosaur remains dates clear back to the late 19th century, when famed rival paleontologists Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh sank their personal fortunes into acquiring strange and as-then unknown prehistoric

species. Both men employed armies of fossil collectors to scour the West, some former academics and others local thugs. Nearly 120 years after Cope and Marsh’s so-called “Bone Wars” left both in financial ruin, a Sotheby’s auctioneer in 1997 opened the bidding for one of the best-preserved T. rex skeletons ever found at $500,000. Museums were eager to ensure that Sue didn’t fall into private hands. The Smithsonian was reportedly prepared to spend $2.5 million for her. But thanks to financial support from major donors including McDonald’s and the Walt Disney Company, Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History walked away with Sue for $8.36 million. >>

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Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History purchased Sue, one of the best-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex skeletons ever discovered, for $8.36 million in 1997.

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PHOTO COURTESY OF THE FIELD MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY

Brown went on to uncover the first fossils of Deinonychus, the toe-clawed inspiration for Spielberg’s velociraptors, eventually leading to the realization that modern birds evolved from dinosaurs.

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For professional paleontologists, snatching fossils like Sue from the commercial market isn’t just about displaying them for the museum-going public. Increasing our understanding of these ancient creatures and their environment depends on peer-reviewed study and guaranteed access to specimens. However, most academic publications refuse to accept scientific papers about fossils in private collections, and the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology denounces the sale of scientifically significant fossils unless the aim is to bring them into public trust. In the scientific journal Palaeontologia Electronica in 2014, paleontologists from the U.S. and Canada declared the fight against the commercial fossil market “the greatest challenge to paleontology of the 21st century.” But the issue isn’t exactly black and white in the eyes of Cary Woodruff, director of paleontology at the Great Plains Dinosaur Museum in Malta, Montana. He’s no big fan of commercial fossil collecting himself, though he knows and even works with some collectors. Ultimately it boils down to a question of legality versus morality. “All of us go out in hunting season and go on public lands,” Woodruff says. “We may be a bit jealous of those guys who can pay all this money to do a big leased hunt that’s guided on private land. But at the end of the day, they’re not breaking the law, and neither are these commercial [fossil] collectors. If they follow the laws appropriately.” However, in 2018, the legal rug was ripped out from under paleontologists and private collectors alike. And it was all due to the Dueling Dinosaurs.

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ADVENTURE: MORE THAN BONES

Today, the badlands of the north-central United States invoke images of Native tribes, weary Westbound settlers and herds of bison stretching clear to the horizon. Deep cracks run down these crumbly canyon walls like fissures in dry skin. Veins of rich red run horizontally along the folds and creases of packed sediment, giving the otherwise dun-colored landscape a splash of glorious 19th century impressionism. It was from this terrible, beautiful ground that Barnum Brown, a storied and eccentric fossil hunter, pulled a creature that shocked the world. In 1902, Brown blasted the hillsides of Montana’s Hell Creek Formation with dynamite, loosening the hard, blue sandstone to uncover a 1,000-pound elongated skull boasting rows of massive teeth. By 1906, the skeleton had been pieced together at an exhibit hall in New York, and the beast was given a name: Tyrannosaurus rex. That’s right. Big Sky Country produced the first specimen of a prehistoric species that would go on to frighten moviegoers throughout the 1990s. And Montana hasn’t slowed in revealing its Mesozoic secrets. Brown went on to uncover the first fossils of Deinonychus, the toe-clawed inspiration for Spielberg’s velociraptors, eventually leading to the realization that modern birds evolved from dinosaurs. In the late 1970s, locals in Choteau stumbled across the tiny fossilized bones of baby Maiasaura, a large duckbilled herbivore. The find caught the attention of famed

paleontologist and Jurassic Park dino consultant Jack Horner, who subsequently led a dig that yielded not only fossilized Maiasaura eggs but proof that these creatures reared their young in nests. And in 2000, the ground in Phillips County surrendered a stunningly preserved duck-billed specimen named Leonardo. When a NASA team X-rayed Leonardo’s stomach cavity in the mid 2000s, they discovered the remains of numerous prehistoric plants as well as potential evidence of parasitic worms. The richness of Montana’s contribution to the fossil record leads to an obvious question: Why here? To understand the Treasure State’s paleontological track record, you need to think of time in a geologic sense. Woodruff likens it to a book: Each layer of rock represents a different period of time in Earth’s 4.5-billion-year history. Dinosaurs lived during a relatively short chapter in that book, one we call the Mesozoic Era, which extended from 230 million to 65 million years ago. Though the Mesozoic is a pretty recent chapter, leafing back to it isn’t easy. In Montana, that’s where glaciers came in. These massive sheets of ice once covered much of North America, redirecting rivers in the eastern part of the state and leading to intense erosion of soft sedimentary rock. The results, some 11,000 years later, are the fossil-rich badlands where so many dinosaur specimens have been unearthed. >>

A triceratops femur found and excavated by a guest of the Baisch family ranch. PHOTO BY SHANA BAISCH

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“A lot of that younger rock that was on top of the time of dinosaurs was basically carved away,” Woodruff says. “A lot of the state has been flipped open to the right page in time.” Ready access to those pages is what’s drawn paleontologists to Montana for more than a century. It’s also given rise to the famed Dinosaur Trail, a collection of more than a dozen museums across the state that’s heavily promoted by the Montana Office of Tourism. The trail offers visitors to far-flung towns such as Ekala, Rudyard and Harlowton a chance to not just see dinosaur fossils but to help uncover them. Woodruff’s museum is one of several that host hands-on summer dig programs for children and adults alike. “If we’re ever going to get people to understand or want to understand how the earth works, we need to get them involved with it,” says Cory Coverdell, director of paleontology at Bynum’s Two Medicine Dinosaur Center. “It’s a different story when people are on the ground looking at what you’re doing and why you do it … The public makes decisions about the earth, so it’s important for people to somewhat understand what’s going on.” The glaciers of the Pleistocene period opened the book for paleontologists, but some of those pages remain out of reach. Vertebrate fossils on public land have long been considered property of the people of the United States. Fossils found on private property, though, belong to whomever holds the surface right. And as public lands only account for approximately 29 percent of Montana, private landowners hold the keys to a significant chunk of history. In February 2018, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed more than a century of common agreement over fossil ownership in awarding the former owners of the Murrays’ ranch partial claim over the Dueling Dinosaurs. The owners had retained two-thirds of the mineral estate in the sale, and the court reached the unusual conclusion that fossils, like oil and gas, were part of that estate. The legal dispute over the Dueling Dinosaurs is hardly the first, or most dramatic, example of the turbulent 140

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interplay between fossils and property rights. At 7:30 a.m. on May 14, 1992, a team of 30 FBI agents descended on South Dakota’s Black Hills Institute of Geological Research, sealing off the firm’s Hill City headquarters and seizing the remains of Sue, the very same T. rex that five years later would end up selling at auction for a cool $8.36 million. The raid climaxed a tense ownership tug-of-war between the Institute’s president, Peter Larson, and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, which alleged that Sue had been illegally taken from land held in federal trust for one of its members. “I’m reminded of the last scene in the Indiana Jones movie Raiders of the Lost Ark,” paleontologist Robert T. Bakker told The New York Times, “in which the U.S. government, having seized the ark of the covenant, locks it away in a forgotten warehouse.” In other words, Montana’s geology isn’t the only layered cake that paleontologists and commercial fossil hunters have to contend with. Laws governing access and fossil ownership vary across federal, state, tribal and private lands. Removing a fossil without proper permission carries a hefty consequence, as Nathan Murphy, the amateur paleontologist who discovered Leonardo, found out in April 2009 when he pleaded guilty to stealing 13 fossilized dinosaur bones from public land. “I come out of it stronger and wiser,” says Murphy, who leads weeklong digs through the private Judith River Dinosaur Institute for up to $1,795 per person. “I don’t trust people with necessarily knowing their boundaries, property boundaries. That’s why I’ve invested in great equipment to know where I [am] at all times, so that I don’t make the same mistake again.” The value that private collectors place on significant specimens has the effect, intended or not, of creating a competitive atmosphere. According to Woodruff and Coverdell, museum-based paleontologists in the state have managed to maintain strong relationships with numerous private landowners. But other fossil-rich sites have become the province of commercial collectors or private pay-

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Commercial paleontology’s looking for the next spectacular milliondollar gold find. We’re looking for the next spectacular breakthrough, the next spectacular scientific discovery.” to-dig outfits where landowners retain the right to keep and sell whatever’s found. Coverdell adds that even large museums rarely have the funds to scoop up significant discoveries that land on the commercial market. “There are a few museums that buy significant fossils,” Coverdell says. “But for every one of those, there are nine or 10 other museums that don’t have the budget or the willingness to take those.” Litigation over the Dueling Dinosaurs put the Murray’s profits from their 2014 T. rex sale into temporary escrow and resulted in the specimens themselves being hidden away at an undisclosed location. In the wake of the Ninth Circuit decision, the Murrays took the case to the Montana Supreme Court, which ruled in their favor in May 2020. The case has now joined the crowded, dusty shelf of legal precedent. But outside the courts, it became a rallying cry for commercial collectors and academics alike, who in 2019 took their shared fight to the Montana Legislature. There, like the massive prehistoric feet responsible for making the stone tracks propped in a corner of Coverdell’s museum, is where the Dueling Dinosaurs left their deepest impression.


ADVENTURE: MORE THAN BONES

Cory Coverdell, director of paleontology at Bynum’s Two Medicine Dinosaur Center, peers through the glass at a baby Maiasaura, a duck-billed dinosaur discovered by Jurassic Park dino consultant Jack Horner. PHOTO BY ALEX SAKARIASSEN

A relentless fall wind batters the sides of the Two Medicine Dinosaur Center in late September. Occasionally, the vibrations shake Seismo, the 137-foot-long skeletal Seismosaurus model that snakes along the center’s ceiling, to sudden swaying life. Coverdell reclines at his crowded workbench, discussing the dinosaur world’s schism in the casually exasperated tone of someone who has recognized the problem for far too long. “The problem is just that we’re all looking for the same [thing],” he says. “Commercial paleontology’s looking for the next spectacular million-dollar gold find. We’re looking for the next spectacular breakthrough, the next spectacular scientific discovery. And I don’t know that we’ll ever find a happy medium where we can both work together.” Coverdell believes the commercial side of paleontology has moved beyond the realm of science and into that of art, with a fossil’s value based more on its own contemporary story than what it could say about Earth’s history. For academics like Coverdell, though, fossils alone aren’t the goal of discovery. To answer questions about an ancient creature’s life, its death and the world around it, context is everything. The public digs that Coverdell and other Montana museums lead include lessons on recording site data such as stratigraphy, or the particular layer of the geologic record in which a fossil is found. That seemingly simple detail can tell scientists a lot. Part of what vexes Coverdell and Woodruff about the commercial fossil hunting industry is the lack of education on these scientific nuances. In the case of the Dueling Dinosaurs, Phipps and others involved with the excavation have publicly insisted that their work on the specimen met the highest scientific standards. However, some paleontologists have challenged those assertions based on Phipps’ status as a commercial hunter and the monetary considerations

involved in the find. “As far as I’m concerned,” Jack Horner told Smithsonian Magazine in 2017, “those specimens are scientifically useless.” So when, on Feb. 16, 2019, paleontologists and commercial hunters alike appeared before the Montana Legislature to testify in favor of the same bill—to codify fossils as a surface right —it came as no small moment in time. John Scannella, paleontology curator at the Museum of the Rockies, told lawmakers that treating fossils as minerals would “threaten our continued understanding of life on Earth.” From a legal standpoint, Coverdell says the Ninth Circuit’s ruling put fossils in a similar situation to that of cultural objects looted by the Nazis during World War II. The National Archives estimates that nearly 20 percent of Europe’s artwork was seized from German-occupied countries, and that as many as 100,000 looted pieces are still missing today. Coverdell says that granting ownership of fossils to mineral rights holders threatened to tag as “looted” specimens that had been in museums for decades. The bill passed unanimously. And while some commercial hunters maintain that the victory was enough, Woodruff argues the state has to go further. He believes more must be done to improve incentive programs for fossils donated to the public trust, and to work closely with farmers and ranchers in developing those solutions. “Many countries in the last 10, 15 years have been switching over and really, I think, properly understanding that fossils are a part of their national heritage and identity,” Woodruff says. “Fossils [here] need to be brought into that same fold, thought about and viewed as part of our national heritage.”>>

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Dinosaurs continue to tease and fascinate our imaginations. Their skeletal remains require our eyes to add muscle and skin and, today, even feathers to complete the picture. For every new layer that scientific revelations paint on these boney canvasses, a dozen more remain for us color in. If for no other reason than that, the legal and economic pressures weighing down on these captivating specimens are unsurprising and at the same time a damn shame. About 10 years ago, one of the Baisch family’s fossil-hunting regulars, an attorney from New York, came across the remains of an herbivorous, domeheaded pachycephalosaurus. Baisch recalls it was a beautiful specimen, and they brought in outside experts to do the excavation. It’s now housed with a Colorado-based fossil preparation firm awaiting a buyer. According to Baisch, it could go for $200,000 to $300,000, of which her family would get a percentage. “The selling of skeletons and dinosaur bones, it’s not like cattle. You don’t just go take your dinosaur bones to the market and sell them,” she says. “You can have something that’s worth hundreds of thousands of dollars but you can hang onto it for years and years to find that buyer.” Deals like that may put Baisch on the fringes of the nebulous paleontology-or142

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Above: Marge and Shanna Baisch dig with a

client on the ranch.

PHOTO BY LYNN DONALDSON-VERMILLION

The selling of skeletons and dinosaur bones, it’s not like cattle. You don’t just go take your dinosaur bones to the market and sell them.

profit world. But outrage and intrigue haven’t dampened the childlike awe that drew her to dinosaurs in the first place. On a sunny day in late March, she stood on the edge of the Hell Creek Formation. She scanned the dunny hills with her cell phone camera, halting on a tall mass of ancient sediment flanked by a steep, shadowed ridge. “I’m going to walk over here and climb up that hill, right in there somewhere, and see if I can find some fossil coming out,” she said. Baisch’s trek to get me video of the fossil hunting site didn’t take her too far out of her normal routine. She regularly walks these hills and gullies

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in search of dinosaurs. She’d be the first to admit she’s no expert, but through self-teaching and constant hunting, her eyes have calibrated to distinguish ancient secrets from the surrounding flecks of rock. Most of what she finds weathering out of the property would be of little interest to museums, she says. To her, though, they’re results of a treasure hunt. Collecting them is tantamount to rescuing bits of the past before wind and rain reduce them to fossil dust. And if a few specimens prove impressive enough to net a pay-day? Well, Baisch says, a heated shop would go a long way in improving daily life on the ranch. “If you found a Picasso stacked in your attic, you would go sell it. If you find oil on your land, you’d go sell it,” she adds. “It’s not a mystic thing. It’s a historical thing.” Alex Sakariassen is a Missoula-based journalist who writes about science, politics and the environment. He spent childhood summers a hop and a skip from an ancient Maiasaura nesting site on the Rocky Mountain Front.


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CURATING AN EXPERIENCE The Madison Double R is the newest high-end fishing lodge in the Northern Rockies. It just may be the best.

BY JOSEPH T. O’CONNOR

The long dirt road off Highway 287 south of Ennis, Montana, leads to a long dirt driveway that follows the iconic Madison River. Tall cottonwoods, their leaves a golden yellow, line the banks standing guard over one of the most famous trout fisheries in the world.

Passing a gate reading Madison Double R Lodge, the driveway opens to reveal the main lodge and the dozen or so cabins and outbuildings that surround an open grassy area bathed in the early evening light. The low-profile structures feature clean lines and large windows, each intricately designed in a manner that could be described as rustic minimalism. John Sampson calls it “modern Montana.” “The architecture brings Montana from the outside into the buildings,” says Sampson, 54, who opened the Double R with his wife Krista in June of 2019. “[It’s a] simple, clean style that doesn't get in the way of what guests are looking to do, and that's to experience the beauty of Montana.” The Madison Double R is the newest high-caliber, top-end fishing lodge in the Northern Rockies, providing guests with fly fishing gear by day, and a gym,

hot tub, full bar, and premier dining experience at night. Expert guides lead float trips here giving anglers access to the large rainbow and brown trout that make the Madison among the most soughtafter rivers around. Snugged up to the Madison on what’s colloquially known as the “Miracle Mile” for its unrivaled fishery, the Double R Lodge stands on 1,287 acres through which moose, deer, bear and antelope regularly travel. Sampson leases about half the land to a friend whose horses graze in the vast fields. It’s a fitting arrangement since the Double R was named for the original property: River Ranch. But what Sampson holds dearest is the conservation and restoration work that’s been done here: when he made the purchase, more than 600 acres of the property was in a conservation easement with preservation heavyweight Montana Land Reliance, and guidelines include 500-foot setbacks from the river. And Sampson has endeavored to restore the local ecosystem by creating a network of creeks connected to the Madison that allow the river’s famed trout to spawn and their numbers to grow each year. Above: Madison Double R guides lead clients down the “Miracle Mile” of the Madison River south of Ennis, Montana. Big rainbows and trophy browns will hit streamers, hoppers or nymphs. Below: More than 1,200 acres at the Double R yield sweeping views of the Madison Range. Keep an eye out for moose, bear, deer and antelope that “visit” the property on a regular basis.

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“If there's one thing that I will look back on my career [and] be most proud of,” Sampson says, “it will be the recreational development, riparianimprovement projects that will live well beyond my time on the Earth.” These restoration projects have become something of a crusade for Sampson. Indeed, he’s worked on eight in the Lower Big Hole Valley and in the Ruby Valley, where he co-owned the Ruby Springs Lodge with elementary school chum Paul Moseley just 30 miles west of the Double R. It was here at Ruby Springs, building off his experience working for all-inclusive lodges in Alaska, that Sampson began conceiving of the ideal fishing lodge. The Double R took Sampson18 months to build, but this lodge has taken him more than two decades to perfect. He helped run Ruby Springs for 23 years, and he’s learned from the mistakes and successes, fine-tuning each component of the Double R. For Sampson, however, this highly curated experience begins and ends with people. Guests are an eclectic mix of young and old, honeymooners and grandfathers, families and anglers. The backbone is a staff of 40 hand-selected, welcoming professionals. Sampson gives them the tools to be their best. “It’s important to me that they’re empowered and encouraged to make decisions on their own,” he says. “Nobody is less or more important than [another.] Every single teammate is important to the whole system. A happy staff makes for happy guests.” Sam Hanssler and Alex Deen are the lodge’s chefs. Deen came from Colorado last May after working seasonally in Alaska and says the locally sourced ingredients make the cuisine unparalleled, while custom wine pairings round out meals. “Coming from a culinary standpoint, it’s like a dream,” Deen says. Peter McLoughlin, a next-door neighbor to the Double R and friend of John Sampson’s, agrees. “Having gone to a number of lodges around the country, I’ve never had better food than Alex and

Above: John Sampson, owner of the Madison Double R Lodge, all smiles with a monster brown trout PHOTO COURTESY OF MADISON DOUBLE R Below: Rooms in one of five spacious cabins allow guests to experience Montana in what owner John Sampson calls “modern Montana” architecture.

Sam provided,” says McLoughlin, who frequents the lodge with his wife Kelly for dinner and fishing once a week or so. But alongside trying to make the restaurant the “best in Montana,” Deen says the team is like family. “And that goes for everybody on the ranch. We’re all so closely knit.” That teamwork provides the experience. And that comes down to details: shuffleboard and pool tables in the bar; mountain bikes leaning against spacious, two-bedroom cabins; rooms with towering windows offer breathtaking views of the valley to the north and south, the Madison Range to the east; a hot tub just a short golf cart ride away overlooks the river. Each component of the lodge works in unison, thanks to Krista and interior designer Teresa Kessler: from the minute detail of the Double R insignia on the napkin holders to the placement of

Sampson’s grandfather’s mallard decoys overlooking the large stone fireplace in the great room. But while an uncanny attention to detail gives guests visiting the Double R a world-class experience, it’s the people that make the lodge special. Sampson says he’s discovered the sweet spot where comfort and relationships combine for a world-class experience. Former Major League Baseball pitcher Matt Morris’s signed jersey lives in a frame on the wall of the workout facility. “You become an extended member of the Sampson family when visiting the Double R,” said Morris, who lives in Big Sky with his wife Heather. “John and Krista have raised the bar for fishing lodges across the country. We’re just lucky it’s in our backyard.” On this evening, new friends and old mingle at happy hour, sampling apps and handcrafted cocktails as the Montana sun sets over this pristine stretch of the Madison River. Bozeman native and former Seattle Seahawks linebacker Brock Coyle is here celebrating his 30th birthday talking with an 89-year-old man who’s fished around the world. A young couple celebrating their wedding anniversary shares the day’s fish tales with a father whose 20-year-old sons and nephew lounge on a nearby couch. The great room is open and inviting; guests relax in plush leather chairs, chatting and watching the Seattle Seahawks game on vast flatscreens. It’s a fitting game. After all, Sampson grew up in Seattle and neighbor McLoughlin, former president of the Seahawks, is here laughing with the fishing guides. “We view the lodge as a great resource to us because of the proximity of our friends John and Krista and the facilities the lodge has to offer,” McLoughlin says. “To me, the Double R is all about hospitality and the friendships that you can make with the people that are John’s customers and clients, and the staff. It’s nothing short of incredible.” Visit madisonrr.com for details and booking information.

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L IVIN GS TO N TRAI L C RE E K MAXE Y WI NDOW ROCK

S PA NI SH CR EEK

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Spanish Creek Cabin under the stars. PHOTO BY ANGELO TOLFA

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Get Out and

Y O U R FA M I L Y G U I D E TO FOREST SERVICE CABINS BY MIRA BRODY

Cozy Up

We all need to get out on occasion. We hunt, fish, hike, climb, swim, and camp, all necessary forms of escapism. But in the dead of winter and if you aren’t looking to shred the tram or sport crampons and scale vertical walls of ice, what else can you bring the family to do? Enter U.S. Forest Service cabins. In the late 1800s, when industrialization brought urban growth to the country, the need for recreation grew as did the avocation for setting aside large swaths of wild forests to recreate in, today known as national forests and managed by the Forest Service. The National Forest Service owns and manages 113 public cabins in Montana, many built in the 1920s and ‘30s as

headquarters for forest rangers and crews working on trails, wildfires, and a range of forestry projects. Today, these quaint cabins are available to rent, providing a unique, rustic outdoor experience for all ages that will give you an escape to the woods without shivering in a snow-covered tent. In winter, many are accessible by cross-country ski, snowshoe or by foot, and are equipped with a wood stove, fuel and cooking supplies, making for a light trek and cozy night in. Some of these cabins are nestled right here in Gallatin County and even in winter sit only a few miles from the nearest road, making an easy journey for even the shortest of legs. >>

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Maxey

Spanish Creek Spanish Creek Cabin is a two-story structure built in 1934 at the base of Lee Metcalf Wilderness at 6,200 feet above sea level. Retaining its rustic nature from that era, Spanish Creek sleeps four and has a wood stove for cooking and heat. The cabin is available year round and offers an excellent base camp for a variety of summer and winter recreation

views the Gallatin Mountains have to offer from the porch of the Maxey Cabin in Hyalite Canyon. Situated in an open meadow looking out toward some of Hyalite’s most majestic peaks, Maxey Cabin was built in 1912 by then-owner of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and Great Falls Tribune, William M. Bole (for whom Hyalite’s prominent Mountt. Bole was named), who purchased the land from the Northern

opportunities. Wave to Ted Turner’s bison herd as you approach Spanish Creek Cabin. Heading south on U.S. Highway 191 from Bozeman, you’ll hang a right at Spanish Creek Road. In winter months, park at the gate, approximately threeand-a-half miles from the cabin. From there, you have a relatively easy hike, snowshoe or ski in along an unplowed portion of the road.

Soak in some of the most awe-inspiring

Pacific Railroad. Pre-New Deal, there was no reservoir and no dam, just the Hyalite Creek headwaters. Today, the main cabin can sleep up to four, with a neighboring unheated structure available only in summer, providing extra space for a total of 15 people and making for a unique family reunion. Maxey is located past Hyalite Dam on the right—the final mile is not plowed and there is a gate about two-thirds of a mile from the cabin.

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Clockwise from left: Spanish Creek Cabin is accessible in the winter months by ski, snowshoe or hike along the final four miles of Spanish Creek Road on Ted Turner’s Ranch. PHOTO BY MARK MEYER

Maxey Cabin sits at what was once the Hyalite Creek headwaters before the construction of the dam. PHOTO BY ALY KAUFMAN PHOTOGRAPHY

Katelynn Rhoads sips hot chocolate outside of Hyalite Canyon’s Window Rock Cabin.

PHOTO BY MARK RHOADS

Many Forest Service cabins offer basic amenities, such as a wood stove, cook stove and basic cookware.

PHOTO BY LAUREN BURGESS


FAMILY: FOREST SERVICE CABINS

Window Rock

Basin Station

Nestled in Hyalite Canyon, Window Rock Cabin is set in a

Basin Station Cabin is a primitive, rustic, two-room

meadow just south of the Hyalite Reservoir. In the shadow of

structure located in the Hebgen Lake Ranger

Mountount Bole, start a crackling fire in the outdoor fire ring

District of the Custer Gallatin National Forest just

or indoor wood stove with the sounds of Hyalite creek flowing

past the town of West Yellowstone. From U.S.

nearby.

Highway 20, about seven-and-a-half miles from

From Hyalite Canyon

town, park at the Buttermilk Trailhead just past

Road, just past the

Denny Creek Road. Guests can ski, snowmobile or

dam, the driveway to

snowshoe one mile down Highway 20 from the

the cabin is only 650

Buttermilk Trailhead parking lot, then proceed

feet away. Be sure to

along the two-mile trail to the cabin.

pack your skis—Hyalite

Sitting in an open meadow in the Upper

Canyon has 18 miles

Madison River Valley with views of distant pine

of groomed cross-country ski trails and endless backcountry

forests and mountain peaks on all sides, the cabin

opportunities. Built in 1940, the cabin sleeps four and remains

providesing a backdrop for the herds of elk that

a retreat for one of Gallatin National Forest's most popular

frequent the area. Basin Station sleeps four people

recreation areas.

and provides includes a wood stove for heat.

Trail Creek The Trail Creek area is known for its small collection of abandoned coal mining communities that came andin went in the late 1800s. The Trail Creek Cabin is situated off of Interstate 90, but lies deep in the surrounding pine forests offering a convenient yet remote getaway not accessible by car or truck. There are two approaches to the cabin: after exiting I-90 onto Trail Creek Road, take the three-mile ski or snowshoe from Newman Creek Road, or a five-mile trip from Goose Creek Road. Trail Creek Cabin was built in 1924 and was the original ranger station for the Bozeman Ranger District. The cabin can accommodate up to four people and has a wood stove for heat. It’s an ideal home base for backcountry skiing, snowshoeing or wildlife watching.

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Four skiers talk the grit, the grind and the greatness it takes to rip with the pros BY BRIGID MANDER

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The life of a professional freeride athlete is full of action, travel and excitement, but it’s no cakewalk getting there. We spoke with four athletes at different points in their careers about how they make it work, and what drives them in skiing and life.

On becoming a skier: I was skiing before I can remember. There are definitely photos of me in a backpack as a baby when I went along on backcountry tours! Growing up, the Big Sky Ski Education Foundation had a ski racing and a freeride program. I did a couple freeride comps and I went back to racing, but my dream has always been to be in a Warren Miller movie.

Riley Becker, 19 Born in Big Sky, skiing has been woven into life for Riley from the beginning. She got her head start from her ski patrol father who was determined to share his passion with his daughter. He succeeded: Riley’s skills and strength as a freeskier caught the eye of ski photographers and sponsors, and now, as a college student, she’s embarking on the tough but fulfilling path of balancing passion for skiing and life, with figuring out how to make it all work.

On realizing opportunities in skiing: My friend and I got to go heliskiing in Alaska for our 16th birthdays, and the guides thought I was a pretty good skier. So, I went and asked them what steps I could take to take my freeskiing further. And then I got a sponsorship from them [SEABA Heliskiing]. Last year, I reached out to other sponsors but then COVID happened, so that’s kind of on hold. It took me a while to approach new sponsors because I had thought if they weren’t reaching out, I wasn’t good enough. Finally, I learned that’s not how it works—you have to do all the outreach and work. Now I’m a freshman at school [at the University of Utah]. This season I want to do some freeride comps, but just for fun, work with photographers I’ve met, and make some film clips. I’d like to do some Freeride World Tour Qualifiers, depending on COVID. How will you navigate the future? Even if my ski career does take off, I’m going to keep school at equal importance. I’ve always focused on school and skiing equally, so I’m going to continue my education toward studying law and skiing at the same time. It’s just going to take getting a lot of things done ahead of time. Right now, I’m studying political science. My plan is to go into environmental law. Perspective-wise, skiing has completely molded how I think. I grew up outside, and I have a complete appreciation for the environment over other things. [Outside] is home for me. >>

EAM

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On family traditions: My parents were big skiers. I grew up in Sun Valley skiing, ski raced till freshman year in college, and then paid for school [at the University of Utah] with fishing and bartending. My major was physiology with a minor in nutrition to go into some sort of medical field, but I always knew my life was going to include skiing as a central part. On fortune and expectations: I figured I’d be done with [professional] skiing by 30, but it’s the best it’s ever been. I’m making money and I’m having fun, so why not keep rolling with it? But I know I’m not going to do this forever, and there are other things I’d like to experience. Learning to run the [fishing] business, and meeting people who aren’t part of our small resort towns has been great.

McKenna Peterson, 33

McKenna Peterson is known as one of the kindest and most modest athletes in freeskiing for good reason, but she’s also one of the toughest and most talented skiers out there. We chatted with Peterson on her return home from the waters of southeast Alaska, where she captains the Atlantis, her 58-foot fishing vessel with her sister Dylan as first mate, from June to September each year. Following in their father’s footsteps, the point is to make plenty of money to ski—and not work—all winter.

On risk and balance in life: (note: McKenna’s father Chris Peterson perished in a 2016 avalanche accident; her two siblings also remain involved in the ski industry and are big mountain skiers.) It’s a part of skier life, our family accepted the risks. My dad had skied the backcountry for so long and was so experienced and well educated. But seeing that happen has made me more conservative. I furthered my backcountry education and I still have full support of my family. We all still ski. On standout moments of a full career: A trip I always remember was SheJumps’ Alpine Finishing School in 2011, which really stoked my passion for ski mountaineering. The most fun film I’ve been in was Lynsey Dyer’s Pretty Faces (2014), where I got to be in a movie with all my idols, and it inspired me to try harder to do more filming. Last year I got to film with Matchstick Productions for Huck Yeah! and that was always a big goal of mine. What’s next? This winter I’ll film with Matchstick again, and we’ll keep it local for the most part. I hope to explore zones close to home this winter. After all, I live in Sun Valley for a reason.

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Caite Zeliff, 26

Passion for skiing isn’t always a direct genetic and lifestyle line. Caite Zeliff was the daughter of a single, non-skiing mother. She did, however, have the fortune to grow up in North Conway, New Hampshire, and go to an elementary school with an affordable lunchtime skiing program. Zeliff found her calling, and sheer determination and athletic talent have brought her opportunities—albeit not the ones she was expecting—to fruition.

On entering the ski world: My elementary school program was my first taste of skiing and the sense of freedom it can provide. A friend eventually told my mom about a ski racing program—I won my first race and got so much confidence from that trophy! I became obsessed with skiing. My goal was to be on the U.S. Ski Team. On the interference of fate: I then went to UNH [the University of New Hampshire] to ski race Division I, then I blew my knee out. I suddenly just felt relief: I could stop killing myself for racing now. I quit school and moved to Jackson, Wyoming, at 20 just to ski. Ski racing was too much, but I realized with freeskiing I can still work hard as an athlete and have some fun and be creative. Someone told me I should do the Kings and Queens of Corbet’s [competition]. I’d never skied Corbet’s and didn’t want to do it, but I reached out. My first run was like a flying squirrel in the air; I thought I was gonna die. The next run was smoother, but I didn’t expect to win. After I won … suddenly I had all these Instagram followers and Warren Miller Entertainment reached out to me. The next year I won that competition again, and I got a call to film with Teton Gravity Research (TGR), and last year I got a full segment in Make Believe. On making ends meet while skiing all the time: I had gardening jobs in the summers, and slinging food at night at Teton Thai. In the winters, I did the restaurant at night, and ski instructing and coaching during the day. The gardening was the most impactful though—I didn’t have time to be in the gym training while working so many jobs, so manual labor was helpful! I’ve been able to phase out of working so many jobs, and I’m taking skiing really seriously. I try to be transparent about the struggles of “living the dream.” Sometimes ski stars are still slinging drinks! Winter plans? This season is going to be weird. But I’m filming again for a segment with TGR! I have a lot under the hood still, and I’m also still figuring out myself as a person and a skier. I make sense of a crazy world by connecting over the outdoors—life makes the most sense there. >>

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“Sometimes I’m gone half the year. Living out of a suitcase sounds romantic and all but it can be really hard too.”

On taking chances on an unusual dream: I had a full ride scholarship to play soccer in college but I decided to pursue slopestyle snowboarding. So, I skipped college. In the last three or four years, I made enough from sponsors to support myself. Before that, I worked in restaurants, coffee shops, construction, retail—you name it, I did it—and also made sacrifices like not going home for Christmas because I needed all the money for snowboarding.

Erika Vikander, 30

As a kid in Montana, Erika Vikander grew up chasing her older brother around Bridger Bowl on snowboards and making the occasional trip to Big Sky. She didn’t know at the time she could make a career out of snowboarding, but once she figured that out it was full steam ahead for this now successful, globe-trotting, full-time athlete.

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On twists of fate: One of the worst side jobs was part of a blessing in disguise. I was all set to go to the Sochi Olympics for the U.S. in slopestyle when I blew my knee out. I had no money; I’d spent it all on training. I had to get a job driving an airport shuttle from Breckenridge to Denver, and there I was, loading tourists’ ski bags instead of going to the Olympics. I hated every minute of it. I took a full year off to recover and then someone suggested I try a big mountain competition. [After a few qualifying competitions] I made it onto the Freeride World Tour (FWT) and I was just like, “Yay, I made it! Just don’t die…!” I mean, I came straight out of the terrain park. At my first big mountain competition, the Subaru Freeride Series in Snowbird, Utah, I even asked another competitor what “fall line” meant … I still feel dumb about that one. On achieving the dream: I’ve had to be really self-motivated to make it happen on my own. Sometimes I’m gone half the year. Living out of a suitcase sounds romantic and all but it can be really hard too. I’ve also gotten a lot better at balancing my life. I live now in Hood River and Mt. Hood. It’s not the most aggressive terrain, but I have a great quality of life! What’s next? This year, the FWT is on so far, so I’ll compete and travel, but I’m also making a film with Picture Organic, kind of an eco-friendly passion project I’m excited for. I’d like to keep competing on the FWT for a few more years, and snowboard professionally as long as I can. After that, I don’t need to be a millionaire, I just want to be outdoors doing fulfilling things with good people.

ABOVE: PHOTO BY RICHARD HALLMAN BELOW: PHOTO BY DREW SMALLEY


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F E A T U R E D O U T L AW

The Vision of

TOM

BROKAW After more than 50 years in journalism, a legendary newsman reflects on Montana, gratitude and a storied career

BY JOSEPH T. O’CONNOR

Tom Brokaw was, for a half-century, one of the most trusted news anchors in the history of American journalism. He was the first Westerner to conduct televised interviews with Mikhail Gorbachev and Vladimir Putin. He was the only reporter in the world to tell the story from the top of the Berlin Wall when the Soviet Union fell. He’s reported from every corner of the world and anchored the nation during Watergate and through the 9/11 attacks. He was the only anchor to host all three of NBC’s news programs: The Nightly News, Today show and Meet the Press. He’s won every major award in broadcast journalism and in 2014 Barack Obama presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Today, Brokaw relaxes with his family on the porch of their Montana ranch east of Livingston. Legs crossed in the sun, he wears the half smile of a man who knows secrets he’ll never tell, not even to his dog, Red, lying at his feet. Sitting between his wife of 58 years, Meredith, and his daughter Andrea, visiting from Geneva, Tom Brokaw appears content. He still hunts and he still fly fishes out the back door of his ranch on Big Timber Creek. As the great Montana fishing writer Norman Maclean wrote in his masterpiece novella A River Runs Through It, the days of getting the big fish—or the big interview—are fading into something simpler, perhaps more beautiful: >>

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Tom Brokaw and his wife of 58 years, Meredith, share a laugh on the back deck of their Montana ranch in October 2020. PHOTO BY THOMAS D. MANGELSEN

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Brokaw gazes over Big Timber Creek behind the ranch as his yellow lab Red looks on and the Crazy Mountains set a backdrop. PHOTO BY THOMAS D. MANGELSEN

“Now of course I usually fish the big waters alone, although some friends think I shouldn’t. Like many fly fishermen in western Montana where the summer days are almost Arctic in length, I often do not start fishing until the cool of the evening. Then in the Arctic half-light of the canyon, all existence fades to a being with my soul and memories and the sounds of the Big Blackfoot River and a four-count rhythm and the hope that a fish will rise.” Brokaw tours me around his ranch property and over to the river he was fishing not a week earlier with longtime friend, Patagonia owner Yvon Chouinard. And the sun is beginning a slow decent behind the Crazy Mountains and dusk will soon settle. The conversation is as easy as the river waters meandering through his backyard. But that voice.

Fish on! Brokaw and Red hook up with a big brown near his first ranch south of Livingston, Montana, in 2001 as Doc supervises from the bank. Photographer Tom Mangelsen was visiting for the Brokaws’ 39th wedding anniversary. PHOTO BY THOMAS D. MANGELSEN

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In the right place at the right time: Brokaw at his first ranch in early summer 2011.

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PHOTO BY AUDREY HALL

MOUNTAIN OUTLAW: Thank you for sitting down with us, Mr. Brokaw. Are you in Montana full time now? TOM BROKAW: No, not full time. We came in mid-July. We’re going to leave and go back East right after Thanksgiving. We’ve been coming here for more than 30 years. M.O.: It sounds like you’re staying busy. You’re still talking to NBC. T.B.: This is the modern technology. We’ve got a picturesque house and converted it with Zoom into a kind of a television studio. Today I did something on the two most dramatic presidential elections of my lifetime, which is when Ronald Reagan swept the country, and then the George Bush and Al Gore “Florida, Florida, Florida” situation. I can stay tuned in here by doing it right from my living room. M.O.: That’s amazing, isn’t it? T.B.: It really is. It’s a lot different than when I first began. M.O. So, you’re from a small town in South Dakota. How is Middle America different now from when you were growing up? T.B.: South Dakota is a much more conservative state now than it was when I was growing up. And I tend to be suspicious of modernity. I’ve been paying attention to what’s going on with COVID, for example. It’s very unsettling because the governor didn’t take it seriously at all. And now it’s on fire. [South Dakota] always used to have a real mix of representatives and governors, and now it [has] a very conservative point of view. And I don’t think it’s good for one party or one philosophy to dominate the state. Whether it’s liberal or conservative, it’s better to have a mix. M.O.: There’s an exclusive club with Chouinard, the late conservationist and The North Face founder Doug Tompkins, and climber Rick Ridgeway, and you’ve trekked all over the globe. Tell me about the “Do-Boys.” T.B.: It stands for “doing me in” (laughs). Ridgeway was on the Today show with me right after he climbed K2. I was in really good shape—I’d been running a lot— but I’d never climbed. He said, “Come on, we’ll teach you to climb.” So, I went out there finally to Jackson. I didn’t have any equipment or anything. And they got me a pair of climbing shoes and I had cut-off pants and we climbed Baxter’s Pinnacle. We were down in South America. Yvon went with us to Central Asia outside of Tibet and did a big trek there. And we did a winter climb here up above Yellowstone. It was really gnarly.

ON MONTANA M.O.: You purchased your first ranch near Livingston in 1989 after visiting on assignment. In times like these, what does Montana mean to you? T.B.: Montana’s always interested me because it’s a mix. It has the great labor tradition in the mines. It’s elected more Democratic governors in recent years than it has Republican governors. It’s found a way to kind of divide political power. I’m a huge fan of [former U.S. Senator] Mike Mansfield. I actually got to know him during Watergate. And I always thought he was the quintessential Montanan. He was a laconic guy, great common sense, served his country militarily and also politically. There are still people like that in Montana. M.O.: That’s a difficult one, especially with so many people moving here for various reasons. T.B.: Yeah, I know. A lot of our friends around the country say, “Do you know any good buys in Montana?” And I say, “You’re on your own.” (laughs) M.O.: Mountain Outlaw is based in Big Sky. Chet Huntley is the founding father of Big Sky Resort and was NBC’s anchor from 1956 to ‘70. What did you learn from Huntley, and what does he represent in your eyes? T.B.: I always felt a kinship with him. He was the quintessential Westerner, which I always appreciated. When we moved out here, I began to have a greater appreciation for his roots. He was always happier when he was out here on a horse >>

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SECTION: SUBHEAD Tom Brokaw was the anchor and managing editor for NBC’s Nightly News for 22 years. He’s the only person to host all three of the networks’ major news shows: NBC Nightly News, The Today Show, and Meet the Press. PHOTO BY STEPHEN VOSS

and in a pair of Levi’s than he was in New York or Washington, D.C. He was an iconic character when he was twinned with David [Brinkley] and that was the most successful breakthrough. They created the modern evening news. M.O.: These incredible parts of the world need an eye on them. In order to protect some of the special places in Montana and the West, where does conservation fit in? T.B.: It’s a big part of why we care about Montana. I tell my friends on the East [Coast], there are two parts of Montana: you’ve got the crowd who believes the cows should have anything they want whenever they want it. And then there’s this other crowd—the Montana Land Reliance and the others—that are doing the right thing. You may be aware of this, but Bozeman is on fire. M.O.: The growth is explosive. What can we do in the face of this exponential growth we’re seeing? T.B.: I think you get the right people who invest and talk to them about values. I’m just rereading Lewis and Clark and it’s so evocative for me because what they were seeing and what they were able to do is astonishing to me. But mostly what I find is that once you expose people to it in the right way, they come with the same conclusion: we’ve got to

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preserve this. And it doesn’t mean you can’t use it. It means you use it wisely. M.O.: You once said that for people to get a handle on climate change, we all need to “step up.” As a journalist, how concerned are you with objectivity while at the same time not ignoring the science? T.B.: It really is a matter of the science. I did a lot of documentaries on the science of global warming and was working with the best scientists we have. I came out here to Glacier [National Park]. You can track what’s going on with the loss of glaciers, what’s going on with the greater floods that we have, the more violent weather that we have every year. And there are some people who just don’t want to believe that. But the consequences are beginning to be very expensive. M.O.: And you see America shifting away from traditional fossil fuels? T.B.: I do. Fossil fuels will be with us for some significant amount of time. But we ought to be able to have the kinds of discussions that are going to be necessary so we can move into the future together. Look, when they first invented the internal combustion engine, a lot of people said, “No, no. We’re happy with the horse and buggy.” Now you have new


automobiles that are coming on and are using different kinds of locomotion. All the major brands are looking at how they can do that in a way that’s good for business, but also good for society. What’s always driven any society is innovation.

ON JOURNALISM M.O.: You were one of the most trusted anchors in broadcast news. What has been the damage to the country in this age of misinformation? T.B.: I think it’s one of the most significant developments of my life because there’s so much. And anybody can be a commentator or pass themselves off as [influential] with a keystroke. It’s a vast universe out there. So, it makes it all the more important for consumers of all that information to make sure they’re getting the right stuff, not just what matches their mood at the moment. It really requires everybody to be vigilant. M.O.: So, in part the onus is on us as media consumers. T.B.: When I was in the middle of Watergate, that was a very volatile time. I had friends who were Nixon fans, and they were not happy. I remember one longtime friend called me up and said, “Just because you got a fancy suit and you can stand on the White House lawn doesn’t mean you have to betray your country or your president.” I said, “I’m not betraying them. I’m asking the questions that need to be asked on behalf of all of us.” You have to have a stiff spine. And you also have to understand that it’s not about you. It’s about the subject that you’re dealing with. M.O.: Of course. The story is not about you as a journalist. After the success of your previous books, including your bestseller, The Greatest Generation, though, how difficult was it to adjust to writing your memoir, A Lucky Life Interrupted, about your battle with cancer that started in 2013? T.B.: It wasn’t that hard because I made it clear from the beginning that this was about me and it was very personal. I also made it clear that what I went through might be helpful to people who are going through similar ordeals. And it was very gratifying to hear from cancer patients … And a number of my scholar journalists said to me, “Tom, I think that was your best book.” M.O.: You’ve always done things a bit differently. One might say you’re an outlaw in the ways you’ve succeeded in your life and career. Tell me about your success in journalism by taking a nontraditional path. T.B.: I think I succeeded in journalism in part because I was in the right place at the right time. I came out of high school a real whiz kid. Everybody thought I was going to shoot the moon and I went off the rails, you know; party hearty for two different schools, two years. And then I thought, “God, this is not who I am.” I sat in front of a television set the night John F. Kennedy was elected. I thought, “That’s what I want to do with my life, so I better get with it.” It was a succession of good breaks, which is also important in life. M.O.: You built your career on hard work and luck. A friend of yours once said, “Tom, you’re always in the right place at the right time.”

OUTLAW

WHAT WE HAVE TO DO IS FIND A WAY TO WORK TOGETHER; THAT’S THE GREATEST SINGLE TEST BEFORE THE COUNTRY. AND IT’S NOT A MATTER OF WHO’S LEFT AND WHO’S RIGHT, IT’S REALLY A MATTER OF WHAT THEIR VALUES ARE FOR THE COUNTRY. T.B.: It’s been a lot of hard work but that’s hard to measure. Probably the best example of being in the right place at the right time is that I was the only correspondent in the world who was in Berlin the night the Berlin Wall came down. We had a worldwide exclusive on that. And it was a development that will live forever because the Cold War effectively ended on that night. Another example is when Tiananmen Square happened in China. I ended up having this huge exclusive in which I had a very embedded cameraman who taped the camera behind a bike in a cardboard box. And we rode to Tiananmen Square with me behind him. The Chinese didn’t quite know what was going on, but I was getting these exclusive photographs of Tiananmen Square and doing a narration at the same time. You make your own good fortune. M.O.: I watched that footage and it blew me away. What a risk but also a brilliant way to get the story. T.B.: The only one that wasn’t happy with it was Ted Koppel (laughs). We were friends and he was coming in to [China] after me. On the airplane, it occurred to him with his camera crew that they would get a bike and ride around Tiananmen Square. And when they got off the airplane, their office said, “Sorry, Brokaw’s already done that.” (laughs) M.O.: You were the first American journalist to interview both Mikhail Gorbachev and Vladimir Putin. Looking in the rearview mirror, what would you ask Putin if you interviewed him today? >>

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Lady luck by his side. Tom and Meredith Brokaw attended high school together in South Dakota. Here, they celebrate their 39th wedding anniversary in 2001. PHOTO BY THOMAS D. MANGELSEN

T.B.: He was a tough one. I’m not sure I’d get a straight answer. I think the question is doing an analysis of his policies. It’s clear that Russia is not the empire it once was: his economy is propped up because they’ve got lots of natural gas and fuel that western Europe needs. He sees the West as a rival, and he’s played Trump pretty perfectly it looks like. He’s a canny guy. Remember, he was a KGB agent. The night the Berlin Wall came down, he wept because he was so saddened by the fact that they no longer have the control they once did. That’s who he is. M.O.: You and your wife Meredith have been married since 1962. T.B.: We’ve been married 192 years. (laughs) M.O.: She must have been a major support system. What has Meredith meant to you throughout your career? T.B.: We went to high school together. I was a working-class kid and my first job was in Omaha, in which I was making no money. I was kind of stuck there for two years and she was teaching school, but she told her sister that she was going to marry me because she thought it would always be exciting ... After two years in Omaha, I got picked up by the biggest station in Atlanta at the height of the civil rights movement. I was 25 and all hell was breaking loose. After nine months, NBC said, “Come work for us in California,” so I went from Omaha to Atlanta to Los Angeles within a year and a half. That was a big break. 164

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We loved California. It was in a late ‘60s, early ‘70s. You could buy a house for $45,000, gas for 30 cents a gallon, four people could go to a great dinner for like $65, and there are a lot of young people coming in at the same time we were. We just caught the wave. We were lucky. M.O.: 1974. Watergate. The entire nation is watching. NBC sent you east from California to be its White House correspondent and President Richard Nixon was claiming executive privilege in withholding White House information during impeachment hearings. You asked him flat out if he was misleading the American public. Looking back, what did that moment mean to you? T.B.: Well, it was really the question at the stage we were in. There was a lot of pressure on us every day because there was so much at stake. It was a pretty dramatic moment: a big convention in Houston, to which White House press corps had been invited to participate in questioning Nixon. I was sitting on what I knew was a dynamite question. They got Dan [Rather] up … and he had a really sharp exchange with the president. And what’s funny, he said, “Dan Rather, CBS News.” And Nixon said to him, “Mr. Rather, are you running for something?” and Dan got his back up and said, “No, sir, are you?” So I was next and I asked the question you just cited. And as I walked off, I’ll always remember, Dan stood up and said, “Hell of a question, champ. Hell of a question.” And it was. And by the way, that was the last one Nixon answered in public under any circumstances. M.O.: Watching that moment as a journalist, what strikes me is the poise and, frankly, courage it took to ask that question. T.B.: Well, that’s what we’re paid to do. But the important thing is to get it right. And ask in a way in which it doesn’t appear that you have a personal involvement; that you’re just doing it to be a smartass. That’s why we work so hard at getting it nailed down in terms of the correctness of the question. M.O.: What is the role of journalism today, specifically local journalists compared to national reporters, and how has that changed since the heart of your career? T.B.: One of the things that’s changed is that there are fewer local newspapers covering communities across America. And there are some very good local reporters, very good local newspapers, but they’re struggling to survive. And that troubles me because journalism just can’t be from the top down, it’s got to be from the bottom up as well. There are tough economic circumstances now. That’s why online journalism is so important. But you can’t diminish the standards for online journalism just because you’ve got it in the palm of your hand, you have to play by the rules.


SECTION: SUBHEAD

The Brokaws share sunlight and laughs with daughter Andrea, who was visiting from Geneva, Switzerland, in October 2020. PHOTO BY THOMAS D. MANGELSEN

M.O.: What advice do you have for local journalists today? T.B.: The best stories are in your backyard. There’s nothing uninteresting about any community in America. You could drop in by parachute into the middle of Utah or in the middle of Kansas and I’ll find a story within half an hour that’s important to the community. I look at the obligation of local journalists as: Don’t just look over the horizon. Be looking around you about what the community needs to know. M.O.: You’ve been in journalism for more than five decades, but you’re more on the outside now looking in. When you look in on media in the world right now, what do you see? T.B.: I see a lot of great work being done. Just take NBC as an example: We have a whole new cadre of young women. And they’re not there because they want to be glamorous or they want to be famous. They’re there because they want to be journalists. And they’re excellent at what they do. I’m just so proud of them. And it’s true for the young men as well. M.O.: How does this era today of division and racial inequity and a worldwide pandemic compare to other historical moments in your career? T.B.: This is the most complex situation politically, culturally, scientifically, that America’s ever been evolved in. I think you

have to go back to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln to find a time that was as traumatic as the time we’re going through right now. This is a great, great democracy. We’ll find a way to manage this because it’s the essence of who we are. What we have to do is find a way to work together; that’s the greatest single test before the country. And it’s not a matter of who’s left and who’s right, it’s really a matter of what their values are for the country. M.O.: Tom Brokaw, you continue to live a storied life. Looking back on your career and accomplishments, what are you grateful for? T.B.: I’m grateful that I married Meredith. When I was going off the rails, she helped straighten me out. She has an extraordinary gift in a lot of ways. A lot of people say, “We only care about you because you’re married to Meredith.” (laughs) And I’ve been through some harrowing situations and escaped uninjured and escaped alive. But most of all, I’m just grateful to be an American who can pursue what he wants to pursue. I’ve had great fortune of raising three fantastic daughters, none of which is a journalist, by the way. They love what they’re doing so I’m grateful for that.

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LAST LIGHT SECTION: SUBHEAD

Awakening Various interpretations of the raven exist, but many cultures associate this bird with transformation, wisdom and intelligence. Indeed, ravens are considered among the smartest animals on Earth alongside dolphins and chimpanzees. Navajo, Hopi and Zuni tribes see the raven as a bringer of light. Symbolizing change, transformation and awakening, ravens can carry our hope and raise our spirits in 2021. PHOTO BY DANIEL J. COX

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Profile for Outlaw Partners

2021 Winter Mountain Outlaw  

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

2021 Winter Mountain Outlaw  

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