Saturday, December 25, 2010

merry christmas!!!

well, hope santa treated you all well this am. skies are clearing the day should be nice on the hill, and great in the BC.

yesterday i took some time to hike up the Big. with the snow packed, some spots were slick on the lookers left of toni matt. it is definetely tougher than preseason going right up the middle. but what i really want to say is how rude som many snowboarders were. i am sure they feel in complete control, but please, give us hikers some space. i had at least 5 come with 5 feet of me, at high speeds. the closest skier was probably 10 feet, and not as fast. once or twice i even flinched. i know it is more crowded up there right now, with out of towners and all, but in a gross generalization, i find snowboarders much more arrogant, obnoxious and oblivious to others on the hill. come on guys, we all play together. anyone?

it will be my last time hiking until the crowds die down, and glad to get one in, and the weather was fantastic. really, this is perfect weather and conditions for visitors. i hope we get enough new snow to keep things good, but let the big storms and cycles start again in earnest on jan 3.

happy new year all. hi ho silver, away!!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

and happy holidays too.

without much new snow for a week plus now, not too much to talk about. nordic has been great, and hiking is going well, with growing surface hoar fun at the moment. but we know what that can mean later.

hopefully the GCAC website is going to make posting observations easier for all, not just trained observers. this is likely going to be our best way of keeping an eye on what is happening out there in the Backcountry (along with this blog and the nordic ski patrol website), as the usfs is not likely to improve it's forecasting or teaching or outreach. it is what it has always been, a slight drop from mediocre at best.

so hope everyone stays safe happy and healthy.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

some good snow

well, right after it rained, it snowed. if you read or call into the big mtn's snow report, you know big dave can get excited about no new snow and big time groomers. but so far this year, most of his exclamations have been spot on.

we did get some rain, all the way to 7000'+, but it was followed by snow, some heavy, then some light. so the skiing the last three days has been quite nice, especially above 6000'. and with no one on the hill, it felt like old times. just a few local skiers. even the stube had that feeling. 20-30 good friends toasting another good day as the sun leaves the sky and darkness falls.

yesterday i did a short tour up near baby's butt. we dug a pit at about 6500'. pit depth was 221cm. note, this is much deeper than the big is reporting on top. the top 40cm were all new from the last 4 days, sitting on a brutal ice crust formed during the rain cycle. but right now, there is not a fragile layer sitting on top of that ice. in an extended column test, we got absolutely no failure. even with a shovel shear test (yes, i realize this is not a good test, but we had already done the important stuff, and had to break down the pit anyway) the first failure was below this crust.

we did find some significant temperature variation in the top 50cm, which will be worth watching, and with yesterday's clear skies, a significant hoar frost had already developed. i expect it has grown some more.

so the skiing was excellent, boot top, super light, and for the top 1000' vert, we mostly stayed off the crust. but as we dropped in elevation, that crust became more prevalent, and it skied more like dust (a lot of dust) on crust.

below the ice crust, we found mostly four finger hardness until we reached the bottom 60cm. at 49 cm was another significant crust, and from 60cm down, was a bunch of unconsolidated junk.

so for now, i think the skiing is pretty safe, at least on the north aspects we skied. we saw multiple tracks on the skookoleel face, Oz face and a couple of skook chutes, which all looked good. even the snowmobiliers were high pointing beyond what i would ever consider without causing harm. hard to call it all good, but for a couple of days, with this high pressure, it seems pretty safe.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Weather review

okay, i have to admit , i have not been skiing since saturday, when the weather took a turn for the worse. i know there have still been some pretty good wet powder turns to be made, but i have not made them. mostly i have been busy moving snow and hanging on a rope knocking out blocks of ice off tall roofs near the mountain, to keep owners and renters safe.

yet again, another poorly designed roof in snow country, all for the name of asthetics. i guess, when people are willing to pay for underground, outdoor heating to keep their driveways clear, a few hundred dollars a week for ground and roof snow removal is of no concern.

temperatures are cooling and the skiing up high should be good, but below maybe 6000' might be crust o'rama. not sure about the backcountry, but perhaps some colder temps will give snowpacks time to bond and stabilize.

i have not been on a rant much at all this year, but here we go. last night i went to an event sponsored by Glacier Country Avalanche Center and the USFS. Stan Bones gave a 2 and 1/2 hour weather presentation that for the most part was good, but for someone who gets paid to do avalanche forecasts,study and summarize weather concerning snow conditions, and in general, be a liasson to the public, he sure said "I don't know" a lot. i mean, come on stan, you should have a far better understanding of the "el nino" and "la nina" effects. the public is not expecting a climate specialist, but a generalization of where these effects begin, and why and how they affect weather patterns. perhaps a panel discussion would be a better forum, so there might be people to answer questions he does not know.

Weather review

Sunday, December 12, 2010

too warm

first of all. take a look at the GCAC website.
some new observations showing some buried crust and depth hoar layers, on multiple aspects. and with this new snow coming, things are going to be dicey.

unfortunately, the next 48 hours the temps are right on the edge of rain/snow, even up to elevations of 7000'. even if this precip stays as snow, it will be heavy and wet. this will put further pressure on buried layers and create likely substantial avy conditions.
a good time to stay in the trees and places you know. and be extra cautious, skiing one at a time with good spotters.

i was lucky to get in some deep turns yesterday off the hill, and on, in the just opened western bowl. it was fantastic. hellroaring also skied well, as did canyon creek. the canyon is starting to fill in nicely, and snow seemed super stable, but again, this new wet stuff changes all that. heard rumors of one of the skook chutes sliding to the road, but if so, it must have been down the canyon a ways, as we did not see any evidence. but this is one of those times now, the walk up the canyon road is as dangerous as the ski down the north side. and skiing any of the chutes, well, i won't be anywhere near there myself. nough said.

with hellroaring basin now open, the skiing on the hill should just get better, as the crowds spread out. if we can just get snow and not rain, this could be an exceptional week. one of our best in december in a long time.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

new snow and other delights

what a whopper yesterday was. early season pow days, and just a few people around to tear it up. okay, the local herds got after it pretty good, and by mid afternoon, it was plenty beat up. still good skiing, but no clear lines left. i tried some of the lower mountain tight tree lines, and although they were clear, the snow still needs to fill in some, as they are TIGHT!

the forecast for the hills is about as good as it gets. tons of snow in the next 5 days. in town, the temps are drifting upwards, and it looks like rain. lets hope for some luck on the temps and let the valley snow grow, making for excellent nordic and xmas conditions.

take a look at the GCAC website i believe, or the nordic ski patrol's website, for two cool open house, open forum discussions coming up the next two tuesdays, one on weather, the other on backcountry ski conditions. should be better than the usual lecture series.

i also have been meaning to write about the great dog conditions we have had so far this year.

preseason was perfect. great snow, no rules, and plenty of dogs everywhere. i heard not ONE complaint from management. that is what pre and post season are all about. and so far dogs have been having a blast in the parking lots. i hope i am not jinxing this, and it continues. it is nice to bring the hounds along and let them get some play time with other canines and their owners, instead of being ignored at home. let's all pitch in and keep it clean, and maybe, just maybe, we can continue to enjoy the freedoms for ourselves and our beloved pets.

lastly, as usual, a caution for the backcountry. with this new snow, and plenty of bad layers, it is now time to really start paying attention. we have sun crusts, wind crusts, surface hoar on the north sides, and lots of new snow. great skiing for sure, but don't go jumping on wind loaded pockets on any exposures. i just don't think enough bonding has occured.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

too much sun

okay, i am sure some of you can never have too much sun, especially at this time of year, but that is indeed what we got yesterday. the sun, the inversion of warm air both contributed to a change in the snow. eastern exposures were deteriorating by noon or so. southern got hit too. not only has this changed the skiing for now, it could be an problem in the future. but with more snow in the forecast, hopefully this will only be a quick blip on the screen to more great skiing.

Monday, December 6, 2010

opening weekend,

well, ski season officially began this weekend, if you go by actual openings at resorts. but not only did the Big Mountain open its lifts, but Stillwater Nordic, the golf course and Round Meadow are all groomed and ready for action. it is as good an early december as we have seen in well over a decade.

the ice layer that formed tuesday afternoon and wed. am has blended in for the most part with the continual snowfalls thru friday. not that this means the backcountry is safe forever, as that layer is still existant in many places. but the skiing barely suffered. Saturday was a "hard" opening on the Big, as it was completely open except for Hellroaring Basin, which did not even seem to be getting much poaching, as the skies were clear up above 6000 feet. (and on the east side, skies were just plain clear).
although crowded, it was just a fun day. skiing almost with impunity so early in the year, not worried about hidden rocks and stumps is a treat. not that this is completely true, but with moderate caution it was easy to escape the hazards.

skate skiing at Stillwater is in good shape, with about 90% of their trails open, including all the way out on the road, some 8km each way. another six inches and they will be in full mode, with total coverage, and should be in really great shape for the holidays, which were missed last year.

i took a look at round meadow, and it has been rolled, but not groomed, so bring classic style, and call the USFS for updates. but they have enough coverage and i would imagine a full grooming sometime this week.

i also believe the golf course is up and running. Ron at Glacier Cyclery now owns the Outback Ski Shack, so call there for an update, or look online for Glacier Nordic.

some friends went to the east side to ski one of the more popular mountains on morias pass, but i cannot say the name due to issues from this subject last winter. i could not attend but reports were blue ski, great coverage and boot to knee deep pow. report are also in from areas of the swan, and they too are great. might even be time to take a look into the middle fork, as rumors are of solid coverage.

it was just a great weekend, with parties (great job brad and GCAC on the slide show, hope you found an outlet for the remaining beer) the stube in full action, great college football. it is just a fun time of year. lets eat, pray and love for the continuation of the snowfall.

opening weekend,

Thursday, December 2, 2010

two more days

yes, the bad news is there is a crust. many of us assumed it was a rain layer, but after talking with an employee from the mountain (one who works outside, not at a desk), it only rained at the very bottom of the hill. but on tuesday, just for a brief time, it warmed up enough to create some moisture on top of the snowpack, which then refroze. regardless, it is a frozen layer.

that being said, the skiing was still okay. and the coverage supreme. the same employee said he believes they are opening all runs on saturday, which is as it should be. imagine, opening up 100% (oops, i bet this will not include west bowl, which could mean some great sneaks).

but do not forget about this new layer. and there is plenty of windblown snow and layering about as well.

if you look at this post, read the next few. some good things coming on line.

important reading material

below is the website to look at this research. many of you likely already know of this, but it is good reading, and important. for more info, highlight this site and paste it onto your browser window.

Everybody knows that skiers swishing down steep slopes can cause extensive slab avalanches. But there is a less well known phenomenon: A person skiing a gentle slope in the valley triggers a slab avalanche on a steeper slope, sometimes several hundred metres further uphill. This scenario doesn't seem to make sense - yet it claims human lives year after year.

But what exactly happens when an avalanche is remotely triggered? 'In a slab avalanche, the upper layer of snow slides down into the valley. For that to be able to happen, it first has to become detached from the layer beneath it,' says Prof. Dr Peter Gumbsch, director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM in Freiburg. The view commonly held until now assumes that the layers of snow are separated by shear cracks - the upper layer shifts within a limited area. If the two layers of snow were two hands placed palm to palm, a shear crack would be equivalent to rubbing one hand against the other. The layers of snow can only shift if the slope is steep enough. Shear cracks may be a satisfactory explanation for the breakaway of snow slabs in steep terrain. But how can they be triggered from a distance?

Gumbsch and his colleagues Michael Zaiser and Joachim Heierli at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, have developed a physical model that explains this phenomenon. 'The boundary layer that connects the upper and lower layers of snow is made of ice crystals with fairly large interstices,' explains Heierli. The pressure exerted by a skier can cause the ice crystals to break, separate from one another and slip into the interstices - the layer collapses. The layer on top of it subsides. This mass collapse, which can be described as an anti-crack, releases energy that has not previously been taken into account. This energy enables the crack to propagate. To return to our previous analogy, the anti-crack would be like pressing the two hands together. Experiments carried out by Canadian researchers at the University of Calgary confirm the theory: Whether the slope is gentle or steep, it is equally difficult to trigger the collapse. Once it has started, it propagates as an anti-crack. It can move up or down the mountain and grow to a length of several hundred metres within a few seconds: The layers of snow lose their cohesion. Only the forces of friction can then prevent the snow from slipping. If these are insufficient, the upper layer slides off and a slab avalanche begins.

Conditions in the Swans

Don was in the Swans yesterday, December 1, and is happy to report there is no rain crust there. There seems to be a rain crust that is showing up on Big Mtn and up the Middle Fork but it is not in the Swans! In the Swans there is good stability and good skiing!

RMO Special Events

December 4 - Open House. Discounts, breakfast treats & of course free gift wrapping!

December 9 - Wax Clinic by Chad Castren - learn how to wax those nordic skis for fast!

Shop is open Sundays in December before Christmas - 12pm - 4pm!

February 12, 13 - Heads up for RMO/Essex Family Race Weekend - this sells out fast - call the
Izaak Walton Inn for their special race weekend pricing and reservations.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Greg Hill speaks

come get psyched for ski season opening day at The Big, or wherever your mind wants to take you, with an exciting (i should hope) presentation by
GREG HILL, legendary mountaineer, from British Columbia, and beyond.

i have tried to load this onto this blog, but it blogger is not that user friendly for attachments, so here are the details

friday, dec 3 at the Golden Agers (or WF community Center, next to the WF river, on 93N out of town)

$10 suggested donation
beer for sale, no idea of the price

this guy has done it all, and the show should be an inspiration. Plus, it is a fundraiser for Glacier Country Avalanche Center.

so, if you have not been skiing somewhere yet, it is time. the skiing is the best it has been in November since the mid 90's. nearly bottomless, reasonably compacted base, and so far, pretty stable. it should be a great opening day, or time to get in the bigger hills thoughout the valley and explore and ski powder.

and this event should only get EVERYONE totally psyched. hope to see you on friday

Sunday, November 28, 2010

happy thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all. Hope you still have some leftovers if you are enjoying them, or they are done if not. Since this is the one weekend a year i eat turkey, i try to get in as much as possible. then it is back to my semi-vegetarian diet.

Finally the cold weather has left us be. We are going to get some cold snaps through the dark months (remember the record lows we hit last year in early October?), but this one seemed long, and with all the wind, extremely cold. and of course, with cold weather, we just do not seem to get much snow. But as the temps rose, so did the snowfall.

Finally yesterday I got up on the hill yesterday (medical reasons kept me away, as did some late season hunting. I did say semi-vege). The snow coverage is considerable, and full throughout the resort. It will be interesting to see how much they open up next Saturday. One could argue that they can open the entire mountain. I would be surprised, as that takes a lot of effort, but then again, so does closing runs with string lines and signs.

While the snowpack still needs some compaction, the warmer temps and new snow have helped settle the snow, firm up some bonding and hide some dangerous objects. Skiing with care can take you down just about any slope you want with ease and enjoyment. Or, of course, you can go balls to the wall and take your chances. This is usually the option for the young, and those that think they are. (you know who you are, right pp).

I am not surprised, what with all the early season snow, but I have not seen the mountain skied up this entirely before the lifts opened, well, ever. Sure there are endless untracked lines remaining, but there are indeed ski tracks everywhere.

So with 6 days left until the lifts run for the public use, keep on hiking, get in shape for what could be one of the top opening days ever.

We should start to see USFS avalanche forecasts starting next weekend, and the Flathead Nordic Patrol has added an observations page to its website, plus, i always welcome any and all input on this blog, of what skiers are seeing and skiing in their adventures. i know people have been out and about beyond the Big Mountain, so come on folks, share some knowledge to get this season off to a safe and incredible start.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

cold front

just when it looked like a great weekend to go hike up the hill or perhaps somewhere else for some early season turns, the weather has taken a bit of a nasty turn. sure, some will still parade upwards, but i believe the majority of us are trying to find some more comfortable ways of enjoying ourselves.

word has it there is a pretty good snowpack in place, although likely to have some minor rain crusts. but with this and other wind, it may be that crust is somewhat isolated. i still have not gone, as other things continue to take precedence, and with this cold and wind predicted until thanksgiving, it is unlikely i will be seen up there until the weather turns. regardless, it sounds like a pretty good start, and all we can hope to do is add snow.

likewise for the weather, many a hunter was sure to be excited by the drop of a few inches of snow in the valley, and of course more up high. this snow will drive the beasts down towards the valley. add in that the bucks seem to finally have gone into their rut, and it spells out a perfect weekend for bloodying ones hands pulling the guts out of a fresh kill. but for me, this wind and cold makes the prospect of sitting still in a tree stand, or moving slowly through the woods not particularly attractive. am i getting old and wimpy? or old and wise? or neither, is it just me?

fortunately i have another convenient excuse, as i recuperate from a small procedure from which i am supposed to abstain from strenuous activity for another week. so if the weather changes by thanksgiving weekend, which surely it must, then it spells out a perfect time to break out the skis, take my gun for a walk, and enjoy the spoils of a store bought turkey freshly killed by our hutterite friends from the east side.

hope to start seeing more of you in the near future, and hearing from you about places you are finding some nice turns, and conditions to be aware of.

Monday, November 8, 2010

what will the weather do?

it seems ready to change, this weather, but some beautiful sunny and warm days melted away much of our lower snowpack, which is not surprising. so while we wait for real winter to come, i have been trying to get in a last few bike rides, some trail runs, and for the first time ever, i am going to hunt. i have learned that the best time to hunt for bucks is the latter half of november, as that is when they are in their rut, and easier to bring in for a close and safe shot. so even in this endeavor, i am waiting.

so as usual, it is a month of not that much to do. oh, there is firewood to finish up, and the last of the fall projects, and trying to get outside enough to not go insane, but really, unless you are hunting full time, or down in the warm sunny desert, november is not the best month around here. soon enough though, we will all be whooping it up in the mountains, and on the hill. ice will form, nordic tracks will be groomed and we will once again have more to do then there is time for.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

no skiing for me

yeah, i missed out. i was planning to go on sunday, but woke to rain and medium temperatures, so decided to watch football and go for a bike ride. it is going to be a long season, so i don't feel the need to go just to go, but now with this warm and sunny weather, and watching the snowline creep up the hill, i have my regrets. but not as many as i am feeling this day after election day. if you side with last night's dominant party, then let's see some action and results, not just empty talk. but with separate parties in control, and a president set on his agenda, it could be two more years of bi-partisianship, bickering and the american public left holding the ruins.

but politics are not what this blog is about, so sorry for the degression. we are experiencing seoond "Indian Summer" so enjoy the sun and warmth while we have it, for as i said in the opening paragraph, it promises to be along winter.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Skiing on the Big Oct 29 2010

Skiing on Big Mountain has been fun over the last couple of days. Not bad for October 29th. Quick report on conditions. Rain to snow transition at about 5200 ft this afternoon with rain and drizzle near the base of the area. 3 - 5 inches of new snow on the summit, no new at the base. There has been sustained snow near the summit with 25 - 30 inches of settled snow. Lower elevations are starting to show some deterioration in the snow with less than 6 inches of settled base and exposed rock near the parking lot at Hell Roaring. There is little settled base to speak of but the snow was thick and heavy with a side of mashed potatoes today. When you consider that it is the end of October, that really is not bad. It is amazing that less than 4 days ago we had little to no snow. It really is great to see some familiar faces up there. Looks like it is going to be a great season. Pray for snow......Happy Halloween!!!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

another post

OCTOBER 25 - 29 - Bring in your used, well cared for nordic and telemark ski gear, technical clothing, climbing equipment (no alpine skis) for check in and pricing.


Store Hours - M - F 9:30am - 6pm
Sat 9:00am - 5:30pm
Sun Closed
okay, i finally got it figured out. here is the text that goes with the graph from a few posts ago. take the time to make the connections to the different posts, and also read snobots summary. plus read the new post about conditions on the hill in the past two days. a GRREAT start.

In the context of recent plunge of the MEI into strong La Niña conditions, this section features a comparison figure with strong La Niña events that all reached at least minus one standard deviations by June-July, and a peak of at least -1.4 sigma over the course of an event. The most recent bigger La Niña events of 1998-2001 and 2007-09 did not qualify, since they either did not reach the required peak anomaly (the first one) or became strong too late in the calendar year (both).

The most recent (August-September) MEI value shows a continued drop from earlier this year, reaching -1.99, or 0.18 sigma below last month's value, and 3.39 standard deviations below February-March, a record-fast six-month drop for any time of year, while slowing down a bit at the shorter time scales. The most recent MEI rank (lowest) is clearly below the 10%-tile threshold for strong La Niña MEI rankings for this season. One has to go back to July-August 1955 to find lower MEI values for any time of year.

Negative SST anomalies are covering much of the eastern (sub-)tropical Pacific in the latest weekly SST map. Many of these anomalies are in excess of -1C. For an alternate interpretation of the current situation, I highly recommend reading the latest NOAA ENSO Advisory which represents the official and most recent Climate Prediction Center opinion on this subject. In its latest update (7 October 2010), La Niña conditions are expected to last at least into the Northern Hemisphere spring of 2011.

There are several other ENSO indices that are kept up-to-date on the web. Several of these are tracked at the NCEP website that is usually updated around the same time as the MEI, in time for this go-around. Niño regions 3 and 3.4 showed persistent anomalies above +0.5C from June 2009 through April 2010, with a peak of +1.6C for Niño 3 and +1.8C for Niño 3.4 in December 2009, only to drop to about -0.5C or lower in both regions by early June 2010, reaching just shy of -1.0C for the month of July, and below -1.5C for September Niño 3.4 anomalies and below -1.2C for Niño 3. For extended Tahiti-Darwin SOI data back to 1876, and timely monthly updates, check the Australian Bureau of Meteorology website. This index has often been out of sync with other ENSO indices in the last few years, including a jump to +10 (+1 sigma) in April 2010 that was ahead of any other ENSO index in announcing La Niña conditions. After a drop to +2 in June, July rebounded to +20.5, August continued at an impressive +18.8, only to be followed by an even more impressive +25.0. The last time that this index showed higher values in September was back in 1917, which was also the only time on record that this happened for this month. An even longer Tahiti-Darwin SOI (back to 1866) is maintained at the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia website, however with less frequent updates (currently through March 2010). Extended SST-based ENSO data can be found at the University of Washington-JISAO website, currently updated through May 2010 (which ended up just slightly below the long-term mean value).

Stay tuned for the next update (by November 5th) to see where the MEI will be heading next. After peaking seven months ago at +1.5, it has dropped just about as fast as it can, and continues to correlate highest with 1970, of the 'analog' cases shown here. Given the continued drop in the MEI into exceptionally strong territory, La Niña conditions are guaranteed well into 2011.

issued by
7 October 2010
ENSO Alert System Status: La Niña Advisory
Synopsis: La Niña is expected to last at least into the Northern Hemisphere spring 2011.
La Niña continued during September 2010 as reflected by the large expanse of below-average sea surface temperatures (SSTs) across most of the equatorial Pacific Ocean (Fig. 1). All weekly Niño SST index values were between –1.3°C and –1.8°C at the end of the month (Fig. 2). In addition, the subsurface heat content (average temperatures in the upper 300m of the ocean, Fig. 3) remained below-average, reflecting a shallower-than-average thermocline in the central and eastern Pacific (Fig. 4). Convection remained enhanced over Indonesia and suppressed over the western and central equatorial Pacific (Fig. 5). This pattern was linked to a continuation of enhanced low-level easterly trade winds and anomalous upper-level westerly winds over the western and central equatorial Pacific. Collectively, these oceanic and atmospheric anomalies reflect the ongoing La Niña.
Consistent with nearly all of the forecast models (Fig. 6), La Niña is expected to last at least into the Northern Hemisphere spring 2011. Just over half of the models, as well as the dynamical and statistical averages, predict La Niña to become a strong episode (defined by a 3-month average Niño-3.4 index of –1.5°C or colder) by the November-January season before beginning to weaken. Even though the rate of anomalous cooling temporarily abated during September, this model outcome is favored due to the historical tendency for La Niña to strengthen as winter approaches.
Likely La Niña impacts during October-December 2010 include suppressed convection over the central tropical Pacific Ocean, and enhanced convection over Indonesia. The transition into the Northern Hemisphere fall means that La Niña will begin to exert an increasing influence on the weather and climate of the United States. Expected U.S. impacts include an enhanced chance of above-average precipitation in the Pacific Northwest, and below-average precipitation across the southern tier of the country. Also, La Niña can contribute to increased Atlantic hurricane activity by decreasing the vertical wind shear over the Caribbean Sea and tropical Atlantic Ocean (see the August 5th update of the NOAA Atlantic Seasonal Hurricane Outlook). Conversely, La Niña is associated with suppressed hurricane activity across the central and eastern tropical North Pacific.
This discussion is a consolidated effort of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NOAA’s National Weather Service, and their funded institutions. Oceanic and atmospheric conditions are updated weekly on the Climate Prediction Center web site (El Niño/La Niña Current Conditions and Expert Discussions). Forecasts for the evolution of El Niño/La Niña are updated monthly in the Forecast Forum section of CPC's Climate Diagnostics Bulletin. The next ENSO Diagnostics Discussion is scheduled for 4 November 2010. To receive an e-mail notification when the monthly ENSO Diagnostic Discussions are released, please send an e-mail message to:
Climate Prediction Center National Centers for Environmental Prediction NOAA/National Weather Service Camp Springs, MD 20746-4304
Figure 1. Average sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies (°C) for the week centered on 29 September 2010. Anomalies are computed with respect


read this!!

On another note there has been 25 -30 inches of fresh snow on the summit and 14 at the base. Conditions are heavy wet snow in the lower elevations and lighter unconsolidated snow up top. Base is starting to form with the settling of the wet snow and the freezing temps at night. The warm ground may result in the formation of depth hoar in the coming weeks but is a good start to the season. There were a good number of folks skiing today and it was ski able from top to bottom. Good time had by all. Keep in touch. Skiing should still be good tomorrow as it was still snowing when I left this afternoon and temps were cool. Bring rock boards...... ~

okay, it is not even halloween, and the hordes and diehards have made their way up the hill, to some very nice turns and scratches, so i have been told. but it is a start, and if we can keep the temps cool, especially at night (refreezing), and add some white precip, we should be off to a great start.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

more La Nina

The graph Chris is referring to can be found at the link above, along with a technical discussion. Both compare a current ENSO index - a combination of sea surface temperatures and other measures of equatorial Pacific conditions - with the six strongest La Nina years since 1949. The years they highlight are almost all big snow and avalanche years in the Glacier National Park Region. Some, like the mid-50s and 1972, were huge. The current index is lower than all but one point in those years, and it's fallen faster in the past six months than any other six month period.

That doesn't guarantee the Glacier region will have an epic snow year. ENSO is a about probabilities. In El Nino years, there are more dry weather cards in the deck. In La Nina years, there are more wet and cold cards in the deck. The Glacier Region could still draw a dry card or a warm card. It's just not as likely. The discussion and the graph suggest that there may even be more than four big-snow-year aces in the deck we're drawing from this winter.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


AlRIGHT! thanks snowbot for making some time to get this info onto the blog, in a very readable style. please all, take a look at the last two posts by "snowbot" for a bit on La Nina, 2010. this is NOT a guarantee, but it certainly bodes well. i will try to get the links to the more detailed and complex and very difficult to understand discussion from which this was drawn.

and with a great winter outlook, what better reason to really get out and enjoy this fantastic autumn weather we are having right now.

Monday, October 18, 2010

la nina 2010

i am attempting to paste or attach a couple of files on the current and predicted continued "La Nina" event for this fall and winter. i am at a loss as to how to get it on here, so i am going to try to find someone more tech savvy than i am. just so you know though, it is looking like as strong a la nina as we have seen in over 50 years, if i am reading the charts correctly. not a guarantee, for sure, but a positive outlook for those of us that love the winter outdoor sports.

and it must be getting nearer to winter, as 55 degrees is now considered a warm day, and the nordic ski patrol has begun their many fall refresher courses.

in the meantime, i am going to enjoy the indian summer for as long as it lasts, then start tuning up the boards and wait for the fluff.

if anyone out there wants to give me a hand with some tech stuff, let me know. i can only spend so much time before i give up.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

blue skies

looking out the window at a nearly perfect autumn day. it is sunny and getting warmer. and finally, we had our first real frost this morning. i got some garden stuff done yesterday, just in the knick of time. of course, i had pretty much written off a few things once we left on our trip to the east coast, from the last entry, but since things were still going well thru this past weekend, i was happy to pull a few more squash, tomatillas, onion tops, etc. now all that is left is potatoes, carrots, and onions. it turned out to be a pretty good summer in the garden. except for the clean-up and put away that is left.

with fall hunting season about to begin, snow cannot be too far behind. only a couple of weeks left to ride the bike without concern. of course, i still ride once the hunt is on, but i am sure to wear bright colors, maybe put some flourescent flagging on my helmet and take care.

today would likely be a good day to hit the river for some fall fishing, but instead, i think i will try and get some deck staining done, as there are only a few days left when the stain might dry. although tomorrow might be a good day for warm weather as well, i do have some work duties that are calling me away. too bad.

Monday, October 4, 2010

fall trip

well, i took our poor weather back east with me, on our trip to RI to visit family and friends. and left behind what sounds like some perfect fall weather. so you are welcome for that.

unfortunately, i seem to have brought the weather back! sorry for that.

but it looks better later in the week.

it was a great trip regardless. got some time at the beach, got a tour of boston harbor in a small aluminum dingy, got to providence in a heavy fog, got to swim in the ocean (i have twice been in the water since i have been back, and the water here is WAY more frigid). it is so easy to swim in a lake compared to the ocean or even a bay. but that is part of the fun.

so now we are fully into autumn. time to finish fall projects, put away gardens (don't forget to plant your garlic before the end of the month) get in a few more bike rides and other adventures. of course, there is still time to climb, as the cooler weather is ;much more conducive to this activity. and then, just around the corner, it is time to start looking at the quiver and decide what ski equipment might be needed. are we headed for a big winter? too early to tell, but after a pretty slow one in 2010, i am certainly hoping so.

oh, hockey has started, as the rink opened a solid three weeks earlier than last year. i haven't been yet, but heard it has been crowded, as is typical to start the year. and there is word out there that there will be more curling time, and better times, available this year. need something new to do? this might be worth a try.

Monday, September 13, 2010

autumn activities

hey!!! indian summer arrived yesterday. just in time for the two bear marathon. although i did not run, i have been a volunteer the last few years, it was a perfect day to run. starting out in clear, cool dawn, by the time most of the competitors were through, it was still not much over 65 degrees. and certainly, everyone was out of the woods, the hardest part, before the sun began to really heat up the earth.

kudos to a couple of local runners. jonathon for winning his age group, and coming in 8th overall in the long race, and richard, another over 40 runner, who won the overall half marathon. i saw both of these guys at the party in the parking lot, and both looked fine, not much worse for wear. obviously, well trained.

saturday brought some a new sport to my world. windsurfing. this is a difficult sport, to say the least. we had planned on trying lake mcdonald, as the forecast was calling for winds in the low to high teens. perfect for beginners and novices, and okay for our more experienced rider, since he has many sails to adjust to different winds. if you think skiing or biking or climbing is gear intensive, they have nothing. in this sport you need a board (duh!), mast, boom, multiple sails, wetsuit. lots of warm clothes for after getting your ass kicked in butt cold water. oh, and a mental edge that accepts falling and failure like you probably do not remember as an early skier. as you get better, there is more gear.

unfortunately, there was ZERO wind at lake mcdonald, and although i was willing to head back and gather biking gear, we made a run for the east side. at logan pass there was a bit of wind, and then as we descended into the saint mary valley, it quickly became obvious that there would be enough wind.

white caps and two foot swells had even jim nervous, as he had not brought his smallest sails, suitable for high winds. it was no doubt, well over my head. i prepared to hunker down out of the wind somewhere and read, and watch the carnage. instead, foiled again in my thoughts of getting out of a humbling experience, we went to check out lower saint mary's, to see if the wind were calmer and less gusty. indeed they were.

there was not much now to do, but watch as kevin and jim geared up, and put on my own wetsuit and cross my fingers.

the problem with beginning windsurfing, especially in cold water, is that one spends more time in the water than surfing above it. and slowly at first, and then more quickly after 30 minutes, the cold water overtakes the warm body. try to get out before hypothermia sets in.

but it was not completely futile. i was able to get up on the board, (better than i have in my brief surfing forays), steady myself and pull up the mast, and even take control of the boom, and thereby the sail. but then things would get untilted, and back into the water i went. by this time, kevin and jim had entered on their own boards,and were sailing out and about the lake. for them, the winds were perfect. and i will also say, that now, as an experienced novice, kevin too spends considerable time in the water, and he too came out after an hour or so, with a smile on his face, and nearly blue lips as well. that east side water just does not warm up.

finally, i got a shot on jim's new board. a much wider, lighter, more comfortable version of his old board. after giving kevin a shot, while i remained in the truck shaking off the last of the chill, it was my turn again. i knew it would be brief, as it would only be three or four attempts before the severe chill would return, but i had to give it a go. using this board, it was easier to stand up, more stable, and i was actually able to sail. okay, almost. i cannot say 5 feet is sailing, and neither of my companions even noticed i had done so; but it felt good, and gave me some confidence to try again. indeed, to look forward to trying again. in warmer water. with the sun shining. and hot!!

so now it is back to work and biking. at least one of these is something i love.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

labor day weekend

once again, Ovando proved a great spot to hang out for a long weekend. we were lucky enough to make our three day weekend into a five day event. so south we headed, with a great forecast before us.

of course the best weather was the first two days, that we spent working on house projects there, and some last minute shopping for self proclaimed necessities. finally on saturday, we headed to the blackfoot river for a four hour float on some mellow to class two waters. i hoped to even cast my line a few times.

about 30 minutes into the float, we noticed some very dark clouds approaching, then some lightening, then of course, some rain. it did not rain too hard, but the wind came up strong, and i struggled to keep the boat moving forward. eventually i gave up and just pulled to shore to wait it out. and luckily it only lasted about 2 minutes. we considered asking some of the river side occupents if we could come off on their property, but quite honestly, when i see a shady house in that area, i don't really like to approach the owners. there are many a story of unwelcoming hosts. plus the weather improved dramatically, so we just stayed on the river to our original destination. four hours later we finally pulled over for good at the sunset hill take-out, and with help of a couple boaters also taking out there, we were able to pull the boat up without much issue. after an hour long bike shuttle, we had the boat loaded before dusk had turned to dark. although i did not get myline in the water, it was still a fine day.

once again we happened to be in the vicinity of trixie's , a truly great bar, located on hwy 200 in ovando, when Russ and the Revelators were playing. they always bring in a crowd from out of nowhere, and the dancing put on by the locals is well above what can be seen in any bars in this zip code. sometimes it is hard to get out and dance, as we feel overwhelmed, but after a few adult beveages, we dropped our guard and made it onto the dance floor. another good night at trixie's. (i haven't had a bad one there)

we also made it to the annual rodeo in helmville, just down the road. this is a real rodeo, in a real western town, without all the fancy hoopla of a big town fair. just cowboys and girls, and broncos, bulls, horse riding and cow milking. despite the early november weather (okay,it just felt that way on september 5th) we had a great time and many a laugh. if you ever have a chance to go to one of these small town affairs, jump on it. it is cheap, fun and full of real people. and you won't feel too far from home, as the announcer is the same one that comes to the fair here, as well as skijouring. the man can just flatout talk.

finally, we had a full day of fishing on the blackfoot. it could not have started out much slower, but after a few hours of mostly casting, we finally hit a few good holes and made it into a very enjoyable day. and again, we found ourselves pulling boats up steep banks at dusk, this time without beating the darkness barrier. this is where it was nice having a place to go to nearby, with a roof and a kitchen. too late for any restaurant, we were still able to stoke a fire, take off the chill, bbq some burgers, and relax into a card game.

hopefully we will get some indian summer along this early fall, as real summer was far too short, and winter, as much fun as it is, is far enough away that it is best to still have some nice sunny weather first.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


yep, it sure seems like fall is here. dark until nearly 7am, cooler days, some moisture is back. it was a short summer, but it is montana. i am sure we will have some hot weather still this year, but it is best to accept the autumn season and all it has to offer.

if you have not already begun, and have a garden in place, start watching for frost. i always look for night time lows below 38 before i worry. at that point, cover the fragile plants, like tomatoes, the squash family, basil. if you miss it, but wake up early, you can water the garden just before the sun comes up to wash the frost off. this fends off the killing of the plant.

is it too early to start thinking about winter? some parts of the country are already looking toward a mild winter. fortunately, for what i know, these are areas that desire just that. like urban and city dwellings. personally, i am hoping for a normal winter, or even some la nina to bring on the goods. since we might be looking at snow up high (and is some places already have), it is never too early to think winter.

Friday, August 27, 2010


as great as the weather has been, summer is indeed winding down. i don't really even like to think about it, but the other night, as i read out on the deck until i had to use artificial light. i came in and started to get ready for bed, looked at the clock and it was barely 9:30! and it was dark. oh, the longest of the summer days are once again behind us as we begin to look forward to the fall colors and brisk mornings.

the garden, though filled with weeds, continues to produce greatly. at this time, there really is no need to weed, except for athsetics (sp?). clean up of the entire mess is just around the corner with all the other pre-winter chores, so why hasten to them. i am trying to squeeze as much summer out of summer as possible.

and this weekend looks more like a late september weekend of weather than late august. cool, cloudy and some wet. i am hoping it is just saving up for a fabulous labor day stretch of perfect weather. warm, clear and bright night lights sparkling.

our weather here remains a source of humor, if you look at it correctly. on sunday we went to the fair and watched the ponies. with only a rain jacket, and foolishly wearing shorts, i found myself not just cool, but cold. only raggie had the foresite to bring a cap. i could have used pants, sweater and hat. then it heats up thru thursday, maybe the hottest day of summer, and then back into the 60's for the weekend. what else can one do but laugh and shake our heads and remark "montana weather!"

still, there are endless arenas of fun at this time. all the trails are clear, all the water warm, the fish are rising, the flowers are still blooming (a true blessing of a cool, moderately moist summer)and hopefully we are all in mid summer shape for whatever strokes our hearts fancies the most.

and this just in, bow hunting season starts in just over a week, for those that live the better part of the year waiting for just that. oh, and football season begins too. it must be fall on the horizon.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

good week


a week that truly represents summer. two good rides, two days on the blackfoot with the legendary (wishes) clay, fishing for the mightly 24"!

rode from the bottom of haskill basin to the top of the Big. took a while, but felt great. good to get some serious vertical. not sure though if i am truly ready to tackle the toughest of rides, strawberry lake to columbia mtn. that is an endeavor i conquered 17 years ago, thought i would never want to do again, and now i am challenged, but unsure if i want to suffer that much.

so i went to climb standard peak instead. although not quite an epic, it is an ordeal. too many dirt road miles, but we were able to put them together in a way as to not see one car. why, because we travelled on roads closed to cars, and indeed had to cross one serious slump that even on foot was difficult.
of course, the trail needs lots of work, especially on the way down off the back side, but we found our way thru, with maps and old memories (i was the only one to have done it in the past, andthat was 10 years ago, at least). but it came together, and the beers were cold and sweet, if not of the highest quality. (according to some standard's being set by an aging ski bum population no longer interested in quantity, but instead, in quality. not sure if i agree, but someone in this house i believe does)

then the next day, down to the blackfoot and a night in the comfortable though unfinished digs in ovando. did not get to see the sunset off the porch, one of my favorite activities, as the fish were jumping, after a day when they did not. though we all love the sunshine, it is not always the best for sticking a fly on the water. but we did not get skunked, we did not get too stuck in the shallow waters, we did not drown, we did have a ton of fun, and of course, we drank a few beers, of both quality and quantity.

with plenty of time left in august, the best month of september and as much of october as we are lucky to get before the gray cold sets in, the rest of this season should be a fun one. any epics out there? let me know. thanks.

Monday, August 9, 2010


anyone get caught out in that huge storm on friday? i was lucky and was in transit from seeley lake where i spend two days at the Big Larch campground swimming and boating, and missed the storm entirely. but it sounds like it was a doozy. and a few people got their gardens messed up, but mine seemed to fair just fine. and this has been a great summer for the garden. after a slow start in april, may and june, things have been great with plenty of water and sun.

going back to seeley lake, that campground is pretty much on the beach and very clean and comfortable. a great spot for kids, as there were tons in this group i joined. it was even pretty dog friendly, as far as usfs campgrounds go. they were allowed off leash in your own site and within voice command, and at the beach they had to stay away from the main swimming area, but otherwise were fine. of course there were the typical grouchy people who have never let their dogs or their own minds off a leash, and if they had another dog come within 10 feet were nervous nelly's, but i tried to not get too sarcastic, and keep my pets away. staying there really made me wonder about owning my own place on the water somewhere. anyone know of a decent lake with quasi affordable property. i mean, something less than $100k/acre or $300k for a small cabin? okay, i didn't think so, but if you ever see anything, let me know.

not much else to report, just life in august, when the temps are staying in the low 80's is about as good as it can be.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

great wx

wx. shorthand for weather.

and it has been great. unless you are someone who actually loves the super hot. right now it is midday, slight breeze, high 70's. the waters are all warm enough to swim in, the trails are all dry but not dusty, the produce is now more local or regional and not californian. in short, summer is in full swing, and the living is easy. (except of course for work, which is what we all do too much of in the summer, because we can).

keeping this one brief, as i have an unexpected day off and need to go enjoy this nearly perfect weather. hope you are all having tonsoffun.

Friday, July 30, 2010

i'm back

well, it has been a month, so most of you are probably not even looking. but i am going to get back on it, as things are starting to happen in life. well, you know, summer is in full swing, so there is more to talk about.

i did my first race in the Big Mountain summer series last night. first race up there ever. and first bike race of any kind in over 20 years. and i got my butt kicked. i tried not to go out too hard, but got caught between those i wanted to pass and those i did not want to pass me, on the initial climb right out of the box. and immediately i got into severe lung burn, that did not go away completely until this am. i guess i am not in race shape. but i finished in under an hour, (two laps) and likely was first (and only) in my over 50 age group, but that is no longer a group. it is only "veterans" of over 40. i will never even make it into the top three in this group. but it was fun and i hope to continue, perhaps a it smarter next time. and better warmed up.

MA and i went to the Calgary Folk Music Festival last weekend. a lot of driving for 2 1/2 days, but fun and worth it. a really well run affair, with lots of good food, beer and music. 7 different tents with all kinds of music. NOT just folk. raggae, ska, rock, roots, blues, gospel (don't knock gospel, it can be the best music of any show), etc. the worst for us though, was that roberta flack was the final act, sunday night at 9pm and we had to leave the same night at 6. or not go to work on monday, which was not an option.. two really cool things at this fest. first, they were very lax on what you could bring in. we brought in some premade cocktails, and easily got some ice here and there to cool them off. you can bring in your own food, cooler, sodas, etc. you are not supposed to have alcohol outside of the beer garden, but if you kept it mellow. (come on, it was a folk festival. how roudy are a middle age couple going to get anyway?) Two, they were recycling or composting almost everything. cutlery, glasses and paper were all compostible, plates were real. you paid a $2 deposit and got it back with the return. but the one thing i thought was weird. they were not recycling plastics. something about the garbage and recycling contract did not include plastics. come on! even here in the anti-environment capital of Flathead county, we can recycle plastic 1&2. which also broght to me the question. which is better.
Recycling or

so i amazingly have still not been out fishing, boating or on any epic bike rides. august and september are my months to change all that. the time has come and summer is short.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

more on swan 100

although the swancrest is not going to be run as an official race, it is still going on as a non-organized event, with the plan of making it official next year, or soon. so my idea of lots of people showing up is to be ignored for the time being. maybe we can do something later in the summer to raise money and help this event become official. for now, let's hope that a good crowd of the serious ultra-marathon folks still show up to run, and hope they have great weather.

well, after a very wet 3-4 weeks, and spring in general, summer has come in with abondon. warm and sunny, although the next few days look a bit cooler. and remember, once we get thru july 4th, it is all guaranteed great weather. okay, maybe not, but usually july and august get pretty hot and dry. should be another great summer.

Monday, June 28, 2010

sunny and warm

now this is some good weather. even as it cools off later this week, it is still going to be great. even if we have a few thunderstorms. nothing wrong with that, and right now lightening is not too much of a threat.

so mountain biking continues to be great, and the rivers are slowing down, for more boating and fishing should be getting better all the time. i have not been on any great adventures of yet, but they are not too far away. althought the word is that there is still lots of snow up around 7000' and less on northern aspects. so if you were really into it, i am sure there is some skiing to be had, beyond just the Going to the Sun Road and Logan Pass.

the TRail Runs Thru It, now officially the Whitefish Trail, is set to officially open on July 17, with events in town and on the trail that day. of course, it is open for daily use right now, but there are not signs up as yet. sounds like some last loops closer to the main trailhead at Lion Mtn. Loop are just about done, and super fun.

unfortunately, if you have not read a paper in weeks and had not heard, brad lamson has officially decided NOT to run his 100 mile Swan Crest race as an official race. but it is still going on as a non-sanctioned, no charge event. so anyone feeling it should continue training. but if 100 miles seems too much, i am trying to get some folks to go down and do lesser rides or runs and maybe throw some support to brad and Montana Conservation Corps, which is set to reap any proceeds. Unfortunately Keith Hammer (aka: ASSHOLE with nothing better to do) has forced the issue to where it was likely to cost race organizers and the USFS money in EA's and litigation. so i am trying to set up some support so that maybe this can become an event on the Swan. please post some comments and thoughts about this entire soap opera.

okay, summer is short. time to get outside.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

more rain

went to seattle for the weekend. sounds like there was less rain there than here. since it happened to be the weekend before the solstice, and we were able to catch the 27th annual Fremont Solstice Parade. somewhere along the way, this festive parade was joined in by a group of byclists who i believe did so unofficially. they are now the higlight of the parade, as they ride loop after loop, NAKED! before the official start. in fact, they have brought in a naked mentallity to the entire affair, that sounds like it was for a while quite wild and crazy. now it is just a fun parade with a bit of debauchery, but mostly mild.

now we are back, and it sounds like it rained all weekend. yesterday was huge. and as wet as it has been, i have been informed by a fire and forestry expert, that in three or so short weeks of dry and hot, we will be back into fire territory. our soils are just so porous and weather so dry and non-humid, things change quickly. but at least for now i am assured our chances of a crown fire (the worst) are zero.

so, what is going on out there. what rivers are still providing good fishing, boating or viewing? of course, trail riding is okay if you don't mind getting wet and muddy. i am sure there is some good skiing, again, if you don't mind being wet, and likely cold.

i went to the DNRC's tour of the spencer trails system and advisory to upcoming logging. they are trying hard to sound positive towards recreation, and i believe them. i have been in several conversations towards making some of the trails "official". i am hoping for this to happen as early as this fall. at worst, it seems the state will allow heavy flagging of trails, so loggers can more easily avoid trails with their skidders and slash. i will try to keep this progress posted.

with all this water, i just have not been out doing much, so don't have much to report. so, as usual, hope others will join in with stories and input.

Monday, June 14, 2010

great weekend

well, the weather certainly came thru, and so everyone should have been busy. we certainly were over here in millerland. lots of biking, beer and relaxing. some time in the garden and yard. the days are about as long as they are going to get, so the time is now to be outdoors for more time than less.

bikefish week went well, but inclement weather took away from participants in our many guided rides. NO one showed up friday night, so pete and i just went out to pig farms and rode until dark. we did have a group of 11 yesterday out at pig farms, and showed some new folks some good times. it seems to me that that area gets more and more use. we had a few young adults, and a couple of young kids. the kids did well, but you really have to cater to their abilities.

it always seems funny to me to, to see the bikes people ride. not everyone has a tricked out, full suspension, disk brake machine. and it shows in their riding. but youth prevails, and they are able to counter bad bikes with energy.

the bike races went well this weekend. saturday's criterium had a big turnout of spectators and participants. and the kids race was huge. possibly one hundred 8 and unders rode one lap of the crit. one ringer, who was hundreds of yards in front of the rest. but they all had fun, and it was great to watch. hope for even more activities and attendance next year.

anyone watching the World Cup? it has been fantastic. US got a bit lucky to tie england, but we'll take it. if we continue to play as well, the second round should happen. then, who knows.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Man, has it been wet. but this weekend looks great, so time to get out there for a longer day.

still, the riding at least has been good. i imagine the boating is a bit washed out, at least the middle fork, but sounds like the swan is GREAT. anyone been on the Stillwater? And fishing? sounds like people are out there. anyone want to share a good river or two. not the section, just the river.

the new "Whitefish Trail" (was the trail runs thru it) is in great shape. and pete is working 6 days a week to get more open. but, pete and i learned the other day, as simple as it seems, one can get misplaced.

we led a group of six along the trail on wednesday evening, as part of Bikefish. we went from the Lion Mtn Loop trailhead, went up past Gogan's "driveway" which is near his new gate (this gate probably cost what many of us have into our homes. oh to be a billionaire). we decided as a group, to continue up to the next vantage point, about 10 minutes away. we had one novice rider, and a few minutes from the road, he decided he had had enough, and turned around. i should have gone with him, but the rest of the group was several minutes ahead, and i wanted to let them know, and he said, repeatedly, he was fine. so i tried to make sure he knew what trails NOT to go down, and he reiterated he was fine. so i joined the rest of the group. when we returned to the grouse mountain tennis courts from where we had started, his car was gone, so we were sure he was fine. after a bit more conversation, we all went our separate ways. only as i got into my car did he ride by. he waved hello and said he was fine, and i never saw him again. so, not sure what happened, but as he had been tired and ready to quit, i am pretty sure he did not purposely add to his ride. but somehow he had extended his ride, considerably.

maybe i should not be a guide? tonight, pete and i are leading another ride on the WFT. tonight, we are bringing cell phones and asking individuals their riding levels and experience. better safe than sorry.

let's hope for great weather, riding, boating, fishing, skiing, climbing or just hanging out with cold beverages.

Monday, June 7, 2010

here is the official spot to see what is going on and to link to comment to the usfs. please get on board on this. this should be a super cool event, and have little to no impact on the trail, bears, or land. the biggest impact is on the sickos that are running this race.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

summer is getting busy

even if the weather does not cooperate, there is a ton of fun stuff going on in the next few weeks. and a few opportunities to lend a helping hand.

take a look at these websites for tons of info. the next two weeks are chock full of fun and opportunities to help and support the community.

i will be leading, with pete, the tours on the TRTI, now officially called the "whitefish trail", as well as sunday's ride at the pig farms. come join us.

come see the film on sunday, june 13.

come watch some pro bikers in their criterium, in town.

but just check out the websites for more info.

hope to see you,

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

june 1

it sure looks like a wet start to the rainy season, and as usual, we need the moisture. of course, we all want a sunny day or three, but just remember, each day of rain puts off summer fires just a little bit more. and since this was looking like a catacylmic fire season just a month ago, i am not ready to complain, yet.

i still like to think that every day at this time of year offers some openings when you can get out and play. it seems like once you get started riding, hiking or fishing, a bit of rain is not horrendous. an example. we were in ovando this long weekend, and the weather there was not much better than here. but we waited for our window, and got in two good hikes and a great ride in helena yesterday. we woke on monday to rain, but called a couple of shops in helena, and got word that it had remained mostly dry, with on brief showers forecast for memorial day. so we loaded up bikes and dogs, a few beers and snacks, and headed south. sure, we did get some rain, and a bit of mud, but overall, a great ride. in fact, it made the weekend. so no regrets.

today is the first farmers market downtown. not the best weather, but sure to be fun. time to get the rest of the garden done, get the flowers in, all that make summer so wonderful. so zip up the raincoat, carry some rain pants, and head on out.

Friday, May 28, 2010

rainy end of may

so, this is the beginning of summer season? well, at least it will help in keeping rivers flowing, snow from melting, grass and gardens and flowers growing. but it is not the best for seeing how many outdoor endeavors you can do in one day. but remember, in these days, there is always an opening of pleasant weather. and once you are out moving, a squall or rain is not likely to go forever, and it is not that cold, so keep moving and make a memory.
or just stay inside and whine.

off to ovando. weather does not look too much better there, or anywhere in the state. let's review on tuesday.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

check this out

go ahead and highlight this and put into your browser. this article brings light to an upcoming race this summer, and how one man, has too much time without enough to do. ( perhaps like my time spending writing blogs, but he does this full time). anyway, read the article, then the comments, which are quite humorous, unless you feel sorry for keith. then stay up to date on the issue and write some comments to the usfs when the time comes. i will keep that up to date as well. this could be a signiture event in the area. these ultra marathons are never going to attract thousands of participants, likely not even hundreds. they are brutal events, for the fittest of the endurance athletes. and unlike a road event, if you quit somewhere along the line, your day is not done. you still have to get out. only the strongest (and perhaps most feeble of mind) enter such events. best to support it, read about it, then enjoy a nice day hike or multi-day trip, with tents, bags, food and even a drop or two.

Monday, May 24, 2010

short weekend

weekends always seem too quick. even the long ones. they are mini-vacations, but like all vacations, they are just too short.

the weather was not great this past weekend, but like so many days in the spring in montana, there is always enough good weather to have some fun.

so there we were, sitting at the base of all the roadside climbs at stone hill, when the rain started. we had hoped to go to one of the more off road locations, to allow the dogs and kids to run around a bit, but the weather just did not cooperate. so instead, we hung out and waited. and finally, it stopped, the sun came out enough to dry the rock and we were all able to climb multiple pitches. as per usual, i flailed mightily on a 5-8 face climb. small foot and hand holds are my nemesis. for better or worse, i perform better in large cracks and off widths.

after about 5 hours, we called it a day, as we were camping nearby and hoped the next day would bring more clear weather. so, after a mellow morning, and an hour on our mountain bikes, the weather looked, well, worse. so my wife and i decided to go the other way, back to the flathead, with stop for the dogs to swim and us to walk. there is a day use area on the south side of dickey lake that is really nice. super low key. clean. plenty of space to bbq, play horseshoes, and hangout. very kid friendly.

so now we are already looking forward to the long weekend coming up. we are going to make it a four day weekend,and head to ovando and hope to get some warm sunny weather, drop our lines in the river, ride our bikes somewhere nearby and visit the local institution.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

need help

dt in baja, need your correct email. you can click on mine at top of blog. thanks.


for those of you who do not know, there is a whole bunch of new trail completed on the Whitefish Trail, (the name just recently and officially changed from "the trail runs thru it"). you can start at two locations near town. one is off the Lion Mtn Loop road. drive as if going to state park off hwy 93 north. go past the golf course, veer right on State Park rd., then go straight thru the stop sign (but do stop first, at least periferrally). then go onto the dirt road, for about a mile. there is a new dirt road about 1/4 mile before this road gets back to the highway. you can see a metal gate. there is a large parking lot. go around the gate and up the road 1/2 mile or more, and eventually you will see a trail on the right. if you run into the beat up car, then you are close. look around. yes, that car is mine. i tried to go under the gate. perhaps i thought i was still on that four wheeler in mexico. anyway, from this trail, it is only about 10 minutes until you summit above the rock band with a nice view down to skyles lake, and the mccarthy residence. there is a small loop at the top, but instead of this, continue on the main trail, down under the cliff band, the best section so far. the trail weaves and wags for a few miles, intersects with a dirt road (not sure where this goes), stay on the trail. it intersects with the trail that goes to the skyles parking lot (more on that route tomorrow). keep on going. soon the trail intersects with the Gogan road (or driveway, depending on your deposition). you can cross this road and continue onthe trail down almost to beaver lake. you can easily get to the lake. take a deep breath, and plunge into the water. hop back on your bike and return to you car. estimated round trip, 2 hours. or do a shorter version.

this is a nice intermediate trail, with some good climbing and great fast sections. it is not very difficult, and certainly NOT a Freeride. it is a great start that will continue to grow and improve thru the summer and years into the future.

ron at glacier cyclery is starting a challenge to all local businesses to ride to work. contact him for more info, but it is always a good idea.

the website is up and running. take a look for info on trails week, starting with a 5 km run on sunday, june 6th.

should be a great summer.

Monday, May 17, 2010

flathead valley rules

yep, though back to work, which is never great, even for those who say they truly love what they do; life back home is pretty great. this place just affords us everything. this weekend included time in the yard and garden, on the bike, on a very fun run/walk, for the dog park and WAG, and at the beach, while it is still uncrowded and dogs can run around and swim and have fun.

the fun run included a 15km run, a four mile walk or run,and a 1.5 miles walk or run. dogs were invited, although they had to be on leash, which really is not that fun for most dogs. but they all got along. this event was a fundraiser for WAG, the dog park in whitefish. it was well organized, with tons of food, beer, water and prizes. i don't know the number, but it seems there were well over 100 people entered in all. unfortunately, i did not take any pictures.

besides the show sponsored by don and rmo at wf lake lodge, pete and FFT are sponsoring a bike movie at grouse mtn. lodge. unfortunately, both are on thursday night. pick you poison, or join me at both. they should both be great.

other upcoming events. there is a week of fun bike rides, both mountain biking and on the new bike paths around wf, starting with a 5 mile run on sunday june 6. then strting on wed. there will be nightly guided rides on the bike paths as well as on several sections of the new "trail runs thru it". please go to for exact info and details. right now this site is under construction, but should be complete any day.
below are some more pictures from mexico.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

last from mexico

okay, so there we are in mexico. Los Barriles to be exact. just an hour north of the cabo airport, on the sea of cortez side. this is a beautiful part of mexico. the waters are calm, for the most part, but it is known for good and steady winds for much of the winter, that brings many people down to windsurf. (something we hope to learn this summer) it is also home to many US transplants, tired of the working world. they have found a relatively cheap place to live, with great weather 10+ months of the year (there is the hurricane season, from late july into sept). this sector of people, is for better or worse, at least half the population of the area.

on a slight digression, on our way to the airport, we had some time and money to kill, so went for an early lunch into a town called miraflores. this is not right on the coast. it is a small town, but surprisingly clean and well kept. this to me was very refreshing and unusual. i am not sure what the economy is, but it was NOT a tourist town. it was sooo clean. more so than even most tourist towns. very refreshing.

anyway, many of the people who have chosen to live in the los barriles area, as i am sure with much of mexico coastal towns, are a bit different than the tourist or traveler looking for water adventure. they are mostly an older segment, 50+. MA calls them the Extreme Senior Partiers. what do they do for fun? Four Wheeling, baby!!! and since we happened to be there on Cinco de Mayo, there was a big rally of the local gringo population going on.

by the way, cinco de mayo is not a traditional mexican holiday. down there it is considered a "Pacifico" holiday. much like our various "hallmark" holidays. and it is not celebrated by the mexicans at all. only by the gringos in mexico. their actual independence day is sept 16, this year being number 200 i believe. so if you want to go for a big "Mexican" celebration, look into this fall, when they are planning many huge festivities.

but we were in gringoville, and since our landlords were the typical retired americans, they were aware of this upcoming "poker run". with four stops to pick up playing cards, and then the final one at the end, each person or team (MA and i rode together, but we each entered the run, so we each got our own hand) gets five cards, and the best poker hand wins. half the entry fee to the overall winner, about 2500 pesos (presently about $210 US). our landlords not only told us of this event,but offered us their four wheeler to ride. if we had rented one, it would have been $100 US. not that we would have rented one at that cost, but to show you that not everything there is cheap. like so much else, they have figured out how to get the most out of the gringos. so off we went, into the desert, mostly following the dust and tracks of those in front. and although we had been given pretty descent directions, and we were never way in front or behind, somehow, we got lost. or misplaced. fortunately another couple came along right behind us, also confused. ends up we had to ride about a mile on a secondary highway, about the size of highway 40, but with no traffic, and get back onto a dirt road there. about 10 of us got confused at this point, so we did not feel too bad, and felt fortunate to find others, or we might still be out there, out of gas and water, walking like Chevy Chase in the original Vacation movie. once back on track, we made the rest of the trip without incident.

so the long and short of all this. i am looking at selling my house, skis, boats, bikes, etc, renting a uhaul or something like that, calling it a career and moving to mexico and taking up four wheeling, going to the sea only to wash off. yes, it was that fun!!

okay, maybe not yet, but it was way more fun than would have expected. a great group of people, looking for something to do. not that environmentally friendly, but fun all the same. (an example of the Extreme Senior Partyers, an early quotefrom an approximately 70 year old Gal about 10 minutes before the start, when asked what the purpose of the day was, "to get drunk on beer, fall off your four wheeler, and pick up your best friends husband!"

i mean, who doesn't want to be 20 again?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

back home

well, we are back. heard we missed some fine mt. weather. i sure did miss out on that. believe me, 80 degrees, sunny and on the beach with warm pacific water got boring. NOT!

so, things are shaping up here. one thing great about coming home is the greenery. man, it is bright and beautiful. and that is something missing in mexico at this time.

biking in and around the valley is great right now. the trail runs thru it is shaping up, if you are interested in checking it out. plus, all the valley trails are dry and for the most part, clear. it should not be too long before we can explore some of the bigger rides around.

heard the boating has been good, and with this warm weather (yes, it was us that brought it home to you, because, we love you all so much, and wanted everyone to be happy) the water levels should be on the rise. with a small upper snowpack, the peak season could be short, so might be good to find some time to get on the rivers. myself, the first sunny, warm weekend day, should find me flailing in my canoe, trying desperately to not swim,. for that water is surely still quite cold (say, 32.1 degrees?).

climbing up at kookanusa is in prime form. not too hot yet,but always plenty of sun and warm rock. and great camping sites on both sides, to make a weekend or two day trip.

i have no idea how the fishing is. anyone want to comment? i will try to find someone who is willing to share some info without giving up their trademark secret spots.

hiking is starting to shape up, but obviously not likely to get up too high without finding snow. however, i did come across a guy who was running laps up the initial 1.5 miles uphill section of columbia mountain. great workout and way to be ready as snow fades away.

that's about it for now. but i promise a few pictures and story or two from mexico that should bring a smile or two.

lastly, please look at the recent post from RMO. sounds like a great event coming up on may 20th, at WF lake lodge. getting psyched for summer fun.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Steve House Book Signing & Slideshow

Rocky Mountain Outfitter, Glacier Mountaineering Society and Crested Butte Outdoors are sponsoring an evening with Steve House, Alpinist.
"The best high-altitude climber in the world today" according to Reinhold Messner. Steve's climbing accomplishments include SW Face of K7, NF Mt Alberta, Mt Robson Emperor Face, Central Pillar of the Rupal Face of Nanga Parbat & plenty more!
He will be selling his new book "Beyond the Mountain" also.

There will be a $5.00/ person charge.

Whitefish Lake Lodge
May 20, 2010
7pm - 9pm

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

east cape, mexico

east cape, or the area north of san jose del cabo, all the way to los barriles, is where we have been for the past 2 days, and will be the last two days of our trip. it is really nice here. although pretty much all gringo and little culture, especially compared to todos santos, but the water is warm and calm (mostly) and still plenty of good food. by nine am today, we had gotten in a walk on the beach, a swim and a kayak session (more later on that). convenient.

we are heading to try to get in some high quality snorkeling at cabo pulmos. yesterday afternoon brought really high winds ( i did say mostly, concerning calm winds), so the water is a bit churned up.

our worst experience on the trip occured two nights ago. we went to a restaurant that seemed popular. i ordered a marguarita that was the worst marg of my life! i kid you not. one of the worst drinks of my life, and that includes college. it had a lot of orange juice and soda water in it. fortunately we had not ordered dinner yet, and we high tailed it out of there.

there are some cool old hotels around here. although they cater entirely to fairly affluent american clientele, they are beautiful buildings with tons of character, and right on the beaches.

yesterday went "ocean" kayaking, for our first time. an ocean kayak is like a white water boat, but open on top. extremely stable and able to ride swells and waves with ease. pretty good in calm water too.

okay, sorry i do not have pictures to post. i forgot my usb cable. will put some up when we get home. heard it has been snowing and cool. i am looknig forward to warm spring weather and green landscape (no green to be had here). but for now, it is off to the beach, for sun and sand.

Friday, April 30, 2010


well, it has been a bit breezy and cool, so it has not been all lying on the beach and getting burnt. but there has been enough of that. plenty of great food and margs. wish i could send some great surfing stories and pictures, but i am not a surfer. that would be like snowboarding. (which is to say i am not coordinated enough to do it).

on wednesday we happened by a local surf bar, probably 3/4 gringos, but not all. it is owned by a cool young guy from san diego, who speaks as easily with the true locals as he does with all the transplants. todos santos is not too gringo that one feels like they are in southern california, but overall, there are alot. some comfort in that, and sometimes i wish i could blend in better. anyway, at the "sandbar" bar, not unlike the Bierstube in appearance and feel, there came along a special guest. turns out G-Love is doing a documentary, along with a few surfer pro buddies of his, sponsored by Pacifico, on the making and inspiration of his upcoming album. this brought in a massive crowd of perhaps 150. yep. it was hopping. of course, all the best looking gals were there, trying to catch his eye. which had been caught just a few days earlier by likely the hottest girl about. he played for about 45 minutes, and it was quite fun. not great. not sure if it was the sound or just that his music does not turn me on, but it was fun. we had two of the best bar seats in the place, as we had gotten there around 7pm to try their "all you can eat pizza" for 80 pesos (about $7us right now). and it was quite good. not second street pizza quality, but better than any US chain, and way better than we expected.

while we were sitting at the bar, oh, around 9 pm, a gal getting a drink about two people away said out of nowhere "chris miller?". i did not recognize her at first, so she asked, "are you chris miller?". i could not deny who i am, so i said yes. turns out is is Caroline Mcentire, ex of whitefish, from the mid 90's. she has recently bought a place here and loves it. seems like she is not missing the ski lifestyle at all.

i have always loved the small world feeling that when lucky, occurs wherever you are.

so, i hope i haven't lost too many readers with a lack of posts, but it is off season. soon there will be tons, as i once again return to the flathead and try to get out somewhere everyday. and please, please, send this along to friends, write in comments or posts and get out and have some fun, you hogs. time to get to the beach.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

tick season.

climbing season at stone hill means tick season. yes they are out. not in immense numbers. only two on six people, but still, need to watch out. but the climbing is in great shape. yesterday was mid 70's, no wind. perfect. today looks great too. heard the early season boating is good, but the water might be up. fishing i think is okay, but not dry fly season yet. unless anyone wants to divulge some more info. today is biking day, oh, and continuing to get ready for a wedding. i can see why people go to vegas and get it over with. way less work. but we are going to have, that's right, a TON OF FUN!!!, and then be hogs with 10 days in mexico. life is GREAT.

Friday, April 16, 2010

spring is back!

not too much going on at this time of year. trail use took a two day hiatus with the super wet tuesday rain and snow. but things are drying quickly, and should be in great shape this weekend.
in the meantime, did anyone get in some powder turns? sure, it was heavy and some wind affect, but it was softer and deeper than much of anything for a couple of months. unless you have been smart to follow some more localized storms. the middle fork and east side have been getting some good snowfall in late march and early april.
but it is time, really to put the skis away and accept what mother nature has given us. fishing, boating, climbing, biking, running, all await.

Friday, April 9, 2010

week after blues?

two of our local snow gurus have posted a full incident report on the avalanche fatality on "little shields" on the GCAC website. no, neither of these guys are the USFS forecasters (i would not have used "gurus" then, now would I.) it is vivid and indeed sad in the account of what transpired. and most importantly, it showed the power of wind load, and small amounts of buried weak layers. it also,to my surprise talked about a significant amount of new snow in the area, that i was not aware had fallen. it pays to do your research of local weather obs, remote weather stations, and forecasts (when they are relevant. if they are not, then try calling anyone you know who might have a better idea). although the victim was very knowledgeable of the area he went to, the conditions were consideable above 6000'. this was an unfortunate event that almost seems like a timebomb waiting to go off. i least that is my feeling after reading the full report.

as for the rest of us continuing to have some fun.

well, the weather has not been great, cold, windy and trying to snow. maybe a few inches up on the hill, and in the mountains. those few inches can be trouble with the winds that have come with the snow.

the mountain biking is shaping up at our local trails. spencer trails are in good shape, but lower roads are muddy.

pig farms are also fine, with some mud on road sections, but mostly dry.

happy valley, though small, is dry throughout.

i am sure there is some fine riding out of kalispell, i just do not really know the trails down there.

work on the Trail Runs Thru It is set to begin as early as next week. significant progress should be made by early june. there will be some early june group rides and walks to show the progress. i believe in mid july there will be a grand opening.

okay, how about fishing. any of you fisherheads out there want to pitch in on what is going on? i bet there is something happening, on the warm sunny days.

and climbing. this is a great time to head up to eureka and Stone Hill.

so there is plenty to do. no reason to have the blues over the end of ski season. get out there for some other fun.

Monday, April 5, 2010


here is an adjustment to the uphill policy for after the season ends, which of course was yesterday.

There is a lot of confusion over the post-season policy. After we close April 4, uphill traffic should follow a designated route along Toni Matt between 8am and 5pm. However, before 8am and after 5pm, you can go wherever you want, although we don’t recommend it for safety reasons and you’re out there at your own risk.

so those of us who want to go after work, can. we are just on our own. as usual and previously accepted. hope to see some of you in the next few weeks.

Friday, April 2, 2010

avalanche fatality

i am not sure who this skier was. he was alone, which of course is an issue. but it is likely the mistakes he made in his snow analysis that led to the incident. anyone out there with more info, please pass it on. it sounds like we have some layered facets in the upper parts of the snowpack that are causing some trouble. not sure why this has not been reported by our friends on their avalanche advisory on the GCAC sight, nor why they are not going to do an incident report. a serious shortcoming, if you ask me.

The body of a Whitefish skier was found in Glacier National Park Thursday.

Authorities located the 37-year-old man’s body at the base of Mount Shields at the end of an avalanche slide Thursday afternoon.

Flathead County Sheriff Mike Meehan said authorities were unsure how long the skier had been missing or when the avalanche occurred.

Around 2 p.m., Glacier National Park rangers received a call from the victim’s friend, who found the man during a search of the area.

Rangers were on scene by 5:45 p.m. and confirmed the man’s death. Safety concerns stemming from the dangerous conditions caused a bit of a delay, according to Glacier National Park spokesman Wade Muehlhof.

Flathead County Sheriff’s Office dispatched Sgt. Ernie Freebury as coroner.

Muehlhof said there is no reason to believe the avalanche claimed any other victims. Authorities were still on scene, investigating, at press time.

The skier’s name has not been released. He was a part-time Whitefish resident.

Mount Shields is located on the southeast side of Glacier Park, a few miles from U.S. 2.

3 days left

yep, just 3 more days, then it is all man powered skiing, unless you rode trip somewhere which is always fun. for me, with a wedding and honeymoon to mexico, my ski days are numbered. but it has been fun, despite the lack of snow. what a solid el nino effect it has been.

the skiing continues to hold up alright. not amazing, but it really has only been BAD a few times.

for something to do besides ski some corn and drink some beer, there is a really fun hockey tournament this weekend, at the stumptown ice den (the rink, duh). it is called the "Monty" in memory of one of our favorites on the ice and beyond, who passed away a few years ago in a work accident. we all still miss him. so now we (we-the many that play hockey throughout the winter months, plus some) get together for a final tourny to honor him with an all-inclusive round of games. men, women, good, bad, young old, all get to play. it is so fun, i will not be making any turns until sunday afternoon. and if you are worried that hanging out at the rink might curtail your late season beer responsibilities, don't. hockey viewing is greatly enhanced by beer. hope to see you.