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Published on March 25th, 2014 | by Montana Mint Staff

Exploring Montana with LONU: Dancing the Bite Away

The team over at Land of No Use (LONU) includes some of Montana’s best wilderness explorers.  In a partnership with the Montana Mint, LONU shares  stories and pictures from their adventures and gives us a look at some of Montana’s least accessible land.

Dancing the Bite Away

It was time to break away from the office, and by “office,” I refer to a small dining table sitting in front of a fireplace, stacked with hard drives, disassembled tripods, and half full mugs of cold coffee.  Our crowdfunding campaign had been 130 percent funded, and the next order of business was skiing.

“The mountains are calling and I must go.” -John Muir

I met up with Juice, Meredith, and “Sunny,” the old 7.3L Powerstroke F250, proudly adorned with a remodeled 70’s era slide in camper, and we drove north.  The weather forecast had warned us about the cold week ahead, but the steep faces of the Great Bear Wilderness Area loomed in the distance.  We camped at a trailhead, intermittently switching on the electric space heater, careful to not exceed its limited battery life. Day one, we start settling into the routine that would carry us through the remainder of the trip:

-decide that its too cold to get up yet and roll around in sleeping bags for another half hour

-make coffee

-breakfast

-Juice reads out loud the negative double digit number off of the thermometer

-make more coffee

-take turns getting dressed and wiggling into ski boots, while budgeting space inside the camper so that no one has to leave the womb prematurely

-make hot tea for the road

-tour until someone starts getting frostbite, “The Bite”

-try to dance The Bite out of your toes while masking your face with your hands

-ski back down to the camper with as much foot stomping and face cupping as possible

-make Hot Tottys

-thaw

-consult topo maps

-dinner

-sleeping sacks

-repeat

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Give it up for that camper crew!

“Sunny” at base camp/ is base camp

Meredith strolling through a larch forest

The humidity of the Northwest adds an extra Bite-ability. It seems to allow the cold to soak in through your layers, grab hold of your bones, and slow your blood stream.  On the plus side, I had never seen this mountain range as clear as it was this particular week.  In the past, it seemed to be perpetually socked in; however, on this trip, it appeared that the biting cold spell had not only scared away the other skiers but also the seasonally characteristic fog.  On a clear day, the views of the surrounding mountains and into Glacier National Park are some of the best you’ll ever see.  With this in mind, our rewards for this trip were less about the terrain we skied and more about the terrain to be skied next time.

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After a few nights of the camper routine, we drove into Whitefish and stayed with Flasch, who would joined us for the remainder of the trip.  The next day, instead of driving into the mountains, we rode the train.  If trains are on time (which is rare), you can ride the Amtrak into the mountains in the morning, ski tour from the train stop into the Great Bear, and ride back into town that same night.  On the hour long train ride, a Twin Cities-bound passenger, having eyed the ski gear, exclaimed to the crew, “Oh my God! You’re gonna die out there!”  The crew nearly missed the stop, and as they ran to the exit with ski boots banging against the various compartment doors, the same man yelled after them, “Yeah, you better run or they’ll take you clear to the Dakotas!”

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Although the train traveling Minnesotan was wrong about our fate, we did manage to get quite cold that day and, as usual, spent most of it dancing The Bite away.

train story9

LONU is making a movie!  Check out their kickstarter video below (tons of great MT footage)…


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