And you know where you are as you ski the trails at The Moulton, just a few miles north of town. When the great local pioneers of cross country skiing laid out the trails at The Moulton, they named these trails and their dips & turns after local mines and mining features. Names such as Claimjumper, Sluice Box, and Nugget dot The Moulton trails.
Though not a huge area, The Moulton ski area has many kilometers of trails. The great local pioneers of cross country skiing were masters at enfolding the universe into a compact strand. And the trails are varied, with a nice mix of beginner, intermediate, and "most diffucult" terrain.
A brief digression about dead trees: all around Butte -- The Moulton included -- you will see a lot of reddish colored lodgepole pine trees. Hundreds of thousands of acres of trees are dead and dying from a severe mountain pine beetle outbreak. This outbreak is a "natural" and cyclic occurence in lodgepole pine stands, but it has been exacerbated by several factors: drought, mild winter temperatures, and uniformly aged stands of trees. All of these causes are largely anthropogenic. The first two -- drought and mild winters -- are linked with global warming. The last -- uniform stands -- is caused by widespread clear cutting that levelled the area forests in a short time.
There is little to be done about the dead trees and pine beetle outbreak. Logging can help to salvage some economic value from the dead and dying trees, but it will in no way lessen the outbreak. In terrain that is not too steep, too wet, or too remote, logging will not cause much harm either. Much of The Moulton -- especially the private lands -- is currently being clear cut, a logging method that removes virtually all trees from a given area. Trees that are not logged are creating a situation ripe for a large landscape wild fire. That too is part of the natural cycle for lodgepole pine forests. As the trees are cleared, the land will grow up in grass and then woody shrubs and aspen, and then probably revert to being a uniformly aged lodgepole pine forest. Eighty years from now, the beetles will probably once again wipe out the trees.
Back to the ski trails! I especially like the "upper" (north) section of trails. This area begins at Amalgamation Junction. Sometimes, once I get up to the junction, I'll ski the In Vein loop. As Rick Appleman likes to say, sometimes it is In Vein, and sometimes it is In Vain...