31 March 2008

Butte's Walking Trail: urban and industrial history

Historians of technology debate the issue of cultural preservation: should industrial landscapes be preserved, even if such preservation compromises environmental cleanup? EcoRover comes down solidly on the side of protecting human and environmental health as a priority over cultural resource preservation, but compromise is possible.

That's how it is on Butte, Montana's, uptown walking trail. Sometimes called the "Butte Hill Line," it's a "rails to trails" path that follows part of the old Butte, Anaconda, and Pacific rail road grade. The BA&P never got past Anaconda, the Pacific being another 500 or so miles west. But it ran a lot of ore from the Butte mines to the Anaconda smelter, much of as an electric railway from 1914 to 1967. The old line was heavily polluted by arsenic and heavy metals, but it was capped and made into an urban historical trail complete with interpretive signs.

Most of the time, if I'm going for a walk, I head out the backdoor and into the hills. But my wife Jan and her friends have taken to walking the uptown trail, and so there we were, with RTD, on a sunny but cool Sunday afternoon. We began at the Anselmo mine yard (est. 1887) on Excelsior Street a half mile or so below our house. The Anselmo "gallows frame" (aka the head frame used to lift ore and miners) stands tall above the landscape:

We walked uphill and east, passing the Missoula Gulch area. Arco-British Petroleum and EPA made a half-hearted effort to cover up this vast tailings wasteland about a decade ago. They used a thin cover of soil, planted exotic grasses, and called it good. While an improvement over the vast barren area that contributed a lot of dust on windy days, it's a piss-poor permanent remedy. Here's RTD next to one of the many "failed" spots on the cover up, where acid and metals-laden tailings have burned their way back to the surface:

The trail passes through the funky neighborhoods of uptown Butte, and under Montana Street:

And Main Street:

One can imagine what it was like to live here a century ago in the "glory days" of mining with its filthy air, barren landscape, and dangerous working conditions. Today, we can safely romanticize the era of Industrial America. And in this post-industrial age Butte is groping along into the future much like other preterit towns such as Bradford, Pennsylvania, or Troy, New York. Nice views, even if you can't eat the scenery:

Neighborhood along the trail with the Original gallows frame in the left background:

View up the hill to the Mt Con gallows with the Butte motto, "Mile High, Mile Deep" (and an incoming plane in the right background):

And the end of the line with the Kelley gallows (est. 1947, the junior of the Butte underground mine family) looming in the background and the East Ridge (of the Continental Divide) behind all:

We turned around and headed back to the Anselmo and home. It was a nice walk, and I was heartened to see another six or eight walkers out and about on this chill day. Everyone, I think, had at least one dog with them. I don't think it's required that you own a dog to live in Butte, but I do think you need to own at least one in order to buy a house here!


Butte, Montana: along the Continental Divide at the headwaters of America's largest Superfund site.

The Moulton Journal: The Snow Goes on Forever (and the skiing never ends)

A few weeks ago, I built a new rack to facilitate storing my skis between the floor joists in the basement. The weather was warming, snow had receded from our front yard and the fields around the house, and it looked as if trail skiing at The Moulton was about finished: Wrong: since that time, we've barely had a day over 30 deg F, and we've gotten a little fresh snow every few days. Skiing has been fantastic--thanks in part to Cam Carstarphen filling in for Paul Sawyer and grooming the trails last week. Thanks Cam!

Morning temps have been running from about 8 to 20 deg F. A couple of mornings the Extra Blue Swix was a little slow, especially for combi-skiing (there's nothing like going into a skate and having your ski jolt to a halt), but I haven't messed with it. And, despite the frequent snow, we've had typical Butte sunshine most days. This time of year, even with sub-freezing air temperatures, the sun makes you feel about 20 deg warmer. The pole-line and meadows are all good skiing, no need to feel confined to trails.

Despite the prolonged winter, the critters have no delusions about it being spring. The "bull" mice are out and about a lot at night, making long (200 yards or more) treks across the crusted snow in search of mates. This one must have caught a whiff of something good -- perhaps a berry or seed in the snow -- and made a quick detour:

And where there be active mice, there be foxes hunting mice. This one paused at the edge of a clearing, perhaps to scent the air for mice or assess the area for other predators:

Before continuing on his way, cruising over the crusted snow, toes spread apart to act like snowshoes, covering lots of ground in search of a few mice:

Back in Pennsylvania, about this time of year, in the dead of night, we would sometimes hear long, caterwauling wails. They'd damned straight make your hair stand on end. Legend was, among those who didn't know better, that there were bobcats or even catamounts still roaming the tamed Allegheny ridges. So what fierce jabberwocky made these horrible, screeching cries?

Breeding porcupines. Like many other critters, they roam in search of a mate and want to get busy. I'm not sure why all the screaming, though: either porky sex is totally fawesome, or there's those sharp quills in sensitive places! You can recognize porky tracks by their waddling and meandering gait:

By the way, friends don't let friends kill porcupines. Though they can cause the occasional stressful moment (and sore nose) for a dog or horse, what does it say about the human ability to get along with and tolerate the natural world, if we go about killing these most gentle of creatures?

On the way home, it was good to catch a glimpse of the calf moose, browsing in the aspens. When looking into brush or dense woods, focus beyond the screen of dense growth nearest you. By looking "through" instead of "at," you learn to see beyond the screen. Lots of times, you will see isolated parts of an animal -- perhaps a nibbling nose or twitching ear or moving leg -- before the Gestalt comes together and you see the whole:

28 March 2008

Fear of Nature: the big, bad grizzly bear

OK, so it's late winter (seasons don't run according to the calendar here at 6,000 feet in the northern Rockies) and I've been spending too much time indulging in fantasy emails with friends. No, I'm not talking about cybersex, but rather that other form of ultimate pornography (for some outdoorsmen & women): bear attacks.

It's a fun topic, and even a bit relevant if you live here and recreate in grizzly country. While black bear attacks also occur, there's no comparison between a black bear and a grizzly when it comes to size, claw length, power, or irascibility. Some evolutionary behaviorists believe grizzly are so cranky, short-fused, and offensive with perceived threats because of their co-evolution with the short faced bear. At twice the size, speed, and (one can presume) aggresiveness, short faced bears probably preyed on grizzly cubs, and only the most counter-agressive grizzly sows could protect their progeny.

I've had a number of friends over the years who would not fish certain places along rivers because of their fear of rattlesnakes. And recently I've been in disussions with another friend about his fear of bears. While I cannot understand such fear and haven't experienced anything like it since my first nights sleeping out alone at the age of about ten, I try to be sympathetic. My bear-phobic friend does not camp in certain places because a grizzly or black bear (!) might attack him in his sleep, and he is looking to buy a Model 29 Smith & Wesson revolver or some other 44 magnum pistol for "protection."

Now, having once owned a Remington Model 788 in 44 magnum and having been thoroughly UNimpressed with its ability to drop a whitetail deer in its tracks (this might have been a bullet problem), it's hard for me to have much faith in the infamous 44 mag for protection against big, tough, mean bears. Add to this stories like Bozeman author Scot McMillion's account in his Mark of the Grizzly: a guy was mauled after shooting a grizz twice with his 44 mag pistol (after his 30-06 autoloader rifle jammed!). Hmm... you get the idea.

So what's a poor body to do?

First of all, lose your fear. Even for folks who experience a hundred days or more a year in Montana's backcountry, encounters with aggressive grizzlies are rare. Your odds are much worse of being killed in a car wreck on your way to and from grizz country.* Get out there, and enjoy the natural world for all it has to offer us.

Seondly, in bear country, carry pepper spray and know how to use it. Research by grizz fanatic Dr. Stephen Herrero and many others finds that pepper spray is far superior to bullets in prevening or halting a bear attack. No, it's not foolproof, and pepper spray is no substitute for common sense. Be alert when you are in the backcountry, don't leave the pic-a-nic basket on the table, and don't smear yourself with bacon grease before going to sleep at night.

* Note: I've often wondered if the fear some people have of "nature" stems from the fear = hatred equation for things that are beyond their control. To love nature, and to immerse yourself in it, is to give yourself over to something larger than yourself. Nature is not a video game or well managed farm: you cannot control whether or not it rains, how cold it will be at night, how well the fish are biting, or (remote possibility) whether the next grizzly sow you bump into will be looking for an excuse to lay down some whup-ass on a thin skinned, fragile primate. Well, hell: one could do worse in life than ending up in a grizzly bear turd.


More info:

Short faced bear http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arctodus_simus

Stephen Herrero, Bear Attacks (Lyons Press, 2002).

Dave Smith, Backcountry Bear Basics (The Mountaineers Books, 2006)

Scott McMillion, Mark of the Grizzly (Falcon Press, 1998).

27 March 2008

Montana Arctic Grayling Recovery Program: Annual Meeting

On Tuesday, 18 March 2008, I squeezed into into a room full of folks at the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks headquarters in Bozeman for the annual meeting of the Grayling Restoration Workgroup. [For three substantial highlights of this meeting, scroll down to the bold headings below.]

Also know as the "annual grayling meeting and sandwich eating club," the recovery program began in 1987 as a response to the decline of fluvial Arctic grayling in the Big Hole River. Though technically a 501(c)3 organization coordinated by Buddy Drake, the group serves to coordinate the efforts of Montana FWP and the US Fish & Wildlife Service and to communicate these efforts to the wider environmental community.

I've been attending the annual meeting off and on since the late 1990s. For many years, it seemed that the agency biologists got together and did a lot of hand-wringing, but nothing much ever came out of it. Yes, there were helter-skelter activities such as trying to reintroduce hatchery grayling into degraded, warm, and dewatered rivers such as the Beaverhead and Jefferson--but most of the agency administrators seemed to be there just for the free sandwiches. It took until 2002 for the group to even begin to address degraded habitat in the upper Big Hole--something that everyone knew was a problem at least by the early 1990s.

Things have changed, somewhat. The meeting consists of a lot more presentations (22 in 8 hours!) and a lot less discussion. While it is good that a broader range of folks -- presenters included representatives from The Nature Conservancy and NRCS -- make presentations (it used to be just agency biologists), letting the agenda get swamped by too many low-content presentations means that substantial discussion cannot occur. For example, various National Park Service folks made three interminable presentations about a potential grayling restoration project in Yellowstone; these could easily have been condensed into a single 10 minute presentation. Still, I can understand why NPS was given such a broad slot, since until now the Park has been opposed to native fish restoration.

For the most part, the meeting was full of bad news: grayling continue to decline in the Big Hole River watershed. Although a lot of work is going into the Conservation Candidate Agreements with Assurances (CCAAs), no postive population response is predicted until years 2011-2012. With upper river flows at or above minimal targets needed for graylng sustainability just 15% or so of the time in summer and fall, I wouldn't be too optimistic about grayling populations three or four years from now.

There were three presentations of special interest:

One: Habitat Restoration Does Not Help Fish When There is No Water in the Restored Stream
Yep, we're talking about the Big Hole Watershed Committee's highly touted "Rock Creek Reconnection Project." The WC invested about $100,000 on stream restoration, willow planting, and riparian fencing (not to mention overhead and indirects)--with much of the funding coming from the Orvis Company and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. How sad, to see a photograph of a dry streambed for this "investment." This is a problem that critics of the WC have pointed out time and time again: unless and until the committee is able to assure minimal instream flows, grayling will continue to decline. Solution: quit pretending ranchers are going to voluntarily give up enough water, and either go after it legally (Public Trust Doctrine) or start leasing it.

Two: There is a Small but Hopeful Sign that Grayling are Colonizing the Upper Ruby River Watershed
The use of Remote Site Incubators to hatch grayling eggs on-site in the Upper Ruby seems to be panning out. Last year, a number of 2+ year old Arctic grayling turned up in stream and angler creel surveys. The big test: these fish should spawn this spring. Note that the eggs came from Big Hole grayling broodstock that are held in the Axoltl Lakes and Ted Turner rearing ponds, so if there has not been too much genetic drift or bottlenecking, then this could be a healthy future population.

Three: The US Fish & Wildlife Decision Not to List Big Hole Grayling was Stupid and Wrong
Yeah, we all knew this was true. But just the same, it feels good to be vindicated once in awhile. Soon-to-be published genetic data indicates that Big Hole River grayling are genetically distinct from fluvial populations in Canada and lake dwelling/adfluvial populations in Montana. These results clearly contravene the recent US FWS service decision to revoke Distinct Population Segment status for Big Hole grayling.

Well, the sandwiches were tasty.

26 March 2008

Chad Okrusch, "Wisdom Road:" A Butte Singer and Songwriter's New Album

Some of you already know Chad Okrusch's music from his performances at Butte's Venus Rising Cafe (see http://www.bsbarts.org/bsb_pages/home/venus/venus.html) and at various benefits such as Mariah's Challenge (see http://www.mariahschallenge.com/main.html?src=%2F).

Good news: Chad will soon be debuting an album, "Wisdom Road." Here's a pic of Chad and his daughter Kaitlyn (and dog Dewey) on a backpacking trip a few years ago:

As Chad's friend and colleague, I scored an advance copy. Good stuff. Popular local favorites such as "Opportunity Blues" and "St Patrick's Day at the M & M" will please Chad's traditional fans. EcoRover's personal favorite, "Big Hole River," is the quintessential river song. And new tunes such as "The Angel Mariah" will bring new fans and -- old fans or new -- make them all weep.

Want to know more or listen to a cut from the new album? Check out Chad's music site at http://www.myspace.com/okrusch. [Replaced by http://www.chadokrusch.com . - pm 08.April2008]

Happy listening, and see at you the premiere for "Wisdom Road."

25 March 2008

Promoting Rationality: The Montana Tech Regional Science Fair

Like any science & technology studies scholar, I can be very critical of positivism--defined as blind faith in the Truth and progress of science. Still, I support science as a form of rationality that gives us some understanding about the nature of nature. Without that sort of knowledge, it's difficult to set policy regarding issues such as global warming. Just ask the Bush administration, whose anti-science, conservative, radical-right wing dogmatism has been such a disaster for the environment.

As a way of promoting rationality, I act as "Head Judge" for the senior (9th through 12th grade) science fair hosted each year by the Technical Outreach program at Montana Tech.

This year, the senior fair hosted 68 students from 9 high schools. Senior fair students won 22 medals and 68 special awards. Grand award winners receive an all expense paid trip to compete at the International Science Fair in Atlanta, Georgia.

It takes a village of volunteers. Here is some of the staff at the check-in table:

And here are some students set up and ready to go with their projects:

In the first round, individual judges interview each student. Judges then discuss their rankings and award White, Red, and Blue Ribbons. Everyone receives a T-shirt:

The Blue Ribbon winners go on to second round, where teams of judges interview each student, discuss their rankings, and award Bronze, Silver, and Gold Medals. Here's a team of second round judges at work:

In the third and final round, a team of judges deliberates which students receive the top awards. It's a difficult process, trying to decide the relative quality of very diverse projects in fields such as Computer Science, Biochemistry, Engineering, and Human Behavior. Arguments for and against various projects can be animated and even heated. Here are the judges hard at work in those final moments:

And the Grand Award winners are:
- Amanda Lockwood from Hellgate High School for her project, Molecular Analysis of Heme Uptake Promoter Region of Bartonella Quintana;
- Morielle Stroethoff from Hellgate High School for her project, The Application of the Ranque-Hilsch Vortex Tube in the Separation of Fluids; and
- The team from Hellgate High School of Matt Parker and Max Egenhoff for their project, A GIS Analyses of Land Use in Comparison to the Quantity of Baling Twine in Osprey Nests

Congratulations to the students, teachers, parents, and mentors that make science fair happen. In a nation where many citizens believe the world was created just a few thousand years ago and that global warming is a leftist conspiracy, we need more people who base their beliefs on reason instead of faith.

Clark Fork Superfund: If You Fail to Plan, You Plan to Fail?

[This blog entry is a revised version of a commentary that originally aired on KUFM/Montana Public Radio on behalf of the Clark Fork River Technical Assistance Committee.]

Springtime in the Rockies. Another St Paddy’s Day in Butte is behind us. Butte’s Silver Bow Creek is rising as snow pack melts under the warm afternoon sun. Normally, we like to see those high spring flows. They are part of a natural cycle for our streams, and beneficial effects range from creating spawning habitat for trout to stimulating cottonwood seed germination.

In the case of Silver Bow Creek, spring run-off is not so good. Recall that Montana’s Natural Resource Damage Program (through the Department of Environmental Quality or DEQ) is spending about three million dollars per mile to cleanup and restore 24 miles of Silver Bow Creek. Much of this money is for dredging and removing stream sediments high in toxic heavy metals. You know, from the days when the Anaconda Copper Mining Company used the environment as a free garbage dump.

Recently released data show that Silver Bow Creek is being recontaminated—probably by run-off from the Butte hill. It’s not that spring run-off is to blame, exactly. Rather, it is Arco-British Petroleum and the Environmental Protection Agency.

It’s a serious problem. Copper is a good proxy for all of the other heavy metals and arsenic that are part of this recontamination problem. According to EPA, the maximum “safe” ecotoxicity level for copper in stream sediments is 34 milligrams per kilogram. The copper levels of recently deposited sediments in Silver Bow Creek are running ten to thirty times the safe level.

Joel Chavez, the Superfund Project Manager for DEQ, explained to me that this is not necessarily as bad as it looks. The arsenic, copper, and other heavy metals are concentrated in the fines (very small diameter) portion of the creek sediments, and the fines make up a relatively small overall proportion of the total sediments. Therefore, the overall proportion of contamination is fairly low.

Still, copper is toxic to most aquatic life. Recontamination -- especially if it continues in a chronic manner -- could prevent trout from recolonizing the creek and impair the kinds of critters that trout eat. Re-establishing trout populations is a major goal for the restoration of Silver Bow Creek. Recontamination might mean failure for remedy and restoration.

This single instance of recontamination is one sign of a broader failure with two main parts: one is a fundamental problem with the upper Silver Bow Creek and Butte hill remedy; and the other is a fundamental problem with public communication and involvement.

Over the past decade or so, EPA assured us that recontamination would not occur. Problem is, instead of cleanup, EPA prefers long-term institutional controls—complex engineering solutions such as settling ponds and trenches to intercept and reroute toxic runoff. While this sort of cover-up is cheaper for Arco-British Petroleum, it doesn’t work.

What have the EPA, Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality, and Montana’s Natural Resource Damage Program to say about the recontamination of Silver Bow Creek? Nothing. That’s right: no public meeting, no nothing. Silver Bow Creek was cleaned up with public money. We expect government to use our money responsibly. That responsibility includes involving the public in planning and notifying us when things go wrong.

The EPA, of course, ignored public opinion regarding remedy for the Butte hill when it came to issues such as removing the Parrot Tailings.

Given the evidence that Silver Bow Creek is being recontaminated, Warm Springs Ponds are the safety net that protects the Clark Fork River. They are located at the lower end of Silver Bow Creek, just before it joins Warm Springs Creeks and other tributaries to form the Clark Fork River. The ponds are a popular recreational area for anglers, bird watchers, bikers, hunters, and waterfowl dog trainers.

CFRTAC has been working with the state to improve management at the ponds. There is serious neglect: toilets are a wreck, personnel have been cut, trash cans overflow, and facilities such as boat ramps and picnic tables are in disrepair. Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks has incorporated many of CFRTAC’s concerns into a proposal for funding from the Natural Resource Damage Program (NRDP).

As an outcome of its recent 168 million dollar settlement with Arco-British Petroleum, the Natural Resource Damage Program has released plans for the Butte hill and Clark Fork River.

The Butte plan proposes removing the Parrott and Metro Storm Drain tailings at a cost of about 26 million dollars. EPA should have required this under remedy, and it will help insure the long-term environmental health of the watershed.

Montana will also be the lead agency for the 104 million dollar Clark Fork River remedy, thus enabling it to integrate remedy and restoration.

Despite this good news, CFRTAC’s overarching concern remains: there is no comprehensive restoration plan for the Upper Clark Fork River Basin. The state needs to involve the public in developing a plan that identifies and prioritizes restoration needs as a guide for decisions about which projects get funded. Carol Fox, director of the NRDP, assures me that there is a process underway to develop such a plan.

For more news about the recent NRD settlement and related Superfund issues, please check out CFRTAC’s website at hyperlink www.cfrtac.org.

From Butte to Missoula, we deserve a clean, healthy, and accessible Clark Fork River. It’s your river. Wade in, and help make the future.

24 March 2008

Spring Roadtrip: Makoshika State Park

Dave Carter and I were itching for a spring break getaway. No, we're not talking Vegas or Ft Lauderdale, but rather some good hiking and camping spot with weather a bit warmer than Butte's. We threw a dart at a map of Montana and decided on Makoshika State Park--a mere 450 miles or so (six hours for slow drivers like us)to the east near Glendive. At an elevation of just 2,000 feet or so (compared with Butte's 6,000 feet), we hoped for warmer weather.

Makoshika, a Lakota Sioux word for "land of bad spirits." This usually translates simply to "badlands" in English. The weather was not warmer than Butte and less sunny, though we did miss the spring blizzard that swept through our hometown on the divide. The campites are crowded close together, but that mattered little since we saw only two other camping parties in three nights:

The landscape is spectacular, much like the badlands of the Dakotas or Utah:

At the macro level there are columns:

Castle domes:

And other formations created by the forces of erosion on strata of various durability with caprock protecting softer strata:

At the micro level there are iron nodules that form within sandstone:

"Slickens" formed by the erosion and water-sorting/deposition of fine sediments:

And other weird formations such as this natural bridge:

Makoshika and the Glendive area are also rich in fossils, with more than ten species of saurians from the Cretaceous Period c. 65 million years ago, including Triceratops and Tyrannosaurus Rex, as well as Miocence to late Pleistocene finds such as mammoths. Trails in the park will lead you to well interpreted sites such as the "Hadrosaur (duck billed dinosaur) Vertebrae Site:"

Off trail hiking is encouragaged, and by following the coulees you will come upon fossils like this plant assemblage:

And rocks that ought to be fossils even if they aren't:

Bring your rifles and pistols, should you wish. This state park has a premier shooting range (only in Montana!).

On the drive home, we stopped at Forsyth to see the Rosebud County Courthouse. Designed by architects Link and Haire along Neoclassical lines, it was built c. 1913 at a cost of less than $200,000:

It proved to be a good stop. We got that pesky leaking trailer tire fixed at Forsyth Tire Repair (quick service, good work). Better yet, we met "Iron Mike." He trucks his portable barbecue around, and we were lucky to find him hanging out the "open" sing in a parking lot. Best BBQ sandwich this side of Texas.


For more information:

Bob Biek, "Concretions and Nodules in North Dakota" (2002) at https://www.dmr.nd.gov/ndgs/ndnotes/concretions/concretions.asp.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks site for Makoshika at http://fwp.mt.gov/lands/site_283890.aspx.

Spring Hike: Along the Big Hole River

Daughter Emily Munday was home from Boston for spring break a week or so ago, and her goals for the week included a hike (in addition to a ski). Butte and its immediate environs still had a lot of snow. After a leisurely breaksfast of elk sausage and pancakes, we loaded into the Toy p.up and set off for the desert ridges along the Big Hole River 25 miles south of Butte.

On the way, we pulled over on I-90 to check out a wreck. Apparently, the truck driver did not see the train (!!!) and ran into it:

The hills along the Big Hole are full of mule deer. It's not unusual to see 100 or more in a half day's hike. Here's Emily watching a herd through the spotting scope:

And a pic through the scope that she insisted on taking, despite my sage advice that "It won't work." Geez I'm glad to have a daughter and students who regularly prove me wrong:

RTD likes watching deer too:

Almost as much as she enjoys chewing on deer bones:

Watch where you sit, though, this place is full of pricklypear cactus (as I can attest having sat down on a few while settling in for a shot at deer or antelope):

Those spines are sharp enough to skewer a fresh falling deer turd:

Rugged country, and a great place for a spring hike:

No wonder Butte, Montana, is one of the top rated communities in America for easy access to outdoor activity.

12 March 2008

The Moulton Journal: Spring Break for Emily

It feels like springtime in Butte: cold mornings, warm afternoons, bright clear blue skies. We did pick up some snow last week and Paul groomed last Friday before heading off for a downhill ski vacation/family reunion. Emily is home from Boston for spring break, so RTD & I have a skiing buddy again.

The moose are feeding early:

And by mid-morning they seek cool shade:

The moose, too, are anxious for spring. As Emily and I left Walkerville for a morning ski, we saw a yearling moose skylined in a fenced mine reclamation area behind the houses. Next day, the Montana Standard newspaper printed this photo of a cow and calf on a stroll through a nearby uptown neighborhood:

It was a cold morning. About 14 deg F when we left the house in the predawn, and colder at Moulton. Though the trails were a little icy (especially on those steeper, west or south facing slopes on the Sluicebox trail), we had a good "combi" ski, and skated much of time:

Poor old RTD: just yesterday it seems, RTD (aka "the Fasty Pasty") zoomed ahead on those downhills, and raced alongside on the steepest of slopes. She still runs, but not so fast. Through dogs, we learn to appreciate the trajectory of our own lives, and our aged future. Here's RTD, doing her best to keep up with Emily on the road back down to the parking lot:

And what's prettier than Emily's rosy cheeks after a fast ski on a brisk morning?:

Maybe some afternoon we'll head to the Jefferson River and catch a trout for the grill ("hook 'em & cook 'em," as opposed to "catch & release"). It's that time of year.


The Moulton: Montana's Finest Cross Country Skiing Area

Montana Standard photo: http://www.mtstandard.com/articles/2008/03/11/butte/hjjbjgiijjebji.txt