Looking for Turns in Western Montana

Exploratory snowboarding has both an upside and a downside. The upside is that it can introduce you to new people, places, and experiences. The downside is that you might not do as much snowboarding as you poke around the mountains looking for stuff to ride.

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Such was the case on the second leg of our Montana adventure (see the first here), as we searched the western border of the state for viable snow to ride in unseasonably low tide conditions. Joined by Aaron and Jason Robinson, Shane Stalling, Karl Berdimurat, and photog Jeff Hawe, our group acquired a slingshot and pellet guns, a bottle of Old Crow, and many conversations about our snow machines during our travels in the western Rockies. From Jackson Hot Springs, to Wisdom, Lost Trail, Lolo and beyond, we scoured the seemingly barren landscape and came up with something to ride. A pillow stack here, a fence hop there, and a few rocky entrances complemented rained out crust, backcountry slush, and backwoods characters (e.g. Dwayne, who drove an 83 Datsun, lived in a trailer and kept saying he wanted to “smoke some” at Lolo Hot Springs).

It may not have been the typical powder tour, but the reward of riding new terrain and meeting a range of characters on the road laid to rest any pre-trip angst about the lack of pillows for days–although we did find a few stacks and plenty of reason to come back for more.

Thanks go out to Mike Harrelson at Tourism Montana, the kind people at Jackson Hot Springs and Lolo Hot Springs (bottomless pitchers are always appreciated), Judy Grasser at Lost Trail, Pam Robinson for an epic pasta dinner and dessert for the train ride home, Amtrak, and Lisa Jones with Whitefish CVB for their special breed of Montana hospitality. Look for more in an upcoming issue of frequency TSJ.

All photos copyright Jeff Hawe, 2010.


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