Hiking Southwest Montana

Suddenly it's October. Leaves flame into golds and reds. Clouds grey and heavy hug the Bridger and Gallatin mountains. I unpack bulky sweaters and my down jacket from a box, brushing off the dust. Every year it is this way: the end of summer feeling abrupt, the long days shortening, cold rain sweeping through the valley. 

Then I see that the last time I wrote on this journal was five months ago now. Five months. I may be the worst blogger ever - though I've never claimed this cyber niche to be a blog. No, it's an online journal, I stress, in hopes that explains the expanses of silence. Yet, in actuality, there's a pattern I see with the entries: I post more often when I travel.

This is for obvious reasons. Like, more time for creative pursuits that don't pay, and more stimulus from new environments. I write for free, purely inspired to create, when I'm on vacation, away from home. 

Yet there's the thing - this journal partly reflects a disposition towards home that slowly formed the last two years since moving back to Bozeman. Perhaps like many others, I've in some ways lost the sheer amazement for my home that I feel when I travel elsewhere.

Sensing this dulling of appreciation for where I live, I decided this summer to try and act more of a tourist in my homeland. I hiked peaks I hadn't since being a cookie-slinging girl scout. I climbed new routes, picked up trail running again, backpacked into the Beartooths - a mountain range that had intimidated me for years.

This is all to say, I sought to see Bozeman and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem with eyes anew. And although this entry may be a month or two late, I still want to say: thank you, Montana. May I never take for granted this place I call home.

Lower Aero Lake

Five Favorite Hikes Around Bozeman:

1. Middle Cottonwood Trail to Saddle Mountain in the Bridgers (west side): about 5 miles to the top; moderate.

2.  Palisade Falls in Hyalite: 2 miles round trip; very easy, (and very busy, so try to go on a weekday). 

Mount Blackmore

3. Sheep Lake in Henry's Lake Mountains: about 5.5 miles to the lake; moderate to slightly difficult. 

4. Mount Blackmore in Hyalite: about 5 miles to the top; slightly difficult. 

5. Lower Aero Lake in the Beartooths: 11.5 miles to the lake; difficult. 

PHOTOS FROM THESE HIKES: