Big Sky, Montana
Big Sky, Montana.
My last stop in this great state and my second week on the trip.
At that point in the trip, I was fully acclimated to the heat and smoke. I was also pretty much ready to live on the road till my departure from the US. However, I couldn’t bring myself to do that. I was missing Stumptown a lot.
It might not surprise you to read that Montana is a massive state. The feeling of its grand status can be seen everywhere, in its mountains, steps, valleys, and basins. Yet, Montana made me feel small, just a teeny-tiny thing floating around with my jaws dropped in awe of the views around me.
I love that feeling.
I love the reminder that I am not but a link in the long chain of nature. I find that humbling and inspiring.
We are the land
Glaciers, Whitefish, and Missoula, have been nothing short of eye-opening and amazing. However, after so many great days on the bike, I figured I needed a rest day since I also had a long drive ahead to my camping spot west of Yellowstone.
Big Sky was the obvious choice here. It was on the way to Yellowstone, and I had never been there before.
A quick 6-mile hike wouldn’t be too bad to move the legs a bit, especially after a long drive.
Whenever I feel stiffness in my joints, I remember what Ish (from Pedal Pt) always tells me.
Motion is lotion.
The drive from Missoula to Big Sky was wild. I’m a nerd when it comes to changes in topography around me on a drive; I can’t help it. But, there was so much to see.
Can I admit something to y’all over here…?
I was hesitant about typing this, but a few tacos and a crunchwrap supreme from Taco Bell just hit different on those trips.
Anywho, the road up the Gallatin Canyon Basin and into town is steep and windy. Somehow no matter how close you get to Lone Peak (the highest point in Big Sky), everything still seems so grand. I just felt drawn to it, like I needed to walk the land for a while. Gladly that was already in the cards for that day.
I got hungry and decided to check out the town area of Big Sky, and I have to say, I felt pretty much out of place and very uncomfortable. Not trying to be a Negative Nancy or anything, but I generally don’t like hanging out around very posh areas and people.
It's not my cup of tea.
I mean, what was I expecting from Big Sky Montana!
My truck and I stood out amongst the rest of the visitors in their latest Lexus, Tesla, and Merc cars. Hell, even teenagers were driving around in a model of the year Land Cruisers.
I got myself some lunch from the local Deli and continued upwards, headed towards Beehive Basin. One of the best hikes in the area, known for the wide variety of flowers covering the Basin.
Mind you, I didn’t get to see much of those flowers since I got there in late July, and the summer of 2021 was abnormally hot.
It was still a great place to be, regardless of the conditions.
Beehive trailhead is higher in elevation, offering an escape from the sweltering heat of the Basin. And visitors. I was told by a local sports store that the Beehive trail offers some of the best views of the Gallatin Canyon Basin and Lone Peak. The trail is also a great place for wildlife viewing, and as a matter of fact, I may have seen a brown bear chilling by a creek, but I can’t recall for sure.
I find comfort and peace in alpine forests and heights. I could walk for hours on end, poking around trees, examining the bark, crushing the sap between my fingers, and smelling the piney goodness. As well as sample the different essence that each pine tree holds in its needles.
I picked up that habit as soon as I moved to Oregon years back. I was drawn to the smell of the forest. Especially pine trees. And I couldn’t help myself not to connect with the wilderness that way.
Next time you go on a hike, I encourage you to sample pine needles from various trees in different elevations and regions. You’d be surprised by what you will find. Every tree has its own smell (character?) The wide array of scents I experienced over the years is mind-blowing.
This is a great way to really get in touch with nature.
Touch, feel, and smell the forest.
That might make you understand who you are and where you belong.
Beehive Basin boasts some of the best views, wilderness, and solitude.
I found that and more.
Although I am happiest when I’m in the saddle, especially those long days, whenever I can, I occasionally escape reality on foot, find a good rock, felled tree, or a bench to sit on, and just zone out. I think about nothing if my mind lets me anyway.
I know I referenced the “Grandness” of Montana a lot. But you can really feel and see it. I got smaller and smaller with every step closer to the crown of the Basin. Then, finally, reaching the old growth and exposed stone, aiming for the sky.
The sound of the wind rushing between the leaves, birds chirping, and footsteps on the trail were all I needed that day. So, after a cup of coffee back at the trailhead, I packed up and headed toward the campsite.
Yet another peaceful evening on the road that I will cherish forever.
With the sun slowly sinking below the horizon, I continued reading the book Chris gave me (A Dog in a Hat).
A feeling of solitude that I longed for and learned to love.