Rocky Mountain High Part 2: Bozeman, Montana

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Drinking Horse Trail

The second part of our travels took us to Bozeman, Montana. We loved the low humidity and morning temperatures were glorious.

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Based on a recommendation, we stay at the Lewis & Clark Motel right on Main Street in Bozeman. It was being remodeled, but the rooms were comfortable, and we liked the location. We wished for more time to explore downtown but enjoyed visiting a couple of indie bookstores.  The Country Bookshelf was awesome. It was established in 1957 and was the type of store you could easily get lost in for hours. Vargo’s Jazz City and Books was also a fun store to visit. 

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Country Bookshelf

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I found a collection of short stories by Edward Abbey titled One Life at a Time, Please. The title alone is worth the book’s purchase price! 

IMG_4962rrBecca and I had a nice meal and made a souvenir of the glass coaster that included good advice for cowboys or anyone drinking from a creek.

We then enjoyed some Sweet Peaks Handcrafted Ice Cream before returning to the motel.

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I learned of the Drinking Horse Trail on the edge of Bozeman close to a fish hatchery. It climbed part of Drinking Horse Mountain and rewarded me with a view of downtown Bozeman and the surrounding countryside. 

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View of Bozeman from the Drinking Horse Trail

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Arrowleaf Balsamroot turning toward the sun 

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Arrowleaf Balsamroot were blooming, and temperatures rose quickly with the sun, but low humidity was a welcome feeling for this Arkansas hiker. I liked this trail so much I did it two mornings in a row rather than spending time driving to trails farther away. 

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First look at my new Four Wheel Pop-Up Camper

Part of the motivation for our out-west trip was to pick up a truck pop-up camper I’d ordered. By picking it up, we saved the delivery and installation charges. I also had the chance to see several other models of campers while waiting for the installation.

I was sure I’d like the Four Wheel Pop-Up Camper shell, but it exceeded my expectations and is getting frequent use. It’s easy to haul, lightweight, and perfectly functional without a lot of bells and whistles. Of course, you can fill it up with lots of extras, adding weight and cost, but I like the simple design of their shell model. 

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Four Wheel Truck Pop-Up Camper installation

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Steven Wilkerson with Four Wheel Pop-Up Campers after installation

We hated to leave Bozeman, but it was time to head toward the Rocky Mountain National Park. I’ll share that part of our trip in another post.

Beating the Heat in the Ozarks

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We needed an overnighter, and I wanted to give my Four Wheel Camper Raven Shell a trial run, so Hiker-dog and I headed to White Rock Mountain, the highest location close to home at 2,260 feet. I was encouraged to see the temperature reading on my dashboard go down from 90 to 82 during our drive up.

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When we arrived, we selected a site with the help of Jeff, one of the caretakers. He knew level would work best with the pop-up truck camper and was spot-on with site number 2.

IMG_5465rrAfter a quick camp set up, it was time to walk the loop trail as the sun went lower in the sky. We began by walking the eastern side, enjoying the shade and remembering earlier hikes when we first saw the stone well…or spring. Water was flowing several feet below.

I kept Hiker-dog on her leash the whole loop, and she handled it well though I noticed her looking longingly at movement she would have liked to pursue. 

Berries and blooms are benefits from warm weather hiking, but ticks are the downside. I picked some blackberries for snacks and then two ticks before they had time to attach to my legs.

Part of the reason for our hike was to give a new hiking stick some trail provenance before I passed it on to a friend for his years of service to our church. As part of his last sermon, Pastor Bob gave his hiking staff on to our new pastor as a symbol of the confidence he had in the younger pastor’s ability. His kind gesture impressed me, but I thought he needed a new staff, so I contacted Mike Parks, an excellent carver and musician and asked him to do a stick for me. After receiving the new staff, Pastor Bob named it Elijah.

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Elijah’s first hike

It was a treat to sleep in the camper as the evening temperature came down to the upper 60s. The roof fan created a nice draft through the windows, and I realized this was going to be a useful rig in any but the hottest season. Hiker-dog slept in her crate next to the back of the truck and didn’t make a sound all night (one of her many good qualities). 

I woke to the sound of birdsongs. I realized the sun was coming up and sprang out of the camper and headed to the eastern side of the mountain with Hiker-dog. Breakfast would have to wait. We caught some views of sunrise and walked the trail for our morning exercise.

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IMG_5538rrThe morning light made Hiker-dog glow in the reddish morning sun as we took in the views from a shelter on the east side of the mountain. She was one happy dog, and so was I!

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I love backpacking, but on a trip where pack weight isn’t a concern, eggs and bacon are hard to beat. After breakfast with the morning’s beauty still fresh in our minds, we headed back home, rejuvenated by our quick summer camping trip.

Other favorites for summer hiking:
Mount Magazine, the high point of Arkansas at 2,753 feet.
Go west and get higher! New Mexico is a favorite state because it’s a shorter drive but any of the western states have jewels to explore during the summer. Even valley camping in New Mexico can easily be in the range of 5,000 feet and the dry air cools down quickly after sunset.

Please share your favorite summer backpacking, camping, or hiking locations. I’m always open to more options this time of year.