Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Road Trip & Hike Along the Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway

Today, the trail kicked my butt. It threw me against the ropes and then clothes-lined me, and I ended up in a puddle.

Okay, so it wasn't that dramatic, but I really did pooh out on the hike today, which was up in the Pioneer Mountains on a straight-up forever trail called Bobcat Lake. After climbing steadily through lodgepole pine forest and slippery snow-covered rocks for over an hour, Kate and I turned back. (She could've kept going, but I was pooped.) So, we only ended up being out for a little over two hours, our shortest hike yet. And we saw elk tracks, but no elk. However, the sky was cloudless and azure, and we did get to drive out along the Big Hole River again, which is gorgeous, and then up the long. lovely Wise River valley to the Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway. We even saw some juvenile golden eagles feasting on roadkill along the way... pretty darn cool. (And, we caught a glimpse of a herd of antelope in the hills along Hwy 15, south of Butte.)

Did have an interesting time on a spur of the moment trip to Helena yesterday. In a Murdoch's store (ranch goods and wear) I heard a father and his young son arguing over a belt the boy wanted. (Keep in mind the kid was 7 years old at most.) The kid wanted what the father considered to be a "girly" belt, and refused to buy it for him. So the boy moped for a bit, and I paid them little attention. Then, as they were leaving the store, the father turned to the boy and said, "Now remember what I told you, son: cowboys lead, cowgirls follow." And as I turned in their direction, mouth agape, the boy repeated his father's words like a mantra all the way out the door.

As much as I understand a dad not wanting his son to wear sparkly belts, that pretty much stunk. All I could think was, way to teach your son about gender roles, big man. And even though I really love Montana, I've seen quite a few things that speak to the complicated, full-on traditional roles of the sexes out here. Men are men, and women are cooks and mothers. And you better not go beyond your father's saying (think Robert Frost). As for me, I have yet to see a Miss Kitty running her own dance hall, but I know she must be out there.

Tomorrow will be better: Kate and I have managed to find a ranch who will let us ride their horses. We're headed up to Wolf Creek, which is northwest of Helena, to a ranch called the Rocking Z. Should be fun.

Enjoy the photos from the day, and sleep well.

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