When It’s Time to Get Out of Town… Go
There is never a right or wrong time to hit the road and explore country you’ve never seen. Go experience the unexpected. Find out if you are prepared or not and deal with it. See what happens without everything planned in advance and go with the flow.
We recently put together a quick road trip without a plan – only a destination. For years I had heard about the Crazy Mountains in Montana and the urge to get up there just wouldn’t leave me be until one day it burst out as a “let’s go up there and see what we see” statement. It was late October. There was snow in the high peaks around home. The storm track had sent even more storms north into Montana. This wasn’t the perfect time of year to head up there – so we went anyway.
Leaving is always the hardest part, especially when it’s last second and you have to be prepared for pretty much anything. We packed up the truck with some food, some winter clothes, and our warmest sleeping bags and figured we’re set. Time to hit the road, jack!
Wyoming’s 80 mph speed limit helped us get up there fast. We saw plenty of antelope herds and sage brush. Southern Wyoming is desolate. Pretty. Windy as all get-out. But really desolate.
The Bighorn Mountains finally changed the scenery and then the Crazies rose up sawtooth style from the Montana plains. Even from a distance you can tell the Crazies are big, rugged, and wonderful.
Late October has it’s advantages when it comes to camping and the main advantage is no one else is around. Perhaps for good reason. Our reminder of what time of year it was came around sunset when a cold wind started blowing down from the high, snow-covered peaks. But holy cow, simpler pleasures cannot be found. The sound of mountain water rushing down Big Timber Creek, the cold wind making the tops of the tall trees sway in rhythm with stars appearing in Montana’s big sky, and a campfire… Let time stand still at this moment and I’d be content for eternity.
We quickly discovered the hiking is real different from the Colorado hiking we’re used to. The trails we hiked in the Crazies were strewn with moveable stone and rock of all shapes and sizes. Stout boots with stout soles are the right call and we both could have used a bit of an upgrade in the footwear department. We climbed higher and the trail became icy. We hit the snowline and the trail became snowpacked. We kept hiking higher and the snow became deeper until we decided we had gone far enough.
The Crazies offer some of the best mountain scenery I’ve seen anywhere. We’ll go back again but maybe we’ll plan a little better and get up there earlier with less snow on the ground. Maybe.
We took our time going home passing through Yellowstone and Jackson. It had been a while since either of us had been there and Yellowstone is as mind-blowing as ever. Thermals and buffalo, fire scars and new growth trees, geysers and mud pots, late fall colors dried and crisp with hints of winter in the air – and barely a sole in the Park.
Timing is everything whether it is right or wrong. Now is as good a time as ever to go find out.