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June 23, 2103

Welcome to Silly Lake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Setting up the Taekwon-Do Summer Camp for the Yom Chi Taekwon-Do Association had gone exceptionally well.  Even items I had put off until the last moment, like getting parking permits, took only a single phone call to arrange. 

Workouts, too, had gone very well.  Each of the four instructors had at least thirty years of Taekwon-Do experience.  This was clear during the workouts.

The free day I had planned, Wednesday, had arrived.  Of the 14 students and 4 instructors present, all but two were heading to Seeley Lake.  The plan was to mountain bike and hike, eat lunch, then head to my place to see the kennel and do some shooting.

We left Missoula a little after nine and got to Rocky Mountain Adventure just past ten.  There, we divided into hikers and bikers---ten of the former and six of the latter.  Three of us had brought bikes.  Mike and Kathy fitted the other three, myself included, with rentals.  Ten minutes later, we were off. 

The first leg was a couple hundred yards along the main highway, then we turned east on Morrell Creek road.  I waited on the corner for the walkers to appear, pointed them in the right direction, mounted my bike, and started up the road. 

Seeley Lake’s x-c ski area has fine mountain biking trails during the summer and that’s where we were headed.  The five other mountain-bikers had pedaled on ahead while I waited for the walkers.  I had explained that there were nice big Forest Service signs pointing to the x-c ski area, but I was still a little afraid of them missing the trail. 

I was surprised by how quickly I caught up with the group.  The fact that I had been riding and running made the ride pretty easy for me.  Add in a 200’ climb and I moved faster than everybody but Kyle.

I led the group into the parking lot next to the trails.  There, the other really avid outdoorsman, Master Steve Blakeley, correctly chastised me for starting to move as soon as the slower bicyclists arrived rather than giving them a chance to rest.  Not having somebody strong in the back of the pack was also mentioned and both issues were fixed.  From then on either Kyle or I took up the tail end of the group.

The temperature hovered in the mid fifties while we were out on the trails.  The rain held off and the cool weather made for pleasant riding.  The fact that the mosquito population peaks in June and that these guys were all hungry kept us from stopping for too long in any one spot.  Still, I had enough time to explain that of the ten Junes I’ve lived in Montana, there had only been one when the bear grass blossoms were as numerous as those we rode past.  I didn’t mention that the slight sweetness in the air was from their blooms, but my companions probably realized this. 

I had ridden the trail the week before and knew where the poorly marked sections were.  During that run, I missed one of the turns on my first pass.  Happily, most of our ride was along trails I had skied and I knew where I was even on my scouting run.  Still, poor marking made riding several sections somewhat stressful.   It’s not a good idea to get lost with master instructors---happily I didn’t. 

Road crews had been a little overzealous in their dust abatement efforts and by the time we turned off of Morrell Creek Road onto the paved bike path along the main highway, we all wore pretty good coats of mud.  Mike made the quick decision to clean the bikes off before bringing them into the store.

From the bike shop, we walked to one of the local sandwich shops and had lunch.  Sixteen people at once overwhelmed them a bit, but eventually we all got our sandwiches.  We walked back to the cars and headed to my place to see the dogs, then shoot.

All fifteen of my guests liked dogs, so seeing my pack was a definite high point.  I added a new trick to previous group visits---I let the dogs free for yard time.  Even Shoshone, who typically stays as far under his platform as he can get anytime there are visitors, got out and ran around with the rest of his buddies. 

By the time I got the dogs back to their platforms, the rain had started and the temperature had dropped to 50 F.  Half a dozen of us stayed in my house while the rest went off to a corner of my property to shoot.  I was among those who stayed back---I’m ambivalent about shooting and with the weather I figured getting a nice fire going in the woodstove would be something everybody would enjoy.

Two hours later, most of it in moderate rain, the shooters came indoors.  By that time, the fire was roaring and the house was toasty.  There is a special feeling coming in from even a mild chill and feeling the warmth of wood heat.  Everybody got a chance to watch the fire through the glass window on my stove as I served hot tea, coffee, and my last two packages of hot chocolate.  We lingered for another hour before leaving. 

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday at camp were about Taekwon-Do.  Wednesday was supposed to be about Montana.  And I think that riding and hiking through bear grass, shooting in the cold rain, and coming into a house warmed by the radiant heat of a woodstove did just that. 

   
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