Last hurrah of the summer.*
I wanted to do one more challenging hike before starting back to work as a high school science teacher, so I convinced my friend Murray to hike the Bridger Ridge Trail with me this past Saturday. Our plan was to follow the same route used during the Bridger Ridge Race; a 19.5-mile trek from Fairy Lake to the “M” on the outskirts of Bozeman. Unlike the trail-racers (and most hikers), we walked the trail from south to north, which meant dealing with 7,380 feet of elevation gain and 4,600 feet of descent. So we left Helena before 5 am, drove 100 miles to Bozeman, and started the challenging hike at 6:30 am. It was a LONG day, but it was a long, GOOD day. Take the Photo Tour to see what it was like.

The glass is half full.
As you may know from recent posts, I’ve enjoyed exceptionally clear skies on my adventures over the past several weeks. Unfortunately that was not the case as Murray and I walked the Bridger Ridge. There was no smokey smell, but skies were milky due to smoke blown in from wildfires, which has been the norm in western Montana this summer. Clear days have been “few and far between” since early July. So we didn’t see any of the mountain ranges that would have been visible on a smokeless day – sort of a bummer. But oddly, the hazy conditions seemed to focus our attention on the ridge. It was as though it was just “us and the ridge,” and nothing else mattered. It made for an eerily pleasant experience.

Better eat your Wheaties.
There are MANY great hikes in the Bozeman area, but the Bridger Ridge has to be near the top of the list. My favorite segments were the areas around Baldy, Saddle Peak, and especially Sacajawea where we were treated to a gathering of beautiful mountain goats. But, if you plan to do the ridge, be prepared! It’s 20 miles of up and down, so be very fit, rest up, stay hydrated, have healthy knees and feet, and get mentally prepared for a very challenging, but rewarding journey. Expect 10-13 hours if you hike south to north; an hour or two less if you are southbound. I look forward to doing it again within the next couple years. Hopefully next time I will walk north to south (like normal people), and our Big Sky will be clear.

*My hiking doesn’t end when school starts, but I will definitely be cutting back on the number of really difficult hikes that I do; the kind that require a day of couch time to recover from.

Below: This map marks hikes that have been featured on so far – Select full screen to expand, zoom in for more detail, or click on a marker for a link to the post.