Jesse Fritz- Re­gion 2

Sno-Dak News - - The Region Reports - Jesse

When we’re not buzzing across the wind­blown stub­ble fields, ditches and per­fectly groomed trails of the lo­cal trail sys­tem, many of us SND rid­ers like to head for the Rock­ies in search of hero snow (snow so deep even a rookie looks like a hero). Hands down one of my fa­vorite places to ride is an area out­side Park County Mon­tana known as Cooke City. Sit­ting at an el­e­va­tion of roughly 7600 feet, Cooke City is unique in many ways. Un­like the sounds of its im­mense name, the town is very small and at a pop­u­la­tion of a cou­ple hun­dred res­i­dents it’s easy to feel right at home while va­ca­tion­ing there. One of sev­eral rea­sons why Cooke is such a great place to ride is the abil­ity of its sur­round­ing Moun­tains to suck ev­ery last drop of mois­ture out of pass­ing win­ter storms through SW Mon­tana. It’s not un­com­mon for Cooke to get 36” of new snow while other ranges in the area only get a few inches. Al­though ev­ery busi­ness in­side “city lim­its” is within walk­ing dis­tance, the pre­ferred mode of trans­porta­tion on the snow cov­ered streets is aboard a snow­mo­bile. On one oc­ca­sion our group stuffed 6 guys on a King Cat on the way back to the ho­tel af­ter sup­per and an epic day of rid­ing. Cell phone ser­vice doesn’t ex­ist in this re­mote Alpine town, but you can make long dis­tance phone calls in a pay phone at Soda Butte Lodge. You just need a pocket full of quar­ters and yes, pay phones still ex­ist. Ve­hi­cle ac­cess is lim­ited to a nar­row high­way that only comes into town from one di­rec­tion dur­ing the win­ter months. It’s not un­com­mon to see herds of wild Bi­son and pho­tog­ra­phers while nav­i­gat­ing this high­way which twists through Yel­low­stone Na­tional Park. Con­nec­tion to the back­coun­try is sim­ply incredible in this al­most mys­ti­cal piece of par­adise. You can be sip­ping cof­fee at your con­ti­nen­tal break­fast one mo­ment and ten min­utes later be at 10,000 feet in the most deadly avalanche prone chutes that North Amer­ica has to of­fer. The moun­tains sur­round­ing Cooke City de­mand much re­spect. Like ev­ery other western des­ti­na­tion, un­der­stand­ing the snow­pack and read­ing the daily avalanche warn­ings are a must. You need to come pre­pared to say the least. There is a small trail sys­tem that runs through this back­coun­try which serves as a much needed ref­er­ence. Un­like many ar­eas in the US, there aren’t any per­for­mance re­stric­tions around Cooke and some of the most rad­i­cal ma­chines imag­in­able show up in town. I re­call my first trip to the moun­tains co­in­ci­den­tally end­ing in Cooke City al­most 15 years ago. I was com­pletely blown away! The views, the snow, the ul­ti­mate rid­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, I knew this would be the first of many ex­pe­di­tions to this area even though my Yamaha rental sled was re­turned with ex­ten­sive dam­age cost­ing thou­sands. I’m not sure they make snow­mo­biles strong enough now days. Do they? Cooke City def­i­nitely isn’t for ev­ery­body. The ter­rain can be very tech­ni­cal with the snow­pack nor­mally deep and avalanches likely. Most would ques­tion the fun buried within the dan­gers of rid­ing a place like such. For many, in­clud­ing my­self, that’s easy to an­swer. There is a cer­tain amount of risk in­volved with ad­ven­ture. I think life should be ad­ven­tur­ous! By the time this edi­tion is pub­lished, I will have once again made the voy­age to Cooke City, Mon­tana with close friends in “tow”.

The North­ern Lights Trail­blaz­ers and other clubs in the re­gion once again came up short for an­nual fun runs due to lack of snow. A Jan­uary storm blew in the night be­fore our run drop­ping 3-4” with gale force winds. At present there is enough snow in some sec­tion lines and ditches to ride, but most trails in the state are still closed. Let’s hope this changes as we all need a bit of ad­ven­ture to snap us from the con­stant grind of ev­ery­day liv­ing.

I en­cour­age mem­bers to sub­mit sto­ries or pic­tures of your own on this won­der­ful past­time we all en­joy!

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