I took Sunday off of racing, part of the plan that my coach Bryan Fish and I made earlier this fall. Instead, I spent the morning exploring the vast network of trails at Bohart Ranch. My favorite loop was the Loggers Trail, which goes high into the Gallatin National Forest, and supposedly offers some spectacular views of the valley, but the overcast skies made visibility more limited. The dusting of new snow on the ground provided a great opportunity to see a variety of fresh tracks.
After a couple of weeks skiing in West Yellowstone with hundreds of other skiers and the City Sprints in Bozeman, skiing on the empty Loggers Trail was exactly what I needed to relax and let my mind wander. I’m reading the book “Why We Run” by UVM biology professor Bernd Heinrich. So far, the book is more about nature and biology than it is about running, but his insights have opened my eyes to the environment on the trail around me.
At one point during my ski, at least an hour from the lodge without a soul in sight, I stopped next to some particularly big tracks crossing the trail. My first thought was that the tracks were from a bear, but realizing it was the middle of winter, I reconsidered. Taking a drink of water, I got an eerie feeling that I wasn’t the only one out in the woods. I began to sweat a bit, even though I’d stopped and was cooling down. Looking into the trees, I soon realized that, sure enough; I wasn’t alone. There was a moose staring right at me.
Continuing along the trail, I almost ran into a fawn standing right in the middle of the classic tracks on a downhill eating buds off a small pine. Glad that wasn’t the moose!
Finally, toward the end of the ski, I spotted a grouse, also eating buds off a tree. I’ve got no idea why I never see grouse just sitting around when I’m actually hunting them. At any rate, it was pretty cool to see it just hopping around and eating.
The 3+ hour ski turned out to be a great little adventure on the (posted) Bohart Ranch trails. . .