Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tobacco ON my ROOTS

by Chris Bangs

Hello from the Tobacco Root Mountains in S.W. Montana. On Friday the 15th of February, Jon Wareham and myself rode our bicycles out to the po-dunk little town of Pony Montana. There we pitched camp just on the outskirts of town on a perfect winter day. The temperatures where in the mid 40s and made for a great day of cycling along the Madison River, over the grass fields of Norris, and into the western most mountain range in the Bozeman area.

For the love of winter camping, there is fire.

Our plan for the weekend was to climb and ski Hollowtop Peak (10,604 ft), the highest peak in the Tobacco Root Mountains. Named after the distinctive volcanic like bowl on the summit. This is Peak #3 in my 7 Summits of Bozeman Project. Human-Powered, Vegan, and obviously out of my mind.

We find perfection in individual moments of clear consciousness.

Riding 55 miles on a bicycle in one day, in the middle of winter in Montana,,,, to go skiing on a mountain with nobody else around.... Hell yes! I've wanted to do this for years. The idea has been there floating around in my head like a swollen hot air ballon for the past decade.

Still Life with Christopher

Of course people tell me all the time that I'm crazy. Or that I've lost my mind. My response is to laugh a lot, like I maybe didn't hear them correctly. I tell them I live by two mottos; Safety 3rd, and No brains No headaches. No really,,,, complete strangers tell me I'm nuts, and that I've lost my marbles. It happened at least twice on this trip, by people that were not having near as much fun as Jon here (pictured below) with his bike chain stuck in his cogs.

Yes,,,, this sucks! And No,,, Triple AAA won't help.

After a couple of minor breakdowns on the highway, and 10 miles of headwinds in the canyon on the Madison River. We made it to Norris, and sat down at the convenience store for a little break. As usual I survey all the poisonous food-like substances for sale at the counter and wonder to myself how it ever got this way. Then I pull out a rice cake from my pocket, covered in organic nut butter and coconut oil. Mmm, true whole food rocket fuel.

Jon Wareham, action figure and professional hair model.

The climb to the summit had its full share of winter values. Brutal wind, cold temps, dense styrofoam snow, and no powder.... This is the stuff that weird people like myself enjoy.  Stuff that only mindless heroes would attempt conquer; in mindless human-powered ways. Mindlessly saving the planet one rice cake at a time.

Haven't felt wind like that since I jumped out of an airplane!

All fun and games aside. We did ski off the summit without being blown into North Dakota. The only big crash of the weekend came on day 3 when I wiped out on my bike over frozen mud. Me, my bike, and all my gear came crashing to a halt, just after I uttered the famous last words, "slow speed crashes never really hurt that bad." A little blood on my knee and a sore left hand, heck I'm just getting started. This is going to be a hoot after all.

Tobacco Roots

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