Montana, Day 2: From Bozeman to Paradise Valley

After a decent nights rest in the Holiday Inn (Don’t they have great beds?) we had a delicious skillet breakfast in the hotel restaurant, packed up, bought a few necessities for the week and made our way toward Paradise Valley (or more specifically, Emigrant), Montana. Just a mile or so down the interstate, we were welcomed to the area by a snowstorm. Undaunted by the white stuff, our rented Subaru just kept on going (Oh, we could get used to this! The Subaru, that is.) Of course we stopped and snapped a few pics; snow is a rarity in our neck of the woods.  On the way in we stopped for lunch in a town called Livingston, eating at a little cafe/ coffee shop (the name eludes me) where we enjoyed a chicken wrap, organic fair-trade coffee and friendly conversation with the owners. We were there quite a while.  We’d soon learn that the pace of life is slower out west…at least in the restaurants. We visited the local outfitter, Timber Trails (http://timbertrailsmontana.com), where we were welcomed by friendly staff but a limited inventory. It was a small store. This seems to be the case for most of the outfitters we’d visit.  Instead of catering primarily to hikers, most of them were bonafide outfitters offering guided horseback and/or river rafting trips. The stores usually offered less in the way of gear than they did in apparel.  I mention this to encourage you to bring most of what you’ll need in the way of adventure gear with you unless, of course, you plan to avail yourself of the guided trips.  We did find that nearly all of the stores carried both iso-butane propane as well as bearspray, two items not allowed on commercial airlines.

We arrived in the sprawling metropolis of Emigrant (Population 372…make that 374) around 4pm. Since we couldn’t check in until 5pm we wandered through a few of the local haunts: The General Store, Howlin’ Hounds Cafe (www.facebook.com/pages/Howlin-Hounds-Cafe/248852179382), the Old Saloon and Livery Stable and our favorite, the Matson Rogers Anglers West Fly-fishing Outfitters (www.montanaflyfishers.com). We swapped fishing stories with two great guys whom I suspect are the owners. Dana picked up some Smartwool baselayer at a drastic discount.  If you think backpacking gear is expensive, and it is, you’ll be shocked at the price of fly-fishing gear. Finding a bargain in a fly-shop is unheard of.  So, needless to say, next time you’re in Emigrant drop by and see these guys. You’ll be glad you did.

We made one last stop at The Wildflour Bakery where we picked up a fresh-baked loaf of flax-bread loaded with sesame, poppy, flax and a dozen other seeds I couldn’t identify. It made hearty, delicious toast!

We arrived at our cabin via a series of telling road names such as Aries, Sirius and  Hilarion, taking note of an interesting trail nearby called the Buddhist Path.  After the last week we wondered just what we’d gotten ourselves into. The cabin itself, however, did not disappoint. Though the surrounding peaks were obscured by fog and snow, the house itself would make a nice home for a week. We loaded in our luggage and gear and fell asleep while it was still light to soft snow falling on the grassy meadow surrounding the house.

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