Spring took forever to get here this year. Honestly, it was still snowing in the middle of May. But it’s here now, and we are enjoying as much time outdoors as possible before the sun bakes everything into a crunchy sepia, and the grasshoppers invade.
Brian took a week of vacation for his birthday (today, June 01), as he does every year. Initially we planned an annual return to Ten Sleep to camp in the “desert,” where we lived for a bit back in 2014. However, plans change. This year we spent time cleaning up the yard, finally getting the first mow of the year in, getting properly sunburned, and planting our new container garden. Right now we have, Imperator 58 carrots, All American parsnips, broadleaf sage, Genovese basil, sugar baby watermelons, Wisconsin SMR58 cucumbers, Thai chilis, jalapenos, poblanos, anaheim chiles, Hungarian wax peppers, sweet banana peppers, cherry belle radishes, Walla Walla sweet onions, green cherry tomatoes, and large red cherry tomatoes.
Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we did not get around to biking, as we had hoped to do. We set out on Friday to go biking in the mountains, decided to reactivate our geocaching membership since we noticed some caches there the last time we went, but opted to hike once we got there, never taking the bikes off the truck. We grabbed maybe four caches, one of which was in a cave on the side of the mountain. I wish I had thought to take a picture of the ominous looking black hole we were headed for, but alas, I did not. The picture at the top is the 4×4 road we walked back to get parallel with the cave before going “off-road” to hike up to it. You could probably drive back the road a bit farther than we did, but the rocks in this area are so sharp they tore my pants like I was wearing tissue paper, and neither of us wanted to risk the truck tires just to avoid walking, especially since being out in the world was the purpose of the trip.
If you look very hard at the right portion of the photo, there is an obvious triangle of shadow over there. At the top of that triangle is the cave. It may not look very high up or Rocky Mountain (it’s not) mountainous, but it’s not an easy trek. Our treadmill has the ability to go to a 40% incline. If you’re unfamiliar with angles, 40% is a bit steeper than an average staircase. So imagine walking up a ramp the angle of a staircase, without any railing, for a long period of time. The climb to that cave was more difficult than the 40% incline of the treadmill. In fact, there was a good deal of hand-using in order to make it up, especially toward the top.
Along the way, we encountered a prairie rattlesnake, Montana’s only venomous snake, as well as an adorable eastern racer snake. I have no doubt we were in close proximity to some others, as we were in prime snake territory. We were also in bear and mountain lion territory, which is why I kept yelling, “Hey bears!” as we made our way to the big black hole in the mountain. I’m not sure what we would have done had something responded, though we did have a little more protection this time than just a small pocket knife.
In the end, we got to the geocache, signed our name, and left with a sense of accomplishment.
Unfortunately, vacation is now over, which means a much more limited schedule for outdoorsy things. We do have some plans for a long bike ride on a scary back road through more wildlife territory. In the meantime, we built a fire pit area in the back yard, so we can at least enjoy being outside, if not in a physically exerting or particularly dangerous area.
by The Bollox