All posts by pocket@dmin

Mark It Down

Must-do events.

by Nora Mabie

Bozeman might seem like a small town compared to where you’re from, but it’s bustling with activity. These events are can’t-miss.

Bridger Raptor Fest – October 7-9
This festival is free and focuses on the largest known golden-eagle migration in the United States, which takes place every fall along the Bridger Range. Located at Bridger Bowl, the festival features keynote speakers and includes activities such as raptor viewing, nature walks and talks, and educational entertainment for people of all ages.

Bridger Raptor Fest, Bozeman, Montana, MSU

Gettin’ edu-ma-cated at the Raptor Fest.

Huffing for Stuffing – November 24
This is one of Bozeman’s largest races, and it’s for a good cause. Proceeds go to the Gallatin Valley Food Bank, and last year they raised $51,000. The race offers a 5k fun run, a 5k timed run, and a 10k. So, sign up, get your turkey costume, and run off all those calories you’ll be gulping down later. 

Christmas Stroll – December 3
Always on the first Saturday in December, the Christmas Stroll is one of Bozeman’s greatest holiday traditions. Take a picture with Santa as he makes his way from the Emerson Cultural Center down Main Street. Make sure to partake of hot cocoa or soup—this stroll can be frigid.

Bozeman Ice Fest – December 7-11
Watch some of the most talented ice climbers from around the world compete against each other in this now-famous competition. Proceeds from the event go to Friends of Hyalite, a nonprofit that supports winter access into Hyalite Canyon. 

Bozeman Ice Festival, Outside Bozeman, MSU

Swinging axes at the Ice Fest.

Wild West Winterfest – TBA
Bundle up and head down to the Gallatin Valley Fairgrounds for some fun (and less common) winter activities. The fest includes history exhibits with activities for kids, a dog keg-pull, skijoring, a snowmobile race, and more. Or if you’ve got what it takes, enter the chili cook-off for a shot at great prizes. 

Torchlight Parade at Bridger Bowl – December 30
Usher in the New Year with a downhill torchlight parade from the top of Bridger Bowl. A family-style dinner is served in the Jim Bridger Lodge and live music accompanies the meal. 

Run to the Pub – March 11
Celebrate St. Paddy’s Day not by drinking your fill, but by running a race and benefiting the Bozeman Area Community Foundation. There’s a 10k and a half-marathon, and both courses are over 90% downhill, so you’ve got gravity on your side. 

VarnerB_run2pub (8)

How Bozeman celebrates St. Paddy’s Day.

Bobcat Fest – 4/28
On the last Friday of classes, join MSU students, faculty, and the Bozeman community on Main Street for good food and free music. Don’t miss this chance to thank Bozeman while the public thanks MSU for being an essential part of the community.

Welcome to Bozeman

by the editors of Outside Bozeman

It seems like only yesterday my beat-up Honda sputtered over Bozeman Pass and into town. Fresh from Flat-and-Boring, USA, I found my new surroundings breathtaking: jagged lofty mountains, beautiful flowing rivers, and endless powder-blue skies. It didn’t take me long, but as you’re about to find out, choosing Bozeman is one of the best decisions you can make.

Bridger Mountains, Bridger Ridge, Outside Bozeman

The Bridger Range: your new back yard.

Our town is truly a place where the world’s most diverse outdoor opportunities are right at your fingertips. Blue-ribbon trout streams, world-class waterfall ice, deep stashes of fresh powder… all right in our collective back yard. In about 30 minutes, you could be blasting through whitewater rapids, climbing a massive granite wall, or peacefully floating down some lazy river, cooler and friends happily in tow. If the possibilities here seem endless, that’s because they are.

And for the vast quantity of outdoor exploits, there are just as many cultural events. Film festivals, art walks, salsa dancing, farmers markets, and dozens of local bands are available to fill your calendar all year long. Music on Main? TEDx Bozeman? Sweet Pea? You might not know what these events are yet, but by the end of the school year, you will. From down-home rodeos to posh wine tastings, Bozeman’s got the entire spectrum. It’s the cultural centerpiece of southwest Montana.

Bogert Farmers' Market, Winter Market, Outside Bozeman

Local eats at the farmers’ market.

Bozeman residents seem to be just as diverse. Rowdy cowboys cheer right alongside hippies at the big homecoming game; jocks shoot pool with the mellow ski bums at the local bar. Instead of factionalizing over differences, the locals here have it figured out: this rich melting pot of culture and country is what makes our town so great. It seems that Bozeman has found (and kept) the perfect balance of big-city opportunity and small-town hospitality.

Now, nearly 15 years after my first day, I’m just as in love. Bozeman still just keeps getting better. Our little mountain town continues to bloom, offering new and exciting opportunities for everyone, from the lifetime local to the starry-eyed freshman. Trust me when I say you’ll only truly regret the things you didn’t do—so put the textbooks down every so often and go have an adventure.

When Things Go Wrong

The benefits of wilderness medicine. 

by Corey Hockett

I sat in our campsite anxiously sipping coffee, watching the sunrise. A chilly breeze sifted through the valley and defied the morning light’s warmth. As the rays stretched on the distant rock, I looked at one wall in particular. The evening prior, my group spent hours on it—streaking up some routes, and struggling with others.

Climbing, Landscape, Rock, Wilderness Medicine,

Evening sun on “Captain Caveman.”

My mind was stuck on one. I’d made it most of the way up, but after many attempts, traversed to an easier pitch to finish the climb. In the end, I’d gotten to the top, but I hadn’t really done the route. Same went for my mate Michael. Heading to camp, we vowed to come back the next morning to give it another crack.

At about 9am, after breakfast, we headed up the trail—a heinous approach pitched around 50 degrees, scattered with heavy deadfall. Reaching the climb’s base, we threw our packs down, huffing and puffing to catch our breath. Michael tied in, noting he was keen to hop on it first, while our friend Ashley put him on belay. Content watching, I sat against a tree to admire from below.

The first few bolts were quick and fluid as Michael worked smoothly through each of his moves. Once he hit the crux—an exposed face 15 feet above a protruding ledge—, things started to turn. Stuck in place, he clung statically to the wall as his technique fell apart. Violent exhales accompanied frantic shifts to and fro as he tried to figure out the sequence. I looked at Ashley and told her to get ready to catch him. After 30 more seconds of unsuccessful problem solving, his effort turned to desperation.

“Eh, Ah, Shit!” he yelled.  And then he came off.

Ashley locked him tight, but enough rope was out that he fell to the ledge and collapsed. The collision echoed at an alarming volume, his ankles taking the brunt of it. Suspended and dangling in the air, he shrieked gasps of pain and gave no response to our calls from below.

Michael is tough and he’s not one to milk a scene for attention–this was serious. He scraped down the rock as Ashley slowly lowered him. When he finally grounded, we rolled up his pant legs—the injury was worse than we thought. Both ankles were black, blue, and abnormally swollen—one the size of a baseball.

My mind raced, but suddenly flashed back to the Wilderness First Aid course I took in Bozeman. It was only a two-day class, but it had given me the basics, which in the moment were essential. Ashley and I talked through our treatment, remembering the protocol and forming a game plan. We slung his ankles with shirts and stabilized them with sticks and release straps.

Wilderness Medicine, Injury, Feet, Climbing,

An ad hoc bracing apparatus.

Luckily, we had a group large enough to carry him so with four of us, we hoisted him up and slowly brought him down feet first, as taught. It was a long, and for Michael, gruesome process, but we got him down safely in time for the professionals to take over. After they left, Ashley and I went over what we did and how we could’ve improved.

Watching my buddy fall and shatter his ankles was a major eye opener and has me thinking differently. What if the approach was actually six miles instead of a half-mile? What if there had only been two of us  instead of five? These questions, although I hate asking them, could very well be the scenario down the road.

Accidents may be beyond our control, but being prepared isn’t. If you’re an outdoor fanatic, take a Wilderness Medicine Course. Your partners will be glad you did.

Festival of the 4th

Music and fireworks in the open air.

by Orville Bach

From rodeos to river floats, Fourth of July weekend is jam-packed with activity, but there’s one event you should mark as can’t-miss on your calendar. It happens only once a year, it’s fun and exciting, and best of all, it’s free. I’m speaking, of course, of the renowned Bozeman Symphony’s outdoor concert under the stars, Festival of the Fourth.

A full house enjoys the show.

A full house enjoys the show.

Now, we’re not talking slow classical minuets, but rather inspiring and lively pops tunes, as explosive as the post-performance fireworks display. So plan to hop on your bike and ride over to the Gallatin County Fairgrounds for an exciting treat on the evening of July 4.

Just imagine relaxing in a lawn chair, gazing at the alpenglow bathing the Bridgers, while the Bozeman Symphony plays moving, patriotic music. The entire evening is a sensory delight, beginning with an assortment of tasty food choices from various vendors and culminating with an explosion of light amid the dark summer sky.

Around 9pm, as twilight envelops the Gallatin Valley and jackets slide over shivering shoulders, conductor Matthew Savery takes the stage. His enthusiasm and personality reflecting the towering mountains behind him, Savery bellows a hearty welcome to the crowd and introduces the orchestra. Draped over the stage is a massive, contoured bandshell for lighting and acoustics.

The music starts, and for the next 90 minutes – while darkness obscures sight and enhances sound – the audience enjoys a wide range of symphonic selections. Maestro Savery always saves the most rousing rendition for last, and it culminates in perfect time with the fireworks exploding overhead. The symphony gives way to recorded music, and for the next half-hour, the sky blazes with light as classic, freedom-themed songs pour from the speakers. If you don’t get goose bumps listening to this inspiring music while fireworks detonate overhead in a beautiful valley surrounded by mountains, you need to check your pulse.

Ole Glory catches the last evening light.

Ole Glory catches the last evening light.

Festival of the Fourth is free and open to the public, with donations accepted for the event’s sponsor, the Gallatin Empire Lions Club. Bleachers are available, but plan on bringing a light, a portable chair, and a blanket for closer, more comfortable seating — and get there early. The hassle of parking and traffic congestion can be easily avoided by riding your bike to the event.  Just remember to have adequate lighting on your bike and helmet for a safe return trip.

Enjoy the show.

Pack It On

Intro to bikepacking.

by David Tucker

Why would you listen to a first-timer when it comes to bikepacking advice? That’s a valid question, but odds are, if you’re seeking bikepacking advice, or at least interested in bikepacking advice, you haven’t been bikepacking. You’re probably about to make all the same mistakes I just did, so if you want to have a slightly better experience, take it from someone who just fouled up big time. These are lessons learned from a Memorial Day Weekend epic that covered over 90 miles in two-and-a-half days, required no less than five hours of thigh-high postholing, and included a camp arrival no earlier than 1am. Here goes.

Butte Mountain Biking, Montana Bikepacking, Advocate Cycles

Here goes nothing…

1. Bring more water. While we had a damp May and there is still snow at higher elevations, Montana is a dry state, and the mountains south of Butte, where most of our ride took place, are drier than average. You’ll be working very hard all day, so replenishing and staying hydrated is a must. While it’s heavy and takes up a lot of space, bring whatever water you can. I would recommend five liters between your bike frame and your pack. I had two and was empty just a few hours in. Without any reliable source for the rest of our ride and even at camp, I didn’t get to fill up until day two. This left me weak and disoriented—not a good combo only half-way through a ride.

2. Ride flat pedals. Any longer ride around these parts will more than likely require some hiking. Your bike will be loaded with gear, making balance more difficult, and remote trails have lots of dead-fall, meaning you’ll be out of the saddle more than you anticipate. Light hikers or trail runners are a good option, as they’ll provide the necessary traction and support, without sacrificing pedal-grip. You might not have as much power on your climbs, but you better get used to that anyway, as the extra weight you’re carrying will make climbing much harder regardless of the shoes you’re wearing.

Butte Mountain Biking, Montana Bikepacking, Advocate Cycles

Ice-cold feet were not part of the plan.

3. Let your bike do the work. I was riding a full-suspension bike which didn’t allow for a frame bag, or at least didn’t allow for the frame bag I had available to me. That meant I packed a lot of gear on my back. It sucked. My shoulders were rubbed raw and sore, my back ached from top to bottom, and my neck throbbed from leaning forward to avoid knocking my helmet against my pack. Having a ton of weight on my back also made pushing through snowdrifts and rutted-out trail much harder, sucking necessary energy from my muscles like a Dyson.

4. Ditch the booze. It’s no secret that we like our libations ’round these parts. But when weight and space are at a premium, it’s better to leave the hooch at home. You’ll be so tired after long days of riding, you won’t have the energy, anyway. Plus it will further dehydrate you, and you don’t need any more reason to wake up feeling less than chipper. Save the partying for car-camping.

5. Embrace the suffering. Bikepacking is hard. And it’s supposed to be. Even if youride the Bangtail three times a week and are in phenomenal shape, you’re going to be tested, and unforeseen developments will come up on the trail that are impossible to plan for. You’ll be challenged as much mentality as you are physically, so embrace the suck. Remember that each day will end and a new one will begin; that new day will bring new challenges but also fresh rewards. And cold beer tastes better when you’ve earned it.

Butte Mountain Biking, Montana Bikepacking, Advocate Cycles

Your reward: mountain views from empty singletrack.


Here’s the Deal

Get the gear to get out.

by David Tucker

Getting the right summer gear on the cheap isn’t always easy. But whether you’re in the market for a lighter fishing rod or a slick new tent, killer deals on good products do exist. Here are a few places to look.

Local Sales & Discounts
Our local retailers know what we want, what works in Montana, and they provide great service and support to boot. They’ll often display last year’s inventory on clearance, and for the most part, you won’t be getting shortchanged with year-old technology. And as the summer season eases toward fall, look for end-of-season sales as gear shops try to purge inventory. Expensive items such as mountain bikes can be up to 50% off, and you can still get a few months of riding in before the snow starts to fall. For a town-wide sale, add Summer Crazy Days to your calendar (July 22-24).

Montana Gear

Outfit your campsite, without breaking the bank.

Second-hand Gear
Don’t let the marketing gurus fool you—unless you’re climbing Everest or biking the Continental Divide, you don’t need the best and the newest. Let some other poor sap keep buying new gear every year, and swing by the second-hand stores in town and pick up what he discards. For gear, Second Wind Sports and Nu2u are great options, and thrift stores like the Salvation Army and Goodwill (with a new location in Belgrade) are dependable resources for affordable layers and smaller items. These are all good options for purging old gear as well, and you might even make some money doing so.

Second Wind Sports

Racks on racks on racks, of gear.

The myriad online options can be intimidating, but some are worth mentioning. Daily-deal sites such as the Clymb offer top brands at severe discounts anywhere up to a few days at a time, and eBay and Craigslist are useful if you’re willing to scroll through endless bad photos and misleading product descriptions.

Outdoor gear is expensive, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. Use these tips, and remember—it’s about the experience, not the gear. Have fun out there.


Top spring drives.

by Mike England

Finals are coming up and before you know it, you won’t have any time for fun. Time to load up the car and head out for one last adventure before the semester ends. Here are two to consider.

Livingston / Paradise Valley – Out & Back
Just east of the Bozeman Pass (“over the hill,” as it’s called) sits the Windy City of the Rockies: Livingston, Montana. This wind-scoured old railroad town has a vibrant downtown, funky feel, and great music on the weekends. Just past the gap in the mountains south of town begins the sprawling, picturesque (and aptly named) Paradise Valley—30-some miles of rural countryside, enormous cattle ranches, and sweeping mountain views.

Paradise Valley, Montana

The Western Beartooths rise above the Yellowstone River in Paradise Valley.

The Absarokas (aka, Western Beartooths) rise dramatically to the east, while the west side is flanked by the Gallatin Range. Bring a fishing rod and take a few casts at any of the fishing access points along the Yellowstone River, which you’ll follow the entire drive. Chico Hot Springs (look for the sign) on the south end of the valley is a great spot to grab lunch and a soak.

Continue south through Yankee Jim Canyon and into the tiny town of Gardiner; now the wonders of Yellowstone Park await. Take a quick dip in the Boiling River or cruise into Mammoth Hot Springs to see the elk. On your way back through Livingston, feast at the Rib & Chop House or the 2nd Street Bistro, then hit up the Murray Bar for a taste of real Montana—complete with semi-surly bartenders and free-roaming dogs.

Flathead Pass / Shields Valley – Loop
Nothing screams Montana like bumpy old logging roads, and for a fun half- or full-day road trip, Flathead Pass in the Bridger Mountains is your gateway to off-road adventure. You’ll need some clearance, but any 4WD truck or SUV should make it up this road (provided it’s dry; wet roads should be reserved for the well-experienced or moderately suicidal). Take Springhill Road north of Bozeman and turn right at the Flathead Pass sign. A winding, rocky, somewhat sketchy climb and you’re at the top of the pass, with incredible views of the Gallatin and Shields valleys.

Flathead Pass

The west side of the northern Bridgers, just below Flathead Pass.

Continue east to the blacktop and hang a left. After a long drive through sagebrush flats reminiscent of old westerns, you’ll arrive in Wilsall. Grab lunch at the Wilsall Café or the Bank Bar before heading south toward Livingston. The jagged Crazy Mountains rising to the east will capture your attention, as will the Shields River meandering south toward its confluence with the Yellowstone. Pack your rod along for this drive as well—the Shields may not have the huge hogs of the ‘Stone, but it’s a smaller river and fun to fish. Animal and bird life abound along this riparian corridor, so bring some binos too. Stop in Livingston for dinner or continue on back to Bozeman, a mere 25 miles distant.

Summer Camp

Stewarding the CDT in Montana.

by Sonny Mazzullo

The Montana Wilderness Association takes a community-driven approach to protecting and championing Montana’s public lands, outdoor way of life, and quiet beauty. That approach entails connecting communities, like the student body of Montana State University, to the wild places that make our state so special. Since 1962, MWA has achieved this through its Wilderness Walks program. A few years ago, MWA went a step further and took over CDT Montana, a volunteer trail stewardship program dedicated to maintaining and completing the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail.

Montana Wilderness Association

Taking a break along the trail. Italian Peaks, Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest.

At 3,100 miles long, the CDT is our nation’s longest mountain trail. Starting at the Mexican border, the trail follows the geographical divide north through New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming, before entering Montana and Idaho just outside Yellowstone National Park. Here the trail continues for another 980 miles to the Canadian border. By engaging volunteers in trail maintenance and construction projects along this portion of the CDT, MWA is improving access and trail conditions in some of Montana’s most treasured landscapes: the Centennials, the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness, and the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, to name a few.

If you’ve hiked, biked, or ridden any stretch of the CDT between Glacier and Yellowstone over the last three years, chances are you owe one of CDT Montana’s world-class volunteers a high five. Why? Because last year alone, CDT Montana’s 159 volunteers built two miles of new trail, constructed 270 feet of turnpike, and brushed back encroaching vegetation on 25 miles of trail. On a typical project, trail crew volunteers, aided by packers from local Backcountry Horsemen chapters, hike ten miles into the wilderness, set up base camp, and spend the next week digging dirt and hauling rock. Some days the weather is peachy, with blue skies and warm sunshine. Other days you wake up in a frosty tent before spending all day moving earth in the rain and sleet.

Montana Wilderness Association

Even with nice weather, swinging a pulaski is hard work.

Despite the inherent hardships, volunteers come back year after year because the projects are joyful, rewarding experiences that lead to lasting friendships. “Adventures in new places with great people – who wouldn’t want to experience that?” asks Bozemanite Patty Bartholomew, three-time CDT Montana volunteer.

If you’d like to spend a week this summer camped in a beautiful location while building or maintaining wilderness trails, you’ll want to check out CDT Montana’s 2016 volunteer project lineup. There are projects of varying levels of strenuousness, so anyone can join, plus it’s free. For more information or to become a CDT volunteer, visit us at

Montana Wilderness Association

Fruits of your labor: gooey marshmallows.

Sonny Mazzullo is the CDT Montana field coordinator for the Montana Wilderness Association.