Snow comes to the mountains of Montana intermittently throughout the summer. I usually see more serious snow arrive in September, but even those storms are usually pretty short and kept to the higher elevations. October is where it's at if you're a snow junkie, but in some years, even October in Montana can make you feel like you've been erroneously displaced. In other words, until the snow really comes to the Rockies (usually in December), all bets are off and any reliability in snow forecasting is sketchy at best.

That's why I was pretty excited to watch our first big snow of the year come across the radar in late September.

By September 28, with snowflakes falling and piling up, I contracted a cold. After a few days in bed, I couldn't stand it anymore: I was itching to get outside and film another episode of "24." I may have not quite been healed, as I felt awful on this hike. I was exhausted, I froze, my head hurt, my body ached, and I couldn't stomach any food.

But it was Montana's first big snow of the season, and I wanted to see it!

I have no regrets. My friend Ryan Connelly and I enjoyed each other's company in one of the most beautiful locales close to my home, on one of my favorite routes: a traverse of the Hyalite-Cottonwood divide.

Twenty minutes of driving, a few hours of hiking, an overnight camp on the ridge, and another half-day of hiking brought us right into the back door of our friend Seth's home on upper Cottonwood Creek. Snow, wind, and cold temperatures in the first part of the hike gave way to warm sunshine as we hiked out. It all added up to the perfect recipe for an overnight getaway.

Most of that snow has melted, Indian Summer has come again, but I'm not depressed that it's only nine more months until summer. I love snow hiking... ultralight style, of course.

ARTICLE OUTLINE

  • Introduction
  • Video
  • Gear
  • Photo Essay

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