Friday, July 24, 2009

County Couthouse: Route Complete

Hooray! The Interconnect Challenge is complete. The entire route of approximately 320 miles was traversed in the name of alternative transportation and recreation planning. We hope everyone who participated has gained from the experience. The County's staff certainly has and we look forward to working with everyone we met as we continue. A HUGE thank you to all those who made this possible. We will be celebrating at Pub 317 in Bozeman on July 28th at 8:30pm. All are welcome to join us.

Miyuki Ushida

What a trooper! We love Miyuki, a community member who stepped up to ride both the first and last days of the Interconnect Challenge.

Wildlife Viewing and Plant Identification

On their way, the group stops at the favorite M hiking trail just outside Bozeman. While there they run into Gail Richardson, who is a member of the Gallatin County Planning Board. She was kind enough to share her concerns about nature viewing and the trails she would like to see while getting ready for a hike into the Bridgers via the M.

Final Leg: The Bridgers

Marianne and Ada team up again with Miyuki Ushida from Day 1 of the Challenge to complete the final bike loop through the Bridgers.

Biking in Bozeman

After navigating the Main Street to the Mountains trail our riders arrive in classic Bozeman style to the Bozeman Public Library. After discussing the day's epic journey, enjoying some snacks, and meeting Mayor Kaaren Jacobsen the group sets off to enjoy the Clumsy Lovers at Music on Main. A few hearty souls from the day's events, including Kerry White from the Citizens for Balanced Use and Walter Becker from the Backcountry Horsemen also joined the end of the day festivities. Thanks to everyone who made this day possible. It was an amazing journey.

Horse Drawn to Bikes

Horse drawn carriages were traded off for bikers at the Goldenstein entrance to the Main Street to the Mountains. Thanks to Ted Lange and the Gallatin Valley Land Trust and their faithful volunteers were able to make it to the Bozeman Public Library in a short time.

Three Day Eventing

Joe explains a little about the Three Day Eventing he trains these warmbloods to be able to do. He also tells us about his training regiment for them, which includes 7 mile rides on our county roads daily. Juggling all the uses our roads serve will be an increasing challenge as this area continues to develop and change.

Horse Drawn Carriages

Buses, dirtbikes, whitewater kayaking and rafting, backcountry horseback and endurance riding just weren't enough. In order to highlight the active and enthusiastic Gallatin Saddle and Harness club, we also included horsedrawn carriages. Here Joe Yoder gets his team of four on the move.

Connecting Trails

Why not start your ride- bike or horse or otherwise- from your house? Here Kris Werner, member of GallEP, talks a little about how great it would be to get to Forest Service Trails from her house.


Say what you want about Arabs, these horses can move. Here some members of GallEP cruise along the Greenhills Ranch subdivision trail. What a thrill on a hot summer's day! Thanks to their speed we made it from the South Cottonwood Trail Head to Johnson Road (about 5 miles) in only twenty minutes. The horses reached speeds of up to 15 miles/hour on this leg.


Horses are beautiful and riding is a fascinating relationship between human and animal, however, it does come with a downside- how will we deal with pet poop as we plan our area's parks and trails?

Forest Service Trail 980 Now Open

The Backcountry Horsemen spend a great deal of their time clearing trails. Access to our public lands is very much thanks to them. Here Dan Marsh, Dan Porter and Walter Becker give some more details.

Backcountry Horsemen Arrive

Dan Marsh of the Backcountry Horsemen arrives in plenty of time despite the tight schedule. He was relieved to see the endurance riders were already getting set to go. The whole switching process went very smooth throughout the event, which helped in building trust despite the variety of different user groups. A big congratulations to all involved!

Backcountry Rendezvous

The Backcountry Horsemen meet up with The Citizens for Balanced Use where Forest Service Trail 980 turns from motorized accessable to non-motorized. With a handshake and a nod, the Backcountry Horsemen head to the South Cottonwood Trail Head with very little time to spare. The trail they travel on has not been open for 15 years. Thanks to their hard work to make this leg of the trip happen, it is now open again. Thank you so much, Backcountry Horsemen!

Thursday, July 23, 2009


House Rock Part II

Safely through!

House Rock Part I

The group guided by H2Obsession takes on House Rock and makes it through perfectly. A super ride!

Disabled Veterans

The above story is one example of the many touching and shocking stories of the disabled war verterans who joined us for this leg. Christopher Gross from Pompeii's Pillar, Montana retells the events that led to his injuries in Afghanistan in 2007. He joined us today with help from Woudened Warriors, a support program for disabled veterans, and Team River Runner, which "gives military veterans and their family members an opportunity to find health, healing, and new challenges through whitewater boating and other paddling sports." The group was an inspiring and moving addition to the Challenge and also led to highlight some of the needs of disabled and handicapped people.

Nordic Ski Concerns in an Unlikely Place

Kayaker Lilly Duford, though kayaking today, wanted to highlight the concerns of winter enthusiasts. In particular she explains the need to keep cross-country ski trails open and groomed for cross-country and nordic skiiers, snowshoers, and folks walking their dogs in the winter.

Whitewater Enthusiast Speaks Up

Kayaker David Schroeder explains the needs of whitewater enthusiasts along the Gallatin River. The Lava Lake Take Out and the Quake Lake section of the Madsion River, which may be slated for hydroelectric power, were his two main concerns.

Dirtbikes to Whitewater

Kerry White from the Citizens for Balanced Use explains about his route and shares a little about the challenges of route finding.

Getting Back to Bozeman

Marianne reported the Yellowstone Bus Foundation bus comes to Bozeman every Thursday. It leaves Bozeman at 2pm, which is a little early for some, but does serve an important role for the community by providing access to medical care, shopping, and other services not found in West Yellowstone.

Day 4: West Yellowstone Foundation Bus

Marianne gets on the West Yellowstone Foundation Bus. This bus is a service for all residents and tourists trying to get around the area provided by the West Yellowstone Foundation. Their ridership consists primarily of elderly and disadvantaged folks. Thursdays the bus travels to Bozeman and back for $10. The bus was able to drop Marianne at the Buffalo Horn trail head so Marianne could meet up with the dirtbikers who will take on the next leg of today's trip. See you all in Bozeman at the end of the day if all goes well.

Happy Trails

From left to right: Mike Harris, Marianne Amsden, Kerry White, West Yellowstone Guide Eric, Ada Montague, West Yellowstone Guide Brad, Mary Sue Costello, Mayor Pierre Martineau, Kate Willson

Public Transit to West

Kate Willson, West Yellowstone Chamber of Commerce Recreation Coordinator explains a little more about the need for public transit to West Yellowstone.

West Yellowstone Chamber of Commerce Director, Mary Sue Costello

After sipping some gatorade and munching on bananas provided by the West Yellowstone Chamber of Commerce, the group gets an education from the Director, Mary Sue Costello. Others in attendence included Mayor Pierre Martineau, several guides from Yellowstone Park, and Kate Willson, West Yellowstone Chamber of Commerce Recreation Coordinator. Everyone had great input about needing better public transit between Big Sky and West Yellowstone. They also shared ideas about improving the area's recreation infrastructure.

Keeping the Blog Alive

Ada posts updates to the blog while the group gets set up to meet with local officials with help from Kate Willson of the West Yellowstone Chamber of Commerce.

Hebgen Lake Ranger Station

The shady ranger station was a welcome ending point for the day.

4 Wheeler to West

After the hot slog down Highway 287, runner Montague was more than happy to turn the Challenge over to Mike Harris, Open Lands Coordinator for Gallatin County, when Citizens for Balanced Use member, Kerry White arrived with a four wheeler. The gohst trail along Highway 287 was certainly well-used, though, and it was clear that more than just cars get access to West Yellowstone along this unofficial route.

Wildlife Conflicts

Ada Montague, planner for Gallatin County, takes off running to complete the final stretch of Day 3, ending in West Yellowstone. The entire last leg along Hebgen Lake and bordering Yellowstone National Park is through prime bear and bison habitat. The conflicts that can arise between wildlife and recreationalists is another challegene that needs to be considered. In addition, the final part of the route was entirely along Highway 287. While the shoulder was sufficient for safety, the experience was less than ideal. The thought occured that possibly a trail connection between the Hebgen Lake community and West Yellowstone might be a good idea. However, it could increase the amount of wildlife conflicts.

Dirtbikes Make it to Hebgen Lake

Kerry White from the Citizens for Balanced Use explains how his trip down the Oil Well Trail went.

Backcountry Landing Strips

Not many people know about recreational pilots. These folks enjoy flying around to remote areas and landing on primitive airstrips. In the clip above Mike points out one such landing strip. While they are a user group that is often overlooked, their participation in parks and trails planning should not be.

Public/Private Partnerships

Mike explains a little about the history of private public partnerships to resolve user conflicts in the past. At one time, here in the Taylor Fork Drainage, an access dispute on a highly utilized public trail across private land threatened recreational users. While the owners of the Nine Quarter Circle (private land owner) could have easily closed out the public an agreement between the private land owners, Forest Service and user groups created a compromise that maintained recreational trail access for the people of the valley.

Mud and Blood

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Switch to Dirtbikes

Bikes of all Types

Wapiti Trail Head on the South Taylor Fork Road

Excellent views and access for great hiking, biking, horseback, and motorized use.

The Ride Arrives

Enroute to South Taylor Fork

Ben Macht the Lead on this leg

Sphinx Mountain in the Madison Range

The ride was not without its obstacles- flat tires, down trees and horse (& elk) hoof potholes for long stretches. The team persevered with their telltale modest cool.

Great Mountain Bike Trail

Smiles all around

Behind the Scenes

Updating the blog, sending out news releases, and tracking the route, the team keeps busy as the Grizzly Racing Team makes their big push.


The Grizzly Racing Team assesses their upcoming portion of the Challenge. With national racing trophies under their belts, these guys are no strangers to extreme racing conditions.

Grizzly Racing Team

The Grizzly Racing Team pose for a pic before taking off on their 23 mile, 4,000 vertical foot ascent and descent into South Taylor Fork. The group anticipates a four hour trip. With still 65 miles to travel through rugged back country to get to West Yellowstone time will be tight. Let's hope all goes well!

Ousel Falls

The runners make it to Ousel Falls where they are greeted with coffee and snacks provided by the Big Sky Community Corporation Trails Committee. The Big Sky Community Corporation is a non-profit whose efforts have been critical in creating the amazing trails and parks in the Big Sky area. It's thanks to coordinated, citizen-initiated volunteer efforts like these that make the dream of trails a reality.

Big Sky Trails

Playing in Big Sky is easy with its large variety of trails. In an effort to make the trail system more accessible and to inform visitors, the Big Sky Community Corporation has put together a local trails map, shown above. Here Steve Johnson, from the Big Sky Community Corporation Trails Committee, points out where the Community Park is located.

Run to Ousel Falls

Day 3 of the Challenge starts bright and early at the Big Sky Community Park where Sanderson Stewart steps up to sponsor the run to Ousel Falls. Wendy Weaver, a local long-distance runner joins the team in the above clip. Other locals involved include John Amsden, owner of Pub 317. The run is made easy with a great paved and natural fines trail along the road all the way to the park.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The End of the Trail

After a long day of bouncing around the county, the group is treated to a beer at the Lone Peak Brewery by Carol Collins. Morning Owl played as Mike concluded that, yes, all trails indeed must end somewhere. More tomorrow....

Big Sky Community Park

Gallatin County Park Commissioner, Carol Collins, shows Marianne around the Big Sky Community Park. Their goal is to provide park and trail access to folks of all ages, while at the same time helping visitors to get out and enjoy Big Sky even more.

Skyline to Big Sky

The Challenge (and Mike's dog Fergie) make it to Big Sky! Thanks to Skyline, the trip was smooth, easy, and restful. Best of all it was FREE! Upon arrival the group was informed the Skyline Bus, while not the same as Streamline, does work cooperatively to provide public transit from Bozeman and Four Corners to Big Sky.

Gallatin Gateway Inn

Ghost Trails

Four Corners and Four Wheelers

After bidding farewell to the road bikers, the Challenge welcomed several fourwheelers and a dirtbiker from the Citizens for Balanced Use. The team zipped along Highway 191 to get to the Gallatin Gateway Inn in 30 minutes or so.

Road Biking along Norris Road

A member of the Bozeman Master's Velo Cycling Team and another volunteer brought the Challenge into Four Corners. The two, both over 50, made the hilly, ~16 mile treck in just over an hour! The section was not without excitement and its own set of obstacles. Mike explains a little more about the specific needs of this increasingly popular sport.

Lettin' 'Em Run

The GallEP group lives up to its name giving their horses their head and cruising along the Madison River Road in the road right of way. While their trusty steeds did cover 18 miles in four hours, they did not quite make it to the Black's Ford Fishing Access in time to meet the road bike race team from Bozeman Master's Velo. The support vehicles collected the weary travlers and delivered them to a dip in the Madison River while transitioning to the bike section.

Access to the Lower Madison?

While traveling along Madison River Road the horseback group encountered deer flies, hot sunny conditions and a lack of access to the Madison River on state lands. Mike explains a little more in the above video clip.

Headwaters Trail

The Headwaters Trail goes from Three Forks to the Headwaters State Park. It is a prime example of a successful collaborative effort Federal, State, County and local government to construct a multi-use trail that accommodates the concepts of both recreation and transportation.


Leaving Three Forks this morning, the group of riders from GallEP learns getting around on a horse even on a trail can present its own set of challenges.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Manhattan Trail

Mike explains a little about the history of the Manhattan Trail running from the Four Corners Fishing Access west along Dry Creek Road into Manhattan.


Canada Thistle, a noxious weed in Montana, seen here en route to Belgrade near a new subdivision. Integrated Weed Management (IWM), which uses all appropriate methods to contain, suppress, and/or eradicate weeds has been shown to be the best method of weed control. Below, Three Forks Mayor Gene Townsend further explains how multiple avenues are necessary to tackle the issue of weeds in trail maintenance.

Belgrade Planning

Planner Jason Karp met us in Belgrade and told us a little about trails and riding a bike in his area. As an avid road biker he could relate to the participants experience and the route they'd traveled.

Traffic Conflicts

Bikers and cars don't always get along. Here Mike explains how an updated trails plan for the county may help commuters of all types.

Rails to Trails

Mike talks a little about an old railroad right-of-way between Belgrade and Bozeman and the sizable impediments to using it as a connecting pedestrian route due to the purchase of portions of it by private land owners. The take home message is that oppertunities for creating infrastructure for pedestrian use are easily missed without careful planning and timely action.

Harper Pucket

Day 1

The Challenge got underway this morning with Dave Boggeman from the Gallatin Valley Bike Club, Marianne Amsden from the Gallatin County Parks and Trails Committee, and one citizen volunteer, Miyuki Ushida. The support crew consisting of Kerry White, Mike Harris and Ada Montague from the county and Chris Seifert from MontanaPBS, followed along in safety vehicles. The three traveled from the Regional Park at West Oak and Yellowstone, through the trails by the new Cheif Joseph middle school, along Harper Pucket and finishing on Alaska Road into Belgrade. They enjoyed the ride and noted the dust, traffic, and beautiful views along the way.