Friday night Brent and I took off with the Subaru loaded with camping gear and our friends, Scott and Sara Swanson (newlyweds)! We headed south of Bozeman to the Gravelly Mountain Range where we had ran the half at the Madison Marathon. We had been so impressed by the scenery and wanted a chance at experiencing it again without everything that goes with a race. We did not have a car up there with us the last time either so we could not go out exploring. We live only about and hour and a half away from the range but have never explored up there before. We decided to invite some friends and go up there. It took about two hours and fifteen minutes to make it up to the campground where I thought we would be surrounded by other people. To our surprise, we did not see one car on the way up nor was there anyone else at the campground. This was great! We were able to pick any site we wanted and we spread out. Both of us couples found our own little coves in the trees and set up our tents. Then we quickly made a fire to start dinner. By quickly I mean, Brent tried to start the fire but it took a little longer than expected. We blamed it and anything else unusual that happened on the elevation since we were at about 8,500 feet. It turned out to be a beautiful evening as we roasted our cheese brats over the fire and cooked the beans. The cheese fell into the fire making it sizzle and crack, but the fire never wanted to completely take off. We could not get it to burn bright or strong. This meant we needed to pull out our trusty headlamps and blankets. We relaxed by the fire and roasted our marshmallows. Cannot forget those s’mores when you go camping! We finally retired and went off to bed.
It was not the worst nights sleep I have had while camping nor was it the best, but it was enough to keep me going the rest of the day. I woke up wondering what time it was and finally managed to grab my watch. It was 6:20 a.m. and I thought to myself that we slept in too late. Brent and I were scheduled for a 12 mile run. I woke Brent up and we managed to change and get out on our way to go run again at 9,000 feet. Give or take a few hundred depending where we were running. We decided to run uphill. We ran from the campsite in the direction that we had run our half marathon. This time we were going in the opposite direction and knew that these hills would be more difficult than the ones we had experienced the previous month. It was a beautiful morning and almost a clear one as the haze from the surrounding fires over in Missoula and Idaho was bringing in unwanted smoke. The mornings tend to be a little clearer and easier to breathe. As we were taking in the beauty of God’s creation, Brent told me in a disappointed voice that his IT band was giving him problems. We were only about a half of a mile out. We walked for a few moments and then picked it back up. Sometimes Brent just needs a little break and then we can continue. We kept going for about another half mile or so. We had to throw in the towel. It was hurting him to much and we do not want him in any serious pain. It is too bad that we went out and bought him a foam roller, but did not bring it camping. I was a bit disappointed, as I had been looking forward to running up there again. Also, I knew that we would have to wake up early on Sunday to run and was not looking forward to that. We walked a good chunk of the way back and then jogged for the last little bit. Brent still did not feel the greatest, but it was only a few hundred feet.
We made it back to the campsite, changed and then went back down to the road and wondered around for a few minutes as our friends were not awake yet. I thought I saw a black blob in the distance and then I watched it move away. Not too sure what it was, but I was just glad that nothing headed our way. We had bear spray, but it was back in the tent. We watched the sun stream in through the trees and in the meadows. It was beautiful. We went back to the campsite again and decided that since it was 7:30 we could start building a fire and make a little bit of noise. We figured it was late enough and our friends could get up. We still tried to be as quiet as possible, but the sound was echoing and carrying away. I took a stab at building the fire this time and it seemed to work. We got it roaring away, put the percolator in the fire for coffee, and then Brent started making breakfast. Our friends wondered out of the tent just a bit before the coffee was ready. We sat around and enjoyed our coffee and then started making toast over the fire with the sticks. It was some of the best toast I have ever had. Brent’s sausage and egg scramble turned out to be mighty tasty. We finished off our coffee, had a little orange juice and then headed out in the car for a drive.
We drove the route of the half marathon, but continued on from the starting line into new territory. I cannot get over how beautiful it was up there. It was getting really hazy out, but we could still see for miles. In fact, at points we were almost above the haze. It was weird to see the line of the haze but neat because we were so high. We went off on a primitive road for a moment until Brent decided the ruts were too deep. Along the way we also saw a few sheep herders with the old school hard covered wagon looking campers and horses. We saw three or four different herds. All of the cowboys had these wagons and of course a few sheep dogs. I did not know that they still did it this way. You would think that they might use a modern day camper, but it must not be as efficient. What the life that would lead. Hanging out with the sheep all day to watch over them. It was a sweet sight. Brent got a little crazy with the driving as he felt like it should be a rally road. At one point he went a little faster on a curve and we went up one side of a berm then turned towards the other side of the road. Luckily the car stopped and we did not go into the ditch. It was a little bit of a freaky moment, but I think it got Brent’s rally urges out! Thank goodness.
We made it back to camp, made lunch, sat around the fire some more, and then packed up and headed down the road. All in all, it was a great camping trip with some good friends. I am excited for my next adventure up in the Gravelly Mountains. Maybe next time I can get my run in!