Chronicle Outdoors

Dedicated to outdoor adventure in Southwest Montana

.: Welcome To the Chronicle Outdoors blog :.

Remember the first time you cast a fly line on a Montana river? How about your inaugural run through fresh powder in the Bridger Range, that first bull elk in the Crazy Mountains or setting fresh eyes on Yellowstone National Park? Welcome to the Chronicle Outdoors blog maintained by Chronicle Outdoors editor and photographer Ben Pierce. We'll focus on Montana's wild places, all the adventure they provide and the hidden gems along the way. Stop back often. Share your thoughts. And have fun out there.

  • .: Yellowstone View :.

    Yellowstone View
  • Rapid Return: Gallatin River Whitewater Festival back in action June 29-30

    Posted By on June 27, 2013

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    Rafters pick their lines through the House Rock rapid on the Gallatin River near Big Sky, Montana. Photo by Ben Pierce.

    After a three-year hiatus, the Gallatin River Whitewater Festival is back. Festival events, including a down river race, boater cross and community raft slalom, will take place this weekend in Gallatin Canyon.

    This year’s event is being organized by David Zinn, founder of Wave Train Kayak Team, a nonprofit that provides summer adventure kayaking programs for children ages 10 to 18.

    “I am bringing back the festival because we have a great whitewater resource in our backyard,” Zinn said Monday. “It is exciting to bring all the facets of the whitewater community together in one place to build that community.” (more…)

    Blackburn bamboo rods: Bozeman rod maker hones craft of cane rod building

    Posted By on June 20, 2013

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    By BEN PIERCE Chronicle Outdoors

    Bill Blackburn’s father bought him his first fly rod at Bargaintown in Manheim, Pa., in 1958.

    It cost three dollars. It was built of bamboo. And it paved a path Blackburn still walks today.

    Blackburn is the owner of W.W. Blackburn Rod Company. His modest shop on Flathead Ave. produces about 30 rods a year, each crafted from start to finish with meticulous attention to detail and sold to anglers around the world. (more…)

    Running House Rock: Boaters enjoy whitewater on the Gallatin River

    Posted By on May 17, 2013

    C. Neff of Livingston, Mont., talks about whitewater fever and running House Rock and the Mad Mile during spring runoff on the Gallatin River in southwest Montana.

    A dog’s guide to the Bozeman area’s best early season hikes

    Posted By on April 4, 2013

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    Kato hikes along the Middleview Trail at Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park on April 2, 2013. Photo by Ben Pierce.

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    By BEN PIERCE Chronicle Outdoors

    My dog’s been looking at me funny.

    This winter I’ve been consumed by home improvement projects. Instead of reaching for the skis or the fishing rod, I’ve been reaching for the hammer and the saw.

    That’s meant less time catching fish and carving turns – and less time frolicking outside for little Kato. (more…)

    Climbing with Conrad: Ice climb with one of world’s elite alpinists renergizes soul

    Posted By on March 28, 2013

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    The writer's son ice climbs in Hyalite Canyon.

    By NICK EHLI, Chronicle Managing Editor

    I am not much of an athlete.

    As a skier, I embody mediocrity, and although I play a fair bit of basketball, it’s worth noting that one of the guys in my regular game has two fake hips. Also, my cholesterol level approaches that of a jar of Miracle Whip.

    So you can appreciate my trepidation when I received the following email from Bozeman resident and world-class mountaineer Conrad Anker, who has been to the summit of Mount Everest on a mere three occasions: “If you would like to try ice climbing, please let me know. It is a ton of fun and the season is in good shape.”  (more…)

    Just a midge: Sometimes the smallest flies catch the most trout

    Posted By on March 21, 2013

    March means midge fishing in Montana. Warming weather and calm, overcast days have combined to create ideal conditions for prolific hatches on local rivers.

    And when the wind stops blowing in Paradise Valley, the midge fishing has been excellent on DePuy, Nelson and Armstrong spring creeks.

    “My buddies have been fishing midges on the cloudy days or on the shaded water,” Dean Reiner of Hatch Finders Fly Shop in Livingston said Tuesday. “If you see fish eating something on the surface and you can’t tell what it is, it’s probably a midge.”  (more…)

    Need for speed: Skate skiers taking cross-country skiing, enjoyment to new heights

    Posted By on March 7, 2013

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    Tom Klein, 65, of Bozeman, skate skis at Bohart Ranch Cross Country Ski Center on Wednesday. Photo by Ben Pierce.

    When Bill Koch took the silver medal in the 30 km cross-country ski competition at the 1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, he became the first – and remains the only – North American male to medal in the event.

    Koch would go on to popularize a cross-country ski technique employed during the Games. Skate skiing has gone on to become an Olympic event in its own right, and captured the attention of skiers the world over.

    Tom Klein, of Bozeman, took his third skate skiing lesson at Bohart Ranch on Wednesday with ski instructor John Skemp. (more…)

    Beacon Park gives backcountry users chance to develop emergency skills

    Posted By on January 31, 2013

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    Jay Pape, education coordinator for the Friends of the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center, turns on avalanche beacons at Beacon Park in Bozeman on Jan. 29, 2013. Beacon Park is designed to help backcountry users familiarize themselves with avalanche gear including beacons and probes needed in a rescue situation. Photo by Ben Pierce.

    Whether it’s adventure, ego or a desire to push the limits, this much is clear: an increasing number of skiers, snowboarders and snowmobilers and venturing deeper and deeper into the backcountry.

    With the pursuit of the perfect line comes added risk. Avalanche fatalities have been on the rise across the U.S. over the past 60 years with thirty-four avalanche-related fatalities occurring last winter alone.

    In an effort to mitigate avalanche risk, the Bozeman Parks and Recreation Department has teamed up with the Friends of the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center to offer an avalanche training course at Beall Park. Dubbed “Beacon Park,” the course allows visitor to practice using avalanche beacons and probes in a safe and convenient setting. (more…)

    Anatomy of an ice jam: Gallatin River ice event illustrates force of winter ice jams

    Posted By on January 17, 2013

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    By BEN PIERCE Chronicle Outdoors

    Last month an ice jam broke on the Gallatin River upstream from Big Sky. The resulting ice flow scoured the river, uprooted trees and killed hundreds of fish. It stranded an angler on an island – who was later saved by search and rescue personnel – and briefly quintupled the volume of water in the river near Gallatin Gateway.

    Jon Patten, 70, of Colorado Springs, Colo., was there when the ice jam broke. He managed to capture the event on his iPhone and posted the video to YouTube.

    “The water was bank to bank, dark brown, had big ice chunks in it and was roiled,” Patten said. “The crunching of the ice on the banks was really loud. The sheer walls of ice would just shred the trees on the banks. It was amazing.” (more…)

    Photo essay: View from the duck blind

    Posted By on January 7, 2013

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    Waterfowl hunter Peter McCarthy of Helena runs a jet boat up the Bighorn River as dawn breaks on Saturday. Photo by Ben Pierce.

    The Bighorn River is one of Montana best waterfowl hunting destinations. Here’s a collection of photographs from a duck hunting trip on the Bighorn River taken Dec. 29-30, 2012.