Riding Big Sky, Montana Was An Ultimate Time
by Scott A. Sumner
Another day of riding in Montana was at Big Sky Mountain about half way between West Yellowstone and Bozeman. This area is also known as a world class ski area and is home to such major business people as Bill Gates.
Ed Hake is the owner of Canyon Adventures in Big Sky which has been operating since 1975 and offers a back country trip from beginner to more advanced. “ We are required to put beacons on everybody. Our riding area of Buck Ridge is mostly national forest and open back county riding. You are up high and there is that possibility of avalanche. It is a back country experience with beautiful views. You will see the peaks of Lone Mount,” said Ed Hake. “ We have two miles of highway to ride and then the trail and it starts opening up. There is some steep hills if you want to ride there. People play in the meadows and learn how to carve in the powder. My son is one of the best snowmobiled riders and he will be your guide today.”
“ The majority of our clients are skiers up at Big Sky who want to do something different for a day or two. That is 95% of our business. Some bring their own sleds but we recommend a guide here. Your mind wil be blown up there,” said Ed. We don’t combine groups. They are their own groups. We have 7 guides with Avalanche 1 certifications. All of the guides have CPR and Wilderness First Aid. Our guides have to ride with us for two years before we hire them. It is a great area and we customize their trip to them not to the other group. Our main sled is a stock 2009 Arctic Cat M6. They are a good mountain sled.”
Our ride began on a beautiful sunny day in Montana. “We start at 6200 and climb to 9500. The highest peak is Lone Peak at 11,166 feet. It is also a ski resort. and they have a tram running to the top of that. We went about 12 miles from the shop at Canyon Rentals in a gradual climb with some beautiful views. Basically we have 20 miles of trail so if you stay on the trail you would be done in half hour. There is unlimited back country,” said Eddie Hake, guide. “ I let you go and give a few pointers where to go and not to go. As a guide I am sitting up on top of the meadow watching everything to see how you do and how well everyone listens. It is a really big thing. From here depending on how well the customers do I decide where we go next. I don’t mind digging people out as long as it is in the right places. We sell a back country adventure trip and can take you as far as you want to go as long as your are in the safe zones. Very quickly here you can get into an avalanche zone.”
“ The biggest thing as a snowmobiler is the persons thought process because it is going to hurt if you don’t think. Even on the trail you have to think about what you do next. There could be a great big ravine up ahead and do I pin it? You have to have the right thought process,” said Eddie. “ At the beginning of the ride up were at Head of Beaver River we crossed near the highway. Now we are at 9500 feet which is high for a commercial use. The air is pretty thin but if you have lived here all your life you are used to it. Some clients get short of breath.The more athlettic you are the more you can adjust.”
Riding Big Sky with guide Eddie was perhaps the best snowmobiling of my life. The fresh powdery snow and magnificently peaks at every view made for a spectacular day!
The cost to rent a sled at Canyon Rentals is $185 for a full day and half day is $140. The guide is an $150 additional for up to 5 people. www.snowmobilemontana.com