What a weekend for snow lovers!
Last weekend felt like it belonged in January, with all the great new snow. What better way to enjoy it than with a day of snowmobiling and watching my oldest kid Harry in a ski competition at Snowbowl, his home away from home every weekend this winter.
Last Saturday, after doing the Montana Outdoor Radio Show early in the morning, we decided to go sledding up in the Seeley Lake area.
The fresh snow that most of the state received last week really made for a fun day on the trails. Ken Ault, Arlyn Lemer, and Rod Dietz accompanied me. All three had not been out very much this winter so they were excited to go.
Dietz was anointed our makeshift guide for the day. He has a cabin in the area and knows the backcountry very well.
As we pulled into Seeley Lake, it was evident that we weren’t the only ones with the idea of riding in the up-to-three-feet of fresh powder.
Along the snowmobiling trail, we stopped and chatted with some visitors from Alberta, Canada. They were impressed with the snow conditions and the hospitality that the locals had extended to them.
During our brief conversation during the middle of the day, they didn’t even bring up the Canadian over the USA hockey team in the recent Winter Olympics — probably because they thought we had a lot to do with getting their ice skaters a much-deserved gold medal. At least we took credit for it.
Later on in the afternoon, we headed out to the actual lake at Seeley. There we found Stevensville ice angler Jim Farrington about ready to go out for a late afternoon spearing adventure.
Farrington had been up there since Friday and had some success luring northern pike into the bottom of his spearing hut. He had about a four-pounder in the cooler and was optimistic about the prospects for harvesting some more.
A couple of my snowmobiling partners had never seen the inside of a spearing hut before, so Farrington gave them the nickel tour and explained how the whole spearing process works. There were about six other spearing huts on the ice, with action reported to be pretty good recently.
On Sunday, my wife Dawn and I headed for Snowbowl to watch Harry compete in a mogul freestyle competition. He has been in ski training since December spending every Saturday on the local ski hill.
It was fun to watch him and the other kids. Harry did well and finished in the middle of the pack.
I hadn’t been to Snowbowl for quite some time and was very impressed with the improvements the owner Brad Morris has made. They now have a hotel and have expanded the kitchen in the bar with more square footage to accommodate a lot more hungry skiers. Their pizza really hit the spot.
I talked to Pat McKay, Snowbowl’s “Mountain Man”. McKay has been overseeing the slopes at Snowbowl since 1988 and is impressed with this year’s snowfall. It is about normal with the mountain receiving a little over 100 inches.
That amount is considerably more snow than last year, but pales in comparison to the 1996-97 year when Snowbowl had 400 inches of snow, according to McKay. Every skier we talked to said the snow conditions were excellent.
In other late winter fishing news, ice anglers made their way back out to the newly formed ice from the cold snap last week. Chef Vince Pernicano, from Lolo, said he went with a buddy to Georgetown Lake Sunday and only caught three brook trout. Chef Vince said there were quite a few anglers on the lake and the ones he talked to said the fishing was so-so.
Pin Larson and Tom Collins of Missoula did very well steelhead fishing on the Clearwater in Orphino. They landed six fish in one day, according to Larson.