Meet the founders of Glacier’s longest-running hiking group
Planning a hike in Glacier National Park anytime soon? Here’s a story you’ll want to read.
Imagine hiking in park once a week for the past 39 years.
Introducing the Over the Hill Gang:
Story and photos by Becky Lomax
On a gray drippy day, a group of 16 Flathead Valley hikers, ages 60 to mid-80, eyeball the pouring rain.
Inside their restaurant meeting place on the west side of Glacier National Park, no one looks at a menu to order breakfast.
The waitress, greeting the regulars by name, asks, “You want the usual?”
One member quips, “With the rain, maybe we should stick around for lunch.”
But weather does not deter these weekly hikers. Not rain, snow or single-digit temperatures.
Every Thursday, nearly year round, the Over the Hill Gang meets at the Glacier Grill in Coram.
After breakfast, they depart to multiple trailheads – some to lung-busting, seldom-visited peaks, and others to worn paths where every red mudstone and gnarled sub-alpine fir is a familiar friend.
It was 1976 when five men in their 60s launched the Over the Hill Gang.
Read the rest of the story here
Montana fish tales: This guy’s got ’em
Never a bad time to hear a good fish tale. Right?
Well, Bud Lilly has got you covered in this great story from Montana Standard editor David McCumber:
THREE FORKS – If there’s one thing just about everybody in Montana who cares about trout fishing has agreed on for the past six or seven decades, it’s that Bud Lilly is a really nice guy.
Well, yes, most of the time. But it must be told: Bud Lilly has a sadistic streak.
I am driving down a back road near the confluence of the Gallatin, Jefferson and Madison rivers on a beautiful sunny July morning, and Bud is riding shotgun.
Bud, who will turn 90 on Aug. 13, has macular degeneration, and his vision is no longer perfect, though I suspect it’s a lot better than he lets on. Anyway, as a consequence, he’s wearing wraparound shades under his flat-brimmed Stetson, giving him sort of a sinister, Harry Dean Stanton look. Perfect for what transpires next.
Abruptly he says, “You have your fly-fishing outfit with you?”
“Then turn here,” he says. “Park right there at the end of the bridge.”
We get out of the truck and walk onto the bridge.
“Any rising?” he demands. He knows darned well what I’m looking at. The water of the lower Gallatin is low and clear. From the bridge downstream for 20 yards, fish are rising all over the river like popcorn on a hot skillet.
“Put on a dry with a nymph dropper,” Bud says. “Just some sort of little bead-head.”
I soon realize to my horror that I’m missing two fly boxes out of my vest, and the smallest bead-head nymphs I’ve got are No. 14s.
“Too big,” he grunts. “Try anyway.”
Bud stays on the bridge, watching, and I head down to do battle.
I tie on the smallest caddis fly I have and from the hook drop the aforementioned bead-head hare’s ear on about a foot of tippet.
I flip the dry-dropper rig out into the middle of a full-on boil of feeding trout and whitefish.
I slug it through there maybe a dozen times, trying different lanes, dead-drifting then stripping it back. I’m certainly not putting the fish down – they are still chowing everywhere I look. Continue Reading
Our cover shot story: Windmill in the Montana sunset
Our cover images are the capstone of each issue, the photo introduction that grabs readers and pulls them in.
It’s a intricate process to pick just the right picture each issue. But once the right one comes across our screens, it’s an easy decision.
We’re honored to have Kurt Wilson’s image of a water pumping windmill for the July/Aug. 2015 issue. It’s an idyllic symbol of Montana’s homesteading era, is silhouetted against a summer sunset in Broadus.
But how did Wilson set himself up to get the shot? In a sentence, it’s about taking the time to experience Montana.
- See all the stories from the July/Aug. 2015 issue here
Wilson’s work has taken him down every paved road in Montana and across thousands of miles of dirt, gravel and gumbo.
He shot our cover image in the summer of 2014 while on a photographic project that took him to every corner of the state.
In celebration of the 150th anniversary of Montana becoming a territory, Missoulian photography editor Kurt Wilson followed the trail of Montana’s roadside historical markers throughout the state. Here is the complete collection of photographs he made during one-week trips through six regions of the state beginning in April and ending in October.
- See the entire Roadside Wanderings project here
Here’s where you can view and read more about our 2015 cover selections.
Montana mountains see snow in July
We’ve had a bit of a cold snap in Montana to start the week. That means temps in the low 60s (versus the low 90s) in most places.
But not at Big Sky Resort. The ski hill’s web cam showed a pretty healthy dose of snow falling on Lone Peak, as captured by the interactive Tram cam.
We shouldn’t be too surprised, right? You never know what the weather might bring in Big Sky Country.
But not to worry: Forecasts in most areas of the state say we’ll be back to regular temperatures by the end of the week.
Send us your weather pictures from across Montana. Send images to email@example.com.
Here’s a link to some our recent top reader photos.
Helena loses its most passionate baseball fan
We were very saddened to hear of the passing of Mary Gunstone last week. Mary was featured in our May/June 2015 issue in a feature that introduced us to her passion for the Helena Brewers baseball team.
In the three decades since, Gunstone has only missed two games: the first for her father’s funeral and the second for her 50th class reunion.
Her commitment, especially at this low level of minor league baseball, has not gone unnoticed.
“It seems like every ballpark has some fan or special story about a fan who frequents those games,” said Paul Fetz, Brewers general manager. “But I’ve never in my 25 years in the game encountered a fan who does what she does, the effort she puts forward for these players.”
We’ve posted the full story about Mary this weekend. Take a look at what made her the best baseball fan in Montana.
You can read Mary’s obituary here.
Top reader photos: Night skies of Montana
We’ve got a pretty great edition of our Top Reader Photos for you this week, as we celebrating the sights of Montana skies.
Take a look at these gorgeous nighttime shots from our readers. Talk about the Big Sky State, right?
Do you have Montana photos to share? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
4-H kids: ‘They want to step in and lead’
Gotta love 4-H!
Here’s a sweet story about some Eastern Montana kids who are showing off their 4-H projects at the Mussellshell County Fair:
By Mike Ferguson
ROUNDUP — Sheldon Serrano, who lives outside Roundup, is a big fan of the Palomino pony named Sandy who was readying herself to take the 9-year-old Signe Cougars 4-H member around a trail course Wednesday as part of the Musselshell-Golden Valley 4-H and Youth Fair.
The weeklong fair concludes Saturday at the Musselshell County Fairgrounds.
“She’s not too fast and not too slow,” Sheldon said while waiting for his turn at an event that includes the rider opening and shutting a gate, taking the horse through a pair of cones, over a wooden bridge, across to check the contents of a mailbox, through some logs and, finally, over to a waiting judge.
“She’s a seasoned professional,” laughed Sheldon’s mother, Brenda, who was also there to cheer on her daughter, Mackenzie, aboard a horse named Carl, a horse shared by mother and daughter.
“I love 4-H, because I get to spend a week with my friends,” said Mackenzie, 11. “Plus it’s fun to work with animals and share what I’ve learned.”
That’s part of the fun at the fair, which opened Monday and runs through Saturday afternoon. More than 160 4-H youth and other children have the opportunity to learn, share their knowledge — and have fun, said Robert Goffena, a Musselshell County commissioner and 4-H leader.
“This helps us raise a whole generation of kids who know where their food comes from,” he said.
Mandie Reed, Extension agent in Wheatland County, came over to judge chickens and pocket pets, among others. This week wasn’t the first time.
“It is great to see these kids year after year,” she said. “I love these small fairs because they jump right into it. They just keep getting better and better.”
Abby Pascall, of Roundup, who’s 16 and belongs to the Golden Creek 4-H Club, brought four of her 10 Australorp chickens to show. All 10 are named Ellen. Australorps, she noted, are prodigious egg-layers, and hers are no different; she collects an average of eight eggs each day from her 10 Ellens, all of them free-range chickens.
The most difficult part in the lead-up to the fair, said her mother, Rachel Myrstol, might be record-keeping. Youth have to list everything from what they fed their animals to the activities youth undertook in the lead-up to the fair.
“4-H has helped bring her out of her shell,” Myrstol said with a smile. “Being able to speak to someone with everyone watching you — it’s made a big difference.”
Read the full story here.
Wildfire closes Going-to-the-Sun
It’s wildfire season in Montana. And thanks to drought in many areas, it’s shaping up to be a bad one.
Most notably this week: A growing wildfire in Glacier National Park has closed most of Going-to-the-Sun Road.
That made a scary night for many visitors hoping to stay in the area. Mountain Pine Motel owner Terry Sherburne was booked up and wondering where all the misplaced travelers would stay.
“It’s pretty tough – there’s no place I know of in East Glacier that has rooms for tonight, and all those people at Rising Sun will need to go someplace.”
A friend of Sherburne’s who manages the Two Dog Flats Grill at Rising Sun “can’t get back to get her things,” he said, and will be spending the night on the only spare bed he has – a rollaway cot he’ll move into his living room.
“I’m sure if I had 30 more rooms I could rent them tonight,” Sherburne said.
Worse: Weather conditions for the rest of the week are worrisome.
You can find updates on the Reynolds Creek Fire at the Missoulian.com.
Until then, here’s more stories from our July/Aug issue.