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Snow Pack & Snowmobiles

The reports from the snow guaging stations just came out and all locations in Western Montana are above average. The Big Hole Basin is at 110 percent of average and way above the depth from last year which was pretty shallow. This is good news for the skiers, snowmobiler’s and especially for the rivers. We need that heavy snowpack to sustain a good flow in free stone rivers like the Big Hole. In the report they stated that the six year drought may be over but they wouldn’t commit to it yet.

Speaking of snowmobiles, about a week ago I just got mine out of the shop for a complete tune up which cost me $400. The guy who owns the shop is a friend of mine and I asked him if that wasn’t getting rather pricey for a tune up. He assured me it was not as they put new slides on it and cleaned the carbs and new rollers in the clutch and it was fine to go.

I wanted to try it out so I took it to Quartz Hill and headed up to Vipond Park. I was by myself and this is not a good thing to do but I thought this thing is running great now and it won’t let me down. I just got to the top of Vipond, which is a high immense mountain meadow with panoramic views all around and the clutch started to sieze up. I was about ten miles from my pickup and the only panic that set in was my thoughts of how soon I could get my hands around the throat of my good friend back at his shop. I sat their for awhile and reminded myself of how I did this once before about five years ago when I had to walk out of the mountains in the dark and got to my pickup at six in the morning. That night there was about a half moon so visibility was good and it was mostly down hill. After trudging a few miles down the trail I encountered a cow moose with her calf. Now normally I would back off this situation as a cow with her calf can get quite agressive. This time I stood my ground and yelled at her that I was tired, my legs were tired and I don’t want any crap out of you. She stood there for a moment glaring at me and then stepped off the trail into the willows as if to say, “well go ahead then”. She was no more than fifty feet from me when I passed her and then I looked back at her and said, “thank you” and went on my merry way. Her and her calf got back on the packed trail and headed in the opposite direction–nice encounter.

Now back to my situation the other day. After tugging on the drive belt I got it loose enough to start the machine and had it headed down the trail. I baby’ed it as much as I could and said a few prayers and the combination of these got me back to my pickup.

Do as I say, not as I do. Never go into the back country with a snowmobile by yourself. I don’t care if it’s brand new, it will break down. Whenever I go out the pockets of my snowmobile suit are filled with matches, candy bars, jerky, flash light and the same in the storage hole on the sled. I look like the Pillsbury Doughboy I got so much stuff packed in. When I was on the top of Vipond I actually found some jerky that was in my possibles bag in the sled from last year, it had a bit of mold on it but it would have better than chewing on an old fir tree.


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