Saturday, July 30, 2011

I came, I saw, I climbed

Wednesday I relaxed, read, had some sushi in Bozeman-where I randomly ran into a guy named Adam from Hope who just happened to recognize me from campus.  That was all well and good, but when you are in Montana in July you have to get outdoors and do something.  This week that meant climbing a mountain-Emigrant Peak.  This was the obvious choice since it is opposite the ranch in the valley and stares us in the face every day.  This picture is from where we parked at the base.

Scott, Travis, and I packed lunches and left the ranch at 5:30am-ridiculously early, but I was excited for my first summit.  We arrived at the base about 45 minutes later and were on our way.  Things were on the up and up.  Literally.  The trail is a slight incline for about 5 minutes before getting down to business and turning into a pretty steep incline.  About one third of the climb is a meadow that is just about a 45º angle.

Emigrant could just as well be called stairmaster 8000 since that is about how many steps it takes to summit it.  After the meadow comes a short area of forest.  We took a break at Snack Break Rock, as we called it, before continuing on to the scree and last third of it.

  The scree is mostly made up of little rocks that slide down as you step on them.  One step forward results in half a step back most of the time.  Ridiculous.  When we hit the ridge near the top, we scared off a whole herd of mountain goats who were hanging out on the other side of it.
After that point, we knew we were close and the last bit actually was not too bad-mostly due to that fact. We followed this ridge to the top.
I have done a lot of new things out here in Montana, but this was definitely the most rewarding so far.  The view says it all.
The peak is 10,921 feet, and the total elevation gain from the trail head is 4,687 feet.  We summited in just under three hours, not too shabby at all.  We ate lunch at the summit, called our families just to say 'hey,' and drank in the amazing scenery.  We could see the Beartooth Range to the East, the Gallatin and Madison ranges to the West, and even the snowcapped Tetons to the Southwest.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


I finally got some pics from one of my friends, so here's me on a horse.  His name is Doc.  Yay riding!
Everything is starting to dry out here and you can see the brown slowly spreading from the valley up to the mountains.

In other news, since our chef is from Utah (but decidedly not Mormon), we mock-celebrated Pioneer Day on Sunday by having buffaloaf and Brigham Yams, among other things, for dinner, along with a sunday bar for the employees.  A good time was had by all.  Sometimes it is the little things that amuse you and keep you motivated in the middle of a long work season.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The world that is Montana

The other day I got up early and hopped in the car to head to Pine Creek, a creek with a hike up it nearby that is rumored to have an amazing set of waterfalls.  I headed out of the ranch at about 6:30am and down the 5 mile, twisting dirt road that is Big Creek.  Halfway down I encountered something you would only find in Montana-a herd of horses thundering up the road.

The ranch's horses are kept in the fields down in the valley and every morning the wranglers round them up and send them up Big Creek road to the coral at the ranch.  Horses are quite intelligent, and so know where they are going.  It only takes two or three wranglers to move upwards of 75 horses up the road.  The only trouble spot is the Y in the road, so one of them sits there and directs the horses up the correct fork.

Anyway, I came creeping around a corner and all of a sudden there were horses everywhere.  Knowing what was coming, I pulled over and let them pass.  Only in Montana.

It turns out Pine Creek was closed because they were spraying for some weed or bug, so I went to Dailey Lake instead and enjoyed the beauty of it.  No fish were caught (my original purpose), but it was still a solid morning.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Mountain Sky is a special place...and the food is nothing less than spectacular.  For dinner every night, we have two options for the main entrée, along with at least a first course and a dessert.  Two nights a week we have "gourmet" night, when we have five courses and wear black and white.  Those nights are awesome.  OK, they are more work, but all of that work is well worth it: 1) I love serving fine food like this and what I do, and 2) there is always extra for the employees to try (they have to have extra prepared because people will switch entree choices, bring friends, have their children eat with them, etc.)  The nights not listed we have buffets, which are pretty good, too.

Here is what we have had so far this week:

  • ·      Mixed greens tossed with red wine vinaigrette with grapes, granny smith apples, gorgonzola cheese, and candied walnuts
  • ·      Pan-seared Alaskan halibut served with smoked tomato Israeli couscous, lemon-roasted asparagus, finished with lemon coulis and chive relish
  • ·      Pan-seared chicken breast stuffed with fontina cheese and served on top of olive oil white polenta and ratatouille, finished with a Madeira reduction
  • ·      Baked cheesecake served with fresh strawberries

  • ·      Housemade boudon blanc ravioli with Portobello mushroom marsala sauce, sage, and shaved reggiano-parmesan
  • ·      Fresh mozzarella salad with basil-marinated grape tomatoes, artichokes, olives, and shaved prosciutto, finished with a balsamic reduction
  • ·      Pineapple coconut sorbet
  • ·      Filet of beef served over crushed fingerling potatoes with caramelized onions, topped with baby French green beans in an applewood bacon and gorgonzola cream sauce, finished with a roasted shallot and whiskey sauce
  • ·      Pan-seared duck breast with confit leg served alongside risotto-style potatoes, and sautéed green beans, finished with a port wine glaze
  • ·      Flourless chocolate decadence cake with homemade huckleberry icecream

  • ·      Mixed greens tossed in bleu cheese vinaigrette with cherry tomatoes, green onion, toasted walnuts, and pancetta
  • ·      Whole roasted Cornish game hen with an orange glaze, served over brown rice and mushroom risotto and vegetable tian, finished with port wine jus
  • ·      Pan-seared pork chop with mushroom risotto, kale sauté, and lemon vinaigrette
  • ·      Fresh apple spice cake with dulce de leche ice cream and a cinnamon and apple flavored sauce

  • ·      Pan-seared Alaskan King Salmon served over an orange-ginger buerre blanc and topped with fresh nectarine relish
  • ·      Italian mushroom soup with parmesan foam
  • ·      Strawberry-pomegranate sorbet
  • ·      Bison tenderloin filet served over root vegetable hash, topped with fried onions and finished with a roasted garlic demiglace
  • ·      Vegetable cannelloni served with roasted broccolini
  • ·      Marjolaine with fresh berries and raspberry sauce

One of my favorite meals is the Alaskan halibut with couscous.  The bison tenderloin is pretty darn good, too.  It's not every day that you have that, especially in the Midwest.  

Mountain Sky has showed me some new food and ways to prepare it.  Gotta love that-especially when I get to try all of it!  

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Cutting Butter

My second real job was bussing tables at the Bistro on the Boulevard in St. Joseph my junior year in high school.  One of the tasks I did every night there was cut butter to go along with the bread we gave all of our guests.  While it sounds like a simple job, butter does not always cooperate.  In fact, most of the time it does not.  It will often fall apart into chunks when you cut it (sigh).  Redo.

Needless to say, I have cut a lot of butter in the past five years or so while working in restaurants.  It turns out this is a very useful skill even today: I do it every night at Mountain Sky.  We bake fresh bread every day to put out at dinner, ranging from cherry rounds to ciabatta, and my personal favorite, focaccia.  Bread needs butter, so we cut enough for 60 people every night.

All of those years of practice are coming in handy.  I never thought it would be a skill I would reuse.  Maybe it deserves a line in my resume under the "Skills" category.

In other news, does anyone have any job ideas for the winter for me?  I will be unemployed as of November 1.  Willing to travel and/or relocate.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Yellowstone again

On my day off today I went to Yellowstone with a buddy and we hit up a stream flowing off of a lake.  We hiked about 2 miles to Grizzly lake with an inflatable boat that turned out to be useless due to the high wind, but found the stream instead.  There was a mayfly hatch-perfect!  Fish were jumping left and right for flies.  We threw on some matching imitations and nailed 'em.  My first brook trout was about 4 inches long, but they only got longer after that.  My biggest was about 9 inches.

The sun was shining all day long and the breeze kept us cool enough when we were not hiking.  All in all a perfect day.  To top it off we then drove to the Gibbon river and fished for twenty minutes or so, just enough time for my buddy to catch a 22 inch brown trout.

Getting out into Yellowstone to hike would have been enough for me, but catching fish was just a bonus.  The beauty of the park gets me every time.  There was no place I would rather have been today than catching brook trout while surrounded by one of the most beautiful landscapes on Earth.  If you have not been outside for a while, get outside.  Smell the wild roses, lupine, balsam root, or whatever grows by you.  Take a walk in the woods.  At least for me, there is nothing like enjoying the beauty of nature, and nothing that compares.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Some Pics

To give you an update of where Mother Nature is out here in relation to wherever you are, the lilacs are blooming right now.  So are the balsam root, lupine, phlox, and sticky geraniums in the meadows around here.  These pictures say more than I could in a couple hundred words about how beautiful it is out here.

Notice how much less snow there is on Emigrant Peak in the fourth picture compared to some of the earlier ones I have posted.  The last picture is from Yellowstone.