Bridger’s Baldy

I like timing my hikes for two reasons – first, knowing how long a hike takes so I Hiking in the Bridger Mountainsknow what hike I can pack into the time I have. Second, I like to know my pace, judging my fitness and comparing different terrain. Last week, Mike E and I had a conversation about how, at our age, we need to combine fitness and fun. We’re not old (we’re not 24 either) just busy, so every moment has to be budgeted, efficient, effective.

Got to the trail head about 4:30, timing it just right to avoid the after work onslaught. There is only one car in the upper lot. The Dog and I plan on hiking Baldy via the Sypes trail head. I haven’t hiked in about a week and a half because I have been very busy with my various work projects so I wondered how my body would respond.

After the short uphill at “burn out bulge” (you know, the little overlook about a half mile in. It’s last uphill on the way out and I usually charge it. Hence the “burn out”) my body clicked into the first warm up stage and the dog and I hit our pace, her canter becoming more fluid and springy and my stride lengthened. Half way through the second switchHiking in the Bridger Mountains back leading up to the overlook I feel my body lighten, my lungs relax all the life tension cut loose and rise away from me. I grin and step up the pace another notch.

It took me an hour and 15 minutes to get to the Bridger Recreation Trail junction.

Three miles an hour up hill, even stopping to pee, snap photos and space out on the view. Not too bad, I told myself, a little worried I would be out of shape. But, just the opposite, I had a lot of energy and stress to burn off. But, even at this pace we are passed by a mountain biker and two people training for the Ridge Run. It just makes me hike faster, even jogging some sections.

We leave the junction and enter the steeper Hiking in the Bridger Mountainssection, skirting the buttressed ridge and entering the shadow of the opaque mountain hood. This brings a little relief as we push up, ever mindful of the pace, the train of thought and mountain lion habitat. Meditation, footwork, positivity, awareness and, always, back to breath.

We summit in two hours and 10 min.

At the summit I sheepishly ask another Ridge Runner trainee, who had come up from the M, to snap a shot of me. Since I am a photographer, I rarely indulge in photos of myself or “snap a shot” because I feel weird demeaning my photographic gear and process in that way. But, instead of 15lbs of camera gear hanging off my belt and chest, I have a little point and shoot in the cargo pocket of my shorts, so the only thing being demeaned is me. I do miss my 11-16mm with the polarizer for the scenic shots.
 …took some photos, listened to eagles, let the wind and the shadows from clouds play across my face, gentle breeze just teased the sun out from the clouds, hazy rays are dusting the valley, the dog snoozes… - my contribution in the summit log.

For an extra workout we run all the way back to the car, pausing briefly to admire the steaming pile of mountain lioHiking in the Bridger Mountainsn shit in the middle of the trail that wasn’t there on the way up. Hi Kitty. Good Kitty.

It takes about an hour to get to the beer wrapped in a coozy, which is wrapped in a sweatshirt to keep it cold. Beer always tastes best after a great workout.


Text and Photos by Aaron Schultz

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