Baldy Bootcamp

mount baldy, hiking, montana, bozeman, bridgers, bridger mountains, trails

Banging for your buck.

If you’re like me, you’re not a runner. And, you’re old. Not old in the elderly sense, but old in the sense that you turned 40 a couple years ago and your body doesn’t recover with the swiftness it used to. Gliding into ski season feeling strong, without a fall training regimen? Those days are over. While running can be painful and is not necessarily the exercise of choice for many, trail running indubitably has the most bang for the buck and is a great way to spend time in the splendid mountains around Bozeman. Clearly, the more one is willing to push through shoulder seasons while conquering physical and mental challenges, the more benefit one gets for primetime.

We’re old. Therefore, one can’t just hop off the couch and do a full Baldy lap.

Despite my lack of expertise in the field of running, I sure do believe that running to the summit of Baldy from the M Trailhead (speed-hiking steep sections permitted) is an ideal way to get in shape for ski season—to start the winter feeling strong instead of tapering off from biking and succumbing to drinking too early. When there’s not enough snow to really ski yet and the high-country biking is effectively done for the year, why not turn to the Bridger Ridge and start spinning Baldy laps from a trailhead that’s close enough to bike to?

Boasting 4,000 feet of elevation gain in approximately four miles, an M-to-Baldy run is not the sort of sufferfest one should jump up and get down cold turkey. As I mentioned before, we’re old. Therefore, one can’t just hop off the couch and do a full Baldy lap (or, moreover, run back down) without a significant warm-up. If you try it, your quads will be so tight, you’ll need a cane to hobble around the house for three days. It typically takes me two weeks to work up to the Full Monty, starting by just going up to the ridge above the M, then a little farther up the ridge before turning around, etc. Between burns, I sprinkle in some less-strenuous trail running on moderate terrain to work through the soreness and prep my legs for what’s to come. And then, once the snow flies, hiking the Ridge from the top of Bridger Lift is a walk in the park.

M-to-Baldy Round-Trip Timeline ID
3.5+ hours = Layperson
3-3.5 hours = Silicon Prairie employee true and true
2.5-3 hours = Making good time
2-2.5 hours = Hauling a$$
sub-2 hours = Pro