An off-the-cuff spring mulitsport.

Spring is a season of opportunity. Northern latitudes confine activity during the colder months, but as light lingers longer and the landscape grows iridescent green, we’re rewarded with a palette of fresh possibilities. As beautiful as winter is, as dearly as we love it, we’re comfortable waving it goodbye. Because in Bozeman, those possibilities are right out our back door.

It’s the middle of the week when Simon asks us if we want to dust off winter’s cobwebs with a camping trip up to Fairy Lake. It takes Jack, Annika, and me all of two seconds to agree. Aside from what we’ll eat and what toys we’ll bring, there isn’t much that needs planning. Simon sneaks out of work early with his bike loaded on the truck. The sun’s been hitting the west side of the Bangtails for a week and the singletrack up Grassy Mountain is dry. Low-hanging fruit, as far as he’s concerned.

Jack and I meet him at a campsite near the lake after his ride. We throw up tents, pile wood on the fire, and light a match. A couple hours ago we were responding to emails and editing Word documents. Now, we’re telling stories and sharing laughs as the cosmos comes alive. The fire roars as we feast and cheer late into the night.

Annika joins us in the morning, bright and early. Coffee, a quick bite, and we shoulder our packs. We hike the trail to Sacajawea. Halfway up the bowl we walk into the sunshine and shed a layer. Snow will melt today, but before it does, we’re going to lay ski tracks down a couple of the remaining lines in the northern Bridgers.

From the top of Pomp Peak, we ski a couple steep gullies down into the bowl and regroup at the bottom. After some high-fives and Snickers, we rig our packs again and head back up to the saddle, this time turning south. We contour Sac’s high point and stop for a break atop Naya Nuki’s most coveted couloir, The Great One. It’s a fine place to eat a sandwich and let the snow get a little bit warmer. In 15 minutes, we’ve got perfect corn.

The last turns of the season come in shorts and sunglasses. At the bottom, we celebrate by jumping off the rope swing into Fairy’s frigid water. There’s no lingering in this lake—not yet, at least. After a quick dip, we head back to camp for lunch. Then, it’s time to roll back to Bozeman and resume our lives down below.

Swimming in Fairy Lake

On the drive home, I stick my arm out the window to catch the breeze. Warm air rushes into the truck and folds back my hair. It’s the same sensation I had skiing that last line of the day, and I’m suddenly struck by what all has just happened. We’ve taken a mere half-day off work, yet it feels like so much more. We rode trails, scrambled up mountains, swam in alpine water, and we planned it all no more than a day in advance. Spring in Bozeman—what a time.