"Jack of all trades, master of none,
Though oftentimes better than master of one."
Chasing wide swaths of sunlight through the pines, I came to stop on a ridge high above Leverich Canyon, captivated by the view. Menacing thunderheads rolled in from the west, and in the final few minutes of calm, a stunning amber glow blanketed the valley. It seemed completely surreal—just a year ago you couldn’t have paid me to run down the block, and now a dozen miles of steep logging road had given me a front-row seat to one of the most beautiful sights in Bozeman. It was hard not to laugh.
But things weren’t always so cheerful. Last fall found me betrayed by the tendons in my right wrist, leaving me unable to rock climb—the only thing that had really mattered to me. Being incredibly focused on one thing is great, but if it gets taken away, you’re in a heap of trouble. “Specialization,” my friend had ominously told me for months leading up to my injury, “is for insects.”
After the self-pity wore off, the new goal was to become “eminently capable.” Able to do any task. Raft whitewater. Field dress an elk. Cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. To have life throw anything at me—and to be ready for it. To experience the full breadth of life, instead of just poring over climbing guidebooks and complaining about the steep hike to Practice Rock. Somewhere along the line, “comfortable” had replaced “happy” in my personal dictionary, and it was time to change that.
The hills around Bozeman couldn’t have provided a better backdrop. By losing one passion, a dozen more sprouted in its place. Biking the Bangtail Divide left me sore and bleeding—but ready for more. Hooking my first feisty rainbow had me giggling like a toddler. Learning to ski was an embarrassing ordeal, but it created unforgettable memories—for me and the Bridger ski patrol. The world was new and exciting every single day. By stepping out of my comfort zone, life had become so much richer, filled with new stories, friends, and scars.
It’s in this spirit that we created the O/B Hit List Contest (see page 10 for details). It’s our way of encouraging outdoorsy folks in Bozeman to experience something new and exciting—and then handsomely reward them for it. And as always, that same spirit is what drives this issue of Outside Bozeman, where we cover not just mainstream activities like fishing and skiing, but the entire gamut of outdoor recreation that southwest Montana has to offer.
So head into the mountains. Run the rivers. Do something you’ve never dreamed of, or that you’ve been thinking about for years but have never gotten around to. Explore Yellowstone’s Bechler region, climb the Sphinx, chase grouse in the Gallatin high country, launch a canoe into the Jefferson, or climb a frozen waterfall up Hyalite. Whatever—just have an adventure, and seek out a new passion. You won’t regret it. And you don’t have to look far to find a friend who’ll loan you gear—and maybe even serve as a guide—for the paltry fee of a few frosty libations.
Back on the trail, lightning crackled through fat, purple clouds above Chestnut Mountain. It was time to run. As my footfalls slowly increased their tempo down the dusty logging road, a smile overtook my face as I thought about the oncoming storm, the encroaching darkness, the impossible distance between me and the trailhead—and what new adventures tomorrow might bring.