After three beautiful spring days in a row, you’re itching to get out. The weather looks great for the weekend, so you’ve made plans with a friend to explore a new drainage in the Spanish Peaks. It’s the quintessential alpine start: up before the sun for a long day in the mountains. Maybe it’s shed hunting, catching some spring turns, fishing the early melt-out, or just a long, meandering hike—regardless, the anticipation is killing you. After days poring over maps and collecting intel around town, you’ve got a rock-solid game plan: Saturday morning, 5am, the adventure begins. What could possibly go wrong?
After a restful eight hours of sleep, you jump out of bed an hour before the alarm goes off. You snag a breakfast burrito from the fridge and pour a cup of coffee, already brewed as you pre-programmed it last night. With time to spare, you peruse the Chronicle, reading about a city initiative to pave 12 miles of bike lanes in town. Ah… what a great place to live. Your gear is neatly laid out by the door and you slip on your boots, which are toasty from a night beside the heater. Having heard about your expedition, your roommates let you park in the garage last night, so you didn’t have to vie for street parking. You turn into your friend’s driveway a few minutes early and he’s waiting outside, boots on and backpack loaded. He’s awake and perky, and you start the morning with a fulfilling debate regarding a philosophy lecture you both attended at MSU last week. The streets are empty as you cruise down Main Street, hitting every green light to Four Corners. You fly past the gas stations—filled the tank yesterday—and head into Gallatin Canyon just as the sky lights up in a dull orange glow. The mountains rise high above and you’ve got the entire day to explore them. You and your buddy smile in unison, eager to soak in the splendor of springtime in Montana.
You snooze the alarm for the third time and roll out of bed with a splitting headache—shouldn’t have had that last whiskey-ditch. You can only find one boot, and stumble around the yard chasing your roommate’s stupid, untrained dog in circles to retrieve your footwear. You search for a clean cereal bowl but can’t find one, and you ran out of coffee filters last week. After gathering all your gear, you hop in your beater ’03 Outback. The engine turns over a few times but doesn’t catch—crap, battery’s dead. When you rouse your roommate to snag his keys for a jump, he’s pissed. You arrive at your friend’s house two hours late and lay on the horn until you see his bedroom illuminate. The sun’s already rising over the Bridgers by the time you finally pull out of his driveway. By the time you hit 19th, your friend is sawing logs in the passenger seat. You stop in Four Corners for gas and get roped into a 20-minute conversation about the cashier’s new tarantula-breeding hobby. At 10am, you turn onto the highway, joining an unremitting line of contractors and weekend warriors also heading toward Big Sky. You silently fume at the bumper-to-bumper traffic as you brake for the 200th time to avoid ramming idiots who don’t know how to use their blinkers. Just as the traffic thins out, your buddy, who’s rummaging around in the back for aspirin, asks, “Hey, why do you only have one boot in here?”