View Full Version : Cooke City Montana Dec. 2006

12-26-2006, 02:13 PM
Our trip to Cooke City Montana was incredible! It kicked my butt and it literally took my breath away. I learned A LOT while I was out there. The biggest lesson is I need to lose this extra weight and get some real muscle! I was very disappointed in my lack of physical ability. The desire and want is there, but I physically could not do what I wanted. I know if I was physically fit the asthma would not have been an issue either. I canít wait to go back!! In the meantime Ė I kick the weight loss and strength training in the butt!!

Departure time: Saturday December 16th Ė 4:30 PM.

At about 9:00 PM in the middle of no where, I realized I had forgotten my asthma medication. Weíd have to wait til we got to Billings Montana to take care of it. How dumb was that Ė the only thing the doc said was make sure you take your meds with you! DOH!

At about 1:30 AM on Sunday, all of us were snoozing Ė except Jim, he was driving. All of the sudden I donít hear the hum of the engine, but we are still moving Ė I ask Jim ďwhatís wrong!Ē Jim says ďI just ran out of fuel!Ē YEP Ė mile marker 17 on I-94 West Bound, 17 miles from Beach North Dakota and about 35 miles past Dickenson North Dakota. Why didnít he stop in Dickenson, dunno. Thank goodness Doug and DeAnn have AAA. 2 hours later AAA showed up with 5 gallons of Diesel fuel Ė just enough to get us to the Flying J truck stop in Beach North Dakota. Did I ever tell you Jim was a professional truck driver for over 10 years? 2.5 hour delay.

Without further incident, we arrive in Billings Montana; we eat breakfast and locate a pharmacy to get my asthma medication. 2 hour delay.

Back on the road Ė heading to Laurel where we drop off the interstate onto the highways that take us to Chief Joseph Highway. We make our last stop for fuel at the Mavrick Ė GREAT hot chocolate!


We finally arrive to Chief Joseph Highway - in other words, the GOAT TRAIL through the mountains! Max speed 20 MPH due to the ice and snow pack on the road. It was BEAUTIFUL!! The sun was shining, the sky was clear blue! It was BREATH TAKING! Lots of deer playing on the sides of the roads Ė they would watch us drive past, almost like they were saying hi and drive careful! AMAZING!! 3 hours drive time to go 62 miles.


FINALLY we reach the parking lot! Sunday afternoon around 2:00 PM. The parking lots were loaded with trucks and sleds! We quickly unload the sleds, load our gear up on the sleds and take off for Cooke City. Pictures Ė I totally forgot to get my camera out of the bag before I packed it on my sled! DOH!

We arrive at Antlers, they are not ready for us. The cabins we reserved, we donít get. Doug and DeAnn get a cabin that smells like a backed up sewer. They move to a different one that has two queen beds and is toasty warm. Jim and I get this little tiny cabin that is pretty cold when we go in. It has one full bed and a twin bunk bed. We unload our gear, change to riding gear and hit the trails. No time to worry about our accommodations Ė it will be dark soon.

Again, first time out, we forget the camera!<font color="ff0000">•</font><font color="ff0000">•</font><font color="ff0000">•</font><font color="ff0000">•</font><font color="ff0000">•</font><font color="ff0000">•<font color="ff0000">•</font><font color="ff0000">•</font><font color="ff0000">•</font> still in the bag! AND Jim forgot his disposable cameras in the truck. Grrrrrrr!

We go out on the first trail, no clue where it was. We end up at what DeAnn and I called Death Valley. Jim goes to the edge of the slope and starts down Ė he stops and motions to me to come over. I get to the edge and about peed my pants! Itís straight down! AND it goes WAY WAY DOWN! NO WAY am I going down, I shake my head and Jim motions to me to get down here now. So I slowly slide down the slope behind him. Scared the CRAP out of me! Doug and DeAnn follow. At the bottom DeAnn and I are thinking the same thing, sure hope we donít have to go back that way!

We run around in the valley, the snow is soooooooooo deep! Iíve never been in snow that deep on my sled before. I try some of the things that Jim showed me, it was very hard. It kicked my butt! We run up and down these great hills. Jim and Doug are jumping and flying around. I canít stop gazing at the beauty around me! We also come up on a bunch of other guys and watch them high mark and jump. It was amazing.

Time is getting away from us, we canít be out here after dark, and we head back the way we came. We end up at the foot of Death Valley Ė the slope we slid down earlier. Jim says he wants to run my sled up and see if it makes it. He buzzes up there, my sled struggles, but makes it to the top. He comes back down and tells me to take his sled up. I froze. I was scared to death, I wanted so bad to accomplish something while we were there. On the other hand, I had no clue how to accomplish it. Jim tried to explain to me what to do and when to break left and when to break right. I looked at him like he was nuts. I decided I wasnít going to do it. NO FREAKING WAY am I going up that mountain side!

Jim tells me I have a choice, get up the hill on my own or he takes me up on his sled. Both are very dangerous. In the meantime, Doug and DeAnn are having their own debate. DeAnn and I are scared to death. The fear was over whelming.

Jim and I get on his sled and he tells me to lean as far forward as I can and to hang on. He pins it, we start to climb and all I remember is staring straight ahead and screaming! The sled comes up off its skies; it feels like itís going to flip. I lean forward more and apparently when I did that I accidentally hit the kill switch, Jim recovers quickly Ė not sure how he did it, but FINALLY we are at the top. I canít breath Ė I dig through my pockets for my inhaler. THANK GOD I remembered to put it in my jacket! There are a group of guys watching this. One guy gives Jim a ride down, heís going down to get my sled. Thank Goodness they were there, they were a great help to us that afternoon.

In the meantime, Doug has convinced DeAnn to take a try at it. She gets Ĺ of the way up and her sled tips and she falls off. Sheís holding the sled up with her legs, like doing a leg press with her sled!!! Sheís not sure what happened, but the next thing she knew she was sliding down on her butt and Jim was on her sled taking it back down. Since I wasnít there, I have no clue what went down, but DeAnn was not happy. Jim brought her up on his sled like he did for me and one of the guys ran him back down to retrieve the rest of the sleds.

Finally when we were all at the top, we headed back to the lodge. No more time to ride, it was getting dark.

We get back to our cabin Ė it was cold as ice in there. I crank the heat up and take my gear off to get ready for dinner. Doug and DeAnn are next door getting ready for dinner. Their cabin was toasty warm.

We ate dinner at the Soda Butte Ė great great food! Now all we want to do is get in the hot tub. We check back at the desk at Antlers, ďwhereís the hot tub you guys bragged aboutĒ they tell us itís not operational. Great, after all that work on the sleds and no hot tub. I canít figure out why itís not operational, they have guests who want to use it. Donít have the energy to argue.

Back to the cabin Ė still freezing cold in there, but we were only gone a couple hours, it just hasnít had time to warm up. Jim and I bundle up and snuggle under the covers. Its horrible cold but we finally fall asleep. I wake up several times in the night to warm my hands over the heat register. There is a little bit of heat coming out, but itís not warming up the cabin. Around 2:30 AM Jim wakes up his feet are freezing. He gets dressed and says heís going to the office. I tell him if they canít get this fixed we are moving to the Super 8! Jim went to the office, he bangs on the doors and no one answers. He walks over to the Super 8 and the gal gives us a room for the rest of our stay and only charges us for one night. THANK GOD! We immediately move over there and rejoice in the heat! Even the floors are heated! Itís 4:30 AM and we finally have heat, finally time to sleep! We have to go back to Antlers in the morning and tell them we want a refund.

The next morning the sun is shining and itís beautiful out there! We quickly eat breakfast and are ready to hit the snow! While we are getting ready to ride we hear about a man who was killed in an avalanche the days before. His two sons were with him, age 13 and 15. He was stuck on the slope; someone high marked above him and triggered the slide. He was buried under 7 feet of snow for 18 mins. When they dug him out he was not breathing and they could not revive him. I pray for their family!

We stop at Antlers to tell them we moved to the Super 8 due to the lack of heat in our cabin. They tell us they will not give us a refund because we didnít come to them for help. But she said to come back later and talk with her husband to see what he says. Makes me a bit mad Ė we made our reservations for a specific cabin and we get a different one, there is no heat, the hot tub is not operational and their restaurant is not open! And they say we wonít be getting a refund.

Off we go. I cannot tell you how beautiful it is. I canít figure out a way to express it either. It was so sunny and the skies were so blue. Every where you looked it was more beautiful than what you just looked at. Amazing.

I saw an avalanche! I got a picture of it. We were far enough away, but you could see where the break was and the slide!


I am not sure which trail we went out on, but we ended up at Round Lake and played in the deep powder. It was so much fun trying to make my sled do what I wanted. My sled has a mind of its own Ė we are gonna have to come to some kind of understanding soon!! Jim and Doug were ripping it up all over the place. I tried a few side hilling stunts, not pretty, but fun! Tried a jump, didnít turn out to be a jump, more like a flop. It was so much fun! We followed some tracks that dumped into a beautiful valley and we played some more. We ended up on a one-way narrow trail. I hoped we didnít run into any oncoming traffic! That too dumped into a really fun play area! We found some fun hills to climb and we found some great powder to buzz through.


Jim and Doug decided to do some climbing and said they would be just over there, they said to play in the powder. So I decided to find a spot and do some figure 8ís like Jim said to do. While doing that, I got stuck. BIG TIME STUCK. I was trying to make a left turn, my sled tipped to the right &#40;no clue how that happened!&#41; and I was going to stand on the left rail like Jim told me to, I didnít move to the left rail fast enough and got the sled stuck tipped up on its right side. I sat on the edge of my sled and waved until the boys saw me. They made their way back to me. Jim tried to get my sled out and it went deeper into the snow. Thatís we found that we were on a lake and the water was COLD! My sled was in the water, I doubt we broke through the ice, but there was water under the snow!

Pictures of the stuck? Ė Nope. No pictures. Sorry. I was so worried that Jim and Doug were going to take a swim I didnít even think of taking pictures. I did get one of the ice packed into my track.


Jim had to take my sled around a bit to get the ice off. It was so heavy with the ice that I could not get the tail to come around. We decided to get off the ice and head over to another valley and play on some hills. Every turn put us into an even prettier place!

&#92;image{18 fun valley</font>

We decide to head back to town for lunch. We run into a guy that lost his group and needs to get back to town so he rides with us to town. Of course, all the way back we canít help but play around! We get back to town and the other guy finds his group and they invite Jim and Doug out for the afternoon. I curled up in bed and took a much needed nap in the nice warm Super 8!

Jim and Doug get back later and we head out for dinner. Again another great dinner at the Soda Butte! We stopped by Antlers again and the guy said yeah, the heater was plugged but it works now. We told him that we are already settled in the Super 8 and that we want a refund. He agrees to refund only one night. Jim doesnít argue, but my intention is to get a full refund. I will address that to them when I call once we get home.

The next day we rode out to the trailer to get Jimís 01 Renegade out. It needs to be broke in again since it has new pistons and rings.


We head back towards town and we take the LuLu Pass trail. We came up on these old cabins, took pictures to show the kids Ė told them thatís were we stayed! The trail up there was incredible. I stopped a lot to take pictures. There was a bit of a climb and I did great on it! Got to the top but then for what ever dumbass reason, I turned out a bit and ended up getting stuck on the down slope. OOOPS!


Doug and DeAnn had already gone to the top of the next climb. So, Jim told me to get on his 01 Renegade and take it up and heíd get me unstuck. Thatís 2 stucks for me Ė 0 for everyone else. I ran the 01 up to the next plateau and it smelled funny. Turns out we smoked a brake thingy. He checked the little brake fluid box and there wasnít any fluid in there. The smell was the brake fluid. So, we are up on the big hills and Jim has no breaks. Doug and DeAnn go further up and find what DeAnn and I called the Top of the World. I buzz up there. MY GOD it was beautiful! I wish we had found that spot the first day. It had every possible thing you could do on your sled down there. It was like a snowmobiling amusement park! It was so cool! We took tons of pictures, but none of us had the energy to go down there to play. AND, Jim didnít have any brakes on his sled so he couldnít go if he wanted. So, we had to go back down to the trailer and get the Summit back out.


We rode easy back out to the rode since Jim didnít have any brakes, went back to the trailer and the rest of the trucks and trailers were gone. Ours was the only one left in the upper lot. There were maybe 6 or 8 in the lower lot. We changed out sleds and headed into town for lunch.


While at lunch we decided that we had better just pack it in and head home. We picked up our gear from the Super 8 and headed back to the trailer one last time.


After loading up, we head out on the Chief Joseph Highway and we see our first moose. Heís down on the side of the road Ė we literally back the truck up and find him again to take pictures!


We came across a caribou; he ran off and then stopped and looked back, almost like he was saying bye as we drove off.


We make our way back up and over the mountain on the ice and snow packed highway. We get back on I-90 East headed for home. Everyone was exhausted tired! Jim, Doug and DeAnn did all the driving; DeAnn pulled a 6 hour tour of driving and got the best gas mileage of the whole trip! We were home by noon on Wednesday, crawled into bed for a much needed nap!!

We had so much fun, what a GREAT Christmas Present I got from my Jimmy! LOVE YOU SWEETIE!

Hopefully I didnít put anyone to sleep!



12-26-2006, 02:23 PM
Here is the pic that was missed above


12-26-2006, 03:05 PM
AWSOME job Julie!
Bummer that you guy&#39;s had some misfortunes but I&#39;ll bet you&#39;ll never forget it!
Great pic&#39;s!
Great Journal!
Scottiking OUT

12-26-2006, 03:25 PM

What beautiful pictures!! Thank&#39;s for taking us on your great adventure! As you know I&#39;m not a snowmobiler but, am able to enjoy God&#39;s country through you!! Your pictures are absoulutely breath taking!

I&#39;m glad you had a wonderful time even with the mishap&#39;s!!

Glad your back safe and sound!


12-26-2006, 03:27 PM
Beautiful pics and nice journal Julie! Almost like being there. Thanks for sharing. I did have to chuckle when Jim had to take you up the hill and then you hit the kill switch just to test him. http://www.johndee.com/discuss/clipart/happy.gif


12-26-2006, 05:17 PM

Truly wonderful pictures, Jules! Absolutely fabulous! With the crummy start to winter we&#39;re having around here, those pictures and your saga really lift the spirits.

I&#39;ve travelled out west many times and was awed by the incredible beauty evident even from the interstate. Now I feel the need to see it from a sled, just like I felt last year when John posted his pictures from his trip out west.

Thanks so much for sharing your pics! And the story was good too! I&#39;m married to an asthmatic and always worry she might forget her pharmacy when we travel.

12-26-2006, 06:06 PM
Julie, thanks for the great pics and the journal! Your pics made me go dig out all the pictures I took when we were out there in 1998. What a great place to ride huh? What kind of profanity did Jim use when you hit the kill switch? http://www.johndee.com/discuss/clipart/happy.gifWe had a blast out there, it&#39;s too bad it takes so freaking long to get there though! Thanks again, Skylar.

12-26-2006, 06:23 PM
Julie: Awesome, breathtaking and unbelieveable pictures and great journal. Even though I never have been on a snowmobile I would love to go to the mountains and give it a try, but only slight inclines, NOT high ones as I am afaid of heights. Truly a dream come true in a winter wonderland.

12-26-2006, 07:15 PM
julie, what a awsome story and pictures!!! trip of a life time, looking at this gets your adrenaline going.

12-26-2006, 10:00 PM
julie, i love the pictures, but not as much as the story&#39;s to go with them. you are so descriptive in your stories that i felt there at that moment, lol. i could actually see you on the back and your hubby trying to stay focused through the screams, lmao! as for the hotel you first rented. how wrong was that! some businesses have no ability to serve there customers at all. at least you gave some heads up on them, and promoted the place that saved you&#39;s.

great pictures, great story and vary well done. thanks for sharing this with us,

12-26-2006, 11:07 PM
<font size="+2">SUPER AWESOME PICS JULIE!!</font>

I loved reading the journal too! If there is one thing I <font size="+2">MUST</font> do before I die, its ride there. Or somewhere close to there. lol

Thanks for keeping my spirits up!


12-27-2006, 06:32 AM

12-27-2006, 09:44 AM
Thanks all! I wanna go back so bad! Right now I am trying to figure out how to afford it!

If I never get back there, I will never forget it! I look at the pictures and still get giddy knowing I was really there!



12-27-2006, 09:44 AM
Thanks all! I wanna go back so bad! Right now I am trying to figure out how to afford it!

If I never get back there, I will never forget it! I look at the pictures and still get giddy knowing I was really there!



12-27-2006, 10:17 AM
Ha Ha. Yes Julie, we know you want to go back. http://www.johndee.com/discuss/clipart/happy.gif Hope you get the chance some time. If you haven&#39;t already, you should save this thread so you can always relive through the journal. Rosanne read this last night and remembered that Chief Joseph highway from one of our trips out west...summertime. She&#39;s the navigator on our road trips and remembers details like that. She enjoyed the pictures and journal too.


12-27-2006, 11:12 AM
Julie - What a great journal and pictures to go along with it. I am soo jealous now, LOL Too bad for the misforunes but at least you didnt let it ruin your trip! Sounds like you guys had a blast! Great Job!!

12-27-2006, 11:54 AM
AWESOME JOB, so glad you could share in such detail!
Can&#39;t wait to meet you folks in Feb.! Especially Jimmy &#40;See if he can teach me some of that patients stuff! http://www.johndee.com/discuss/clipart/happy.gif LMAO&#41;
Jimmy &amp; Juls thank you so much!!!
Mitch http://www.johndee.com/discuss/messages/32607/33730.gif

12-27-2006, 12:40 PM

Thanks for sharing, love all the words and pictures, I think I would have done the same as you, I hate going back up a hill!

We are heading up to Houghton tomorrow, not sure if we will ride or not, but going to burn our big brush pile before they get too much snow, anyone up for a cookout?

12-27-2006, 12:42 PM
Great job, J

I am glad you got out there, and of course you are now ruined for life. We midwesterns are like dogs in a pen. If you never got to roam around you&#39;re happy with life in the pen. But once outside it, you have been tainted for life.

Did you have to buy trail stickers out there?

Did you notice an increase in your asthsma congestion out there?

Really if you had a long track much of what you did would have been easier to do. So hold your head up high, kid, you dun good. And remember to get into good shape for the next trip sooz you can take more pictures for all us lame ducks sittin in the office and wishing we had the time or money to trip out there and gobble some of that scenery.

Thanks for share&#39;n it with us.

12-27-2006, 06:43 PM
Hey Julie nice pictures sounds like you guys had quite the experience out there! Also sounds like the accomodations at first were less than pleasant.How far was this parking lot from town/cabins not sure if I&#39;d care for leaving my equipment unattended in the middle of nowhere? My first trip out west was in &#39;04 to which we stayed in Jackson Hole,Wy did the Yellowstone thing and then spent the rest of vacation up by Towgotee at Hatchet resort. We had such a blast we returned last Jan 1st for 1 week, met some great people and had awsome powder to ride in. I&#39;d highly recommend checking this area out sometime, trails are perfect and the play areas are all over and the hills are a little tamer than cook city I believe?

12-27-2006, 07:01 PM
oops double pic sorry, these pics were taken South of Jackson Hole at Granite Hot Springs, the one pic shows the pool you can swim in &amp; the trail to there is about 10 miles water is 112 degrees in the winter and 93 in the summer!

12-27-2006, 09:10 PM
Glen, those are great pictures! We are actually talking about making a trip to Togwotee! Not sure if we will make it there yet this season, but next season I bet we make our family trip out there.

Booondocker - yes, we had to buy trail stickers. They say you have to buy both Montana and Wyoming. But we only bought Montana. Since we were only on the highway we figured the Wyoming stickers were not necessary. I am not sure if that is the legal way to do it, but we did it that way cuz the Wyoming stickers were way expensive.

I definately noticed my asthma a lot more there than at home. I had a hard time taking deep breaths when I was &#34;working&#34; harder than normal. I was surprised that it was so difficult to take a deep breath. I got winded walking from the restaurant back to the Super 8. I hurt like all get out. But once I stopped moving I was able to recover my normmal breathing after a few minutes.

My intention is to build the muscle and &#39;buff&#39; up for the next time! Cardio is going to be a huge HUGE part of my plan.

Suzy - I can climb some of the hills in Michigan, that&#39;s why I THOUGHT I could climb the ones in Cooke - I guess I thought wrong. It&#39;s so overwhelming! Hopefully I get another chance!

Mitch you have us all laughing! Jim knew when we got to the bottom of that slope that he made a really bad call. DeAnn and I keep telling people that he and Doug tried to kill us the first ride out!!




12-28-2006, 11:50 AM
How did the stabilizer and anti-sway work out on BIG-RED during the trip?Any side winds?
You did a great job---thanks for sharing.

12-28-2006, 02:25 PM
Hey Terry! They were GREAT GREAT GREAT! All the way there we bucked head winds about 45 MPH and the trailer stayed right where it belonged! Of course, I made SURE to remind everyone that I pushed the issue to have all that done!

Thanks again for selling the level system to us.

The entire system worked like a charm, will never travel without it again.

Oh yeah, and the ride was sooooooooo smooth!



12-29-2006, 04:45 PM
Julie - I finally got around to looking at/reading the journal from your recent adventure. WOW! What a fun journal and the pictures make me feel like I was there with you guys! Thanks so much for sharing - I hope to get out there some day! Glad you had a safe trip!


01-16-2007, 03:40 PM
Thanks Deb!