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Riding against Snow and Ptarmigans

Another beautiful October day in Park City has flown by and we've probably enjoyed our last mountain bike in shorts and jersey.  Snow is in the forecast and the ski resorts have their guns hooked up waiting for consistent cold temps before they commit to turning the slopes white.  With passes at PCMR, we should be skiing by Thanksgiving and hopefully Mother Nature contributes early and often this season after taking last year off.  It would be nice if she keeps our landscape project in mind and allows enough time to finish, but if not, I'd rather have the snow and finish it in the Spring.  Speaking of, we had another strong week of progress but plenty left to do.  The back should be finished this week, then they'll move on to the rest.
Before : Left back slope and flat patch (along with dead trees/branches from earlier cleanup)
In Progress : Amphitheater Retaining Walls and Boulder Flows
Speaking of snow, we were caught in a storm last Saturday on a mountain bike ride in Montana.  We left early Friday morning, making it to Big Sky for lunch with Terry's Dad.  The weather was great so we parked at the Ousel Falls trailhead and went out along the river and up Yellow Mule Trail a few miles and then back the same way.  The trail was extremely quiet, steep, and covered in bear scat but we didn't see any people or animals other than birds.  We were short on time, but plan to return and do the entire loop next summer.
Yellow Mule Trail - Montana Big Sky & Beauty - makes me homesick
The next day, we woke up to freezing temps and rain but were on a tight schedule so put on our warmest gear and ended up at the North Fork trailhead.  I wasn't as sure about the ride, but could see a reasonable loop from North Fork to Ridge Trail.  The 1st section was perfect and we considered just turning back, but after another look at the map, I made the call to do the loop.  Which I then heard about for the next hour as we hiked up the very steep 402 trail pushing our bikes.  We considered turning back several times, but figured we would hit Ridge Trail soon enough and get some decent downhill.  The rain turned to snow near the top and we rode against a sideways snowstorm along the ridge until the trail started descending.  We were happy to reach the truck and even happier to get a warm shower before driving to Butte for a Saturday evening wedding.
North Fork - The Decision Point
We spread our wet gear across the hotel room and decided to ride again Sunday morning if everything was dry.  We drove up to Homestake and rode out the Continental Divide Trail several miles before turning back in time to shower and check out of the hotel.  We stuffed all our stinky bike gear in the truck amid the items Terry's parents brought back from Illinois and our wedding clothes and drove home.  Of course, we took a few minutes in Dillon to satisfy Terry's Taco John's cravings and my Patagonia addiction.
Homestake CDT - Cold, but dry - Unique geology
Another week of work, evening activities, and early morning basketball brings us to today and what's become a standard October weekend day for us.  Decent temps, blue skies, amazing colors, and mountain biking.  We were able to enjoy the new backyard admiring the handiwork and new features before trying out a new ride after lunch called Jenni's.  It was well designed (and well named) and we had amazing views of Park City as we crossed the PCMR slopes.  It was so fun climbing, we turned around to try out the descent.  Also spectacular, but things got a little crazy a few miles in.
Terry cruising on Jenni's Trail
I came around a switchback and then felt something hit me in the top of my hydration pack from the uphill side.  My first thought was a tree branch since it was windy.  But as soon as I felt the pressure release, something hit me on top of my helmet with more force.  I then freaked out and swung my hand up hitting something and felt the pressure leave again, but it was time to stop and figure out what was happening.  I looked back expecting a huge tree branch and saw nothing.  I started walking back and all of a sudden I saw the culprit - a ptarmigan - who was now making jabs toward me.  I turned forward to mount my bike and before I could get my leg over, the ptarmigan was running toward my leg on the ground.  I jogged forward a bit and tried to remount again and wouldn't you know it, she came at me again.  She never touched my leg, but I'd already felt the force of her against my back, neck, and head so I wasn't messing around.  I ran down the trail and then looked back and had enough space to mount and get out of her territory.  What a crazy experience.  Of course, nobody witnessed it and when I described it to Terry, he was a little skeptical.  That prompted me to search ptarmigan attacks on YouTube and even though it is hikers, the situation was similar.  There is some offensive language just like there was from me.  I have no idea why the ptarmigan picked me to attack when Jenni's trail was so busy.  We had just climbed the same switchback an hour earlier and didn't have any issues.  Maybe it had to do with the trail name.  It is definitely a mountain bike moment I won't forget. Here's a link to the video!


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