We made the most of our last day in West as we are heading out first thing Friday morning. We had a few destinations in mind today and after a beautiful sunrise and quick breakfast we headed out. We decided to go back to Two Top so that Scott could get some drone footage. The hard case that holds the drone ended up fitting perfectly on the back of his long track sled. We tried to take in as much of the scenery as we could along the way. We stopped at the river to snap a few pictures and just couldn’t believe it was our last day seeing all this.
We rounded the corner at Rea’s Pass (a popular place to stop) and saw a familiar cluster of snowmobiles parked in the meadow – it was the 2017 Ski-doo’s! We found them – and couldn’t believe it. There were also 3 new Polaris sleds with them and they were all stopped and talking to each other. We pulled along beside them and started taking pictures of them. They acknowledged us and started to leave. One of them on the new Polaris mountain sled came over our way and said hello and asked if we had seen this new sled. We said no and he began to show us all the features. He was very very nice. It was interesting to talk to him and see the new sled in person on the trail. We couldn’t believe what had just happened – crazy!
We made it back to the top of Two Top and were surprised to see how different it looked. No new snow had fallen there since Monday and many of the trees had lost a lot of their snow. It was still beautiful – just different.
Scott got out the drone and took some footage of me riding along the top and then decided to get some footage of himself using the “follow me” feature. We had used it in that mode many times before with no problems. I stayed back in a safe area while he took off. He knew he didn’t have a full battery but should have enough to get a few minutes of video. He buzzed around me and the drone went with him. He was gone only a few minutes and he came back shaking his head and one arm in the air – NEVER a good sign! The drone had stopped following him when he was on his way back toward me and was no where to be found. He saw it during most of his ride (and I saw it when he left) so we knew it was working properly at that time. It is designed to come “home” if the battery gets low or there is any issue at all. He established “home” when he turned it on before starting to film me. He did it all correct – he always does. He was devastated as was I. The only thing we could do was go look for it. It truly was like looking for a needle in a haystack. I stayed back and he took off and came back with nothing. He looked over all the data on his iPad and could find nothing that would help – there was nothing that SHOULD be there. There was definitely a malfunction. We decided he should just go look again – he didn’t go that far away from me on that ride but for all we know it fell out of the sky over the mountain – there was a very high possibility of that happening. I said a prayer and off he went. A few minutes later I got the message on the radio – he found it! Sitting in the snow – lights flashing, close to a peak. A miracle for sure! He grabbed it, packed it up and we headed off that mountain. It really is a miracle that he found it. It’s hard to describe the size of this place or even the pictures showing how big it is up on that mountain and how many ledges there are – it could have been in a tree or over a cliff or anywhere.
There it is – sitting in the snow with the lights on.
Note: he did figure out the problem after doing some research tonight. A recent software update caused the “return to home” function not to work. The bug was discovered THIS week. We were VERY lucky to say the least.
We headed off into Idaho to loop back to West and found a perfect place to have lunch. We made a fantastic fire and roasted our hot dogs – delicious (lots of hot dogs were eaten on this trip!!!). The heat felt great and after the drone incident we just needed to sit for a while! As we were sitting around our fire the 2017 Ski-Doo’s went buzzing by again.
We packed up and headed back to town and drove over to the trailer to load the snowmobiles for the final time. In the parking lot was a pickup and trailer with 20 sled dogs tied up next to it. There was a sled dog race going on around West during the week and we had seen signs on the trail to watch for them but we had not seen any on the trail. The dogs were so cute and their owner, Rick Larson, finally came over and started talking to us. He was very nice and we found out he races in the UP with his dogs. He will be racing in 2 years there -we will be looking for him for sure. Cool story and such cute dogs! Made us miss our Madison even more!
We got back to the cabin and decided we would do a mini pub crawl before dinner – make the most of our last night! After cleaning up, we went back to Bullwinklles and then to the Slippery Otter – a new place which we loved. We will be back here for sure. Why break tradition so we had dinner at Madison Crossing again – this time getting something different. We’ve pretty much eaten the menu now! After our meal we walked back to the cabin for a final campfire and s’mores. Can’t believe this incredible trip has come to an end!
Scott has arranged a guide for us and rented a mountain sled for me on Tuesday for riding in the backcountry (GULP). We headed down to High Country after breakfast at McDonalds (a CLOSE walk from the cabin!) to meet our guide and get things going. Our guide, Elliott, who was SUPER talked to us about what we wanted to do and my coo coo concerns and we decided to trailer outside of town to a parking area to save us having to ride through the bare streets and get where we wanted to be a bit faster. Our destination was Cabin Creek. We headed back to our cabin to get my pink sled out of the trailer so we could put the rented Summit in the trailer and we would all go out to the trailhead together. We stopped at the grocery store and picked up hot dogs and buns and ketchup as Elliott said we would have a fire and roast hot dogs at some point – how cool is THAT? After meeting back at High Country, Elliott had his sled on a sled deck which was cool to see in person and we loaded the Summit into our trailer with Scott’s Summit. The sled decks scare me to death but you see TONS of them around West Yellowstone – probably more than trailers. Scott and I followed Elliott out to the parking area and we got unloaded and took off. We rode the trail for about 7 miles up a beautiful mountain. The views were incredible but I was getting used to this long-track and trying to feel somewhat comfortable so I didn’t take any pictures. We turned off trail at one point to head to the backcountry and then I got a bit nervous. I was in the middle with Elliott in the lead. He fully understood my concerns and was very good with this old woman! We made our way over TONS of bumps – the result of lots of traffic on an ungroomed backcountry trail into these beautiful meadows and over mountains. We came across a cabin that is actually rentable from the forest service. It was occupied by some snowboarders and a cute lab. Made us miss Madison even more! We made our way over more mountains, stopping in some meadows for Scott and Elliott to ride around in. He took Scott up and helped him with carving. I putzed around trying to feel more comfortable on a somewhat narrower sled, hoping not to fall off!
Remember those airbags in my backpack????
Well, we made our way up a little hill to the edge of some trees to stop to eat. Elliott and Scott started making a fire. I got off my sled and started taking off my helmet, etc. NOTE – THIS IS IMPORTANT: : ) The Ski-doo Summit snowmobile I was riding has VERY tall handlebars (especially for short people like me) – it’s designed to really spend most of your time on it standing up. There is a loop in the middle of the handlebars to hang on to when you are standing and carving big turns. I kind of look like I am on a motorcycle with Ape Hangers when I ‘m sitting on it – they are that tall for my short frame. Sooooooooo, I stepped off my sled, took off my helmet and reached into the glove box that is in front of the handlebars to get my camera to start taking pictures and like an IDIOT, forgot to put the safety strap over the handle on my backpack that is used to deploy the airbag I’m wearing. AND THEN I suddenly hear this INCREDIBLY LOUD noise that scares us all. IT’S MY AIRBAGS!! I got the handle caught on the loop in the handlebars and deployed the darn thing when I stood up straight! SERIOUSLY! We all got a big laugh for sure – poor Scott had to deflate it and pack it back up. If Elliott was already thinking I was some silly old woman he had to KNOW IT BY NOW! I could not believe what had just happened. Scott kept saying don’t worry about it but it was incredibly embarrassing. We did have a spare tank and handle at the cabin so he could load it up again but I didn’t expect to be this big of a bone head!! I will say it made us HYPER AWARE the rest of the week to make sure to put the safety strap over the handle when not on the snowmobile!
After that “incident” we roasted our hot dogs and had a fantastic lunch. The rest of the time was uneventful – THANKFULLY – just fun. It started to snow when we stopped to eat and it just kept snowing harder and harder. We made our way to another meadow where Scott and Elliott went to find some deep powder along the edge. I rode around the meadow a bit and then stopped to take pictures. By the time we left that area there was at least 4-6 inches of fresh snow so the ride back was fun for sure. By the time we were finished I was much more comfortable with the Summit. I’m not going to ride like I do the GSX after one day but I’m sure I would be fine with a few more days on one.
Our day in the backcountry was SUPER, despite my bonehead move – hey it gave us something to talk (laugh) about for sure! It wore these old people out! We headed back and dropped off the sled. We went back to the cabin and ended up ordering dinner from Pete’s – no walking into town for these two!! Pete’s delivered right to the cabin and some great pasta hit the spot! We had some hot toddy’s by the fire and were in bed early that night!