Montana, June 2009

Got back recently from a fun week in Montana with our friend Warren & Jen. We decided to drive up in order to escape the high prices for airfare and so we could take our hiking & camping gear with us. Warren & Jen had just purchased a nice, almost-new Airstream trailer they wanted to try out – which made a nice break from sleeping on the ground in a tent.

From their place in Salt Lake we drove up to Bozeman, MT through the West Yellowstone area. The drive into Bozeman from West Yellowstone was a stunning descent through a beautiful canyon, with tons of trailheads and activities all along the highway. We spent a couple days in Bozeman checking out the town and doing some hiking in the Gallatin National Forest. The Lava Lake trail, was a fairly short 6 miles rountrip, but yielded a stunning alpine lake at the end of the trail.

From Bozeman we moved up to the West side of Glacier National Park. Unfortunately the Going-to-the-Sun road was not completely open and we were only able to get as far as Logan Pass. Not being able to get to the trailheads on the East side of the park, we missed out on the hike to Iceberg Lake we’d all been looking forward to.

From the West side though we were able to access some nice hikes though, including Avalanche Lake (crowded but stunning), the popular Trail of the Cedars and hike along McDonald creek. Our plans to take a boat cruise on the lake were thrwarted by an inaccurate timetable posted online sadly.

After Glacier, where we didn’t get to spend as much time as we’d have like, we headed down to Missoula, Montana for the annual Big Sky Knife Show & Hammer-in. The show was a bit bigger this year than last – with 9 knife makers in attendance and about 30 collectors. The highlight of the show for me was a beautiful bowie Don Fogg had brought. Sadly I wasn’t draw for it, but was nice to see some new work from him. I’ve been a huge fan of his knives for a long time and am fortunate enough to have several my collection already – though I’m always looking for more.

 Josh Smith – the host of the show had a beautiful ivory handled, damascus push dagger that got rave reviews from everyone I talked to at the show. Larry Fuegen had several typically excellent pieces, including a signature carved ‘goblin’-style folder. Harvey Dean had one of his amazing D-Guard bowies, and lovely little slipjoint. John Young had several knives with some really beautiful stag handles. Rick Eaton, HH Frank, Owen Wood and Scott Sawby all had some stunningly detailed folders that got a lot of looks as well.

The show was at the LA Design Gallery in downtown Missoula, the same location as last year, which is a really location for a show and has a wonderful outdoor pation we took advantage of to enjoy the nice weather.

The hammer-in on Saturday was a lot of fun – getting to see the knife makers in action is always fun. Owen Wood had a great demo on making complex, precision damascus, Larry Fuegen show how to carve ivory & stag, and Don Fogg walked through making a blade from forging to grinding, to heat treating to polishing (the last part I missed as it was on Sunday and we were headed back to Phoenix by then).

Of course one of the big highlights of the weekend was the black powder bowling ball canon – which always makes people smile.

For more pictures of the show – see Buddy Thomason’s (who took the excellent photos of the canon & the patio) thread & photos here, or various photographers excellent photos here.

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