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  1. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by rideit View Post
    Any of you have educated guesses of what this terracing is all about?
    Erosion control is my only guess.
    Not sure in Montana, but it was done as erosion control here in UT: https://geology.utah.gov/map-pub/sur...the-mountains/

  2. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by zion zig zag View Post
    Not sure in Montana, but it was done as erosion control here in UT: https://geology.utah.gov/map-pub/sur...the-mountains/
    Same in this case. Built in 1962 according to an IDEQ watershed assessment I found online.

  3. #28
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    Sharon Kevin and I had the privilege of riding the Line Creek Plateau aka Beartooth Plateau today. Just S of Red Lodge Montana on the superb views of the Beartooth Highway we all agreed it was one of the preeminent alpine riding experiences we've all collectively had worldwide (and we've ridden lots). 27kms long the trail spends the bulk of its time between 3050m and 2850m on high alpine tundra when we would normally be navigating glaciers and icefields. The last 8km then descends the flanks of Mt Maurice via wonderfully benchcut singletrack with some impressive sharktoothed waterbars.

    Sadly the wilderness movement is lobbying to have a chunk of Line Creek moved to Wilderness Study designation. Ride it while you can

  4. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by evasive_MT View Post
    Same in this case. Built in 1962 according to an IDEQ watershed assessment I found online.
    My understanding was that it was erosion control in response to overgrazing by sheep.

  5. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeeLau View Post
    ...27kms long the trail spends the bulk of its time between 3050m and 2850m...
    I'm not sure where you were riding, but I don't think we have kms and ms here in Montana. Only mis and ft.

    I should edit this and state that I live and Montana and have done 0 of these rides, so aside from my good natured ribbing of the metric system, I'm really excited about trying to ride a few these in the future if they open up again. Thanks for the info Lee.

    Seth
    Last edited by sethschmautz; 08-17-2018 at 10:57 AM.

  6. #31
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    Tucked away in the Big Snowy Mountain Range near Lewiston Montana the Ice Caves route rises 900m from valley to alpine and is 17km in length.

    The route is known for permanent ice caves (picture from the Montana Mountain Bike liance) and views of the Big Snowies and the southerly Musselshell range; views we didn't have due to forest fire smoke. Options are possible to extend the ride into the alpine by an out and back meander along Knifeblade Ridge

    This ride is another Montana alpine classic facing closure as it has the double headed black mamba misfortune of being in a Wilderness Study Area and being proposed for Recommended Wilderness. Enjoy while you can !
    Last edited by LeeLau; 08-19-2018 at 02:37 PM.

  7. #32
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    Fuck yeah!
    No longer stuck.

    Quote Originally Posted by stuckathuntermtn View Post
    Just an uneducated guess.

  8. #33
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    You know how how you look at awesome places to explore on a bike and you think "Well it ain't going nowhere. Lots of time to get to it".

    That isn't the case in Montana where insanely beautiful alpine rides will be prohibited for mountain bikes in short order.

    This trip was about a ticklist of those trails. It meant the driving to biking ratio was more than I normally would want. But high quality alpine rides are rare beasts. It stands to reason that they're spread out.

    Some general observations

    - Even by Canadian standards Montana is big! Just getting to Hamilton/Bitterroots area is past BC almost at Canmore. West Yellowstone is all the way past Calgary towards Lethbridge. Red Lodge might as well be the end of the earth almost to Swift Current SK!

    - Because it's further south alpine in this area isn't till 2500m+ (approx 300m higher than in southern Canada). This means that if you aren't acclimatized or used to lower oxygen levels you will suffer mightily.

    - As with all alpine trails they are technical and require solid all-around up and down skills. Expect punchy tech jank. Beginners will be taking their bikes for a walk.

    - People tend to aggregate in cities or towns. These alpine trails (or campgrounds close to them) don't see a lot of people. Frontcountry riders should be prepared to change their mindset and be totally self-contained and prepared to self-rescue. The latest enduro fannypack plus waterbottle will likely be insufficient

    Because Montana is so big I wouldn't do a trip like this again in a hurry.

    Instead I'd focus on a single region or close-together regions. The last time we were here we focused on Bozeman area rides riding with Tone (RIP).

    The next time I'm inclined to check out more of the Hamilton/Darby Bitterroots area (although watch out for Sheriff Larry Rose grrr). Hit up the Lost Trail MTB fest as there's still a lot of good riding in the Bitterroot Valley especially around Hamilton, Lake Como, Warm Springs/Sula. There's also quite a bit of alpine riding in the area even with the Forest Service closures litigated by the Wilderness movement

  9. #34
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    Great stuff Lee


    Sent from my iPhone using TGR Forums

  10. #35
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    [QUOTE=LeeLau;5416064]

    Fucking classic. You and David Letterman are now the two most famous people ticketed by that fuckknob. Can't believe Lance didn't warn you.

  11. #36
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    37 through Darby gets a ticket like 90% of the time.

  12. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by RootSkier View Post
    37 through Darby gets a ticket like 90% of the time.
    Its funny later

  13. #38
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    Ha! I got pulled over for speeding in Florence years ago, on my way to go climbing in Kootenai Canyon, and ended up with a ticket for possession of weed. Dude had us standing in the ditch, searching us, searching our climbing packs. Not Rose but some other cop who had it out for Missoula hippies going 10 mph over the limit through his town. Guy was an asshole, like screaming at the top of his lungs at us.

    Anyway...great trip log Lee. Maybe you should contact the Missoulian and see if they would be interested in an article about these trails and the access issues. Since most of the newspapers in Montana are owned by Lee Enterprises and they share content, the story would likely appear in many papers around the state. Just an idea...it would be a great way to draw some public attention to the issue. I'd be happy to get on the horn and talk to an editor over there if you want me to gauge interest. Pretty sure they would go for it.

  14. #39
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    Every trail should have ice caves, around the halfway point would work. Some nice looking miles/kms there Lee

  15. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by yeahman View Post
    Ha! I got pulled over for speeding in Florence years ago, on my way to go climbing in Kootenai Canyon, and ended up with a ticket for possession of weed. Dude had us standing in the ditch, searching us, searching our climbing packs. Not Rose but some other cop who had it out for Missoula hippies going 10 mph over the limit through his town. Guy was an asshole, like screaming at the top of his lungs at us.

    Anyway...great trip log Lee. Maybe you should contact the Missoulian and see if they would be interested in an article about these trails and the access issues. Since most of the newspapers in Montana are owned by Lee Enterprises and they share content, the story would likely appear in many papers around the state. Just an idea...it would be a great way to draw some public attention to the issue. I'd be happy to get on the horn and talk to an editor over there if you want me to gauge interest. Pretty sure they would go for it.
    Yeahman I'm going to write it as multiparter article for singletracks.com. Many have written about the politics but I really wanted to show the trails ie what would be lost.

    But it can't hurt to have it also for a local paper.

  16. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by skiracer88_00 View Post
    Just ride em. Who is going to stop you? There is probably like 1 LEO covering the 1.6 million acres that comprises the Bitterroot national forest.
    So true. But it sucks for the locals as it needs constant work to keep high alpine open and it'll be now difficult to advertise trailwork days.

    Not to mention the chilling effect of being a lawbreaker simply for riding on two wheels in an alpine trail

  17. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeeLau View Post
    So true. But it sucks for the locals as it needs constant work to keep high alpine open and it'll be now difficult to advertise trailwork days.

    Not to mention the chilling effect of being a lawbreaker simply for riding on two wheels in an alpine trail
    This is all so true. Sucks to pay your taxes, stop at (most, stop signs and become a complete outlaw most days that you ride your bike. This state is starting to suck summer and winter (barely legal to ride my sled anywhere anymore). Thanks for bringing some attention to the issue Lee!
    I used to be more tight lipped about where I ride bikes, now I’m not because the trails either disappear or get closed. I’d rather people ride and use them. I’ve built some backbreaking trail in Wilderness and WSAs only to see the work become overgrown and disappear without use and maintenance.


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  18. #43
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    ^^^^^aliens
    powdork.com - new and improved, with 20% more dork.

  19. #44
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    Thanks for the TR, sad these trails have already been closed down. Good job on the bikers who opened em back up in a short time. Even though the chance of seeing a LEO is almost non existent (at least in the wilderness areas around me) unless it’s a very popular area they start to disappear and become nearly unusable due to lack of use in a pretty short time. Was on a trail recently once a couple miles out was impossible to follow without the aid of a gps, sad to see trails go away, due to a vocal minority of wildernuts

  20. #45
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    Around here it's not just a wilderness/rwa/wsa thing. Lots of trails on forest land that are open to bikes have essentially disappeared due to disuse. So it's nice to see concern about losing access but for every trail lost to a new WSA or RWA there are a bunch more going away that still can be ridden. I can think of a number of them right outside of town. And I'm just as guilty as anyone as most of the time I'd rather just roll out the door and ride the local trails and then stop for a beer. Turns out that going on some big backcountry adventure and spending all day climbing up to some barely rideable ridgeline takes a lot more effort.

    The plus side however, is that if there's a line on a forest service map, even if the trail is barely there, a group of guys can go in and clear it and start using it again. That's pretty much the only way to get a "new" trail on national forest land around here. Examples around here would be the stuff around thompson falls where the mtb missoula enduro was this year as well as the reservation divide where they held a similar event a few years ago. And we rode the reservation divide shortly afterward and there were already a ton of trees down.

  21. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamal View Post
    Around here it's not just a wilderness/rwa/wsa thing. Lots of trails on forest land that are open to bikes have essentially disappeared due to disuse. So it's nice to see concern about losing access but for every trail lost to a new WSA or RWA there are a bunch more going away that still can be ridden. I can think of a number of them right outside of town. And I'm just as guilty as anyone as most of the time I'd rather just roll out the door and ride the local trails and then stop for a beer. Turns out that going on some big backcountry adventure and spending all day climbing up to some barely rideable ridgeline takes a lot more effort.

    The plus side however, is that if there's a line on a forest service map, even if the trail is barely there, a group of guys can go in and clear it and start using it again. That's pretty much the only way to get a "new" trail on national forest land around here. Examples around here would be the stuff around thompson falls where the mtb missoula enduro was this year as well as the reservation divide where they held a similar event a few years ago. And we rode the reservation divide shortly afterward and there were already a ton of trees down.
    A bit of stream of consciousness here. I have enjoyed reading what, Danno, and others on Facebook etc have spoken about in terms of US (mostly federal) land use and environmental law plus the minutiae re policy. Being an IP lawyer and having no background in environmental or land use law or regulation/policy I've struggled to make sense of it. After doing more of a dive into the whole kettle of fish more from the perspective of a Canadian, a mountain-biker and someone with two decades of advocacy in Canada I came to the following general conclusions. I'll ping Greg B, Lance P, Almer C, and others who've got US advocacy backgrounds on the same thoughts


    - The legal and consultation processes are geared towards adding more Wilderness. Therefore the bent for the Wilderness movement is to litigate for more wilderness. There is an absence of a process to set aside or reserve land for high-value recreation.

    - Obviously the Wilderness movement is geared towards adding more wilderness. Donors want their names on wilderness. Staff payments are bonused for Wilderness (sampled NRDS, Wilderness Trust)

    - The Forest Service in Montana area at least seems to act in ways so as to not get sued by Wilderness advocates. I have heard sums such as $ 13M spent in litigation fees alone in the last year (no source for that yet). Bewilderingly to me as a Canadian there is a law firm on retainer who's primary business is suing the FS

    - "Mechanised" prohibition of recreation in Wilderness (vs use of the word "Motorized" in Canadian land-use regs) is an important word. Practically it means that hiking, horse-back-riding and skiing are the primary activities allowed in Wilderness. Among other recreational activities, biking is not allowed as the current state of the law interprets bikes as prohibited (I realize there's the STC bill trying to amend this to allow for local decisions). This means there is a blanket de facto prohibition against mountain-biking in wilderness. Land can be made into "Wilderness" by Act of Congress and by definition bikes will be prohibited in that land. However, creating new Wilderness takes time and lots of effort due to Congress paralysis so the Wilderness movement has been looking for other ways to get

    - There is a trinity of quasi-Wilderness (Wilderness Study Areas, Recommended Wilderness Areas, Inventoried Roadless Areas). The trinity of WSA, RWA and IRA can be established at the local FS level. Previously different FS regions and districts (Regions are divided into Districts) administered the quasi-wilderness trinity differently. Some allowed mountain-bikes in WSA, RWA and IRA. Some didn't. The only thing I can find consistent in FS decisions is inconsistency

    - When deciding whether to make FS land part of the WSA, RWA and IRA quasi-wilderness trinity, objective science-based evidence (ie bikes cause no less erosion than hiking or horsepacking is not relevant); the work bikers do to clear trails is not relevant. Whether a local community wants to keep using trails in the WSA, RWA and IRA lands is not relevant. What seems to be relevant is how much pressure the Wilderness movement exercises through litigation. Other considerations seem to be lip-service

    - Up till now it wasn't given that mountain-biking would be prohibited in WSA, RWA and IRA quasi-wilderness. The court case by the Wilderness movement in the Bitterroot valley and the subsequent banning of mountain-biking in Bitterroot area WSA lands (remember the Bitterroot alpine trails weren't "Wilderness" yet; they were at the baby Wilderness stage) has the potential of setting the precedent that any land which is WSA, RWA and IRA quasi-wilderness will be treated as if it was Wilderness. That means no mountain-biking, no e-biking, no sleds, no moto. This means that the WSA, RWA and IRA quasi-wilderness may as well be Wilderness. A big win for the Wilderness movement. A massive kick in the nuts for mountain-biking and anyone else excluded.

    - It also seems to me that the loss of mountain-biking in the Bitterroots could also set a precedent for the rest of the Forest Service not just in that part of SW Montana but also the rest of Montana, Idaho, Washington and nationwide. It could be the thin edge of the wedge for the Wilderness movement to get all WSA, RWA and IRA quasi-wilderness land treated as Wilderness. This is important because these holy trinity of lands can be set up by FS processes at the federal bureaucracy level (ie easier than by Act of Congress).

    - What's interesting is that the Wilderness people don't really seem overly hostile to mountain-biking. I hear lots of anecdotal evidence, verbal quips and emails from the stereotypical Hateful Old Hiker crowd mythologizing the purity of hiking and horses and demonizing two-wheels. However, it seems to me that the Wilderness movement don't really care about mountain-bikers. They are too small and too weak (50 members of the Bitterroot Backcountry Cyclists for example versus tens of thousands of members and donors for the Wilderness Trust or the Wildland Winter Alliance). Mountain-bikers oppose Wilderness and so therefore they must be crushed. Now Mountain-bikers oppose the holy trinity of WSA, RWA and IRA so must be crushed.

    Whew that was long. TLR for attention-deprived

    - At best Wilderness movement doesn't care about mountain-biking. At worse they hate mountain-biking.

    - Wilderness movement will never bend on allowing mountain-biking in Wilderness.

    - Wilderness movement want the Forest Service to designate land as WSA, RWA and IRA and they want the Forest Service to treat these lands as if they were Wilderness.

    - Wilderness movement will therefore be able to control the process by which lands become about as close to Wilderness as can be (without Act of Congress) by pounding the Forest Service with lawsuits.

    - Therefore much more land in Montana is vulnerable to being prohibited for mountain-biking by the stroke of a pen of the Forest Service

  22. #47
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    Lee, I think that's a pretty solid summary.

    A couple notes / amendments / additions:

    Quote Originally Posted by LeeLau View Post
    - There is a trinity of quasi-Wilderness (Wilderness Study Areas, Recommended Wilderness Areas, Inventoried Roadless Areas). The trinity of WSA, RWA and IRA can be established at the local FS level. Previously different FS regions and districts (Regions are divided into Districts) administered the quasi-wilderness trinity differently. Some allowed mountain-bikes in WSA, RWA and IRA. Some didn't. The only thing I can find consistent in FS decisions is inconsistency
    I view IRA's differently. WSA's and RWA's are their own unique thing that, at least with respect to bikes, have current programmatic restrictions. IRA's are just an overlay on general forest land. IRA's just matter because they're the initial building block for the creation of new RWA's and designated Wilderness. IRA's aren't, in and of themselves, a problem. They're just polygons on a map that are a certain distance from a road. And thus far (at least around me), I haven't seen any push to manage bikes in any particular way within an IRA.

    To put it another way, I have a harder time opposing an IRA because it's a just a fact. The IRA is just saying that an area doesn't have roads and meets certain criteria, which is (more or less) true. This is different than a WSA or RWA, which are policies that are applied to a particular area. The fact that an IRA is the base level building block of Wilderness, while true, is kind of irrelevant.

    Quote Originally Posted by LeeLau View Post
    - Up till now it wasn't given that mountain-biking would be prohibited in WSA, RWA and IRA quasi-wilderness. The court case by the Wilderness movement in the Bitterroot valley and the subsequent banning of mountain-biking in Bitterroot area WSA lands (remember the Bitterroot alpine trails weren't "Wilderness" yet; they were at the baby Wilderness stage) has the potential of setting the precedent that any land which is WSA, RWA and IRA quasi-wilderness will be treated as if it was Wilderness. That means no mountain-biking, no e-biking, no sleds, no moto. This means that the WSA, RWA and IRA quasi-wilderness may as well be Wilderness. A big win for the Wilderness movement. A massive kick in the nuts for mountain-biking and anyone else excluded.
    This is true, but probably only for Region 1. The Forest Service is divided into 10 regions. Region 1 is Montana, northern Idaho, and North Dakota. And it's arguably the most backwards regions with regard to managing bikes in WSA's and RWA's. There are other regions, elsewhere in the country, where bikes are allowed in RWA's and it's not a problem. Some of the moto groups have sued the forest service about an "unwritten rule" in region 1 about how non-conforming uses are handled in RWA's. Thus far those suits have not been successful, but it sure seems like there should be something to go on there.

    Quote Originally Posted by LeeLau View Post
    - What's interesting is that the Wilderness people don't really seem overly hostile to mountain-biking. I hear lots of anecdotal evidence, verbal quips and emails from the stereotypical Hateful Old Hiker crowd mythologizing the purity of hiking and horses and demonizing two-wheels. However, it seems to me that the Wilderness movement don't really care about mountain-bikers. They are too small and too weak (50 members of the Bitterroot Backcountry Cyclists for example versus tens of thousands of members and donors for the Wilderness Trust or the Wildland Winter Alliance). Mountain-bikers oppose Wilderness and so therefore they must be crushed. Now Mountain-bikers oppose the holy trinity of WSA, RWA and IRA so must be crushed.
    This varies a lot from group to group. The larger groups (Sierra Club, Wilderness Society, etc.) aren't usually openly hostile to bikes these days - it doesn't look good. But by most accounts, they're fairly hostile to bikes behind closed doors when they're putting pressure on land managers. Locally, some recent forest planning documents suggested that bikes could be allowed as a non-conforming use in a new RWA that was being proposed. Wilderness Society (and others) flipped the fuck out and leaned HARD on the forest service to get that taken out. And, of course, they got what they wanted. And to be clear, the forest service only contemplated allowing existing levels of bike use to continue in that area, which realistically meant maybe ~200 people / year riding on roughly 85 miles of trail. In other words, extraordinarily low levels of bike use. But that was completely unacceptable to all of the Wilderness groups that were involved in the process.

    And there are also a bunch of smaller Wilderness groups that are much more openly hostile to bikes. And at least around here, those are the groups that are most willing to sue the Forest Service. They're the ones with a law firm on retainer (although in a lot of cases, that retainer is nominal, and the law firm just inflates their fees and then collects from the FS when they win). It's also worth noting that a bunch of those smaller groups are at least partially funded via grants from bigger groups like the Sierra Club. So the Sierra Club can put on a show and act like they're accommodating middle men that want to look out for a broad spectrum of recreationists. So they just fund the smaller groups to do the dirty work for them.

    But yeah, I think your TLDR is spot on. And it sucks.

  23. #48
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    Toast, the H-L&CNF forest plan revision is laying groundwork for pushing MTBs out of IRAs. The sleeper issue is the recreation opportunity spectrum (ROS). As defined in the DEIS, it doesn’t include a mention of bicycles in “Primitive” and does mention them in “Semi-Primitive, Non-Motorized.” We will argue that Primitive needs a sentence stating “bicycles may be encountered.” Otherwise the primitive ROS applied to IRAs may (will) start a precedent we don’t want.

    This is an important forest plan revision. They include an option to continue allowing bicycle travel in RWAs and WSAs. They rope that into an option that kicks bikes out of the Elkhorns, in response to requests from the public. One of our guys read all 800+ comments, and 3 of them included that request. It is VERY important to clearly make a request in your comments, and provide the reason why. And there’s no reason to choose one proposed alternative over another; the final decision can incorporate elements of any of them.

  24. #49
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    Lee, hell of a trip! I'm glad you got to ride all those places and are spreading the word beyond Montana, thank you.

    As far as the policy, I see it the same way that you and toast have summarized it. The only other difference is that WSA has vague language that defaults to Wilderness management. It wasn't intended to, but it's a safer stance for a land manager that doesn't want a lawsuit. Congress will have to help untangle this one.

    RWA has specific instructions in the Forest Service Handbook that allow for keeping, limiting and THEN removing bikes or non-conforming uses. For whatever reason, Region 1 keeps getting away with skipping right to removal of bicycles on all RWA. There has been a lot of pressure backing this up from the wealthy conservation groups since at least 2007. I see a fair amount of comments to the forest service that say "no mechanized or motorized use in RW". I wonder how many people understand what mechanized means in this context and how many just copied and pasted since it sounds like 2 bad things that go together.

  25. #50
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    Maybe this has already been posted somewhere, but here's a link to the comment page for the Helena--Lewis and Clark National Forest Plan. Comments must be received by 9/6/18.

    https://cara.ecosystem-management.or...?Project=44589

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