“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” – Anais Nin
At 10,157 feet elevation, Trapper Peak is the highest point in Montana’s Bitterroot Range. To see it looming from the Highway 93 point-of-interest sign nearly 5,000 feet below inspires a sense of awe to imagine touching the sky from its lofty summit.
I had actually been planning to climb Trapper for a few years, but the usual excuses always got in the way. Maybe you know the ones because you’ve used them yourself: not enough time, not enough money, no one to go with me, etc, etc. I suppose what it comes down to is risk, and how much of it you’re comfortable taking.
Maybe it’s just easier to hide from the fear of taking the risks we know we must in order to achieve what we really want. Sound familiar? If you’re like me, I’ll bet you’ve even made convenient excuses in other parts of your life, like career and relationships. And if you’re like me, maybe sometimes you wish you could get a second chance. It becomes a heavy burden to carry, and at some point it has to be easier to just drop it all and say, “F**k it! I’m going for it!”
That happened to me when I actually saw Trapper Peak in person after a recent trip to Missoula, and it inspired me enough to move it up my priority chain of must-do mountain hikes. I returned to the area last weekend and set off on 1:00 a.m. dawn patrol with my trusty snowshoes and lightweight camera to catch some sweet sunrise photos from the top.
Although Trapper Peak is not considered a technically difficult mountain to climb, the main route does ascend almost 4,000 feet in just four miles – plenty of difficulty for an average peak-bagger like myself on an early season outing. After a set of challenges that included a malfunctioning headlamp, some tricky nighttime route-finding, and a pair of unconditioned first-hike-of-the-year legs, I managed to make it above treeline just in time to catch these views.
About an hour later I found myself standing on the crystal-clear summit enjoying panoramas of snowcapped peaks that seemed to stretch forever in every direction. After spending a mostly uneventful winter in the doldrums making excuses, it was a great way to start off a new season of adventures, and great day to start the rest of my life.
- Reconstruction of Bridger-to-Belfry highway nearly complete (missoulian.com)
- FWP recommends expanded wolf season and bag limit (missoulian.com)