10 and 2: Bear Trap Beckons

For a brief moment, we thought that winter had made an early entrance. However, we quickly learned that Montana has a lot more bark than bite early in the season. (Insider tip: Montanans will tell you that it’s winter up here after Labor Day, but it’s just their way of getting tourists out of the way during the beautiful fall season). The snow was only at high elevations and later that same afternoon, most of it was gone and we were back to hanging around outside with jackets in the afternoon. After our snowy, winter-like adventure, we celebrated and re-fueled in Bozeman with some local organic beer from the guys at Wildwood Brewing. We slept soundly after the 10+ mile trip through the snow.


The next morning, we left the comforts that Bozeman offered (showers and daily workouts at the gym, lots of bars and restaurants, and consistent wifi in coffee shops) and headed into the mountains, bound for Bear Trap Canyon. We wanted to spend a few days in the area specifically for its remoteness and its proximity to fishing (the Madison River carves through the canyon) and hiking (a trail follows the river for 9 miles). Although the storm that brought snow to the higher elevations and rain to the lower areas had left a wake of muddy, blown-out rivers, the Madison remained relatively clear and was one of the few fishable rivers in the area.

So I spent the day fishing and fighting stiff winds that blew down the walls of the canyon. The canyon is generally hit-or-miss, and the weather can even change once you enter the canyon from outside the mouth. For us, however, it was windy everywhere. Although conditions weren’t ideal, I was rewarded with a few brown trout, but the real gem was a thick-bodied wild rainbow trout – the last fish of the day.


It’s a rare occasion that I keep any trout that I catch, but that day it seemed fitting, so we cooked a single trout for dinner over our campfire. Instead of TV, we watched the river from our perch on the bank above as the sun set behind the steep canyon walls. IMG_7183sm We’ll soon be pointing our van North towards Helena, where I’ll be dropping off Stephani for a trip back to New York to be with her sister as she welcomes a new baby boy into her family. For me, this means that I will be traveling around Western Montana searching for rivers, public land for camping, and local beer. Sure, I’m definitely going to miss Stephani while I’m spending a few days alone in the van, but I think I’ll survive. I’m pretty sure I’ll figure out a way to spend my time wisely and I’m also pretty sure there will be plenty of rivers and trout to keep my time occupied. Until then, it’s time to log a few more highway miles.


So what is 10 and 2? Meet Ryan and learn about why he’s on the road with Crown & Caliber.

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Ryan O’Connor is recovering from a decade of work in the investment management industry. He’s currently living out of his van and traveling the United States with his girlfriend, taking a very long route to Texas. In addition to long walks on the beach, sunsets, and production paperwork, he digs photography, fly fishing, hunting, rye whiskey, and Texas BBQ.

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